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Posts Tagged ‘identity’

love your neighborWho is our neighbor? In God’s world, our neighbor is more than the person who lives in the house next door. Our neighbor is the stranger in need, the student in our class, our associate at work, our parent or grandparent, and our child. Our neighbor may not think and act the way we do. We may feel awkward with them because our beliefs are polar opposite. But, in God’s world, they are our neighbor.

What are we to do with our neighbor? Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). This love is second only to the love we are to have for God.

I am thinking right now of four Christian friends. Each one is the parent of a son or a daughter who has admitted they are in a gay or lesbian relationship. These parents love their children but, with the desire to live under the character and authority of God and His Word in Christ, these parents cannot accept the behavior and lifestyle of their children.

My friends, and others like them, agonize, asking: What can we do? How do we embrace our child but not their behavior? How do we nurture a godly relationship with our child? In fact, how do we even engage in conversation with our child on some kind of common ground?

Glenn T. Stanton, author of the new book Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor, offers six truths that he defines as “mere Christianity.” These points, writes Stanton, “are the great equalizers of humanity, putting us all in the same boat for good and for bad, proclaiming that no one person is better or worse, loved more or less, nor more or less deserving of love than another.” These truths are:

  • Everybody is a human person. No exceptions.
  • Every human person is of inestimable worth and value, none more than another. No exceptions.
  • Everyone is deeply and passionately loved by God. No exceptions.
  • Unfortunately, everyone is burdened with a terminal illness: sin. No exceptions.
  • All, as children of Adam, are tragically separated from God, but this does not diminish God’s boundless love for us. But it does devastatingly hinder our relationship with Him. All of us, no exceptions.
  • Therefore, everyone is in desperate need of repentance, healing and a new life that comes only in surrender and submission to Christ. No exceptions.

Because we live in such a sexualized culture, there is need, I think, to explain what it means to be a “human person.” In this culture, sexuality is “central to being human.” But the Christian parent is called to see their neighbor; indeed, their child, differently. Parents of a son or daughter who struggles with any kind of sexual desire (for the opposite or same sex) will best love that child in light of how God sees them.

To be human means to be male or female created in God’s image. Although fallen from that perfect image (and burdened with the terminal illness called sin), God still wants His people to reflect His holiness. Nowhere in Scripture does God say: be sexual for I the Lord your God am sexual. What He says is this: “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1Peter 1:14-16). Sexuality is not the central part of being human. Sexual describes feelings, desires, thoughts, and physical intimacy. Because of sexual procreation, life goes on. We have birthdays and anniversaries. But sexuality is not the sum total of who we are as male or female persons.

Here is the evidence. Who we are in this temporal life is who we will be for eternity. If we were fundamentally “sexual,” then this would hold true not just before the resurrection but also after the resurrection. (Otherwise after the resurrection, we would be less than human.) But what does Jesus say? When asked whose wife the widow of seven deceased husbands would be in heaven, Jesus answered, “You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 22:29-30). Therefore, being sexual, that is, capable of sexual activity, is not part of what it means to be human after the resurrection. And if it is not part of our divinely-created human identity in the resurrection where everything will be made perfect, then it is not the central part of our divinely-created identity now. In heaven, there will be no act of marriage, no “one flesh” union. So, do we lose our identity in heaven? No! Our true identity will remain intact. We will be as He created us—fully human, but perfect in every way, sons and daughters at the Father’s table. We will still be His treasures in Christ but, at last, able to truly reflect His magnificence.

Our human yet holy identity is the common ground for even the most awkward discussions between one neighbor and another, between parent and child. Failing to see our neighbor or child as God does will ultimately affect the way we fear, love and trust God. It may cause us to love conditionally rather than unconditionally or close doors rather than open them.

It’s true that I am not facing the same challenge as my four friends. If they said to me, “You speak so easily of all this, what can you possible know,” I would have to confess that I know only what Jesus tells us all: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” How we see our neighbor—indeed, our child—matters. It changes the way we approach them, welcome them, speak to them, serve them, and endure with them.

(“Six truths” from “The Odd Couple” by
Glenn T. Stanton in CITIZEN, March 2015.)

