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Archive for July, 2012

I’d like to encourage you to help break the “spiral of silence.”  In the face of conflict or potential persecution, Christians too often say nothing.  Do nothing.  We don’t want to be labeled “judgmental” or “intolerant.”  But, our silence compromises the living Word Jesus Christ.  It would appear that we fear displeasing man more than we do God.

I propose that we are silent about homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” because we Christians have been influenced by the world.  We see ourselves the way the world sees us.  We let the world define us.  Then, we fall into silence.  The world tells us that we are “sexual beings.”  “Sexual from birth.”  If that is true, then those who are intimidating and bullying Chick-fil-A right now for taking a stand on the Biblical definition of marriage have sound reason to be angry.  If we are — first and foremost — sexual beings, then any kind of sexual needs, behaviors, or relationships should be not only justified, but legal.  If our identity is “sexual,” then it should come as no surprise that Chick-fil-A — or a church body or an individual — will be labeled “intolerant,” “bigoted” and “homophobic.”  Who, after all, would dare discriminate against the very core of a human being?

But, you see, sexuality is not our core.  It is not our identity.  It is not “who we are.”  And, until we Christians identify ourselves as God does, we will be hard-pressed to deal with issues such as sex education, homosexual rights, same-sex “marriage,” and adoption of children by gay couples.

Let what I’ve written here be the preface to Eric Metxas’ article published in Breakpoint (July 27, 2012).  The article is titled “A Price to Pay.”  There is a “price to pay” for taking a stand on our identity as God’s holy possessions — vessels for honorable use — called out of darkness into light .  Please read it as re-printed below.

Then, join with Eric, the late Chuck Colson, Biblical thinkers across the country, and me in helping to break the spiral of silence.

“A Price to Pay” by Eric Metaxas

If you’re even a semi-regular BreakPoint listener, you’ve no doubt heard Chuck Colson — and me — talk about “breaking the spiral of silence.”

We’ve warned about the dangers of remaining silent on critical issues even when our opinions are unpopular or counter-cultural — probably especially when they’re unpopular and counter-cultural.  Even when it appears that the argument is “settled,” that the public has “moved on,” and we’d better “get with the program.”

And we’ve pointed out that, sometimes, breaking the spiral of silence can come with a price.

Well, as you know by now, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press recently that his family-owned company “operates on biblical principles” and therefore “supports the traditional family.”

He spoke out, and now he and Chick-fil-A are paying the price. Certain voices in the media and government are lashing out — and seeking, basically, to intimidate and bully Chick-fil-A, and anyone who shares their views, back into silence.

For example, an Alderman in Chicago is seeking to block Chick-fil-A from opening an already planned restaurant in the city. He has declared that Chick-fil-A’s position is “bigoted” and “homophobic” and that the company discriminates against homosexuals, which is just a crazy, baseless charge.

The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Immanuel, however, is backing the Alderman, and he told CBS Chicago, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values . . . And if you’re going to be a part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”

Really? So, all you Chicago churches and mosques and synagogues that do not share the mayor’s interpretation of “Chicago values” had better pack up and leave town.

The bottom line is that if you dare say you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman only, you run the real risk of being called a “homophobe,” a “bigot,” and a “hatemonger.” If you own a business and take such a stand, you may be targeted.

But my question to you now — and to myself — is: So what?

Do we or do we not have the courage of our convictions to defend marriage, to defend free speech, to defend freedom of religion? Do our freedoms, does our faith, matter to us more than the opinion of some others? Will we allow our reputations and our profits to suffer before we will allow our freedoms to erode?

Chuck warned us long ago that a free society can remain free only so long as dissent is tolerated, only so long as opinions and ideas can be debated freely in the public square.

Which is why, as Chuck would have said, the proponents of so-called gay “marriage” and sexual “freedom” are sawing off the branch they’re sitting on. By doing all they can to deny those who disagree with them access to the public square, by their intimidation tactics, and by their — sad to say, intolerance — they are helping to make this country, this society less free. And that hurts everybody.

