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Jesus Teaches Christian Stock PhotosA 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)

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potter and woman

Do you have a few quiet moments today?

Do you need to ponder your identity in this crazy, mixed up world?

Then, if you like, please visit Case of Mistaken Identity.

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The following excellent post is from THE CHRISTIAN PUNDIT.  It’s worth the time and thought of any young woman who is contemplating marriage.

It Matters Whom You Marry

My husband and I were once with a youth group. There were three kids sitting across from us at a meal: two guys and a girl. The one guy was a computer geek with glasses. The other one was a college student with slightly cooler hair and no glasses. The girl was obviously with him. But while the computer geek was busy serving everyone at the meal, clearing plates and garbage, the college student got angry with the girl for a small accident and poured red juice over her leather jacket and white shirt. She picked the wrong guy, and the juice didn’t seem to change her mind. She is in for some grief if that relationship continues and especially if it leads to marriage.

So to all the young, unmarried Christian girls out there, listen up: who you marry matters. You might think that the way he treats you isn’t so bad. It’s not going to get better after the wedding. You might think that he’ll change. It’s possible, but most don’t. You might think that you’ll be able to minister to him and help him. Possibly, but if you can’t now, you won’t then, and you will be at risk yourself. A husband should lead and cherish you, not need your counsel for basic personality or behavior issues.

Unless someone married is very frank with you, you can’t understand how much a husband will impact your entire life. Next to salvation there is no other long term event that will change so many areas of your life so deeply. Here are just some of the ways that marriage will impact every aspect of living.

1. It will impact you spiritually. If the guy is not a believer, you can stop right there. You have no business yoking a redeemed soul with an unregenerate one, even if he seems open to change. Christ has bought you with a price and it is not an option to give away that blood bought heart to someone who doesn’t know and love your Lord. It will cripple your spiritual development, open up a host of temptations, stifle your prayer life, make regular church going difficult, and cause massive parenting conflict if you have children.

If the guy is a believer, is he a strong one? Will he lead you in prayer, Bible reading, family devotions, and public worship? Or will you be on your own? Is he going to make spiritual growth a priority or do other things come first? Is he going to ask you how it’s going with your soul so he can help you grow in holiness and love for Christ, or will he leave that to your pastor? Is he going to lead the children in this, or will you have to spearhead that? In church, is he going to help the kids sit well, pray, find the hymn, or will you be the one pointing out what is happening next and helping the family keep up? Many women have married spiritually immature men, thinking that it wasn’t a big issue, or that the man would change, and they were wrong. They bear the scars.

The health of your eternity is at stake. Think carefully.

2. It will impact you emotionally. Is the guy you’re thinking of going to encourage you, love you, be kind to you, and seek to understand you, or will he want to go out with the guys when you’re having a hard night? Will he listen when you are struggling with something or will he be preoccupied with a video game? Is he going to be annoyed when you cry or will he get you Kleenex and give you a hug? Is he going to going to understand that you are probably more tender than he is, more sensitive to issues and comments, or is he regularly going to run rough shod over your feelings? One woman was struggling to breastfeed her new baby, believing that that was the best thing for her, but it was very difficult. Instead of giving support and encouragement, the husband would make mooing sounds whenever he saw his wife working at it. We have to get rid of princess complexes, but we do have emotional needs. Any guy who is uncaring about your feelings and self esteem is selfish and should be left alone.

Be careful – a husband can cripple or foster emotional health.

3. It will impact you physically. Is the guy you’re with going to provide for your basic needs? Will he be able to shelter, clothe and feed you? At one point in our marriage, I was worried that there was no employment opportunity. My husband assured me that he would work at McDonalds, dig ditches, clean up roadkill – whatever it took to provide for the family, regardless of his gifts and training. That’s the kind of attitude you want. A man who doesn’t provide for his household is worse than an infidel (I Tim. 5:8). You might have to help ease the financial burden, but unless your husband is disabled or there is another unusual circumstance, you shouldn’t have to carry it yourself.

