Can Purity be Snatched Away?

father-daughter-wedding-dance

It was one of those phone calls that was unexpected, yet perfectly timed.  “You will soon be presenting the message of your book in our church,” the man said.  “But, I’m wondering.  How will you comfort my daughter who was sexually assaulted?  Her Christian friends know it wasn’t her fault, but they hint that her purity has been taken from her.   What will you say?”


If we are mistaken about our identity—thinking it is something we feel or do, then we will have the wrong idea about purity.

Purity—which is holiness—is compromised when it becomes something we do.

But, purity is not what we feel or do.  It is done for us!

Just as we do not choose Christ, we do not choose identity.  Nor do we choose purity which is holiness.

Just as we became heirs of God the Father in Baptism, so we are made pure and holy in Baptism.

 “But now says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you” (John 15:16).

“For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).

“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 … and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me, says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6:16, 18).

We are pure and holy, not because of how we feel or what we do, but because God has made us uncommon and set apart for His own use.  (On the contrary, things that are common are used by just anyone.)  This changes everything about our identity.  Our function in this world flows from the identity and purity that God has bestowed upon us.

This is why, for the Lutheran, Baptism is so significant.  In Baptism, the Old Man is drowned and, just like Noah was saved by God’s Word and water, so are we.

“Baptism now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God…” (1 Peter 3:20-22).

Baptism saves us!  It cleans us!  It raises us to new life!  By grace, Baptism is a means of salvation through which the Holy Spirit produces faith.  This is the work of God, not our own.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Identity is not our decision, our feelings, or our work.

In Baptism, identity is bestowed upon us by God the Father with the mark of the cross.  At Jesus’ request, the Father sends the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.

Purity is not our decision, our feelings, or our work.

We are made pure (holy) because of what Jesus has already done for us.  We struggle daily with our fallen and sinful nature.  We battle daily against Satan and the world.  But covered in Christ’s Robe of Righteousness, we are God’s holy ones.  Purity isn’t our work, nor is it something that anyone can steal from us.  The believer is made pure and holy in Christ.  It is part and parcel to our identity!

Our baptismal identity matters!  We are so much more than “sexual” and temporal beings!   If we see ourselves as primarily “sexual beings,” then we do not see ourselves as God does and purity (holiness) is compromised.  If we identify ourselves by what we feel and do, then our purity also becomes what we feel and do.  Let it not be so!

Let us cling to God’s Word in Christ that says: I choose you, You are Mine!  You shall be holy, for I am holy.  You have “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading…” (1 Peter 1:4)

The tract,
But what about my daughter who was assaulted:
Has her purity been stolen from her?
is available in PDF format by request from
lindabartlett@mchsi.com

Photo credit: ultrafonk.blogspot.com)

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

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

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

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)

 

 

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