Suggested resources:
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity by Linda Bartlett (Amazon.com)
and Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yuan

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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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unhappy girlThe young women who find their way to the Lighthouse, a pregnancy and parenting resource center in my home town, might seem familiar to you. Actually, they could be your neighbor’s daughter, your pastor’s daughter or your daughter. They are not “bad” girls; rather, they are “normal” girls.

A negative pregnancy test provides opportunity to talk about their “normal” lives. One young woman, with goals of finishing high school and going on to college, opened the door to that conversation with a heartfelt confession. “I don’t understand. I’m not any different from my Facebook friends. I’m not any different from the people on TV. I dress like the models in my favorite magazines and do the things everyone else says they are doing. But if I’m so normal, why am I so unhappy?”

As a campus psychiatrist at UCLA, Dr. Miriam Grossman spent a lot of time with “normal” but “unhappy” young women. These educated women with goals of med school, performing arts or corporate law had little in life to complain about. They had active social lives, enough money and caring families. “Life is good,” they would tell Dr. Grossman, “so why do I feel so depressed? So emotionally stressed? So worthless?”

“If I’m so normal, why am I so unhappy?” This question—asked in small town pregnancy centers and on Ivy League campuses—should tug at the heart and soul of every pro-life parent, grandparent and pastor. “No amount of Prozac or Zoloft,” writes Dr. Grossman, “is going to solve this problem. These young women must, for their physical and emotional well-being, change their lifestyle.”

Change their lifestyle? But aren’t young women today more liberated than ever before? Haven’t the barriers that prevented complete happiness been chipped away? Isn’t it true that women can compete with men in sports, the workplace and the bedroom? It’s true, but all the supposed liberation in the world only puts us in conflict with ourselves.

In Genesis 1: 27, we learn that God created humans to be male and female. Later, and with more detail (Genesis 2), we learn that God created male and female at different times, in different ways and for different purposes. Try to ignore it if you will but a woman is built to bear and nurture children.

Matters of a woman’s heart are influenced by her biological design. Yes, my feminist friends, I said biological design. “The blurring of differences between male and female,” writes Dr. Grossman, “is a radical agenda unsupported by hard science.” One of the failures of nearly every kind of sex education, including Christianized sex education, is that we lump boys and girls together as equally “sexual beings” who just need more information and more comfort with their sexuality. But Dr. Marianne Legato, founder and director of the Partnership for Gender Specific Medicine at Columbia University, sees women’s health as more than a political or feminist issue because women differ from men in every system of their body.

It would seem that this important piece of biblical and scientific truth has been withheld from the young women who carry the burdens of depression, disease, fear, and broken hearts in the door of the Lighthouse and every other pregnancy center across this country.

Matters of a woman’s heart, by design, are connected to the love of one man, home and family. At the Lighthouse, however, we see young women who’ve been disconnected from all that is naturally womanly—most especially anything related to motherhood and childbearing—as something to be managed, minimized or even overcome. They have been shot up with Gardacil and soon after, like a right of passage, ceremoniously prescribed the Pill. They are prodded onto the football field, wrestling mat and arena of combat—no “holds barred”—which puts them at odds with their own biological and psychological functions and renders them more vulnerable. In abstinence class, they are reminded over and over again that sex is the most wondrous of all earthly gifts but not to be opened until marriage after first getting their degree, securing a good job and paying off loans. However, next to their heart is a biological clock that “tick, tick, ticks” the years of fertility away.

Girls have been told that they are no less sexual than any boy and have every right to enjoy the pleasantries of intimacy. But most girls have not been told about oxytocin, the neurochemical that floods a woman’s brain during a cuddle or a kiss. By design, oxytocin promotes trust and serves to bond a woman to the man she is with. Oxytocin at work in a wife who is sexually intimate with her husband helps produce long-term connectedness which is good for children.

But bonding is like glue. It can’t be undone or ripped apart without great emotional pain. Once, I asked a young woman why she was spending nights with her boyfriend. She responded, “Well I was hoping that if I did, he would ask me to marry him.” During another visit, she told me how much she liked tending “their” garden and decorating “their” house. “But,” I asked, “when it’s the end of the day and you sleep over, whose bed do you sleep in? Do you think of it as his… or ‘ours’”? Her eyes dropped. Her shoulders slumped. She whispered, “It’s his.”