Folks, we have no choice but to speak out. Not to lash out, but to speak out, winsomely but firmly. We must break the spiral of silence.

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I believe we have a problem in our culture because we have been deceived.  We have believed the lie about our identity.

Labeling ourselves — first and foremost — “sexual beings,” we have, indeed, given ourselves license to live a sensual and highly sexualized life.

This impacts how we see ourselves and others.  It impacts our choices.  It is, so we’ve been led to believe, who we are.

But, why does this concern me?  Why do I almost seem obsessed with this single topic?

Because it very well may affect what happens to me as I grow older and near the end of my life.

You see, my generation of baby boomers is 76 million strong.  But, my son’s generation is only 17 million.  Now, let’s consider the state of the economy.  Health care. Legalized abortion in all U.S. states for any reason at any time before (and even after) birth.  Legalized euthanasia in some states.

If I am what I’m told I am — a “sexual being” — then what happens when I’m not thinking, looking, or acting so sexual?  What happens when that isn’t the driving force of my life?  What happens when this not-so-sexual-anymore woman doesn’t attract a man’s attention?  Develops fine lines and wrinkles?  Slows her pace?  Appears less productive, but more costly?  Requires more patience and care from others?

My identity matters.  So does yours.  I am not — first and foremost — a sexual being.

I am far more than that.  I am God’s own possession.  Of such great value that Christ gave His life for me.  I am the daughter of the King.  A treasure of great worth.  A vessel for honorable use.  A woman alive to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called me (1 Peter 2:9).

Don’t label me a “sexual being.”  I am more than that.

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My daughter-in-law, Alison, made an observation today that should give us all pause.

In this country, the rights of a criminal or terrorist are more valued than the rights of an unborn son or daughter.

What should we do about that?

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Some inquiring religious people once asked Jesus a question.  They wanted to know to whom the woman of several husbands – all who had died – would be married in heaven.  Perhaps Jesus’ answer to those religious men also answers the question about our “sexual” identity.

Jesus said, “In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage . . .” (Matthew 22:30).

If we identify ourselves, first and foremost, as “sexual beings,” then what becomes of us in heaven?  Are we no longer a being?  Do we lose our identity?  Are we just floating angels?  I think not.  Our true identity will remain intact.  We will be fully human, but perfect in every way.  We will still be His special possession, but unburdened by things of the world.  We will still be His treasures in Christ but, at last, able to truly reflect His magnificence.

Our sexuality – or all things pertaining to procreation and marriage – will not matter.  What will matter is living in a perfect relationship with God as His holy ones.

Excerpted from Faithfulness: One Child at a Time
A Working Document by L. Bartlett, PDF at Titus 2 for Life

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Let me detour from my “series” on sex education and its effect on the sexualization of our culture to share an excellent post from Russell Moore.

Moore explains that the “queen of country  music,” legend Kitty Wells, departed this life last week at the age of 92.   Commentators hailed her as a feminist icon.  The Atlantic magazine eulogized her as a forerunner of Britney Spears.  “Well,” writes blogger Moore, “I suppose it depends on what you mean by ‘feminist.'”

A friend, knowing of my respect for Biblical manhood and womanhood, sent me the July 18 post of Moore to the Point.  In “The Complementarian Vision of Kitty Wells,” Moore observes that “Wells was no Betty Friedan or Gloria Steinem . .  . Kitty Wells is hardly the musical godmother of Britney Spears or the hyper-sexualized singers of the past generation.  She was just the opposite.  She . . . wanted human dignity, and a man who was worthy of the name . . .”

I encourage you to read Moore to the Point.

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Labeling sex education “child abuse” is a strong statement.  No one wants to be accused of abusing a child.   I would not easily call someone a “child abuser.”  All of us, however, are deceived by theories and techniques of the world.  Education built on false teaching is sure to do harm.

If we blend false teaching or worldly ideas with God’s Word, we will most certainly compromise our best intentions.  We will weaken the protective boundaries of God’s commands.  It is never a good thing to tamper with things of God, especially the instructions He gives us about children.

