Wrong Identity, Wrong Practice

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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)

Children in the Garment of Baptism

infant baptism

Perhaps we have let the world define us.  Perhaps we have believed the lie that we are “sexual from birth”.  Deceived by the lie, perhaps we have compromised our faith.  Do we ask, “What does it matter now?”  Or do we stop to remember our Baptism?

Martin Luther wrote,

Let everybody regard his Baptism as the daily garment which he is to wear all the time.  Every day he should be found in faith and amid its fruits, every day he should be suppressing the old man and growing up in the new.  If we wish to be Christians, we must practice the work that makes us Christians.  But if anybody falls away from his Baptism let him return to it.  As Christ, the mercy-seat, does not recede from us or forbid us to return to Him even though we sin, so all His treasures and gifts remain.  As we have once obtained forgiveness of sins in Baptism, so forgiveness remains day by day as long as we live, that is, as long as we carry the old Adam about our necks. (Large Catechism, 84-86)

It is important that parents view their children in the garment of their Baptism.  Sending a child to sex education to help them become “more comfortable with their sexuality” — in public school or Christian classroom — does not tighten the weave of their Baptismal garment but, instead, loosens the threads one by one.  Identified as a “sexual being” and more at ease with all things sexual,  a child is ill-equipped to do battle with the “old Adam” hanging about his neck.

Dear Lord Jesus, help our sons and daughters to see themselves as their Father in heaven sees them.  Clothed in holy garments, may they live as holy people clinging to Your Word of life.  Amen.

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

 

 

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)

What Is Mature Manhood & Womanhood?

people on beach

What is mature manhood and womanhood?  Here is perhaps one of the most important questions for Christian parents to help their adolescent children answer.  If we place emphasis on an identity as a “sexual being,” we miss the opportunity to discuss what masculine or feminine personhood really is.  Men are not men and women are not women because of their sexual urges or desires, nor does marriage make a person more fully male or female.  By labeling children or adults as “sexual beings,” we can actually distort the purpose and vocation of manhood and womanhood.

Genesis 1:27 tells us four things about the first man and women.  They were created by God to be human, not the same but male or female, in the image of God (not animals) and, because they were created in God’s image, they were created to be holy.  There is no mention of anything of a sexual nature (“one flesh”) until God brings man and woman together as husband and wife (Gn. 2:24).  Too may of us scurry from Genesis 1:27 and skip straight to that union.  But in doing so, we miss something very important about the essence of male and female.

We are more than sexual beings because God first spoke to Adam about being a man.  Man was put in the Garden to “work and keep it” (Gn. 2:15).  Man was to be a good steward over all of creation.  In faithfulness to God, he was to defend life and avoid death (Gn. 2:16-17).  “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gn. 2:18).  The creation was incomplete without woman.  Man had no one like himself nor did he have a way to procreate.  God made (literally “built”) woman from man’s rib.  In marriage, the woman is her husband’s “helper” (Hebrew: ezer), assistant and ally.  The vocation of “helper” is not inferior.  Jesus called the Holy Spirit a “Helper” in John 14:16 which can be translated as “comforter,” “encourager,” or “advocate.”  In her “one flesh” union with Adam, Eve became the bearer of life who would nurture, comfort, and encourage husband and children.

Sin distorted God’s perfect design and rhythm of life.  Sin causes the relationships of men and women–married or not–to be difficult.  But even in chaos, God’s order of creation stands.  Whether  married or single, men are stewards of creation.  Whether married or single, men are called to defend life and lead away from death in faithfulness to God.  In or out of marriage, women are called to help men do good (not evil), be encouraged (not discouraged), built up (not torn down).  Mature manhood and womanhood are not dependent on being married; thus, neither are sensually or sexually driven.

Do you see that boys can be mentored to work, build, protect and engage life without sensual implications?  Do you see that girls can be mentored to help, encourage, counsel and build relationships without sensual suggestions?

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (pp. 100-101)
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)

 

Sexuality: Gift or Design?

father reading bible

One of the reasons given for sex education in the Church is so that we might share perspective on “God’s gift of sex” and “sexuality”.

Let’s discern the language.  Does God speak about his “gift of sex” or “sexuality” in Scripture or is this phrase coming from another source?

The words we use matter.  When we speak about “God’s gift of sexuality,” we turn eyes toward the created; but when we speak about God’s design for sexuality, we turn eyes toward the Creator.  God’s design for sexuality is within the boundaries of one man/one woman marriage, but His design for mature womanhood and manhood is not bound by marriage and, therefore, does not have to be sensually driven.

One of the failures of sex education in the Church becomes evident once we acknowledge the foundation upon which it was built.  Sex education was intended to make children who are “sexual from birth” understand how central their “sexuality” is to their humanity and to express that sexuality in ways different from their parents.  It was important to both secular humanists and feminists that boys and girls see themselves not compatibly different as male and female, but the same as uninhibited “sexual beings.”  Denying God’s design and created order is doomed to failure and there are  many casualties.  When the Church brought in the language of social scientists, the faithfulness of instructing in biblical manhood and womanhood was set aside.  Many girls and women I talk with are comfortable with their “sexual identity” but uncomfortable with being a woman.  Boys and men in my relational circle are bombarded by a feminized and sexualized culture but don’t know how to engage as mature men.

