Not Identified by Our Stomachs

eating

Aren’t we making too much out of this sexual identity thing?  After all, humans are sexual and we do need sex, right?

Well, we have stomachs and appetites, too.  Some have even claimed, “You are what you eat.”  But, observes  my friend Bob Morrison,

No one considers himself an alimentary being.  Food– nourishment–is essential to human life.  It’s natural.  But if we focus on that as the essence of our being, then, as St. Paul writes, our “god is in our belly” (Phil. 3:19).  Sex within marriage is right, but we should not forget that this gift is given so that the human race might continue and generations may know Christ.”

C.S. Lewis agrees with my friend Bob and with St. Paul.  He writes,

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.”  (Mere Christianity)

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

Identity Affects Behavior

potter's hands verticalThere is an inevitable result of identifying myself as a “sexual being.”  Such thinking will affect the way I fear, love and trust God. It will affect the way I act in His presence and understand His purpose for my life. It will also tempt me to see God in a way He is not.

As a fallen creature, I have a troublesome habit of projecting onto the Creator God my idea of Him based upon how I see myself. If I see myself as His daughter in Christ, I will be more inclined to recognize Him for who He is and acknowledge His authority. But if I see myself as “sexual being,” then I will be more inclined to define God according to my human perspective and on my human terms and less inclined to acknowledge His authority. This corrupts the image of God. Why? Because God does not bear the image of man nor is He sexual or sensual. God is holy.

God mandates holiness and He reveals its source. It is nothing other than Himself, His very essence and character. God is holy and expects me to conform to Him. “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet. 1:14-16).

It is not absolutely necessary that I experience the joy of “one flesh” in biblical marriage, but it is absolutely necessary that I should be holy. That which is sexual should never be viewed as a way to become more intimate with God nor should it become the intrinsic identity of the male and female first made in the image of God. In my Baptism, I put on the “new self” which is “the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).

Identity affects my behavior. Let’s imagine that I am pregnant but contemplating an abortion. I need to ask, “What is it? What is this that I want to abort?” Women have explained to me that when the doctor called their unborn child a “blob of tissue,” it made the wrong thing that they knew they were doing much easier to do.  If I identify myself as a “sexual being” and my child as a “choice,” then I may fail to guard the treasure for which Jesus died.  I may fall into fear, then into idolatry.  It is then that I will find arguments for abortion, adultery, homosexuality and the counterfeiting or abolition of marriage.

The mistaken identity of “sexual from birth” tempts me to please myself. God did not have this in mind, so He does not identify me in this way because that phrase confuses my created femaleness with the corrupted state of my current sexual desires. A “sexual” identity is all about “me.” It means being in debt to my own flesh and bound to live according to its fickle ways. But a “holy” identity is all about God claiming me as His dear child in Christ. In Christ, my fallen nature has no claim on me. My flesh side may tempt me, saying, “This is who I am,” or “I owe it to myself,” but I am not obligated to obey its impulses or satisfy its desires. Why? Because I “did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” (Rom. 8:15). What a difference this makes in the way I live and who I worship.

In the biblical context, holy usually means “set apart for God”. It means being different from the sensual world. I am “His own possession” (1 Pet. 2:9). As a “temple of God,” I have no agreement with idols (2 Cor. 6:16). This means no foolish or improper talk of sexual desire, no crude joking or teasing of the imagination. My purpose in this world flows from my identity as God’s holy one. My purpose is to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who called me” (1 Pet. 2:9). My behavior, just like my identity, is not common. Something that is common is useable by anyone. But I am useable by God. My conduct as a baptized child of God— indeed, “holy one” or saint— should not reflect the ways of the sinful world, but reflect God’s ways.

I am called to be “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). God is the master. The house is my body. My good work is to turn the heads of others toward the master and away from myself. “[B]e holy in all your conduct” (1 Pet. 1:15). Why? Because I was created for God’s glory, not my own. I am to “walk as [a child] of light . . . and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph. 5:8-10).

Adapted from
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett, Amazon

Identity: Now and Forever

wedding feastIf I am fundamentally “sexual,” then this would hold true not just before my promised resurrection but also after my resurrection. (Otherwise after my resurrection, I would be less than human.)

But what does Jesus say? “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matt. 22:30). 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 my divinely-created human identity in the resurrection where everything will be made perfect, then it is not the central part of my divinely-created identity now.

In heaven, there will be no marriage.  Men and women will not “desire” one another nor will they unite in “one flesh.”

So, will I lose my identity in heaven? No! My true identity will remain intact. I will be as He created me—fully human, but perfect in every way; a daughter at her Father’s table. I will still be His treasure in Christ but, at last, able to truly reflect His magnificence.

