Archive for November, 2011

Those of you who know me may remember that I frequently talk about the dress (or undress) of women.  It’s one of the “hot button” topics at Titus 2 Retreats.  If you’ve attended a “Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up” event or used the Bible study by the same name, you’ve heard me repeat God’s Word to women.  Fig leaves weren’t enough for Eve and they’re not enough for Eve’s daughters.  After Adam and Eve fell, God covered their embarrassment with clothing and their shame with Christ’s Robe of Righteousness.  To be “covered”  is both a physical and spiritual worldview.  The culture asks: Who needs to be covered?  The repentent Christian responds: I do.

It is with great appreciation that I share Adrienne Dorr’s blog entitled “Take My Jacket.”  I have spoken on this topic for years.  But, how thankful and refreshingly encouraged I am to read “Take My Jacket.”  How good it is to let another woman so eloquently (and faithfully) address this subject.  Why write a blog of my own when I can share what I believe through the gifted writing of Adrienne?

by Adriane Dorr

Ladies, we have a real problem. It’s our clothing. And, in particular, it’s the clothing we wear to church.

I get that there are certain kinds of clothes that make us feel better about ourselves, that give us a waist, that show off our curves, that make us feel feminine and confident.

But despite what the culture told you, it’s actually not all about you. There’s these other people in the world (they’re called men), and often times, the clothes we wear doesn’t exactly help them focus. That’s not helpful. In fact, it’s so not helpful, it’s hurtful.

The problem is exacerbated when we show up to church in clothes we shouldn’t. I’m not recommending women button up like we’re Amish or start wearing floor-length jean skirts. That’s not feminine either. But if your skirt is so short that it reveals your gender when you sit down, honey, it’s too short.

And think about your pastor. Young ladies, how’s he supposed to be preaching God’s Word to you when your skirt is so tight you can read its size on the label?

Or nursing moms? Please cover up. No pastor needs to turn around and see you adjusting all your feminine glory for your child. (And honestly, I don’t want to see it either.)

Or middle aged ladies? Put a tank-top on under that blouse. Your pastor has to bend over to give you Holy Communion, and he’s got enough on his mind to not have to deal with seeing all your girl bits too.

Dressing modestly isn’t the same as dressing like a frump from the 1980s. This doesn’t mean that you can’t feel good or look feminine or have a figure.  You don’t have to wear a burqua, and you should never, under any circumstance, take to wearing oversized, lumpy sweaters that make you look like a dude.

You don’t have wear long dresses Little-House-on-the-Prairie style. It doesn’t mean you can’t go to the swimming pool. It simply means that you don’t have to let all the parts of you that are uniquely feminine cease to be un-unique by showing them . . . constantly . . . to the whole world.

Besides, covering up a bit adds some mystique. Turns out you actually don’t have to give everything away in a guy’s first glance at you.

Lutheran ladies, we can get ourselves back out of this mess. We can work on our wardrobes and choose to wear things, especially to church, more suited to being in the presence of the God of creation who comes to meet us there. And we can choose to think more of our neighbor, of our pastors, of the guys we interact with than we do of ourselves, and then dress in a way that bears witness to the beautiful creations God made us to be.

Ezerwoman’s postscript:  Adrienne encourages Christian women to dress in a way that honors God — especially in church.  But, here’s the thing.  If we honor God in church — in His House, why would we not want to honor Him all week long — in His world?  As women of God in Christ, we are called to help men think on what is good, right, and praiseworthy every day.  This means turning attention away from the created to the Creator.  This means changing attitude from “it’s my body,  my choice” to “because I love God and care about my neighbor, I will try not to be a temptress.”

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God says: “You shall have no other gods before Me.”  It is His first commandment (Exodus 20:3).  But, when we label ourselves “sexual beings,” we are tempted to put our “sexuality” — our flesh side — before God.

Doubt me?  Take an honest look at the culture.  Only one thing is “holy of holies” above all other things; only one thing is untouchable, my “right,” and to be revered no matter the cost.  That is “human sexuality.”  Beginning early in sex education, children are told: You are a “sexual being.”  Therefore: It is who I am.  It is me.  It is what I do.  It is even my excuse for what I should not do.

Telling ourselves and others (especially children) that we are “sexual beings” is bestowing the wrong identity.  Bestowing the wrong identity, we put ourselves in God’s place.  We call ourselves something that He did not.

