In All Earthly Circumstances, Identity Matters

older man walkingFrom childhood, we are told that we are “sexual beings.”  It seems only fair to ask, “How does emphasis on life as a ‘sexual being’ help our brother or sister in Christ who practices celibacy but battles homosexual desires?  What are we saying to them when we educate early and long about God’s ‘gift of sexuality?'”

It is, first of all, understandable that Christians want to affirm sex as the “good,” “one flesh” union of husband and wife that God created it to be. However, when even Christians repeatedly define men and women as “sexual human beings,” how are we helping our brother or sister who struggles with sexual temptations? It was disappointing to read the following in The Lutheran Witness (October 2013, p.10):

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). This includes life in all its fullness regarding one’s sexuality and the gift of sex.

When Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (English Standard Version), He is describing a battle for our eternal body and soul. Jesus promises the believer an abundantly full and holy life with the Father in eternity, but Satan wants to steal away all hope of such life and leave us in despair. Abundant life is not found in the promises of this sin-filled world but in Jesus Christ and His promise of everlasting life with God. This passage is not about sexuality and our temporal life, but salvation and our eternal life. In heaven there is no marriage (Matt. 22:29-30), which seems to imply there is no sex. The Christian who struggles with homosexual desires on this earth but trusts their identity as a baptized child of God in Christ has the promise of abundant life in heaven, not where they will find fullness of sexuality, but complete holiness and eternal life with God.

I often quote Christopher Yuan, the author of Out of a Far Country.   In the midst of his struggle against homosexual desires, Christopher began to understand that God was calling him to be holy.

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 never said “Be heterosexual, for I am heterosexual.” He said, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

In this sinful world, it is rather depressing to think of my identity as being “sexual.” What will happen when I’m not thinking, looking or acting “sexual”? What if it isn’t the driving force of my life? What happens when sexual appeal fades, the pace is slowed and I require more patience and care from others? How will my value be measured?

In this sinful world, it is refreshingly hopeful to know my identity as a daughter of God. I am a treasure of great worth because of what Jesus Christ did for me. I am a vessel for honorable use until the day God calls me to His home where I, indeed, will enjoy the fullness of holy and abundant life.

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (pp. 109-110)
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)
Visit Our Identity Matters

Singleness Is Not An Affliction

silhouette of woman on beachSex education in the Church, quite unintentionally, may diminish the vocations of biblical manhood and womanhood.  It may, perhaps, cause some men and women to view singleness as an affliction.  Sex education that has taken its cue from the secular model misses something vitally important when it focuses primarily on God’s “good” creation of sex and sexuality, but gives very little time to God’s “good” creation of manhood and womanhood.

We do not need sexual intimacy to be a man or to be a woman, but men and women do need to be relational. We do this best when we see ourselves in light of our Baptism. As sons and daughters of God in Christ, male and female can see each other as brothers and sisters. We can work together, enjoy life together, pair up different perspectives in order to problem-solve, serve in church or neighborhood together, and always trust that God knows the desires of their heart.

The Tenth Commandment has something to say to the single man or woman. 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 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, an instrument for God’s purpose and glory whether a child or adult, single or married, in this circumstance or that. We see in Scripture that singleness is not an affliction or lessening of personhood; rather it is an opportunity to serve the Lord Jesus in a different way than in marriage.

God does want our undivided attention. St. Paul writes, “The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband” (1 Co. 7:32-34). The commentary in The Lutheran Study Bible reads, “Neither Christ nor Paul praise virginity because it justifies, but because it is freer and less distracted by domestic occupations in praying, teaching, and serving.” (p.1956)

Pleasing God is the priority for a Christian. In all honesty, do you think sinful men and women in this world are more encouraged to please God when they see themselves as “sexual,” or when they see themselves as baptized sons and daughters of God in Christ?

The right identity matters.

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, pp 107-108
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)
Visit Our Identity Matters

A Letter to Parents

  jesus walking with child

What follows are excerpts from a letter written by a Lutheran pastor to the parents of his confirmation students ~

This summer I read a new book by a Missouri Synod author.  Linda Bartlett has written a most helpful volume called The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity. This book discusses the origins of the modern notions of “sex education,” the consequences of those notions being taught in the public schools since the 1960s, and a plea to Christian parents and churches not to repeat the secular “sex ed” model among children and teenagers in the local congregation.

On the basis of what I have learned, I make the following request. I encourage you to opt [your child] out of sex education.