Will the man you are with care for your body or abuse it? If he gives you little smacks, kicks, etc. when you’re dating, get away. It’s almost guaranteed that he will abuse you after marriage, and stats show that’s especially true when you are pregnant. Is he going to care for and protect your body or will he hurt it? There are women in churches across America who thought it was no big deal to have little (sort of friendly) punches or slaps from their boyfriends, but who are covering up the bruises from their husbands.

Will the man you are with care for you sexually? Is he going to honour the marriage bed in physical and mental faithfulness to you or will he flirt, feed his porn addiction, or even leave you for another woman? You can’t always predict these issues, but if the seeds or practices are already there, watch out. I recently saw a newly married couple and the husband was flirting openly with another woman. Unless something drastic happens, that marriage is headed for disaster.

Is he going to be tender and gentle to you in bed? An unbelieving co-worker once told my sister that after her first sexual encounter, she had trouble walking for a few days because her boyfriend was so rough. In other words, he wasn’t selfless enough to care for the body of the woman he said he loved.

Watch out. Your body needs care and protection.

4. It will impact you mentally. Is the man that you’re thinking of going to be a source of worry or will he help you deal with your worries? Is he going to encourage your intellectual development, or will he neglect it? Is he going to value your opinions and listen to what you are thinking, or will he disregard your thoughts? Is he going to help you manage stress so that your mind is not burdened that way, or is he going to let you struggle through issues alone? Is he going to care for you and be thoughtful of you if you are experiencing mental strain, or will he ignore it? I know of a woman who could handle pregnancy and child birth very well physically but postpartum depression took a huge toll on her mind. The husband overlooked it, continuing to have more children, until his wife ended up in a mental institution.

You might think that the intellectual or mental side of a marriage is small. It’s bigger than you think. Consider it seriously.

5. It will impact you relationally. How’s your relationship with your mother? Your dad? Do you love them? Does your boyfriend? Fast forward ten years: you tell your husband that your mother is coming for the weekend. Is he excited? Disappointed? Angry? Making snide jokes with his friends? Of course, a husband should come first in your priority of relationships, as you both leave father and mother and cleave to one another. But parents are still a big part of the picture. Whatever negative feelings he has about your parents now will probably be amplified after marriage. Your marriage will either strengthen or damage – even destroy – your relationship with your parents. The people who know you best and love you most right now could be cut out of the picture by a husband who hates them.

It’s the same with sisters and friends. Will they be welcomed, at reasonable times, in your home? Will the guy who you’re with encourage healthy relationships with other women, or will he be jealous of normal, biblical friendships? Will he help you mentor younger women and be thankful when older women mentor you, or will he belittle that?

Don’t sacrifice many good relationships for the sake of one guy who can’t value the people who love you.

So how will your boyfriend do after the vows? Because this is just a sampling of the ways that a husband can bless or curse his wife. The effects are far reaching, long lasting, and either wonderful or difficult. True, there are no perfect men out there. But there are great ones. And it’s better to be single for life than to marry someone who will make your life a burden. Singleness can be great. Marriage to the wrong person is a nightmare. I’ve been in a church parking lot where the pastor had to call the police to protect a wife from a husband who was trying to stop her from worshiping and being with her family. It’s ugly. Don’t be so desperate to get married that your marriage is a grief. If you are in an unhappy marriage, there are ways to get help. But if you’re not married, don’t put yourself in that situation. Don’t marry someone whose leadership you can’t follow. Don’t marry someone who is not seeking to love you as Christ loved the church. Marry someone who knows and demonstrates the love of Christ.

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teenagersI will never forget the mom and professional church worker who told me she hoped her sons and daughters would practice safe sex.   We were serving together on a life task force and, during lunch break, she confided, “I raised them to be chaste . . . I want them to wait for marriage.  But, once they started college, I encouraged them to use protection because, after all, they’re sexual, too, and I’m scared to death they’re going to be like everyone else.”