God does not identify us as “sexual beings.”  God clearly identifies us a “human beings” or “humankind” or “man created in His own image” (Genesis 1:27).  Reading on, we learn that God created mankind to be “male and female.”  Is this where some Christians get the notion that God made us to be “sexual beings” or to possess “sexuality?”  Well, I don’t think Martin Luther or other church fathers would agree.  Luther writes, “Moses put the two sexes together and says that God created male and female in order to indicate that Eve, too, was made by God as a partaker of the divine image and of the divine similitude, likewise of the rule over everything.  Thus even today the woman is the partaker of the future life, just as Peter says that they are joint heirs of the same grace (1 Peter 3:7).  In the household the wife is a partner in the management and has a common interest in the children and the property, and yet there is a great difference between the sexes.”  (The Lutheran Study Bible, commentary on 1:28, p. 14).  How interesting that Luther did not take this opportunity to proclaim: Look, here, believers!  God has made humans to be sexual beings!  It is who we are!  Luther does, however, point to our real identity: Bearers of God’s divine image.

We do not bear the image of animals.  (Thus, we are not captive to animal instincts.)  We do bear the image of God.  God’s image is holy.  Even though we no longer bear the perfect image of God, He still calls us to holy living!  The kind of living that honors His name and reflects His glory rather than our own.  The kind of living that does not tempt others to sin but, instead, guards both our soul and the soul of our neighbor.

Ahhhh.  Now, we’ve come even closer to our true identity.  We are more than body or mind.  We are spirit, created by God who is Spirit.  We are immortal souls.  “Sexuality” has nothing to do with our souls.  Our souls will live forever.  (In heaven, Jesus tells us, there will be no marriage; in other words, no expression of “sexuality,” no “one flesh union” [Matthew 22:30].)

There is spiritual danger in choosing to identify ourselves as “sexual beings.”  True, we are male or female creations of God.  As male or female believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are God’s children.  Even when we fail to act as His children, He is still our Father.  The Father-Child relationship doesn’t change because of our sin.  But, when we sin against God by calling ourselves what He does not; when we focus on ourselves as “sexual beings” and not His children with immortal souls, then our wrong identity shapes our behavior and our behavior changes our attitude toward God.

A changed attitude toward God can dangerously tempt us to put ourselves in the place of God; to, in fact, become our own god.  A god who defines “self” and “sexuality” as being supreme.

The pagan defines himself and lives however he pleases.  But, the believer proclaims: It is God who made us and not we ourselves.  God says: I have called you by name; you are Mine.  In Jesus Christ, God calls us His children.  We are treasured souls bought with a price.  That is our identity.  Anticipating Jesus’ return, “sons” and “daughters” live their lives as male or female: two eyes of the human race.  Both are needed for a clear understanding of life.  It is folly to think of every interaction of male and female as being sexual in nature.  What an abhorrent mess that would be!  Being male and female is not so much sexual as it is the partnering of our complimentary differences to bring glory to God, proclaim Jesus Christ, and affect the culture for good.

Only in marriage does our “flesh side” – our “sexuality” – find its home.  Only in marriage is the “one flesh” union a divine gift to humanity.  It is a power from God.  Who, but the Creator God could join with man and woman to procreate, to bring new life — new body, mind and soul — into existence?  Husband and wife respond to God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply.”  Yes, in the act of sex, male and female are “sexual.”  They procreate sexually.  In Scripture, all things “sexual” pertain to the act of sex.  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 body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like [those] who do not know God”  (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).  The commentary on verse 4 found in the Lutheran Study Bible brings clarity.  “Our sexuality is God’s gift for use within the parameters of marriage.”  Do you understand what is being said here?  Our gift of sexuality, or the ability to have sex, is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman.  To be male or female, however, is a gift for daily use in glorifying God.  We are not to abstain from being male and female.  We are not to 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” (Galatians 5:19-24).

