Hope for Those Who Don’t Want to Parade with Pride

man standing reading Bible

The Word is true: “… Male and female He created them.”  But in hastily skipping ahead to “and they shall become one flesh,” we miss God’s description of what it means to be a man or a woman.  This is a costly omission for us all; most certainly for our unmarried sons and daughters.  But there is someone else who has been harmed by withholding God’s word on manhood and womanhood.  That person is our neighbor who struggles in a fallen world with the reality of same-sex attraction.

My neighbor (I shall call him David) is humbled by what he knows is an unnatural attraction.  Although “gay,” he does not want to parade with pride.  David was catechized by Christian parents who offer unconditional love.  He believes God’s Word that places sex within the boundaries of one man, one woman marriage.  But, David wonders, where does a person like me fit?  What does being “gay” mean for my future?  What about marriage and a family?  To me, however, the most heart-piercing of David’s questions is this: What about friendships with other men?

“Sometimes,” David explains, “I look at another man and am attracted to an attribute of his that I wish I had.  I don’t know, perhaps I am jealous.  But here’s the thing.  My selfcenteredness and envy of that guy’s admirable qualities tempt me to imagine a sexual bond, but might my feelings actually be those of brotherly love and admiration?”

David is exposing a vulnerability.  He is pointing out how vulnerable any of us can be when we focus exclusively on human sexuality but remain awkwardly silent about biblical manhood and womanhood.

David is one of the compelling reasons why I authored The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity.  Too many in the church insist that we talk early and long about the wonders of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife in the faithfulness of marriage.  This, I’ve been told, will help remedy the problems of premarital sex, teen pregnancy, and divorce.  But it has not!  Nor has it made a place at the family table for our brothers like David who struggle with unwanted desires.

If David had his prayer answered the way he’d like, his same-sex attraction would be cured and his burden lifted.  He does not embrace unnatural inclinations.  He knows he cannot act on his feelings and be at peace with God.  But how, then, can David live… with himself, in relationship with the Man Jesus Christ, and in relationship with other men?  How can we help?

First, we welcome David to the table of the human family where the Body of Christ can remind David that he is so much more than a sexual being.  He is created to be a man: steward of all that God has made, bearer of the Word of life, and leader away from death.  How do we know this?

Before God created Eve and brought her to Adam as his wife, He “took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Although the work is made more difficult outside the Garden in a sinful world, man is still called to be the good steward over God’s creation.  The “Lord God also commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (2:16-17). Adam’s failure to remember and obey brought sin into the world.  In this fallen world, God’s perfect design and rhythm of life are distorted; nevertheless, God’s order of creation stands.  Man is still entrusted with the responsibility of bringing order out of chaos by speaking the Word of life and leading away from destruction and death.  This is David’s call from God.  It is his first vocation.

We can help David focus on the identity bestowed upon him at Baptism.  God does not identify him as “gay,” “homosexual,” or even “heterosexual.”  We all struggle with sinful desires, but because of our Baptism, they do not define us nor do they have to enslave us.  We were “far off” from God, but in Baptism, we are “brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).  We are “washed … sanctified …  justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God (1 Co. 6:11).  We can cry “Abba!  Father!” because “you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:6-7; Ti. 3:5-8).

At Baptism, the sign of the cross is made over us to indicate that we are redeemed by Christ the crucified.  We have His mark on us.  We are baptized, not in the water of sexuality, but in the water of pure Word and through the work of the Holy Spirit.  We are called not to ways of weak flesh, but to holy and noble purpose.  We are encouraged not to glorify self, but to glorify Jesus Christ who makes us children of God.

We can remind David that his Baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21).  Even as Baptism cleans the sinner, it gives strength to be different from the world and restrain our own fickle desires.  Through daily contrition and repentance, the Old Adam in us is drowned and dies with all wrong thoughts and desires.  A new person in Christ rises up to live before God in righteousness and purity (Rm. 6:4).

We can remind David that sons and heirs of God are not promised an easy life.  Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).  We are promised the Holy Spirit who helps (Jn. 14:26) and intercedes for us (Rm. 8:26).