I make this request of you knowing that some may be concerned that their child will “stand out” from their peers by not attending the sex ed class. I understand. Permit me to suggest you look at things this way.

On the day your child is confirmed, I will ask this question: “Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?” (Lutheran Service Book 273) Being hassled for not attending the sex ed class may be seen in terms of the “suffer all” wording from the Rite of Confirmation. Long before we suffer death for being Christians in these United States of America, there will be all kinds of smaller “sufferings” that we may endure for the sake of our faith and convictions. Not attending the sex ed class may be one of them. But we take heart in the words of St. Paul:

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5)

Photo source: http://www.daydreamsaboutgod.wordpress.com
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon.com)

The Order of Purity

My book cover

There is hope. There is always hope.

Many parents, grandparents, pastors and teachers mourn the sexualization of children. They ask: Why? How did this come to be? In what ways have we failed Jesus’ little ones? Were we deceived? If so, by whom? Did we put our trust in something other than God’s Word?

These questions and others are being discussed this fall in various locations across the Midwest. Together with pastors who have read and affirm my book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I am engaging Christians who grieve the loss of childhood innocence and want to do something about it. Most hopeful is the vocal and discerningly wise response of a younger generation of parents and pastors. Soon, I hope to make public some of those responses.

For now, however, let me encourage all moms and dads who want to guard the physical and spiritual health of sons and daughters; who want to guard a son’s right to childhood, right to boyhood, and right to godly manhood; who want to guard a daughter’s right to a childhood, right to girlhood, and right to maidenhood. Be not ashamed to instruct your child in purity for it is the Word of God. Sex education, in or out of the Church, builds on a secular humanist foundation; therefore, it will always lean the wrong way. Instruction in purity is rooted in Christ Himself; therefore, it will serve well in this life and into the next. Sex education too easily shapes a sexual identity. Instruction in purity reminds the baptized of their holy identity.

Sex education helps children focus more on the “yeses” of sex and less on the “shalt nots.” Sex education dangles the carrot of glorious marital sex before children beginning at a young age, but then instructs young people to delay marriage until graduating from college, securing a good job and paying off some debt. Instruction in purity understands that we no longer live in the Garden of Eden. For this reason, it neither arouses love before its time nor does it place obstacles in the way of youthful marriage and the faithful growing of family.

True to God’s Word, there is an order for instruction in purity. When a Christian mother by the name of Laeta asked how she could raise her daughter to purity, the Church father Jerome answered: 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. *

There is hope. There is always hope in God’s design and order for life.

*With appreciation to Christopher W. Mitchell,
Concordia Commentary The Song of Songs, p. 278

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

Barrenness and Mistaken Sexual Identity

The following was written by Rebecca Mayes and posted on He Remembers the Barren.  Thank you Rebecca.

One of the aspects of barrenness that is so awkward is the fact that the “success” of your marital relations (more modernly called your “sex life”) with your spouse is often scrutinized by those around you, either privately in their own minds, or quite publicly to your face. The joining of two fleshes into one in the bonds of holy matrimony used to be treated with such modesty and respect. No one would dare ask you whether you’re “doing it” right or if you’ve tried such-and-such a method. But the sexual revolution changed all that, and in numerous Christian publications we read that the act is a beautiful, natural part of marriage and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We should celebrate our gift of sexuality and teach the children in our Church all they need to know to be prepared for utilizing this gift. But is this what the Bible says? When we blush at the questions about what’s wrong with our reproductive organs, is that for a good reason, or are we just prudes?

Linda's bookLinda Bartlett, former national president of Lutherans for Life, has just published The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, which exposes the myths that our generation, as well as our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, have been taught to believe about what children should know to be prepared for marriage, the marital act, and procreation.

Bartlett begins by giving the necessary history of how the Church,  during the mid-20th century, put too much trust in “experts” instead of the inspired Word of God and willingly traded in our biblical understanding of manhood, womanhood, procreation, parenting, and purity for a more “scientific” approach to teaching children about the intimacies of marriage. Falsified, inaccurate, and even perverted studies on the “sexuality” of the human male and female conducted by Alfred Kinsey were presented to universities, medical associations, and church bodies as facts which could not be ignored by enlightened academics. Christianized versions of the sexual revolution’s message were then (and still are) passed down to schools and parents to share with children.

Are just what are some of these myths?

