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)

Shall We Stir Their Desires?

candy store

Male and female do have a “sexual” side that includes more than sexual organs but also desires and feelings.  With that in mind, shouldn’t we help our children become acquainted with that part of themselves?

We have sexual organs, feelings, and desires for a special purpose, but little boys and girls are not interested in or ready for that special purpose.  Children cannot be lovers and marry but they can be friends.  They can work and play together.  Not until they are mature should they think about relating to one another as lovers.  A Christian parent or teacher should not stir up ideas of sexual love because, in God’s world, sexual love leads to the establishment of the home into which new life comes.  No child is ready for this privilege and responsibility.

Children need the discerning wisdom of parents who trust God’s Word more than voices of the world.  Christian parents are well acquainted with sin.  We are born in sin.  We battle sin daily; therefore, in a highly sexualized culture, it is not helpful to give detailed sexual information to adolescents who are just beginning to experience new emotions and thoughts about themselves but who do not have the ability to discern the proper use of that information.

Imagine if we described to a child the most delicious candy he could ever want.  We walk with that child by the candy store to look in the window, but tell him he must not go in.  We promise him that the day will come when he can enter the store and enjoy some of the candy he sees on display.  We talk with him about the candy all the way home.  During the week, we ask him if he has any questions about candy.  What desire have we stirred in him?  What will he think of candy?  Will he be curious about candy and desire a taste right now?

Our sinful human flesh too easily desires what it should not have.  Our flesh, like human instinct, cannot be trusted.  Obeying human instinct is like obeying people.  But people, with all kinds of opinions, tell us different things.  So do our instincts.  In The Abolition of Man, C.S. Lewis reminds us that our instincts are at war; each instinct, if we listen to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest.  So it is with our flesh.  Our flesh carries the sin inherited from our first parents.  Our sinful human flesh is fickle, selfish and easily deceived.  Better than helping young people be at ease with their flesh is helping them to stand guard.

In Gethsemane, Jesus knew His disciples would intend to be faithful.  Nevertheless, He said, “Watch and pray that you  may not enter into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).  For this reason, the faithful parent or instructive adult begins early to teach a child their identity and purpose in Christ, explain the order of God’s creation, and set boundaries for behavior.  God’s Word teaches self-control.  Parents need to help children practice self-control even as they model it themselves.  We are like athletes in training, but our prize is not perishable (1 Co. 9:25-26; 1 Tim. 4:7-12).

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (pp. 9-98)
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)

 

Identity: Inseparable from Sexuality?

robe of righteousness

That’s what Christopher Yuan thought.

As a young man, Christopher struggled with homosexual desires. He prayed that God would change him. When God did not, Christopher gave up the struggle, believing, “This is who I am.” While serving time in prison for drug-dealing, Christopher confessed his sexual identity to a chaplain who told him that Scripture doesn’t condemn homosexuality. Christopher was motivated to contrast the information given to him by the chaplain with God’s Word of Scripture. In light of the Word, Christopher realized that “my identity shouldn’t be defined by my sexuality.”

Christopher writes,

Paul said in Acts 17:28, “For in him we live and move and have our being.” Christ should be everything—my all in all. My sexual orientation didn’t have to be the core of who I was. My primary identity didn’t have to be defined by my feelings or sexual attractions. 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 says, “Be holy, for I am holy.” I had always thought that the opposite of homosexuality was heterosexuality. But actually the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. God never said, “Be heterosexual, for I am heterosexual.” He said, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Christopher desired change. But, he writes, “change is not the absence of struggles; change is the freedom to choose holiness in the midst of our struggles.”

In The Book of Man, Bill Bennett tells about his friend who was recovering from life-threatening cancer. “His doctor told him that he could not work, exercise, or enjoy the other fruits of life,” explains Bennett, “all things that men pride themselves on. I asked him what hurts the most to be without. ‘Work,’ he said. ‘I don’t feel like a man. Work has more to do with me being a man than sex or muscle.’”

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

Physical and Spiritual Clothing (#4 in series)

robe of righteousnessEvery person conceived and born after the Fall is a sinner. Every person who believes in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is a saint. Clothing, which is significant in Scripture, speaks to both of these identities.