We can grieve with David.  The mistaken identity of “sexual being” and exaggerated place of sexuality misleads and often destroys the godly relationships of men with women, men with men, and women with women.  What is to become of us if we find a friend of the same sex—someone who is patient, kind, and selfless—but confuse lust with brotherly affection?  It is a dystopian world when boys and girls are mentored in all things sexual, but actually grow up fearing masculinity and femininity because they are untrained in biblical manhood and womanhood.

We can rejoice with David.   God created us to be relational people but, because He did not make sexuality central to being human, we can relate to one another in non-sexual ways.  Yes, my friend David!  You can admire the attributes of another man without sensual implications.  That’s because mature manhood (and womanhood) is about relating to one another in light of our baptismal identity.  As brothers and sisters, God wants us to be what He created us to be: holy people who live our daily lives as male or female not just in marriage, but in familial and social relationships, in school, at work, and in worship.  We do not need sexual intimacy to be a man or a woman, but men and women do need to be relational.

We can assure David that the Tenth Commandment has something to say to single men and women.  We are not supposed to covet “anything that is your neighbor’s.”  This includes our neighbor’s sexuality.  Marriage is the sacred place for all things sexual, but being a husband or a wife in this fallen world is a vocation for some and not for others.  It is important for the Body of Christ to see each member as fully human as opposed to sexual and, therefore—whether young or old, married or single—“a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Tim 2:21).

We can encourage David to practice self-control which, evidenced by the Apostle Paul (1 Co. 7:7), is a gift.  With the gift of self-control comes order and strength for life.  Mature manhood and womanhood receive the gift of self-control and are not dependent upon sexual intimacy.  Chaste singleness is not an affliction nor is it lessening of personhood; rather it, too, is a vocation and way to serve God and our neighbor in a way different from marriage.

We can point David to the Man Jesus Christ.  Jesus was fully human.  He was true man.  Yet, only in error would we identify Jesus as a “sexual being.”

We can assure David that Jesus has something to say about human identity being far more than sexual.  Jesus says there is no marriage in heaven (Mt. 22:30).  Therefore being sexual, that is, capable of sexual activity, is not part of what it means to be human after the resurrection.   If it is not part of our divinely created human identity in the resurrection where everything will be made perfect, then it is not the central part of our divinely-created identity here and now.

God tells His beloved human creation to abstain from sensuality.  But He does not tell us to abstain from being male or female.  We don’t do battle with the attributes of manhood or womanhood, but with “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry …” (Gal. 5:16-24). To be lovers, that is, to share sexual intimacy and literally fit together as “one flesh,” is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman. But to be male or female is not bound by marriage.  Each is a vocation or calling for daily use in glorifying God.

In Christ, we can fully engage in our vocations of manhood and womanhood in ways that will not bring shame on the Day of the Lord (1 Jn. 2:28).  We can think, work, create, serve, communicate, encourage, problem-solve, mentor, build relationships, and practice agape love.  This is truth with promise for those who bear the cross of same-sex attraction but don’t want to parade with pride.

 

The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity is available from Amazon.com  (Image: westminpca)

Helping to Carry the Cross of Same-Sex Attraction

man alone

Do you think that sex education in the church has unintentionally placed people who carry the cross of same-sex attraction outside the church family?

With its desire to help children “be comfortable with their sexuality” and a strong emphasis on the “gift of sexuality” and the “wondrous joy of sex in marriage,” do you think that sex education in the church has ignored the fact that singleness–whether chosen or not–can be a noble and effective vocation?

It is not absolutely necessary that we experience the joy of “one flesh” in biblical marriage, but it is absolutely necessary that we should be holy. (p. 87)

“Gender identity”–or any kind of sexually-based identity–is deception.

If we were fundamentally “sexual,” then this would hold true not just before the resurrection but also after the resurrection. (Otherwise after the resurrection we would be less than human.) But what does Jesus say? “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage …” (Matt. 22:30; Mark 12:25). Therefore being sexual, that is, capable of sexual activity, is not part of what it means to be human after the resurrection. And if it is not part of our divinely-created human identity in the resurrection where everything will be made perfect, then it is not the central part of our divinely-created identity now. (p.86)

We can help our brothers and sisters who struggle with the cross of same-sex attraction not by focusing so much on the “gift of sexuality,” but on our baptized identity. In Christ, we are sons and daughters of God! His heirs of righteousness!