  • Children are sexual from birth.
  • Children should be taught about sex, and with the proper terminologies, beginning in early elementary school.
  • If children are not taught about sex early on, their naiveté could make them prey to sexual predators.
  • Parents aren’t trained to properly teach their children about sex. The schools are the best environments for this to take place.
  • Boys and girls should be taught about puberty and sexuality while in the same classroom, since there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
  • Sex education will help prevent unplanned pregnancies, STD’s, and abortions.

The Church was naive in its promotion of sex education in the parochial schools, Bartlett points out, but not malicious. We were deceived into believing that we are “sexual from birth,” and this brainwashing had the complete opposite effect on our Church members as what was intended. It cleared the way for the acceptance of fornication, homosexuality, birth control, and even abortion as a normal part of life for those who are simply expressing their sexuality – being who they thought they were created to be.

But that’s not how we were created, Bartlett reminds us. The solution to the mess we are in now is our Baptism. This is where we received our true identities as children of the Heavenly Father, not sexual beings created to express our sexuality, but holy beings, created to live holy (not sexual) lives. “It is important,” Bartlett says, “for the Body of Christ to see each member as fully human as opposed to sexual and, therefore, an instrument for God’s purpose and glory whether a child or adult, single or married, in this circumstance or that,” (pg. 108).

Because Bartlett presents such shocking evidence of our deception, she presents her case in the form of a patient dialogue between herself and her readers, including over 100 questions and then answering almost every objection one could think of to the notion that there is anything wrong with the way the Church has been educating her children. Her love and concern for her Church family flow through each section as she gently reminds us all that, “Even well-intentioned sex education in the Church leans the wrong way if built on the wrong foundation,” (pg. 129).

If you have children, if you teach children, if you are related to children, or if you once were a child, this book is for you.

by Rebecca Mayes
He Remembers the Barren

Wrong Identity, Wrong Practice

cropped-jesus-loves-all-the-children.jpg

The mistaken identity of “children are sexual from birth” opened the door to promiscuity, sodomy, same-sex “marriage,” human trafficking, pornography, pedophilia, cohabitation, adultery, and yes, even euthanasia.  (What good are we if we’ve lost our “sexual identity”?)

But God does not identify us by our sexuality.  He calls us by name!  He makes us His heirs–adopted sons and daughters–through Jesus Christ.  Because of what Jesus has done for us, we are not common to be used by anyone, but uncommon to be used by God for His special and holy purpose.

We are who God says we are!  What a difference it makes when we see ourselves and our children the way God sees us.

Identity matters.

It matters for the young and the old.  The single and married.  Those seeking acceptance and love.  Those struggling with sexual temptation.  People in every circumstance of life.

The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)
(Photo credit: Jesus Images.com)

Think You Are Gay? Jesus Says: Come!

crown of thorns with cross

Jesus Christ welcomes sinners.  He wants us to acknowledge and repent of our sins, but He does not identify us by our sinful desires and inclinations.

It is for this reason that I, a confessional Lutheran, am appreciative of the documentary produced by Blackstone Films to help the Catholic Church share its view on homosexuality.  The film is entitled The Third WayMercatorNet notes that even though it is “not perfect” and features “stereotypical religious” settings, the film is powerfully compelling because of the “authentic, convincing and coherent” voices of seven men and women who live with same-sex attraction.  These men and women  do not deny their personality nor do they argue that same-sex attraction must lead to same-sex lifestyle and same-sex “marriage”.  They confess that homosexuality is a sin even as they confess the struggle to live self-controlled and pure lives.  In the struggle, however, comes joy.  Joy comes when we relinquish our own identity and, in Jesus Christ, see ourselves the way God sees us.

The Word tells us to remember Whose we are and to live accordingly.  In Baptism, Jesus assures our true identity as sons and daughters of God through His sacrificial and redemptive work.  What does this mean?  It means that we are daily called to resist the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature.  It means that we are not common for use by anyone, but uncommon for use in the hands of the holy God.

I am especially appreciative of The Third Way because, for many years, I have been moved by the stories of men and women who were caught in a lifestyle shaped by the lie of a homosexual identity.  Their life experiences and encouragement of the Holy Spirit motivate me to speak Truth on their behalf.  Forgiven of every sin, the repentant sinner stands at the foot of the Cross where we hear Jesus say: Come!  Deny yourself!  Take up your cross and follow Me!  Lose your life and in Me you will find it.  (Matthew 16:24-25).

Please.  Take the time to watch this film.  Its message is for all who are deceived by mistaken identity.

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