It matters how we identify ourselves.  It determines our behavior.  It can become the argument for homosexuality.   It can help – or hinder – our neighbor.  It honors – or dishonors – the sanctity of human life.  When we identify ourselves as “sexual,” we may be tempted to give ourselves license; to, in fact, worship and serve ourselves rather than God (Romans 1:24-25).  But, re-created in Christ, male and female identify themselves in a different way.  A Christian’s body is the “temple of the Holy Spirit who enables the believer to turn away from a “sexy” life to a “holy” life.  When we identify ourselves as “holy” and “immortal souls,” we are encouraged to guard the treasure that Jesus bought at tremendous price.  “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17).

We “are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh” (v 12).  In Christ, our fallen nature has no claim on us.  Our “flesh side” may tempt us, saying: “This is who I am,” or “I owe it to myself,” but we aren’t obligated to obey its impulses or satisfy its desires.  Why?  Because we “did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear” or idolatry.

We cry: “Abba Father!” (v.15)

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Looking for a “stocking stuffer” for Christmas?  With concern for your children or grandchildren, you might want to consider IndoctriNation.

Paul and I believed we could safely get our sons through public school.  We managed, but only with the help of teachers who respected what we taught in the home.  Even so, we battled a system that diametrically opposed our Judeo-Christian faith and values.   IndoctriNation explains why.

IndoctriNation is a ride on the yellow school bus with Scottish filmmaker Colin Gunn and his family.  It’s a ‘cross country field trip you won’t want to miss!  You’ll hear from real principals, teachers and parents.  You’ll learn from Christian historians and thinkers of our day.  And, you’ll discover the answers to important questions:

  • Who established the public school system and why?
  • Whose ideologies are on the bus?
  • Are my children morally and physically safe in the schools?
  • Are public schools religiously neutral?
  • Should Christians try to be “salt and light” in the schools?
  • Can the public school be fixed?
  • What does it really mean to speak and live our faith?

Take a ride with Colin Gunn and his family!  Then, ask yourself: Is there good reason to get my family off the bus? 

IndoctriNation, ($12 DVD)
 Gunn Productions in association with
the Exodus Mandate

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“I would never have an abortion myself, but I support the right of others to do so.”

“Abortion is wrong, depending upon the circumstances.”

“Sometimes we’re forced to choose the lesser of two evils.”

Why is abortion defended as a “woman’s right” even among people of faith?  How does a mother, father, or grandparent rationalize abortion?  What has to happen to make people who acknowledge the Creator of life set themself in His place and take a life?

The ministry of Titus 2 for Life began after years of asking these questions.  In order to make abortion “unthinkable,” we must honestly examine what happens prior to an abortion, including a “me first” mentality, promiscuity, loss of true identity, and failure to trust God.  But is there, as one Titus 2 participant asked, a missing piece to the puzzle of abortion?  Is there something so terrible that, in moments of fear and hopelessness, even Christian women and their families feel compelled to play the role of God?

An e-mail conversation following a Titus 2 Retreat began to reveal that missing piece.  A participant wrote: “Without breaking confidences, a group of us shared the painful circumstances of abortion as related to us by friends, family, congregation, and community members we have cared about and listened to over the years.  A common thread seemed to run through these accounts.  Young women who had been victims of childhood sexual abuse became promiscuous or experienced further sexual abuse from men during their teen years.  When they found themselves pregnant, they chose an abortion.”

Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is, without a doubt, a missing piece in the abortion puzzle.

“I don’t even remember when it began.  My older step-brother would slip into my room at night and crawl into bed with me . . .”

“When I was twelve, my ‘uncle’ began touching me . . . later, when boys wanted to do the same, I honestly didn’t know how to say ‘no.’”

“Between the ages of 10 and 14, I was sexually abused by my step-dad.  My mom knew but was too afraid to say anything . . .”

“The principal of my Christian school said I was special and what he was doing to me was our secret . . .”

The stories break our hearts.  One study done in 1997 found that “compared to women who were not abused during childhood, women who reported a history of childhood sexual abuse were 1.5 more likely to have had an abortion.”  (Source: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9315271)

This statistic (and more) was researched by a Titus 2 participant whose heart was touched by the stories she heard following a retreat.  She has been motivated to speak so that a culture can begin to prevent more harm, death, and hopelessness.

Titus 2 women gather to contrast the world with The Word.  Abortion is a worldly idea, but God calls it a sin.  What has to happen before the sin of abortion?  Other sin.