In heaven there will be no act of marriage or expression of sexuality, no “one flesh” union. So do we lose our identity in heaven? No! Our true identity will remain intact. We will be as He created us–fully human, but perfect in every way, sons and daughters at the Father’s table. We will still be His treasures in Christ but, at last, able to truly reflect His magnificence. For now, we live on earth in human flesh. However, we do not have to obey the passions of our mortal bodies (Ro. 6:12) because holiness is all about God claiming us as His dear children in Christ through water and Word. Through Baptism, we are siblings–brothers and sisters in Christ who can anticipate His return. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can encourage and care for one another in ways that will not bring shame on the Day of the Lord (1 Jn. 2:28). (p. 86)

Quotes are taken from
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)

Image: flickr.com

Hope in the Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction

student reading Bible

“I never chose to be gay; I was born this way.”

“I’ve felt same-sex attraction since I was very young.”

“Who would choose to be gay?  If it were actually a choice, I would have chosen to be heterosexual.  My life would be so much easier.”

“I believe God created people to be gay; therefore, how can it be a sin?”

The statements above were made by Scott Barefoot during the ten years that he openly practiced the behavior of homosexuality.  The gay community with whom he surrounded himself reinforced his beliefs.

Love.  Peace.  Happiness.  When Scott read his Bible or went to church, these were the things he was searching for.  When his definitions of “love” and “happiness” differed from God’s, he moved on.

Scott moved on from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod* of his childhood during the time he was a practicing homosexual to attend a church where 80 percent of the members identified themselves as gay or lesbian.  The pastor went to great lengths to spin the interpretation of God’s Word and did not address the spiritual danger that threatened to consume Scott.

Do not judge became Scott’s “go to” scripture.  If he needed to tweak God’s Word to justify sexual relationships with other men, he did so.  But something was happening to change Scott’s perspective.

Scott held the prestigious position of Clinical Assistant to the Director of Interventional Cardiology at a large hospital in the Washington, D.C., area.  He immersed himself in the gay “Christian” community,  had plenty of cool guys seeking to date him, and brushed aside guilt in order to celebrate his sexual freedom.  Then Scott learned he was HIV positive.

For a year, Scott was in severe depression.  Slowly, he came face to face with the realization that his “unnatural and unrepentant behavior” had placed him in physical and spiritual danger.  He had wrapped Jesus around his sensual desires and, in so doing, moved farther away from God.  But how could he ever change?  How could he overcome same-sex attraction?

On his own, Scott could not change.  But through the work of the Holy Spirit, Scott acknowledged that he was sinning against God and his own body.  Like King David, Scott felt God’s hand “heavy upon” him and his “strength was dried up” (Ps. 32:3-5).  Scott, the creature, was led to trust the pure Word of his Creator.  At the foot of the Cross, Scott confessed that his behavior was not pleasing to God and, with the shedding of any notion of a sensual identity, he was set free in Christ to continue living as a redeemed child of God.

But redeemed children of God are not promised an easy life.  Jesus says, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).  Scott—like every one of us—is called to resist earthly temptations and persevere in Christ.

Scott did not wake up one magical day with a natural attraction to women.  He may never marry or father children, but he finds peace in celibate singleness that gives him freedom to grow in the Lord.  He can choose to live in a way that honors God and does not tempt others.  He is free to shine light in dark places and help others know that release from sexual captivity is possible.

Like an alcoholic who never returns to a bar, Scott explains, “I am no longer captive to a destructive behavior . . . The Holy Spirit led me to make my exodus from the fantasy land of thinking I could live as a practicing homosexual and still be right with God.”

This is the message that Scott brought to my hometown during the weekend of April 9-10.  His visit was sponsored by the Lighthouse Center of Hope, a pregnancy and family life center.  Why?  Because at the Lighthouse, we see young people struggling with the deception of a sexual identity.  We want male and female to know who they are in Christ and why that matters.  So we invited Scott to speak to teens, parents, and pastors.  At three different locations, Scott shared his story and offered wise and sensitive counsel.