I remember the grandma who toured our local pregnancy center.  She thought the best thing parents could do for their daughters was to get them on The Pill so they wouldn’t need a pregnancy test.

Then there was the single father who raised his daughter to believe in Jesus, but made sure she had the Gardasil shot and was using birth control.  “I know what I was like at her age and I know she’s just going to sleep around so I have to look out for her.”

And there was the pastor who told me that he’s taken some girls from his congregation for abortions because “their parents wouldn’t be supportive of an unplanned pregnancy.”  These girls are “just going to do it,” he explained.  “They can’t help it . . . so I need to be there for them.”

Can’t help it?  What does this say about the way adults view children?

Children are sinful human beings born into a love-to-sin-world.  Do we say, “My child is a sinner.  It’s just who he is, so I’m going to help him lie, cheat, and steal with the least amount of damage.”  Is this how God sees children?  Is this how He helps them?

When we don’t see children the way God does, then our mentoring role in their lives is compromised.

Yes, children are sinful… just like their parents and grandparents.  But baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, God sees us as His adopted sons and daughters in Christ.  Jesus won for God’s children the privilege of becoming heirs of the heavenly kingdom.  This not only bestows value but defines purpose.

Identity matters!  Our sons and daughters are not “sexual from birth” as Planned Parenthood sees them.  They are not captive to instincts and desires.  They are persons created more in the image of God than the image of wolves and rabbits.     To see children as God does is to realize they are more than flesh and blood but spirit and, because they are spirit, every choice they make will take them either closer to — or farther from — God.

It is the children who suffer when we fail to see them as God does.  Expectations for their purpose and behavior are lowered.  Their future appears grim.

Identity matters.  And, because it does, my grandchildren need me to remind them of what happened at the baptismal font.  Their baptism “is an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to Him” (1 Peter 3:21-22).  I can literally tell my grandchildren that their Lord and Savior rules!  This means that someday, when they are teenagers, they won’t have to be subject to raging hormones or made foolish by lack of judgment.  In remembering who they are, they will know the source of their wisdom and strength.  This will affect their choices and behavior.  But that’s not all.

When boys and girls see themselves the way God does, the way they view each other will improve.   Relationships will take on new meaning.  Think about it.  If boys see themselves in light of their baptism as sons of God and girls see themselves as daughters of God, then all baptized people become brothers and sisters in Christ.

Can you imagine?  I mean, really!   Can you imagine the impact this would have on high school and college campuses… at the beach… in the workplace… around the neighborhood… and for society as a whole?

I can.  And it renews my hope.

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man at workIt has become tradition for me to read to my husband while he is driving.  Road trips provide opportunity to catch up on good books and engage in hearty conversation.

For a recent journey to the southwest, I selected The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood.  We began reading from William J. Bennett’s book on a previous trip.  It was good to return to his treasure trove of writings gleaned from thinkers such as Alexis de Tocqueville, Teddy Roosevelt, Booker T. Washington, and David Aikman on such topics as war, politics, women and family, faith, and work.  As a wife and mother of sons, I’ve always been fascinated by the gender opposite mine.  I want to know what they think.  What makes them tick.  This desire comes naturally to me as the one God called to “complete” or compliment the male being.  In my vocation as a “helper,” I am inspired to daily bring out the best in any male person whose life intersects mine.  How can I compliment or be of help if I haven’t taken the time to study and learn what men are all about?

If you’ve been reading Ezerwoman or have attended any Titus 2 Retreats, you’ll know I’m on a quest to help myself and others better appreciate Biblical manhood and womanhood.  Foundational to all discussions on this matter is our identity.  How we define ourselves matters.  How we see ourselves affects our behavior and choices.  If we call ourselves people of God in Christ Jesus, then we are compelled to live as sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.  (2 Corinthians 6:16-18)

How does a son of God live?  He is called to daily live out his male vocation in a sanctified or holy way.  In other words, he is not called to obsess on himself or his sensuality, but to do all that he does – in married or unmarried life – in the light of what Christ has done for him and to God’s glory.  He is called to work, serve, protect, teach, and relate to other men and women in ways that honor his Creator and Redeemer.