God’s Word never tells us to educate children in sex.  It tells us to instruct children in purity.  To guard their innocence.  To do nothing that might lead a child astray.

Here are some reasons why sex education – in or out of the church – is “child abuse.”

  1. “. . . [S]ex education is child abuse because it is ill-planned and poorly thought out, thus adding to the very problem it is trying to address and eroding the structure of a healthy family.”  (Douglas Gresham, step-son of C.S. Lewis and founder of Rathvinden Ministries, a ministry to post-abortive and abused women in Dublin, Ireland, in an e-mail to ezerwoman.)
  2. Early, explicit, and boy/girl sex education classes can steal the innocence of children and create mind absorbing images, conflicts, and preoccupations.  Boy/girl classes in sex education or “human sexuality” can be a form of desensitization that eventually strips away defenses and induces acceptance of alternative values.
  3. Sex education is taught in the “cool condition” of a classroom where children can say, “Yes, I’ll be smart,” but things change in “hot conditions.”  Children may be informed in the classroom but, because their pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed, they possess neither the reasoning skills nor good judgment necessary to take command over feelings or peer pressure in the heat of the moment.  (Dr. Miriam Grossman defines “cool” and “hot” conditions in her book, You’re Teaching My Child What?)
  4. Sex education removes the natural and protective covering of modesty.  After their sin, God covered Adam and Eve’s embarrassment with far more than a bikini.  He covered their shame with the promise of Christ’s Robe of Righteousness.  Putting boys and girls together in a classroom for an intimate discussion of “human sexuality” makes children vulnerable by stripping away modesty and stirring up self-awareness and curiosity.
  5. A goal of sex education is to get young people “comfortable with their bodies” or their “sexuality,” therefore, it should come as no surprise when scantily-clad girls approach the Lord’s Table much to the discomfort of pastors offering the Sacrament (or other gentlemen present).  Too many girls are no longer embarrassed but, indeed, “comfortable” with drawing attention to themselves at the mall, on the beach, socializing, or even in church.  In what way does this help a boy or man maintain chaste thoughts?  (A helpful resource is the Bible study Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up available from CPH Publishing.)
  6. Sex education is a utopian lie.  Secular sex education is built on the foundation of evolution and a worldview that opposes the Biblical worldview.  Instruction in purity is built on the Word of the Creator and Redeemer.  Christian educators may want children to grow comfortable with the beauty of God’s creation; to recover the Garden experience, but we’re not in the Garden anymore.  Sin changed our hearts and the way we look at one another.  Jesus says, “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19).  Do we better equip children to fight the battle with sexual immorality by telling them they are “sexual beings” – or immortal souls?  Captive to their sensual nature – or able to “control [their] own body in holiness and honor” (1 Thessalonians 4:4)?
  7. Christian sex education, most specifically, tantalizes the child; in other words, it presents something desirable to the view, but continually keeps it out of reach It gives children much information about sex and “sexuality,” but then tells them to wait for marriage until after college and an established career.  Does this seem cruel?
  8. Sex education may tempt into idolatry or self-worship.  It’s “my identity.”  It’s “my need.”  It’s “my right.”
  9. Sex education may, unintentionally, get adolescents “hooked,” but then leave them “unprotected.”  (Hooked by Joe McIlhaney, M.D. & Freda McKissic Bush, M.D.; Unprotected by Miriam Grossman, M.D.)
  10. Sex education might change a child’s attitude toward God.  No matter what our sin, God is always our Father; we are always His children in Christ.  But, if a child is given all manner of sexual information before he or she can make wise use of it in its proper time, then might the child ask, “What kind of loving God would create me with all these sexual desires and then tell me not to fulfill them?”  Have we set the child up for frustration and anger toward God?  Might the child ask, “What does it matter what I do if I am assured of Jesus’ love and forgiveness?”  Might a child re-define God according to his or her perspective of what is “right” or “wrong” depending upon the situation?