Scott does not stand alone.  In my book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I quote another man who turned from his homosexual practice while in study of God’s Word.  Christopher Yuan writes, “My primary identity didn’t have to be defined by my feelings or sexual attractions.  My identity was not ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual,’ or even ‘heterosexual,’ for that matter.  My identity as a child of the living God must be in Jesus Christ alone.”  Christopher continues, “God did not say, Be heterosexual, for I am heterosexual.  God says, ‘Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy’ (1 Peter 1:15-16).”  (Out of a Far Country, p. 187-188)

The opposite of holy is common, referring to things that can be used by anyone.  But to be holy means to be uncommon and useable by God.  Once Scott let go of his proud identity as “gay,” he could begin to see himself as God does.  He is called by name (Is. 43:1)!  He is an heir of God (Ro. 8:17)!  He has come out of darkness and into the light (1 Pt. 2:9) for God’s good purpose.  From the time of Scott’s baptism, the Holy Spirit was faithfully at work in him.  The world and his own sinful nature did not want Scott to change.  But change for this repentant man was possible because of mercy and grace.

Scott told me, “I was, but now I am.”  The Word of the New Testament explains —

Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

If you are a Christian struggling with same-sex attraction, Scott has a message of hope for you.  If you are a parent concerned about a son or a daughter, Scott has resources and helpful advice.  Please contact him or visit his ministry, People of Grace.

In Jesus Christ you, too, have mercy and grace.

 

* Scott returned to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

Linda Bartlett is the president and co-founder of
The Lighthouse Center of Hope in Iowa Falls, IA.

The Church & Statistics on Sexuality

statistics
Many within the Church claim they are not influenced by the work of Alfred Kinsey. Although most don’t want details, they acknowledge his aberrant thinking. They’re aware of his abuse of men, women, children, and science. “We want nothing to do with him!” they say.

Yet, earlier this year, one of my own denomination’s church publications quoted statistics from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at the University of Indiana. When I asked, “Why?” the answer was, “Where else do we go for statistics on sex and sexuality?”

This should give us pause. Why do we need statistics on sex and sexuality? What is their purpose? How are they used and to what end?

For the sake of dialogue, let’s assume that the Christian community has a valid reason for using statistics on topics of sex and sexuality. There is much to be considered.

First, how are such statistics gathered? Eunice Ray, founder with her husband Col. Ronald D. Ray of RSVP America (Restoring Social Virtue & Purity in America), told me, “There isn’t any scientific way, according to the Ph.Ds I know who have looked honestly at the subject, to accurately quantify the data gathered. It is subjective and not able to be duplicated. If you test physiological responses maybe, but simply developing a questionnaire and delivering it is problematic.” Ray quotes Abraham Maslow who once remarked to Alfred Kinsey that people who will talk with people “like us who seek statistics on sexual behaviors” are “off” already. Most “normal” people will not be questioned about their sex lives.

Second, can we correctly label data or statistics on sex and sexuality as “science”? If so, it should be able to be duplicated. Here, then, is the difference between “hard science” and “social science.” In the case of “hard science,” another researcher can duplicate the original and get the same results. This is most likely not true with “social science.” What is true, however, is that questions in any “social science” survey can be phrased in such a way to produce a particular answer.

Third, who are the “experts” on sex and sexuality? The truth about intimate matters was once the province of medicine and the Church. But, “social scientists” such as Mary Calderone, Lester Kirkendall, Dr. John Money, and others labored diligently to relocate the truth of such matters to another province or, at the very least, become the “go-to experts” for the Church. It was SIECUS and “sexologists” who encouraged churches and their educational outreach to speak of the “gift of sexuality” and encourage the “yeses” of a “Garden-like” sexual experience. We see something similar with abortion. The Church could never embrace abortion until social science disguised as true science denied God’s design for men, women, marriage, and the family. But the “scientific” code that made abortion legal is based on a social science that not only betrays a doctor’s oath to “to do no harm,” but opposes God, the Creator of human life. Today, there are church-going women who view their abortions as “a sacrifice I had to make for myself” and pastors who tell pregnant and frightened women that an abortion will “send their child to be with Jesus.”

In authoring The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I chose not to offer much in the way of statistical data. I do, however, offer history, explanation, and contrast between sex education and instruction in purity with the ultimate goal of encouraging God’s people to ponder, dialogue, and seek His Word rather than the opinion of man. For all who seek the hard science of medical data as opposed to social science, I recommend You’re Teaching My Child What? by Miriam Grossman, M.D., and How Teen Sex Is Killing Our Kids by Meg Meeker, M.D. A quick read of Dr. Grossman’s book Unprotected will also explain how “politically-correct” feminism, certainly not to be confused with hard science, has powerfully influenced both medicine and the Church.