How a man defines himself matters.  How he sees himself matters.  What he does as a man matters.  God’s Word in 1 Thessalonians 4 instructs man to live a life pleasing to the Creator.  It is the will of God and for a man’s sanctification (holiness) that he controls his own body and abstains from what is unholy.  God’s gift of sexuality, or anything having to do with intimacy and procreation, is for use within the parameters of marriage.  Sexuality has very real connections with fatherhood, children and family.

But, what if (as so often happens in this present culture) a man identifies himself as a sexual being?  What will become of him if he can’t live out his sexuality?  Will he simply wilt away into a pitiful heap useful for no good purpose?  Ah, but let us expose the lies and deception.  Man is more than a sexual being.  He is a human being.  A male human being.  Our gender – male or female – is to be lived every day, not reserved for marriage.  To be a man is, literally, a vocation.  To be a good steward who honors God’s created order is a vocation.  The culture is powerfully affected – for generations to come — by the way a man daily chooses to think.  Serve.  Work.

What is the value of work in a man’s life?  Indeed, God created man to be a worker; a good steward of the land, fully engaged in honest and, thus, joyful labor.  Work in a sin-filled world isn’t easy.  It can be frustrating, ordinary, or tiresome.  Nevertheless, work for a man is more than what he does.  Work for a man satisfies his most inner yearnings for order, stability, and significance.

In the prologue to his section on “Man at Work,” William Bennett writes,

Despite what popular culture might convey, we know there is something intrinsically satisfying in being able to plant your own garden, repair your own house, and fix your own car.  Recently, a friend of mine was recovering from life-threatening cancer.  His doctor told him that he could not work, exercise, or enjoy the other fruits of life – 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.”

And so, I continue to study and learn.  And what I learn convinces me of what I know to be true.  God did not call us to a life of sensuality, but of holiness.  Holiness in our vocations as male or female.  Whether we are healthy or not so healthy.  Strikingly handsome or plain.   Married or unmarried.  In work or in play.  In service or at rest.  Not to our glory, but His.

Sensuality may be fleeting; something for this earth.  But, holiness leads to another life and the promise can be trusted.  A son of God lives forever.

(Link: “Heaven and Sexuality,” blog of July 24, 2012)

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Megan is an all American girl.  Like other freshmen in college, she considers herself “modern.”  She communicates by iPhone and Facebook, is comfortable with her “sexuality,” strolls through Victoria’s Secret with her boyfriend, and, ready for a serious relationship, scheduled an appointment to discuss birth control with a Planned Parenthood counselor.

Megan also considers herself to be a Christian.  She attended church regularly with her parents.  She was educated in parochial schools.  Her friends are Christian.  She knows the Bible stories and sings praises to God. 

Megan believes Jesus is her Savior.  If you were to ask her if she is a creation of God, she would answer “Yes!”  She has been taught that she can talk to God as if talking to her daddy.  He is “Abba Father” and, Megan has been assured, there is nothing she can do to change this fact.  Even when Megan forgets to pray or skips worship for another activity or sins in any way, God remains her Heavenly Father.  This gives Megan comfort, especially when she’s lonely or troubled.  She adores her “awesome God” on Sundays.  But, on Mondays, she returns to the “real” world.

In the “real” world, Megan was sharing a bed with her boyfriend.  They were in love and being responsibly adult.  Planned Parenthood helped her to separate the act of sex from procreation.  One weekend while visiting her parents, Megan did the usual thing by attending church with them.  But, what happened took Megan by surprise.  This day, the pastor seemed to look right at her.  The Word he spoke did not comfort but, instead, convicted.  Megan heard him say that those who follow the flesh by being sexually immoral, impure, and sensual are in danger of missing heaven (Galatians 5:19-21).  Megan also heard him say that a new person in Christ is equipped to guard against passions and desires (vv. 23-24).