What words of hope are there for the Christian who has been deceived?  Who may have trusted sex education as something helpful for children?  If we have built on wrong foundation or passed on a half-truth or lie, there is hope!  King David sinned against God and hurt other people.  But, with broken and contrite heart, David acknowledged his sins to the Lord (Psalm 32:3-5).  He received God’s free grace and forgiveness.  Leaving sinful ways behind, we become a “vessel for honorable use” (2 Timothy 2:23).

In Christ, we are “vessels for honorable use.”  Wow!  This identity does indeed raise us above that of just a “sexual being.”  Imagine the change in thought.  Word.  Behavior.

(Excerpted from Faithfulness: One Child at a Time,
a work nearing completion by Linda Bartlett.
A PDF file is available at Issues. Etc., or Titus 2 for Life.)

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Americans are waking up to the fact that we have sexualized our children.  They are appalled by the sensual dress of girls starting at early ages. They are worried about boys’ early addictions to pornography and that pedophiles lurk around many a dark corner.

I’m convinced, after 30 years of careful study, that sex talk and instruction has made boys and girls less safe.  More vulnerable.  The “sex talk” and images of TV, movies, and the internet threaten the physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness of the youngest generations.

But, how many of us are willing to admit that we’re part of the problem?  That we may have unintentionally broken down the wall of innocence to leave boys and girls more vulnerable to the pull of the world and their own human flesh?

Do you think that years of sex education, even for the best of intentions, could have anything to do with the sexualization of children?  Do you think that sex talk can raise curiosity?  Tantilize?  Stir up images?  Create a comfortableness with their fickle heart and deceptive flesh?

Let’s think about what happens in the sex ed classroom.  Boys and girls are rarely taught separately.  Beginning at a young age, these boys and girls are subjected to sex talk.  This sex talk is necessary, or so some say, because we are “sexual from birth.”

But, who said we are “sexual from birth?”  Well, o.k., maybe it wasn’t God, but we are “sexual beings,” aren’t we?  Don’t our children need to hear the “right” kind of sex talk?  Sexually educated (the “right” way), won’t they be better protected from teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?

What is the “right” way?  Is it the way we perceive it?  Educating the way we thought we should (including 30+ years of Christian sex education), do we have more or less teen pregnancy?  STDs?  Teen depression?  Abortion?  Cohabitation? Single parents?

Some people don’t like it when I refer to sex education as a form of child abuse.

Last year, an article of mine entitled “Child Abuse” was published.  The purpose was to help the Christian community recognize that we’ve let unbelieving neighbors in the land influence our teachings.  We have adapted worldly techniques and then attempted to wrap Jesus around them.  (He can’t and won’t.)  The article angered a Christian sex educator.  That anger, observed my husband, motivated me to bring order to some random notes and research.  If you will allow me to say so, I believe the Spirit was whispering: It is time.  Gather your years of experience and observations together into a helpful resource.

That resource is, for now, entitled Faithfulness: One Child at a Time.  It is a collection of questions and answers on sex education versus instruction in purity for Christian dialogue.  I’ve been encouraged by honest “editors.”  Perhaps it will soon become clear what should be done with it.

Last week, Todd Wilken and Jeff Schwartz invited me to discuss parts of the booklet on Issues, Etc.  You can find that interview here (see July 17).  Better than the interview is the PDF format which Issues, Etc. included for anyone who wants to explore some reasons for a dangerously sexualized culture.  Getting to the root of the problem, we are better able to provide a different kind of instruction.  A different kind of mentoring.  Speaking of mentoring, you may also find the document at Titus 2 for Life.

Over the next few days, I hope to post some excerpts from Faithfulness: One Child at a Time.  I’ll begin with the reasons why sex education – in or out of the church – might very accurately be labeled sex abuse.  Both Scripture and science concur.

Oh.  And there’s this to remember.  Perhaps we’ve been an advocate of sex education because we were deceived.  Fearing for our children, we may have put our trust in a particular theory or so-called expert.  Wrong thinking can be left in the past.  Truly sorry for ways we may have unintentionally brought harm, we are reconciled to God in Christ.  His Word gives us all we need to do battle with the world for the sake of our sons and daughters.

We engage in that battle by being distinctively different from the world.  Are you up for the challenge?

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