We can gather statistics on how many people are divorced within a particular congregation, denomination, or community. That would be a civil, documented matter. But can we gather pure statistics on sexual behavior? If so, how? From what groups of people? With what kind of questions? To what conclusion?

Is there really such a thing as valid “sex research”? Perhaps the better question is: Why do we need “authorities” on sex or sexual behavior when we have God’s Word?

The Word of God says, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). Jesus knows that our flesh is weak (Mark 14:38). Perhaps, for this reason, God does not turn our heads toward worldly “statistics” or so-called “scientific surveys,” but toward holiness, purity, and self-control. In what way does a sex survey or statistics on sexual behavior encourage holiness? In the 1950s, following the publication of Kinsey’s “scientific” report, husbands and wives began to wonder what they were missing. Church-going sons and daughters began to question their parents’ morality.

Today’s parents and pastors aren’t asked to do anything any differently than those in previous generations. We are to instruct children and congregations in the ways of the Lord and, in so doing, help young and old to resist temptations of Satan, the world, and our own sinful nature.

It is uncertain that we will be rightly guided by measurements and comparisons provided to us by sexologists. The words of social scientists come… and go. But the Word of the Lord is forever. We will be rightly guided when we fear, love and trust God who is the Creator of male and female, marriage and family. It is His Word that saves us and leads us away from the trips and snares of this present world.

What Is A Parent to Do? (A Lesson for Use in Discussing Sex Education)

Jesus and little children
Sex education as we know it originated with unbelievers. Knowing the history of sex education since the 1960s, it behooves the Christian parent to ask:

For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with a non-believer? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:14-16).

Biblical instruction in purity is mismatched with sex education rooted in secular humanism like a donkey is mismatched to an ox. Yoked together to plow a field, the larger animal will walk at a different pace than the smaller one. Attempting to drive the two together will be erratic and potentially dangerous. Mixing the Word of the Lord together with false teaching may, in time, weaken or even destroy a believer’s relationship with Jesus and others.

Christianity and sex education as we know it are unequally yoked because the founders of sex education did not see children as God sees them and had no respect for the complementary differences of men and women. Neither did they have a respect for natural, innate modesty nor parental authority. Those who developed sex education had little or no regard for the conception and birth of human life. In fact, great effort went into disconnecting sex and sexuality from marriage and procreation. All of this compromises the teaching of purity.

But what is a Christian parent to do? Our children live in the real world. Don’t they need to be educated about sex in the right way?  Most of us agree that parents should be the ones to have the sex talk with their children, but they need help, don’t they? From where does that help come? Busy and overwhelmed parents in today’s world can easily be discouraged. Discouraged, they may doubt that the Word of God is enough. They may rationalize a partnership with unbelievers or make use of resources that appear beneficial for the healthy growth of their children. But, history proves that compromised faith and practice can turn a culture upside down… one child, one family, one neighborhood at a time.

There is a lesson to be learned from Ezra and Nehemiah useful for a discussion on sex education.

The remnant of Israel that had survived exile in Persia returned home to find the walls of Jerusalem broken down and city gates destroyed. To this small number of faithful people was given the arduous task of re-building the temple and walls of Jerusalem. God also wanted His people to grow faithful families. He wanted them to be holy and set apart in their worship and practice. When people in the neighboring land saw that Jerusalem was being restored, they offered their help. After all, those people explained, they worshiped God, too. (In reality, they were a people of blended religions.) Fearing that they would commit themselves to false worship, the people of God refused the offer of resources and help. They knew that God had entrusted the job of rebuilding the temple and walls only to them. So, “the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose” (Ezra 4:4-5).

The culture in which God’s people found themselves made the building project very difficult, but the Word of the Lord consistently commanded the people to persevere. God also reminded His people that they were to be holy and set apart for His good purpose. But the people of Israel, following the example of some of their leaders, mixed themselves with the Canaanites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and others through marriage (9:1-2). The people were guilty of breaking faith with God and allowing impurity of worship, teaching, and practice. There was confession and absolution but, because the potential for continued corruption of worship was so great, illegal marriages were identified and ended (10:18-19). The re-building of the temple, restoration of the walls, and growing of faithful families began anew.