Sin happens when we rebel against or fail to trust God.  Sin happens when we let our sinful human flesh come under Satan’s authority.  Sin happens when God’s people are silent about sinful behavior.  Sinful humans caught up in sinful behavior affect the lives of others.

CSA is an example of sin’s generational effect on all of us. The consequences of one sin can affect generations to follow.  God says: I, the Lord your God, am a jealous god, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me . . . (Exodus 20:5 NIV).

In pausing to take a breath, I sense what some of you are thinking.  Why is God so unjust to compel innocent children to bear the sins of guilty parents?  Ahhh . . . and so it might seem to those who stop with verse five.  Please!  Don’t stop!  Read the rest of what God has to say.  He continues with a powerful, life-changing “but” that is followed by words of hope: I . . . am a jealous God, punishing . . . to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me . . . but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments (v. 6).

Do you hear what the Lord of life is saying?  He is “a jealous God” because He created male and female.  The first man and woman’s sin tainted all of their children and children’s children.  Sin produces consequences.  But, praise God!  There is Hope!  There is always Hope for those who love and trust God!  This Hope died for our sin ad rose to victory.  Hope is Jesus Christ who covers the repentant sinner with mercy every morning.

It is never a child’s fault when he or she is abused.  A child has not sinned when they are forced to do something against their will.  The adult who puts a child in harm’s way or strips away innocence is always held accountable.  So, what does the person who experienced childhood sexual abuse do?  He or she finds hope and healing in God’s promises: Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame . . . The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them . . . The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:5, 7, 18 NIV).

What does the adult who sinned against God and one of His little ones do?  He or she finds hope and healing in God’s promises: When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.  Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.  (King David in Psalm 32)

What do Titus 2 women (and men) do?  They speak up.  They expose the darkness of evil with the light of God’s Word.  For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this  present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing ofour great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:11-14).

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Today, I was invited to speak for a few minutes on Issues, Etc. — Lutheran Talk Radio.  How does one “speak for a few minutes” on two life-sized topics: Abortion and Sex Education?  It was impossible!

I’ve posted multiple blogs in recent weeks on sex education, yet have only covered the surface.  There is so much history!  So much experience!  Such bold contrast between the world’s idea of sex education and God’s command to instruct in purity.  Identity — how the world defines us vs. how God defines us — is core in this discussion.  At the very least, I hope one person was made more curious.

Well, go ahead…  if you wish.  Click on the link and listen 🙂

Abortion and Forgiveness & Sex Education, with Linda Bartlett, 11/16/2011

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God created woman.  Her vocation is: “helper” (Hebrew: “ezer”) (Genesis 2:18). 

An ezer helps for good… or bad.  It would seem these young men and women agree.


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Every idea has a consequence.

“Man is descended from a hairy-tailed quadruped, probably arboreal in his habits.”  (Charles Darwin)

“Children are sexual beings.”  (Alfred Kinsey)

“The entire culture war is being fought over the issue of sex.”  (Phillip Johnson)

“Sexual liberty has become the ultimate virtue in American life.”  (Charles Colson)

Should we be surprised to hear:

“Aborting my baby is the ultimate sacrifice I have to make for myself.”  (American woman)

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The Christian is often told: Your faith is a personal thing.  That’s fine.  Keep it that way.  Don’t bring it with you to school, on the job, or anywhere else. 

But, think what would be missing if Christianity never existed.  Or if Christians didn’t speak and live their faith.  You may hear the media speak negatively of Christian faith and values.  But, regardless of what they say, Christianity – and only Christianity — offers a way of life that benefits the common good and promotes human dignity.  Chuck Colson of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview notes, “Western liberal democracy (which gives the media the freedom to bite the hand that feeds it) arose from Christian roots.”

It was in the monasteries of Christian Europe during the Middle Ages where we begin to find democracy for all – rich or poor.  The moral standards of Christianity were crucial for the development of democracy: People must be able to govern themselves and practice self-restraint before they can rule themselves via elected government.

Christianity made Western culture the most humane culture in history: schools for everyone, charitable giving and volunteerism, hospitals, the great universities . . . these are all fruits of Christian culture in the West.  The belief in the sanctity of human life made Christians defenders of each individual’s dignity and worth – no matter their color or creed. 

