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

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

Sex Matters, But Marriage Matters More

older couple's hands

We are witnessing the deconstruction of marriage. But, how did it happen and why? Can we place the blame on those who advocate same-sex “marriage”? Are they the only ones chipping away at the institution of marriage?

Long before society began to tolerate the “marriage” of two men or two women, it accepted cohabitation, adultery, and no-fault divorce. It accepted the lie that we are, first and foremost, sexual beings who have the “right” to love, be loved, and have our needs met. Society, however, would not be left in such darkness if we in the Church had trusted the Light and resisted the sexualization of marriage.

What does this mean? In 1961, Mary Calderone, the co-founder of SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and former medical director of Planned Parenthood, lectured on the role of churches in sex education to 500 delegates from 38 Protestant denominations. Calderone worked her way into churches and homes because she feared that parents did a poor job of teaching their children about “sexuality.” She wanted parents to teach children the “yeses” of sex instead of so many “thou shalt nots.” She wanted boundaries and inhibitions removed. Calderone wanted children to experience the “wow” factor of sex. There were those in the Church who embraced this thinking. It was their hope that talking about sex with children beginning at an early age would help boys and girls grow up to be husbands and wives who would experience the “wow” factor of sex.

And so, for half a century and from kindergarten on, children hear: “God created sex to be beautiful within marriage.” “Sex in marriage is the best thing ever.” “Sex is worth waiting for.” “Sex within marriage is when we are the closest to God.” “Sex is so amazing, my dear child, that we are going to talk about it a lot.”

Because sin permeates all relationships, including marriage, is it possible that years of fantasizing on the ecstasy of sex might have an impact on a husband and wife? Might sexual expectations be so high that when marriage is put to the everyday challenges of real life, husbands and wives are disappointed? Might they be so disappointed that they are tempted to believe that sex with someone else might be better, maybe even with someone of the same gender who might better understand their partner’s needs?
Has marriage been sexualized?

Consider the husband and wife who desire to bring new life into the world, but are barren. Rebecca Mayes writes, “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 has 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 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?” (He Remembers the Barren, 6-15-2014)

Sex matters, but marriage matters more. Some pastors take care during pre-marital instruction not to overemphasize sexuality because they believe that it could threaten the hierarchy of values in marriage and assume too predominant a place in terms of producing a well-grounded and joyful marriage. The “wow” factor of sex can be wonderful, but it is the friendship, trusted companionship, communication, and agape love of a husband and wife that carries them through good times and bad, sickness and health. With an identity that is primarily “sexual,” we are limited in the ways we can serve others. Not so with our holy identity; for indeed, when we see ourselves as “uncommon” and set apart for use not just by anyone but by God, our opportunities to serve are multiplied.

Instead of detailed sex talk, parents do better—with the support of the Church—to help boys understand the vocation of manhood and girls to understand the vocation of womanhood. Boys need to know how they, as the stewards and defenders of life, should regard women, most especially their someday wives. Girls need to know how they, as the co-stewards and nurturers of life, should regard men, most especially their someday husbands. Parents go a long way in preparing sons and daughters for marriage by mentoring respect, patience, selflessness, and forgiveness. Parents also do well in preparing young men and women for the realities of married life. Because of the Fall, marriage is hard work. It requires appreciation of our differences as male and female, the commitment to work together, trust, friendship, and more agape than eros love. Marriage can be a beautiful relationship, not just because of the sexual union, but sometimes even in spite of it.

It is God’s design that the marital union of man and woman become the nest for new life; the foundation for home and family. Sin has distorted God’s perfect design but, even in disappointment and difficulty, a faithful marriage is the bedrock of a finely-tuned and healthy society. Marriage is the amazing teamwork of male and female; indeed, the two eyes of the human race. Both eyes are needed for a proper perspective on all matters of life.  Biblical marriage is the only pairing that allows a man formed from the dust of the ground to welcome the help of a woman made from his rib. The world is better for it.

Intimacy in marriage is not all about the sexual act. It is the most perfect trust, companionship and loving faithfulness this side of heaven. It is the unity of two spirits in this life—male and female, each encouraging the other to journey well to a sure and certain destination.

Linda Bartlett strives to help mentor
biblical womanhood through Titus 2 for Life .
She is the author of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon.com)
Visit: Our Identity Matters
Photo credit: dreamstime.com

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)

 

Sexual Describes Male or Female, Right?

children painting

When Christians use the phrases “sexual from birth” or “sexual beings,” we’re simply describing our maleness or femaleness, aren’t we?

This is likely how many sincere Christians understand it.  Remember, however, that male or female describes the kind of human we are.  You may never have heard it explained this way before, so it bears repeating.  Male or female has more than a sexual connotation; it is our divinely appointed vocation.  It is a way to engage life.  The vocations of male and female are God-given roles rooted in God’s creation of each individual human, as opposed to the kinds of vocations that men and women choose or take up later in life (such as father, mother, teacher, or pastor).  Those who oppose God don’t care about this because, like Kinsey, they have no respect for male or female.  God does.  So, let’s consider this in light of His Word.

God did not make male and female at the same time, in the same way or for the same purpose (Gn. 2:7, 15, 18-22).  Their differences did not conflict, but were complementary.  As husband and wife, Adam and Eve were lovers, that is, they were sexually intimate.  The human race came from their procreative sexual union; Eve because the “mother of all the living” (Gn. 3:20).  But, not every complementary man or woman marries and thus, becomes a lover or sexually active.

There is sexual love and there is agape love.  Husbands and wives share sexual intimacy, but all males and females of any age can share (and practice) agape love.  Scripture says it is the “will of God, your sanctification,” that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his [or her] own boy in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like [those] who do not know God” (1 Thes. 4:3-5).  Scripture is clear.  The sexual part of us is designed for use within the parameters of marriage.

To be lovers or, in other words, to share sexual intimacy and literally fit together in the procreational act of sex, is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman.  To be male or female, however, is a design and vocation for daily use in glorifying God.  God does not tell us to abstain from being male or female.  God does not tell us to abstain from being the human beings He created us to be, but He does tell us to abstain from sexual activity except within marriage.  Sexual activity is not an intrinsic part of what it means to be human.  We don’t do battle with the attributes of maleness or femaleness, but with “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry . . . [T]hose who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:19-24).  Unmarried males and females, of any age, are not to be lovers, but they are free to practice agape love which is this:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Co. 13:4-).

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (pp. 94-95)
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)

 

Not Identified by Our Stomachs

eating

Aren’t we making too much out of this sexual identity thing?  After all, humans are sexual and we do need sex, right?

Well, we have stomachs and appetites, too.  Some have even claimed, “You are what you eat.”  But, observes  my friend Bob Morrison,

No one considers himself an alimentary being.  Food– nourishment–is essential to human life.  It’s natural.  But if we focus on that as the essence of our being, then, as St. Paul writes, our “god is in our belly” (Phil. 3:19).  Sex within marriage is right, but we should not forget that this gift is given so that the human race might continue and generations may know Christ.”

C.S. Lewis agrees with my friend Bob and with St. Paul.  He writes,

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.”  (Mere Christianity)

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

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