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)

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)

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).

Modesty on Sunday Only? (#2 in series)

girl thinking by windowThe outward adornment of a woman who professes faith in Christ should reflect her inner beauty and identity as a baptized daughter of God. This is true especially in worship but, because women are always in the presence of God and men, it is true for all times.

1 Timothy 2:9-10 encourages women to “adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” The Christian woman is called by God to profess godliness every day of the week in her vocation of “helper” (Gn. 2:18) whether she is in class, at work, or having fun. She should refrain from being proud and sensual but can be generous with “good works” that help men think about what is honorable and pure.

Identity matters. How we dress says something about who we think we are. Focused on an identity of being “sexual,” it is easier for girls and women to disregard self-restraint and responsibility in favor of personal rights. Dressing “sexy” can have a powerful influence on our feelings and, therefore, the decisions made based on those feelings. But if girls learn to see themselves as daughters of God in Christ, then they will be encouraged to dress in a way that calls attention not to themselves, but to their Father.

Women who see themselves as God sees them help their brothers in Christ better navigate the journey of life to their eternal destination.

From Chapter 14, Question 85
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett, Copyright 2014 Titus 2 for Life
Our Identity Matters

Choices Affect Our Attitude Toward God

1900s girlsHere are more pearls from my grandmother’s book.  (Once again, truth has a way of deflating the progressive thinker’s much inflated balloon.)

In What a Young Woman Ought to Know, Mrs. Mary Wood-Allen, M.D., writes that we are not only body and mind, but spirit (or soul).  Whether we’ve thought about this or not, the fact remains.  “No failure to recognize God as your Father changes His relationship to you.  No conduct of yours can make you any less His child.”

“Well,” you may say, “if that is so, what does it matter, then, what I do?  If disobedience or sin cannot make me less God’s child, why should I be good and obedient?”  Because… “your conduct changes your attitude toward Him.”

“The most worthy and dignified thing we can do,” wrote Dr. Wood-Allen, “is to recognize ourselves as God’s children and be obedient.  It is a wonderful glory to be a child of God . . . even the most ignorant or degraded have . . . divine possibilities.”

My grandmother’s choices and behavior evidenced that she was in a merciful relationship with her Heavenly Father.  And, no matter what anyone else thought of her, she knew she had “divine possibilities” because she was a child of God.

This woman physician from the late 1800s continues, “Being children of God puts on us certain obligations towards Him, but it also puts on God certain obligations towards us.  ‘What!’ you say: ‘God the Infinite under obligations to man, the finite?  The Creator under obligations to the created?’  Oh, yes.”

Human parents are under obligation to care for, protect, educate and give opportunities to their children.  In a similar way, God is obligated to do the same for His children.  The difference is, He fulfills these obligations perfectly.  All our earthly blessings are from Him.  Every good thing we have is a gift of love from our Creator and Heavenly Father.

Our life matters to God.  And, why wouldn’t it?  He created it!  He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for it!  And, as Dr. Mary Wood-Allen observes, “God takes such minute care of us that if for one second of time He would forget us, we should be annihilated.”  What does that say to you?  I know what it says to me.  And it pulls me down on my knees in humble, speechless gratitude.

But, if God is truly taking care of us, why does He allow failures, hardships and worries?  Sometimes, the things we call hard and cruel are actually little tumbles on our way to learning to walk.  A trial or difficulty in the school of life may be God’s way of opening our eyes to see that we need Him and can trust Him.

Our choices affect our attitude toward God.  The most dignified thing we can do is to recognize ourselves as God’s children and try to do those things that bring glory to Him.

It is a wondrous thing to be called a child of God.  It means we are heirs of God’s wisdom, strength, and glory.  It means that when we fail to trust and obey Him, we are still God’s child because of what Jesus did for us (Galatians 4:4-7).   Only a personal question remains:

As a child of God, how shall I choose to live?

First posted 2-9-2011 in Ezerwoman

The Body Is Our House

body is houseYour body, wrote Mary Wood-Allen, M.D., is not you.  It is your dwelling, but not you.  It does, however, express you.

She explains: A man builds a house and, through it, expresses himself.  As someone else looks at the house and then walks through it, they will learn a great deal about the man.  The outside will give evidence of neatness, orderliness, and artistry or it may show that he cares nothing for elements of beauty and neatness.  His library will reveal the character of his mind.  Care of his house — preservation of its health — speaks of respect and value.

The author of the book found among my grandmother’s treasures notes that  many young people just want to have a “good time.”  Dr. Allen wrote that she heard many young people remark that it’s o.k. for the “old folks” to take care of their bodies and health, but “I don’t want to be so fussy . . . I’d rather die ten years sooner and have some fun while I do live.”

But, what serious pianist would neglect the care of his piano because it’s too “fussy” and then add, “I’ll treat it more kindly when it’s old”?  Dr. Allen observed that, too often, we prize the body far more after its use for us is at an end than while it is ours to use.   We don’t neglect the dead; we dress them in beautiful garments, we adorn them with flowers, we follow them to the grave with religious ceremonies, we build costly monuments to place over their graves, and then we go to weep over their last resting-place.”  I wonder: Do we treat our living, breathing bodies with such respect?  Do we treat the living, breathing bodies of others with such care?

There are those among us who consider themselves “progressive.”  A “progressive” would find no value in “going back” to a book from their grandmother’s collection.  But, in reading What A Young Woman Ought to Know by a woman physician published in 1898, I am more deeply committed to the Titus 2 style of mentoring.  Yes, there are trends.  There are new styles.  Technology changes, even improves.   But, care of our bodies is a truth that does not change with time.  What we do to and with our bodies, what we put in them, how we dress them, what environment we allow them to be in, and how we expect others to treat them matters today as much as it did yesterday.

Does it matter how we treat our bodies?  The answer to that question depends on what we believe about our origin.  Are we here by chance, just accidents of nature?  Or, are we “knit together in our mother’s wombs” by God Himself (Psalm 139)?  Is the value of our bodies determined by how we or others see them, or by the price that Jesus Christ paid for them?

Dr. Allen asks:

Is it not life that we should value?  Life here and hereafter, not death, is the real thing for which we should prepare . . . Life should increase in beauty and usefulness, in ability and joyousness, as the years bring us a wider experience, and this will be the case if we in youth have been wise enough to lay the foundation of health by a wise, thoughtful, prudent care of our bodies and our minds.

First posted 1-24-2011 in Ezerwoman