So what is mature manhood and womanhood?

The answer is found in the next post.

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (pp 99-100)
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)

 

Shall We Stir Their Desires?

candy store

Male and female do have a “sexual” side that includes more than sexual organs but also desires and feelings.  With that in mind, shouldn’t we help our children become acquainted with that part of themselves?

We have sexual organs, feelings, and desires for a special purpose, but little boys and girls are not interested in or ready for that special purpose.  Children cannot be lovers and marry but they can be friends.  They can work and play together.  Not until they are mature should they think about relating to one another as lovers.  A Christian parent or teacher should not stir up ideas of sexual love because, in God’s world, sexual love leads to the establishment of the home into which new life comes.  No child is ready for this privilege and responsibility.

Children need the discerning wisdom of parents who trust God’s Word more than voices of the world.  Christian parents are well acquainted with sin.  We are born in sin.  We battle sin daily; therefore, in a highly sexualized culture, it is not helpful to give detailed sexual information to adolescents who are just beginning to experience new emotions and thoughts about themselves but who do not have the ability to discern the proper use of that information.

Imagine if we described to a child the most delicious candy he could ever want.  We walk with that child by the candy store to look in the window, but tell him he must not go in.  We promise him that the day will come when he can enter the store and enjoy some of the candy he sees on display.  We talk with him about the candy all the way home.  During the week, we ask him if he has any questions about candy.  What desire have we stirred in him?  What will he think of candy?  Will he be curious about candy and desire a taste right now?

Our sinful human flesh too easily desires what it should not have.  Our flesh, like human instinct, cannot be trusted.  Obeying human instinct is like obeying people.  But people, with all kinds of opinions, tell us different things.  So do our instincts.  In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis reminds us that our instincts are at war; each instinct, if we listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest.  So it is with our flesh.  Our flesh carries the sin inherited from our first parents.  Our sinful human flesh is fickle, selfish and easily deceived.  Better than helping young people be at ease with their flesh is helping them to stand guard.

In Gethsemane, Jesus knew His disciples would intend to be faithful.  Nevertheless, He said, “Watch and pray that you  may not enter into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).  For this reason, the faithful parent or instructive adult begins early to teach a child their identity and purpose in Christ, explain the order of God’s creation, and set boundaries for behavior.  God’s Word teaches self-control.  Parents need to help children practice self-control even as they model it themselves.  We are like athletes in training, but our prize is not perishable (1 Co. 9:25-26; 1 Tim. 4:7-12).

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (pp. 9-98)
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)

 

Sexuality is Central to Being Human, Right?

backs of children

It is true, isn’t it, that sexuality is a central part of being human?

That’s what SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) says.  One of their core values is that “sexuality is a central part of being human.”  But what does God say?  Does He say that sexuality (understood as sexual desires and the ability to be sexually intimate) is a central part of being human?  If so, where does He say that?  And what does this  mean, specifically when speaking about children?

Animals and humans bear similarity in the fact that both continue their species sexually, not asexually like amoebas.  But should we be defined by the way we procreate?  Central to being human is our distinction from animals.  It is having the attributes of God.  Unlike animals, humans have the ability to reason; to be kind, faithful, patient, and just.  We derive knowledge of God’s will for creation.  In our vocations a male and female humans, we have opportunity to make use of our humanness in different yet compatible ways with glory to God.  Even in the Garden of Eden, God did not clothe Adam and Eve with sexuality or sensuality.  He clothed them with His glory.  If sexuality is central to being human (as defined by Kinsey and company), what happens when we can’t or don’t express sexual desires and needs?  Are we less human?  The present culture seems to demand sexual rights.  But is sexuality a right from God or a privilege and responsibility within the boundaries of marriage?

It would be cruel, don’t you think, if God were to identify even children as “sexual beings” but then tell us we cannot freely be the very thing He created us to be?  God wants us to be what He created us to be: holy people who live our daily lives as male and female not just in marriage, but in familial and social relationships, in school, at work, and in worship.  He 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.  We can be in all kinds of selfless relationships– parents and children, brothers and sisters, caring neighbors, co-workers–that draw attention to Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ was fully human, but only in error would we identify Him as a “sexual being.”

Sin warped the image of God that we humans were created to bear.  But the moment a person trusts Christ, he or she begins to receive a new nature (2 Cor. 5:17).  Baptized, we are saints–or holy ones–set apart for God through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Holiness–whether it is reckoned to us freely (justification) or begins to characterize us (sanctification), whether we are receiving it as a free gift or cooperating with God to bring it about within us–is central to being human.  We are “debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh” (Ro. 8:12), but to Christ in whom the fallen nature has no claim on us.

We might want to say, “I am a sexual being.  I can’t help being who I am!”  But in Christ, we are not obligated to obey impulses of the flesh or satisfy its desires.  Why?  Because Christians are sanctified.  Sanctification is the process by which God develops our new nature, enabling us to grow into more holiness (not sexiness) through time.  This is a continuous process with many victories and defeats as the new nature battles with the “old man” (Ro. 6:6) in which it presently resides.  In heaven, the new nature will be set free, not as a sexual being (understood as sexually active), but as a holy being in the perfectly restored image of God.

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, pp. 92-93
by Linda Bartlett (Amaz0n)