For now, I live on earth in human flesh. I do not have to obey the passions of my mortal body (Ro. 6:12) however, because holiness is all about God claiming me as His dear child in Christ through water and Word. Through Baptism, I am in relationship with all of my siblings—brothers and sisters in Christ who can anticipate His return. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I can encourage and care for my brothers and sisters in ways that will not bring shame on the Day of the Lord (1 Jn. 2:28).

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

Identity: Inseparable from Sexuality?

robe of righteousness

That’s what Christopher Yuan thought.

As a young man, Christopher struggled with homosexual desires. He prayed that God would change him. When God did not, Christopher gave up the struggle, believing, “This is who I am.” While serving time in prison for drug-dealing, Christopher confessed his sexual identity to a chaplain who told him that Scripture doesn’t condemn homosexuality. Christopher was motivated to contrast the information given to him by the chaplain with God’s Word of Scripture. In light of the Word, Christopher realized that “my identity shouldn’t be defined by my sexuality.”

Christopher writes,

Paul said in Acts 17:28, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Christ should be everything—my all in all. My sexual orientation didn’t have to be the core of who I was. 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. But my identity as a child of the living God must be in Jesus Christ alone.
God says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” I had always thought that the opposite of homosexuality was heterosexuality. But actually the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. God never said, “Be heterosexual, for I am heterosexual.” He said, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Christopher desired change. But, he writes, “change is not the absence of struggles; change is the freedom to choose holiness in the midst of our struggles.”

In The Book of Man, Bill Bennett tells about his friend who was recovering from life-threatening cancer. “His doctor told him that he could not work, exercise, or enjoy the other fruits of life,” explains Bennett, “all things that men pride themselves on. I asked him what hurts the most to be without. ‘Work,’ he said. ‘I don’t feel like a man. Work has more to do with me being a man than sex or muscle.’”

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

Who Does God Say That I Am?

woman shaped by PotterGod alone has the right to bestow my identity because “It is he who has made [me] and [I am] his” (Ps. 100:3). I am His creation (Gen. 1:27). All people were created in God’s image, not the image of animals. God is holy, not sexual, sensual, or captive to instincts. God says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16).

But the Fall into sin introduced horrible corruption to the human race, so that now the thoughts and desires of people are sinful and centered on serving the self (Gen. 6:5; Eph. 2:3). Christians, however, have been given the Holy Spirit who begins in them a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15), and starts to re-form the image of God in them (Col. 3:10). All of us struggle with our sinful human nature because we are sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, but we are not bound to that human nature because of the washing and renewal of our Baptism (Tit. 3:5-8). In my Baptism, Jesus Christ restored my identity as an “heir” of eternal life. I am strengthened to “abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against [my] soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). Re-creation in Christ makes me God’s adopted child who is invited to cry “Abba! Father!” (Rom. 8:15).

My body is “a temple of the Holy Spirit” bought at great price (1 Cor. 6:19). I am a treasure of God for whom Jesus gave all He had. In Christ crucified, I reclaim my identity. Since Jesus is holy, God declares me holy through faith in Him. “I have called you by name,” God says. “You are mine” (Isa. 43:1). “‘I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me,’ says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:18). Jesus spoke to my full person and human identity when He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mk. 12:30).

I hold to a body-soul anthropology or understanding of the origin, nature and destiny of mankind as expressed in the Athanasian Creed. I believe I will be resurrected, not as a disembodied spirit, but with a perfect body joined with a perfect soul. In heaven, I will not be an angel but my resurrected body will be like that of angels (Matt. 22:30). I will neither marry nor be given in marriage. This is a sound argument against the idea that human beings are fundamentally “sexual”. If that were true, in the resurrection I would be somehow less than human.

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

Children, Sexuality and Pedophilia

teacher and students

Sexual” is ambiguous. Christians may use the term to describe our sex: male or female. We may use the term to describe our procreative nature. But Alfred Kinsey, SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and others like them refer to children as being sexual” which, to them, means “capable of sexual activity.”

We are disregarding God’s created order when we say that “children are sexual.” Children are not “sexual” in the sense of being capable of sexual activity nor do they benefit from early libido. God does not mock His little ones by creating them with tendencies that would be harmful both physically and spiritually.

Kinsey wanted society to accept pedophilia as a natural act and believed that sex with children is a problem only because we have laws against it. The crimes of Kinsey who gathered data for his research from the sexual abuse of 317 infants and young boys by known pedophiles were exposed by Judith Reisman, Ph.D., in Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences (also: Stolen Honor, Stolen Innocence). Kinsey used his fraudulent statistics to convince the world that “children are sexual from birth.” This opened a Pandora’s Box of illicit sexuality.