However, when the neighbors in the land saw that the Israelites were again doing the work of God in rebuilding Jerusalem, they were angry. “[T]hey all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it” (Neh. 4:8). It was easy to cause confusion and discouragement among the Israelites because fathers, mothers, and grandparents were overwhelmed by the task that lay before them. “There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall” (4:10). The enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work” (4:11). Nehemiah encouraged the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (4:14). When the walls were rebuilt and the gates restored, the law of God was read to the people who were both joyful and repentant (chapters 8 and 9).

Everything was coming back into order and Israel was prepared to live by the truth of God’s Word. What could go wrong? What went wrong is incredibly significant. Eliashib, the priest appointed over the chambers of God, gave Tobiah the Ammonite a place in the temple (13:4-5). Under the guise of helping God’s people, Tobiah was given a room formerly used to store the offering for God. There, within the temple, sat Tobiah and his possessions. Nehemiah was away when this happened, but when he returned, he “was very angry, and [he] threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then [he] gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and [he] brought back there the vessels of the house of God” (13:8-9).

God entrusted the rebuilding of His temple and the city walls to His people. He entrusted the growing of holy families to husbands and wives equipped with His Word. He does the same today. God wants His people to keep their worship, teaching, and practices pure and different from that of the sinful world. Certainly, there are resources in the world that can be practical and helpful to the Christian. But we must take care especially when it comes to instructing Jesus’ little ones. “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 18:10). It is a frightening thing indeed to compromise one of the Father’s children.

Is there hope?

When the Church grows comfortable with the world, it lets down its guard. With guard down, our heads are easily turned. This is true with sex and sexuality education. A Christian parent might be complacent or even intimidated by the thought of teaching their child about sex. Christian educators may pride themselves on years of higher learning or believe that they can discern good material from bad.

But there is hope! In Jesus Christ, there is always hope! By virtue of our Baptism, God sets us apart as “holy ones.” As “holy ones,” we are called “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pt. 2:9). We do not have to conform to the ways of the world but, with trust in God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be on guard and resist deception.

It’s true that when God’s people are weary and burdened, or prideful and above reproach, it is easier for an opposing foe to gain access by offering some kind of help or resource. So Nehemiah “stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows . . . each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built” (Neh. 4:13, 18). The men were on guard at night and labored by day (22).

Nehemiah did not allow Tobiah the Ammonite to remain in the house of God because he would confuse the people of God. For the same reason, the Church should resist the temptation to allow secular humanistic teaching within its walls. Wherever sex education has been welcomed, we have reason to repent, but also opportunity to throw out anything that threatens to redefine the worship and practice of a younger generation.

“Do not be afraid,” said Nehemiah. “Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your . . . sons, your daughters . . . and your homes.”

from Chapter Four
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)
Our Identity Matters

C.S. Lewis on Sex and Purity

Jesus Teaches Christian Stock Photos

A man who did not begin his life as a Christian is today appreciated for his understanding and teaching of “mere Christianity.” C.S. Lewis brought together what he saw as the fundamental truths of Christianity. He rejected the boundaries that divide Christianity’s many denominations and found a common ground on which all of those who have Christian faith can stand together. C.S. Lewis makes a powerful case for the behavior and personality of a Christian.

There is common ground that all believers in Jesus Christ can stand on concerning the Christian life of purity. For this reason, I quote C.S. Lewis in my book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity. But, there was space for only so much of Lewis in the book. Here is more. Lewis writes:

“Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’ Now this is so difficult and so contrary to our instincts, that obviously either Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it now is, has gone wrong. One of the other. Of course, being a Christian, I think it is the instinct which has gone wrong. But I have other reasons for thinking so.”

APPETITE FOR FOOD AND SEX
“The biological purpose of sex is children,” writes Lewis, “just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now if we eat whenever we feel inclined and just as much as we want, it is quite true that most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much. One man may eat enough for two, but he does not eat enough for ten. The appetite goes a little beyond its biological purpose, but not enormously. But if a healthy young man indulged his sexual appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate a small village. This appetite is in ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.

“You find very few people who want to eat things that really are not food or to do other things with food instead of eating it. In other words, perversions of the food appetite are rare. But perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful. I am sorry to have to go into all these details, but I must. The reason why I must is that you and I, for the last twenty years [or, in our case, the last fifty years or more], have been fed all day long on good solid lies about sex. We have been told, till one is sick of hearing it, that sexual desire is in the same state as any of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon the silly old Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely. It is not true. The moment you look at the facts, and away from the propaganda, you see that it is not.”