After the Fall, a loving God provided Adam and Eve with two kinds of clothing. Coats of animal skins covered their physical body, but the covering of Jesus Christ was promised for their spiritual body. As forgiven sinners, we are clothed in the garment of salvation which is the robe of righteousness given freely to us by Jesus Christ (Isa. 61:10). Wearing the robe of His Son, God sees us as holy. However, it is a consequence of the fallen world that men and women see each other through sin-tainted eyes. For this reason, God tells women to dress modestly—in a way that professes faith—so that they do not tempt an admiring man by way of false glory to sinful thoughts or deeds.

Adam and Eve covered only certain parts of themselves with fig leaves, but God designed clothes to cover their bodies. From this we know that Adam and Eve could not sufficiently cover themselves physically (nakedness) or spiritually (works righteousness). The work of their hands was neither acceptable nor enough. There was absolute necessity for the full covering and righteousness of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Today, whenever we consider clothing, we can remember that its purpose is to cover our bodies and protect us from our own corrupted thoughts.

Here is where instruction in purity does what sex education does not. Clothing is not usually considered very significant in sex or sexuality education. But to help male and female of any age understand that we are called to a lifestyle of purity means that we must talk about clothing.

From Chapter 14, Question 87
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
by Linda Bartlett, Copyright 2014 Titus 2 for Life
Our Identity Matters

The Language of Clothing (#1 in series)

what label are you wearingDoes clothing speak?  Does how we dress say something about who we think we are?

With eyes open, it appears that clothing even for Christians is a thing indifferent. Younger (and older) women too often approach the Lord’s Table clothed in eye-catching attire not dissimilar from the women one might see working the corner of Hollywood and Vine. From time to time, I ask teen girls and their moms if they would be comfortable wearing their lingerie or bra and panties out in the front yard or going shopping. “Of course not,” they proclaim, “no way!” But how is their bikini any different?

As a wife and mom, I strive to see the world through the eyes of my husband, sons and grandsons. They are sorely put to the test. For example, there was the time when a beautiful and well-endowed woman waited on the table of my family. The cross the server was wearing hung low and visible between her breasts, but where were the eyes of my husband and sons invited to focus: upon the cross or somewhere else?

Sex education turns the eyes of boys to the bodies of girls.  It turns the eyes of girls to the bodies of boys. Sex education teaches that there is no shame in the human body. After all, as this thinking goes, God made our wondrous bodies. But this thinking ignores the fact that sin has corrupted our desires. This thinking may unconsciously encourage girls to become temptresses. Sometimes a young woman is completely unaware that she is being a temptress. She is, perhaps, uneducated in godly womanhood, dressing “like everyone else” or unaware that immodest clothing draws a man’s attention. There are other women who know full well that sensual clothing invites attention and this is how they exercise power over men.

We may hear people claim that clothing is a matter of “Christian liberty;” it is simply a personal choice. “Sexy,” they say, is just part of being female. It is, as I have been told, “showing my best assets.” But showing them to whom and for what reason? To believe it is a “liberty” to wear clothes designed to highlight certain parts of the body is to be fooled. Foolishness puts us at risk.

For the sake of young women and men, let’s be honest. There is a reason why the marketing industry uses scantily-clad women to sell products. There is a reason why the procurers of prostitutes want their “working girls” to dress the way they do. That reason is sin. It is sin when one person uses another person to gain power or financial profit. Young women need to know that they are more—far more—than objects of pleasure for display. Failing to speak about clothing as God’s protective covering for their bodies puts them at risk of being identified not as He created them, but as the world sees them. It removes respect. It places them in conflict with themselves and compromises their true identity. It sets young men up for temptation, frustration, and trouble. A young Christian woman in college told me that she never gave much thought to the way she dressed until the day her boyfriend blurted out, “Do you know what you’re doing to me?”

A classroom educator might try to explain to a young woman that a man’s eyes rest easily on a woman’s body. It is, however, far more appropriate and protective when a father explains the virtue of modesty to his daughter. He can explain to her that before sin Adam could gaze upon Eve’s body in appreciation for what God had made, but that after sin his eyes would distort that appreciation. It is also the father who best explains to his son how to avoid the temptress. The father’s warning away from the temptress in Proverbs 7 is wisdom to his son:

At the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have  . . . perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.  And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.  she is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home . . . let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths. (Prov. 7:6-11; 25)

The father in Proverbs 7 wanted his son to know that identity matters.  Even what we choose to wear says something about who we think we are.

From Chapter 14, Question 84
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromise Purity
by Linda Bartlett ~ Copyright 2014 Titus 2 for Life
Our Identity Matters