Forms of sex education, based on Kinsey’s research, worked their way into state and parochial schools with the purpose of helping children learn about sex. Children began experimenting with sex at earlier ages with sure and certain consequences. By the 1980s, schools that didn’t have sex education welcomed it out of fear of AIDS. More recently, pro-sodomy groups have gained entrance into classrooms to encourage fellow “sexual beings” to express all manner of “sexuality” without fear of bullying. Slowly but steadily, attempts to break down the walls guarding children have been made since those with Kinsey’s worldview settled onto university campuses.

Anne Hendershott is a distinguished visiting professor at The King’s College in New York City. She writes,

It was only a decade ago that a . . . movement had begun on some college campuses to redefine pedophilia as the more innocuous “intergenerational sexual intimacy.”

The publication of Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex promised readers a “radical, refreshing, and long overdue reassessment of how we think and act about children’s and teens’ sexuality.” The book was published by University of Minnesota Press in 2003 (with a foreward by Joycelyn Elders, who had been the U.S. Surgeon General in the Clinton administration), after which the author, Judith Levine, posted an interview on the university’s website decrying the fact that “there are people pushing a conservative religious agenda that would deny minors access to sexual expression,” and adding that “we do have to protect children from real dangers . . . but that doesn’t mean protecting some fantasy of their sexual innocence.”

The redefinition of childhood innocence as “fantasy” is key to the defining down of the deviance of pedophilia that permeated college campuses and beyond. Drawing upon the language of postmodern theory those working to redefine pedophilia are first redefining childhood by claiming that “childhood” is not a biological given. Rather, it is socially constructed—an [sic] historically produced social object. Such deconstruction has resulted from the efforts of a powerful advocacy community supported by university-affiliated scholars and a large number of writers, researchers, and publishers who were willing to question what most of us view as taboo behavior. (Excerpt from “The Postmodern Pedophile” by Anne Hendershott in Public Discourse [A publication of The Witherspoon Institute], December 20, 2011.)

Public opinion that pedophilia is deviant behavior still remains. We should take note that even SIECUS does not currently promote pedophilia or incest even though its early officials did. However, as we see the barriers protecting childhood innocence removed in classrooms and society in general, groups such as NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) will push for “boy love” in every community claiming that child/adult sex is acceptable intimacy among generations.

So, the question arises: Does sex education help protect children from sexual abuse and predators? Lynette Burrows writes, “The increase in talking graphically about sex to children is essentially pedophilic in nature.” Lest anyone think her remark too sensational, let’s hear her out. She continues,

It is increasing the number of people who are allowed to “talk dirty” to children, and so to breach the protective armor of their innocence. Thus it is widening the scope for pedophiles to target children. Warning children with slimy disclaimers about “inappropriate touching” is simply token and meaningless to a child. How can they recognize the danger signals from those who wish to exploit them if such a large number of adults are implicated in the same “dirty talk”? (Excerpt from “Worst Sexualisation of Children is Happening in Schools” presented by Lynette Burrows to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children [SPUC] Safe at School “Sex Education as Sexual Sabotage” meeting in Westminster, London, 2011.)

Sex education in any classroom encourages children to talk about sex and sexually-related subjects in explicit terms with adults who are not their parents. This strips them of natural embarrassment and modesty which play an important role in protecting them from sexual abuse. Let’s also bear in mind that many of those trained or certified to teach sex education or family living have themselves been stripped of embarrassment and modesty in postgraduate degree programs developed by Kinsey followers and using Kinsey methods. The Christian should remember that embarrassment was a new emotion for Adam and Eve after their sin, but it was for their protection in a sinful world.

What does God say? Does His Word tell us that children are sexual from birth and that child-adult sex is normal? No, it does not. The culture desperately needs the Church to stand on the solid ground of God’s Word about children, the act of sex, and marriage.

For the sake of precious souls, we must resist evil even as we shed light in dark places.

This post is taken from Chapter Three of
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
(Amazon) by Linda Bartlett.

If I’m So Normal, Why Am I So Unhappy?

unhappy girlThe young women who find their way to the Lighthouse, a pregnancy and parenting resource center in my home town, might seem familiar to you. Actually, they could be your neighbor’s daughter, your pastor’s daughter or your daughter. They are not “bad” girls; rather, they are “normal” girls.

A negative pregnancy test provides opportunity to talk about their “normal” lives. One young woman, with goals of finishing high school and going on to college, opened the door to that conversation with a heartfelt confession. “I don’t understand. I’m not any different from my Facebook friends. I’m not any different from the people on TV. I dress like the models in my favorite magazines and do the things everyone else says they are doing. But if I’m so normal, why am I so unhappy?”