SEX CHATTER ALL DAY LONG
“They tell you sex has become a mess because it was hushed up,” writes Lewis. “But for the last twenty years [fifty years for us moderns] it has not been hushed up. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still in a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not. I think it is the other way round. I think the human race originally hushed it up because it had become such a mess. Modern people are always saying, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of.’ They may mean two things. They may mean ‘There is nothing to be ashamed of in the fact that the human race reproduces itself in a certain way, nor in the fact that it gives pleasure.’ If they mean that, they are right. Christianity says the same.

“But, of course, when people say, ‘Sex is nothing to be ashamed of,’ they may mean ‘the state into which the sexual instinct has not got is nothing to be ashamed of.’ If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I think it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing to be ashamed of in enjoying your food: there would be everything to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main interest of their lives and spent their time looking at pictures of food and dribbling and smacking their lips. I do not say you and I are individually responsible for the present situation. Our ancestors have handed over to us organisms which are warped in this respect: and we grow up surrounded by propaganda in favor of unchastity. There are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of course, a man with an obsession is a man who has very little sales-resistance. God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters if the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.

“Before we can be cured we must want to be cured . . . A famous Christian long ago told us that when he was a young man he prayed constantly for chastity; but years later he realized that while his lips had been saying, ‘Oh Lord, make me chaste,’ his heart had been secretly adding, ‘But please don’t do it just yet.’”

THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE
Lewis recognizes that purity is difficult for us to desire, let alone achieve. But there is hope. There is always hope!

“In the first place our warped natures, the devils who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda for lust, combine to make us feel that the desires we are resisting are so ‘natural,’ so ‘healthy,’ and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them. Poster after poster, film after film novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth, frankness, and good humour. Now this association is a lie. Like all powerful lies, it is based on a truth—the truth . . . that sex in itself (apart from the excesses and obsessions that have grown round it) is ‘normal’ and ‘healthy,’ and all the rest of it. The lie consists in the suggestion that any sexual act to which you are tempted at the moment is also healthy and normal . . . [T]his is nonsense . . . For any happiness, even in this world, quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary. . ..

“In the second place, many people are deterred from seriously attempting Christian chastity because they think (before trying) that it is impossible. But when a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility . . . [I]n war, in mountain climbing, in learning to skate, or swim, or ride a bicycle, even in fastening a stiff collar with cold fingers, people quite often do what seemed impossible before they did it . . . [P]erfect chastity—like perfect character—will not be attained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God’s help . . . [and] after each failure, ask for forgiveness . . . and try again.”

There is hope. There is always hope. C.S. Lewis writes, “Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important chastity . . . may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves even in our best moments, and, on the other hand, that we need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven.”

This is why, in The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I continually point to our true identity as sons and daughters of God through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. God does not say: Be sexual for I am sexual. God says, “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” We become holy in the eyes of God when wearing Christ’s robe of righteousness. That robe changes our attitude and behavior. The only fatal thing, then, is to shed that robe and be content with anything less than Christ.

(Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis; Chapter 5: Sexual Morality)
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)

If Not Sex Education, Then What?

father reading bible

Sex education is built on a foundation that diametrically opposes God’s design for parents to instruct their children in purity.

Sex education is not biblical; rather, it grows from the ideologies and humanist faith of sexologists like Alfred Kinsey and Wardell Pomeroy, birth control and eugenics advocate Margaret Sanger, social reformer and SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) co-founder Mary Calderone, and advocate of child sexual rehearsal play, Dr. John Money.

Sex and sexuality education, sometimes called family life education, is described by Miriam Grossman, M.D., as “a social movement, a vehicle for changing the world. It happens one child at a time, and it goes on right under your nose.”

Sex education has led our boys and girls closer to the edge of the cliff. Parents and grandparents are not to lead children as close to the edge without falling off, but to keep them far away from the cliff. In a sexually-saturated society, what can a parent or grandparent do? First, we need to prepare ourselves:

1. Develop your parental “mission statement.” What do you want your son or daughter to know about their identity in God’s eyes? What do you want your child to know about sex or things of a sexual nature? Why will you strive to teach and mentor your child while also guarding the innocence of childhood?

