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

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)

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

Sex Education and Singleness

group of peopleHow might an emphasized identity as a “sexual being” influence a single man or woman?  What impact might years and years of sex education (or even abstinence education with a focus on “waiting” for the “joys of marital sex”) have on a person who is not married?

The unmarried man or woman might ask, “If God created me to be a sexual being, am I not fully human?” The mistaken identity of “sexual from birth” might tempt a man or woman to believe that they’ll never be all they were meant to be if they don’t marry and enjoy sexual intimacy.

Jesus Christ was not married and yet He was fully human. It is our personhood that defines us and not our sexual desires or urges. Oh, but some insist, our sexuality is part of our personhood; we would be incomplete without it. But Jesus Christ, fully human, never entered into a sexually intimate relationship. There is liberation in this truth for the single man or woman.

Knowing who we will be in heaven is also liberating for the single man or woman.  Some men once posed a question of Jesus.  “Now there were seven brothers among us.  The first married and died, and having no children left his wife to his brother.  So too the second and third, down to the seventh.  After them all, the woman died.  In the resurrection, therefore, of the seven, whose wife will she be?  For they all had her” (Matt. 22:25-28).  How did Jesus answer?  “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.  For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage . . . .” (vv. 29-30).  If earthly marriages are no longer binding in heaven; if, indeed, we “neither marry nor are given in marriage,” wouldn’t we also be able to say that identity for a male or female is not sexually-bound?   In heaven, we will be the person— body and soul—that we were on earth only perfect in every way.  But it does not appear that sex or “sexuality” is part of our eternal personhood.

The exaggerated place of sexuality in cradle to grave sex education is destructive to all relationships between men and women, married or single. It takes our focus off the identity bestowed upon us at Baptism. For Christians, mature manhood and womanhood is about relating to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, being thankful for the gift of self-control and enjoying the respectful interaction of male and female perspectives on life. It means men assume the role of leader and protector but in ways that vary from how a husband would lead and protect his wife. It means that women assume the role of helper, ally and even counselor but in ways that vary from how a wife would submissively yet confidently help her husband. Personally, I find it humorous, productive and comforting to interact with my brothers in Christ. Seeing my identity as fundamentally “sexual” would potentially change every relationship I have with the men in my life. That would be a tragic loss for me.

The baptized child of God in Christ can live fully as a male or female without ever being sexually intimate. Self-control, as evidenced by the Apostle Paul (1 Co. 7:7) is a gift. We can say that 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. Man does not become man by getting married and being “one flesh” with his wife, nor does woman become woman by getting married and being “one flesh” with her husband.

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, pp 106-107
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

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)