Megan was conflicted.  She did not leave church that morning in a good mood.  What did it mean to be a “new person?”  How did that fit with being a “sexual being” as she had been taught to see herself?  Couldn’t she love Jesus and know He died for her, yet be “modern” in her thinking and behavior?  In an honest moment with her parents, Megan expressed fear.  “I’ve always known God loves me, no matter what.  No matter what, right Dad?  Right, Mom?”  In a way, Megan was asking what so many Christians might be asking themselves: If disobedience or sin cannot make me less God’s child, what does it matter what I do?  Why is it so important to obey God?  Why can’t I just follow my instincts?  Do whatever feels right for me depending on the situation?  Won’t it all work out in the end?  After all, Jesus died so that my sins are forgiven!

This is most certainly true.  Jesus died for a world of sinners.  You.  Me.  Every person ever conceived.  But, dear Megan, our behavior matters.  Why?  Because our behavior changes our attitude toward God.  Evidence of this abounds.  It is seen in a culture that determines for itself what is “right” and “wrong.”  It is the Christian parent who asks the pastor not to speak about the sin of living together lest his daughter co-habitating with her fiancé stops coming to church.  It is the pro-life Christian who has four children but isn’t married to any of their daddies.  It is the Christian woman whose choice of clothing reflects her glory rather than God’s and, intentionally or not, becomes a temptress.  It is the Christian father who, fearing for his daughter’s future, insists she have an abortion.  It is the Christian mother who defends her son’s homosexual lifestyle, saying, “God made him that way.”  It is whole bodies of Christians who want Jesus to wrap Himself around the desires of their hearts. 

The heart, says the world, is good and can be trusted.  The heart, says God’s Word, is deceptive and not to be trusted.   Ah, the fickle human heart!  It is influenced by the world and our own sinful flesh to oppose the Lord God even while it thinks it is still clinging to Him.   

Is Megan doing what we Christians too often do?  She knows she is saved and has the promise of heaven.  But, does she want God to fit her world?  She acknowledges God as her Creator but, depending on her circumstance, does she re-define what He has made?   She says Jesus is her Savior, but does He have anything to say about her relationships and choices?  She finds hope in being a “new person in Christ,” but is she talking and walking like a sinner bound to sin?    

Megan’s identity matters.  She is a child of God because of what Jesus did for her.  She has divine possibilities.  A rich inheritance.   Megan’s behavior also matters.  How does a daughter honor her Father?  How does she reflect His kind of love?  Patience?  Kindness?  Purity?   Megan’s identity as a child of God will never change.  But, her choices and behavior can change her attitude toward God.  Even place her inheritance at risk.

Our identity and behavior matter.  When we separate our God-given identity from the “real” world identity we give ourselves (at any given time, in any given circumstance), we are in danger.  We are in danger when we re-define things of God such as the value of human life, being male or female, purity, and marriage.  We are in danger when we follow instincts of the flesh and stubbornly defend every personal choice.  We are in danger when we exchange His Truth for our opinion.  These are dangerous behaviors that change our attitude toward God.  It is the most dangerous thing of all to make God what we want Him to be.

But, when children of God trust His Word to be living, active, and mighty in “real” life, our perspective of the world changes.  It does not hold us captive.  It is temporary.  It is a place we journey through on our way home to our Father’s Kingdom.  It is opportunity to think, speak, dress, work, play, love, care, and choose in ways that encourage others to ask: “Who is your Father?”  “Why do you do the things you do?” “What is your hope?”

Megan is the King’s daughter with a divine inheritance in store.  This is compelling reason to live a more noble and holy life.  A life with divine possibilities.   A life that reflects God rather than self.  A life that makes a difference in a “real” world.

T2-4Life  is a mentoring ministry that exists to help young ones make choices that 
reflect the holiness of God, but also remind older ones that mistakes of the past do 
not have dominion over changed people in Christ.  You are welcome to visit T2-4Life.

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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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