2. Spend time with your child so that you can discern his or her questions. When your five-year-old asks, “Where did I come from?” don’t be too quick to assume, “Oh! It’s time for the full-fledged sex talk!” He might just want to know what city he came from because his friend Billy came from Denver. As the parent, you can ask questions of your child that will go a long way in determining what he or she really wants to know and is ready to hear and process, i.e. “Why are you asking me this?” or “What do you think?”

3. Follow the order of purity. When the Christian mother Laeta wondered how she could prepare her daughter for a life of purity in Christ, the Church father Jerome offered this order of instruction using God’s Word: First, teach the rules of life from Proverbs, the patience and virtue of Job, the Epistles, and the prophets. Only then, and at a more mature age, is there wisdom in directing a young woman to read about marriage and the spiritual bride in Song of Songs. (Appreciation to Rev. Dr. Christopher W. Mitchell, Concordia Commentary The Song of Songs, 278.)

4. You may have never thought about it, but fatherhood, motherhood, and grandparenthood are vocations. They are vocations that show love for God by serving others. Parents serve their children by teaching them to fear and love God, mentoring biblical manhood and womanhood, and preparing them to be good neighbors and citizens. (To consider parenthood from a biblical perspective, you might read God at Work by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.)

5. Many resources that instruct in purity come from Christians who do not believe in original sin. With the psalmist, I believe: “In sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm. 51:5). Every Christian parent must bear in mind that even if we try to keep the walls up and the gates closed, evil still dwells within children. The purpose of instruction in purity should be to guard against temptations and attacks from the outside while we do our best with the help of the Holy Spirit to fight and clean things up on the inside, too. Our goal is not to keep children pure, but to purify them with the grace of the Holy Spirit and guard them from daily attack. We are to help them: “Put on the whole armor of God, that [they] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil . . . and spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians. 6:10-18).

6. In every culture of madness, the unchanging Word of God gives fathers and mothers what they need to resist evil and build a future of hope. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not “progressive.” Tell them you’re progressing out of the insanity and chaos of this world into the sanity and order of God’s Word.

7. Become uncommon parents in a highly sexualized world. Look to the example of Joshua who proclaimed, “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in this region beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Do not be faint of heart by what you see and hear. Sexualized cultures have always pressed on the Christian home. Create opportunities to talk with your child and contrast myths and half-truths with what is holy and pure.

8. Do not be afraid to question professionals and experts. If you remember, the Bereans “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The Berean Christians questioned the Apostle Paul, the one called by God to instruct them! Contrast God’s Word of purity with those who have a wall of diplomas but advocate sex education. A diploma doesn’t necessarily reflect wisdom. If your discerning conscience says, “No! Not for my child,” listen to it!

9. Personalize God’s call to live a life of holiness and purity. Familiarize yourself with His Word and how it contrasts “purity” with “sensuality.” Then ask: Do I dress in a way that tempts the opposite sex? What books, magazines, and movies do I bring into my home? What do I look at on the internet? Do I go against the “flow” of a sexualized culture? Your child needs an example to follow.

10. As a parent, take comfort and instruction from your own Baptism and that of your child. In the flood, Noah and his family were preserved. In Baptism, Christ the Savior brings parent and child into the holy ark of the Christian Church where He marks us as His own, cleanses us from sin and, for our sake, appeals to God for good conscience (1 Peter 3:18-22). Remind yourself of the promise of Baptismal identity and life by reading the Order of Baptism and the words of hymns. (Suggestion: Lutheran Service Book [Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO.], page 268 and pages 594-605.)

11. As a family, pray that the Lord be in your home and drive from it all the snares of the enemy. Develop friendships with other parents whose greater desire is to help children trust their identity as heirs of God in Christ rather than identity shaped by a restless and shallow culture.

12. Don’t be ashamed by what you believe and teach; rather, be convinced that the Holy Spirit sustains you and your child. Together with your child, live as people who know that Jesus is coming again (1 John 2:28-3:3).

(Note: These preparation suggestions for parents were excerpted from The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity by Linda Bartlett [Amazon.com.] The book offers questions and answers to help Christian parents and pastors navigate a sexually-saturated society. It includes age-appropriate suggestions and resources for teaching purity and biblical manhood and womanhood.)