Accepting God’s Word as true, Christians believe men and women bear the image of their Creator.  Yes, we are fallen men and women and no longer bear God’s perfect image but, in Christ Jesus, we possess the medicine for sin, receive forgiveness, and have hope of change and new life.  Ponder this.  Then consider the impact of Biblical faith on a messed up, troublesome, and hurting world. 

It is God that gives life and, with that life, liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness.  To pursue happiness means to pursue right things that when said and done make the world a better place not just for ourselves but for others.

So, if someone says to you: Don’t impose your faith on others,” gently remind them that a Christian doesn’t set out to do any such thing.  Instead, a follower of Jesus Christ guards the dignity of every neighbor – no matter what age, color or creed.  A follower of Jesus Christ promotes ethics, morality, education, labor, and law for the common good.

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Christ says that the devil is the prince of this world (John 14:30; 16:11); and he is a murderer from the beginning and a liar (John 8:44).  If, then, we would live upon earth, we must realize that we are guests and lodge in an inn with a knave as host and with a sign over the door that reads THE HOUSE OF MURDER or THE HOUSE OF LIES.  Satan is a murderer for killing the body, a liar for misleading the soul.  That is the devil’s trade and his work; that is the way he keeps house; that is how business is carried on in this inn.  Whoever belongs to his followers must lend him a helping hand.  But whoever is his guest must expect and risk experiencing rough treatment.  (Martin Luther)   Q: What does this say to you as a Biblical, pro-life Christian?  How do you respond?

The devil, too, can quote Scripture and deceive us with it.  But his use of Scripture is defective.  He does not quote it completely but only so much of it as serves his purpose.  The rest he silently omits.  (Luther)   Q: What does this mean for pro-life Christians and caring pregnancy centers that seek to work with churches, pastors, and youth groups?

The fable is told that when God made man out of a clod of earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life so that man became a living soul, the devil wanted to imitate God and also took a clod of earth in order to make a man of it; but it turned out to be a toad.  (Luther)   Q: What does this say to you?  (Now, sing a hymn of praise to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — out loud!  Our evil foe cannot endure the Word in music!) 

At all hours the devil is seeking to kill us all.  After you have been baptized, he will not let you have any rest.  If he could kill you in your mother’s body, he would do it.  (Luther)  The devil does not despise God so much as he despises the humans that God so dearly loves.  For it is to us that God gives dominion over Satan.    Q: What does this tell us about the intensity of the pro-life/pro-abortion debate?  Do you think most Christians recognize legalized abortion as spiritual warfare?

All sadness is of the devil, for he is the lord of death.  But, God does not sadden, or terrify, or kill.  He is the God of the living.  This is why He also sent His only-begotten Son, not to terrify but to console.  Christ also died in order to be Lord of death and to give us life and destroy death.  “Rejoice, be confident, be glad.  I have overcome the world and death” (Jesus in John 16:33).   The devil gives heaven before sins have been committed and despair afterwards; Christ does the opposite and gives heaven after the sins.  (Luther)   Q: How does this Truth set caring pregnancy centers and post-abortion ministry apart from Planned Parenthood?

I have read that a man who could have no peace because of the devil made the sign of the cross on his chest and said, “The Word was made flesh,” or, what amounts to the same thing: I am a Christian.  Then, the devil was defeated and chased away, and the man had peace . . . One does not gain much ground against the devil with a lengthy disputation but with brief words and replies, such as: I am a Christian, of the same flesh and blood as is my Lord Christ, the Son of God.  Settle your account with Him.  (Then the devil does not stay long.)  (Luther)   Q: What does this say to you as a Christian living in this world?

When the devil comes during the night to plague me, I give him this answer: Devil, I must sleep now; for this is God’s command: Work during the day, sleep at night.  If the devil persists, and now accuses me of more sins, I reply: Satan, I have heard the record, but I have committed still more sins which don’t even stand in your record.  Put them down, too.  (Luther)  Also, say to the devil: Just by reminding me that I am a poor, miserable sinner, you are placing a sword and weapon into my hand with which I can decisively overcome you  . . . if you tell me I am a sinner, I can tell you that Christ died for sinners.  To Him I direct you.”  (Luther)   Q: How does this affect the way you parent, mentor, witness, teach, serve others, and stand “for life” in this world  — Satan’s “house of murder and lies”? 

With appreciation to What Luther Says,
Concordia Publishing House, 1959 

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