C.S. Lewis on Sex and Purity

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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)

If Not Sex Education, Then What?

father reading bible

Sex education is built on a foundation that diametrically opposes God’s design for parents to instruct their children in purity.

Sex education is not biblical; rather, it grows from the ideologies and humanist faith of sexologists like Alfred Kinsey and Wardell Pomeroy, birth control and eugenics advocate Margaret Sanger, social reformer and SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) co-founder Mary Calderone, and advocate of child sexual rehearsal play, Dr. John Money.

Sex and sexuality education, sometimes called family life education, is described by Miriam Grossman, M.D., as “a social movement, a vehicle for changing the world. It happens one child at a time, and it goes on right under your nose.”

Sex education has led our boys and girls closer to the edge of the cliff. Parents and grandparents are not to lead children as close to the edge without falling off, but to keep them far away from the cliff. In a sexually-saturated society, what can a parent or grandparent do? First, we need to prepare ourselves:

1. Develop your parental “mission statement.” What do you want your son or daughter to know about their identity in God’s eyes? What do you want your child to know about sex or things of a sexual nature? Why will you strive to teach and mentor your child while also guarding the innocence of childhood?

2. Spend time with your child so that you can discern his or her questions. When your five-year-old asks, “Where did I come from?” don’t be too quick to assume, “Oh! It’s time for the full-fledged sex talk!” He might just want to know what city he came from because his friend Billy came from Denver. As the parent, you can ask questions of your child that will go a long way in determining what he or she really wants to know and is ready to hear and process, i.e. “Why are you asking me this?” or “What do you think?”

3. Follow the order of purity. When the Christian mother Laeta wondered how she could prepare her daughter for a life of purity in Christ, the Church father Jerome offered this order of instruction using God’s Word: 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. (Appreciation to Rev. Dr. Christopher W. Mitchell, Concordia Commentary The Song of Songs, 278.)

4. You may have never thought about it, but fatherhood, motherhood, and grandparenthood are vocations. They are vocations that show love for God by serving others. Parents serve their children by teaching them to fear and love God, mentoring biblical manhood and womanhood, and preparing them to be good neighbors and citizens. (To consider parenthood from a biblical perspective, you might read God at Work by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.)

5. Many resources that instruct in purity come from Christians who do not believe in original sin. With the psalmist, I believe: “In sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm. 51:5). Every Christian parent must bear in mind that even if we try to keep the walls up and the gates closed, evil still dwells within children. The purpose of instruction in purity should be to guard against temptations and attacks from the outside while we do our best with the help of the Holy Spirit to fight and clean things up on the inside, too. Our goal is not to keep children pure, but to purify them with the grace of the Holy Spirit and guard them from daily attack. We are to help them: “Put on the whole armor of God, that [they] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil . . . and spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians. 6:10-18).

6. In every culture of madness, the unchanging Word of God gives fathers and mothers what they need to resist evil and build a future of hope. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not “progressive.” Tell them you’re progressing out of the insanity and chaos of this world into the sanity and order of God’s Word.

7. Become uncommon parents in a highly sexualized world. Look to the example of Joshua who proclaimed, “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in this region beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Do not be faint of heart by what you see and hear. Sexualized cultures have always pressed on the Christian home. Create opportunities to talk with your child and contrast myths and half-truths with what is holy and pure.

8. Do not be afraid to question professionals and experts. If you remember, the Bereans “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The Berean Christians questioned the Apostle Paul, the one called by God to instruct them! Contrast God’s Word of purity with those who have a wall of diplomas but advocate sex education. A diploma doesn’t necessarily reflect wisdom. If your discerning conscience says, “No! Not for my child,” listen to it!

9. Personalize God’s call to live a life of holiness and purity. Familiarize yourself with His Word and how it contrasts “purity” with “sensuality.” Then ask: Do I dress in a way that tempts the opposite sex? What books, magazines, and movies do I bring into my home? What do I look at on the internet? Do I go against the “flow” of a sexualized culture? Your child needs an example to follow.

10. As a parent, take comfort and instruction from your own Baptism and that of your child. In the flood, Noah and his family were preserved. In Baptism, Christ the Savior brings parent and child into the holy ark of the Christian Church where He marks us as His own, cleanses us from sin and, for our sake, appeals to God for good conscience (1 Peter 3:18-22). Remind yourself of the promise of Baptismal identity and life by reading the Order of Baptism and the words of hymns. (Suggestion: Lutheran Service Book [Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO.], page 268 and pages 594-605.)

11. As a family, pray that the Lord be in your home and drive from it all the snares of the enemy. Develop friendships with other parents whose greater desire is to help children trust their identity as heirs of God in Christ rather than identity shaped by a restless and shallow culture.

12. Don’t be ashamed by what you believe and teach; rather, be convinced that the Holy Spirit sustains you and your child. Together with your child, live as people who know that Jesus is coming again (1 John 2:28-3:3).

(Note: These preparation suggestions for parents were excerpted from The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity by Linda Bartlett [Amazon.com.] The book offers questions and answers to help Christian parents and pastors navigate a sexually-saturated society. It includes age-appropriate suggestions and resources for teaching purity and biblical manhood and womanhood.)

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

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

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)

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)