As a campus psychiatrist at UCLA, Dr. Miriam Grossman spent a lot of time with “normal” but “unhappy” young women. These educated women with goals of med school, performing arts or corporate law had little in life to complain about. They had active social lives, enough money and caring families. “Life is good,” they would tell Dr. Grossman, “so why do I feel so depressed? So emotionally stressed? So worthless?”

“If I’m so normal, why am I so unhappy?” This question—asked in small town pregnancy centers and on Ivy League campuses—should tug at the heart and soul of every pro-life parent, grandparent and pastor. “No amount of Prozac or Zoloft,” writes Dr. Grossman, “is going to solve this problem. These young women must, for their physical and emotional well-being, change their lifestyle.”

Change their lifestyle? But aren’t young women today more liberated than ever before? Haven’t the barriers that prevented complete happiness been chipped away? Isn’t it true that women can compete with men in sports, the workplace and the bedroom? It’s true, but all the supposed liberation in the world only puts us in conflict with ourselves.

In Genesis 1: 27, we learn that God created humans to be male and female. Later, and with more detail (Genesis 2), we learn that God created male and female at different times, in different ways and for different purposes. Try to ignore it if you will but a woman is built to bear and nurture children.

Matters of a woman’s heart are influenced by her biological design. Yes, my feminist friends, I said biological design. “The blurring of differences between male and female,” writes Dr. Grossman, “is a radical agenda unsupported by hard science.” One of the failures of nearly every kind of sex education, including Christianized sex education, is that we lump boys and girls together as equally “sexual beings” who just need more information and more comfort with their sexuality. But Dr. Marianne Legato, founder and director of the Partnership for Gender Specific Medicine at Columbia University, sees women’s health as more than a political or feminist issue because women differ from men in every system of their body.

It would seem that this important piece of biblical and scientific truth has been withheld from the young women who carry the burdens of depression, disease, fear, and broken hearts in the door of the Lighthouse and every other pregnancy center across this country.

Matters of a woman’s heart, by design, are connected to the love of one man, home and family. At the Lighthouse, however, we see young women who’ve been disconnected from all that is naturally womanly—most especially anything related to motherhood and childbearing—as something to be managed, minimized or even overcome. They have been shot up with Gardacil and soon after, like a right of passage, ceremoniously prescribed the Pill. They are prodded onto the football field, wrestling mat and arena of combat—no “holds barred”—which puts them at odds with their own biological and psychological functions and renders them more vulnerable. In abstinence class, they are reminded over and over again that sex is the most wondrous of all earthly gifts but not to be opened until marriage after first getting their degree, securing a good job and paying off loans. However, next to their heart is a biological clock that “tick, tick, ticks” the years of fertility away.

Girls have been told that they are no less sexual than any boy and have every right to enjoy the pleasantries of intimacy. But most girls have not been told about oxytocin, the neurochemical that floods a woman’s brain during a cuddle or a kiss. By design, oxytocin promotes trust and serves to bond a woman to the man she is with. Oxytocin at work in a wife who is sexually intimate with her husband helps produce long-term connectedness which is good for children.

But bonding is like glue. It can’t be undone or ripped apart without great emotional pain. Once, I asked a young woman why she was spending nights with her boyfriend. She responded, “Well I was hoping that if I did, he would ask me to marry him.” During another visit, she told me how much she liked tending “their” garden and decorating “their” house. “But,” I asked, “when it’s the end of the day and you sleep over, whose bed do you sleep in? Do you think of it as his… or ‘ours’”? Her eyes dropped. Her shoulders slumped. She whispered, “It’s his.”

A great many young women, despite the cultural acceptance of multiple partners, want to be married to one man and make a nest for their children. But a woman’s consent to play house without commitment of marriage actually encourages many young men to postpone marriage.

“I’m just doing what everyone else is doing. I’m normal.” So then why is this girl so depressed and unhappy? Because it is simply abnormal for a woman to be in conflict with the design of her own body. “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who frustrates the signs of liars . . . who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:24-25).

At the Lighthouse, we take matters of the heart very seriously. We want to guard the physical and spiritual health of a young woman just as we want to guard her right to a childhood, right to girlhood, and right to maidenhood.

This was first written as an article for LifeDate (LFL).
Linda Bartlett is co-founder/president of the Lighthouse Center of Hope
and author of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity

(Amazon – Our Identity Matters)
Miriam Grossman, M.D., is the author of Unprotected (Amazon).