A great many young women, despite the cultural acceptance of multiple partners, want to be married to one man and make a nest for their children. But a woman’s consent to play house without commitment of marriage actually encourages many young men to postpone marriage.

“I’m just doing what everyone else is doing. I’m normal.” So then why is this girl so depressed and unhappy? Because it is simply abnormal for a woman to be in conflict with the design of her own body. “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who frustrates the signs of liars . . . who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:24-25).

At the Lighthouse, we take matters of the heart very seriously. We want to guard the physical and spiritual health of a young woman just as we want to guard her right to a childhood, right to girlhood, and right to maidenhood.

This was first written as an article for LifeDate (LFL).
Linda Bartlett is co-founder/president of the Lighthouse Center of Hope
and author of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity

(Amazon – Our Identity Matters)
Miriam Grossman, M.D., is the author of Unprotected (Amazon).

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My book coverWithout fanfare or ceremony, the deed is done!  I have just completed nearly two years of writing a book.

On May 2, 2014, it was officially published and made available on Amazon.  There is enough left in my well of words to say “thank you” to an extraordinarily patient and helpful support team.  You know who you are.

The title of the book is The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity.  It is not the book I dreamed of writing.  It is the book I was compelled to write after thirty years of working with and listening to parents and the children they care about.

The book is 250 pages with over 230 footnotes.  No, I’m not in graduate school, but yes, this is my thesis. It is a dissertation that covers more than the controversial subject of sex education.  It explains how humanists bestowed a mistaken identity upon our children and why, nearly a half century later, Christians still nod their approval.  Yet, everywhere I go, I hear people ask, “Why are children sexualized?” The fact that a book like this hasn’t already been written tells me that too many of us have been deceived about our identity.

Christians live in a foreign land.  We are called to be uncommon, but have accepted the common ways of our neighbors.  We have let the unbelievers identify us.

The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity is a “catechism” for parents, pastors, teachers, those struggling with sexual temptations, and everyone who is concerned about the sexualization of children.

For fifty years, Christians and non-Christians alike have been taught to believe that “children are sexual from birth”.  Nowhere in Scripture does God describe children this way.  The phrase was coined by a humanist named Alfred Kinsey who believed infants and children can enjoy and benefit from early sexual activity.  His social science was wrong, but his research was widely accepted.  Our nation and even the Church were set on a dangerous course.  By accepting Kinsey’s data and the expertise of other like-minded humanists, the Church played a role in bestowing a mistaken identity, compromising purity for multiple generations, and ultimately putting human lives at risk.

A false identity has both temporal and eternal ramifications.  With painstaking care, I have attempted to explain why the Church can no longer participate in a tragically flawed social experiment and going beyond diagnosis, I propose a hopeful, radical and thoroughly biblical remedy.

There is no personal delight in pointing out error.  I have persevered with this project because I am motivated by love for my own children and grandchildren and by love for God’s Word.  For the sake of all children, I believe that Christians need to know the origin of sex education, then ask:

  • What fellowship has light with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)?
  • Upon what foundation have we built?
  • Young or old, single or married, who does God say that I am and what does this mean?

For the sake of generational holiness and purity, it is my prayer that we encourage honest and kind dialogue.  The 107 questions and answers I offer in my book are a good place to start.

Curious?  Please visit Our Identity Matters to learn more.

The book may be ordered from Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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two women talkingReady for a second opportunity?   Here’s #2 from Ezer’s Handbook

#2 — MENTOR CONFIDENCE IN THE CREATED ORDER

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Find Hope in the Order of God’s Creation.  Woman was not created at the same time, in the same way, or for the same purpose as man (Genesis 2:7, 15-22).  But many women perceive the role of “helper” (2:18) as being inferior or second-best.  Encourage younger and older women in your circle of relationships to read John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7-8.  Who is “the Helper” of whom Jesus speaks?  “Helper” in Greek is parakletos which means “comforter” or “advocate”.  “Helper” might also mean “encourager” or “ally”.  The question for women is: how will we choose to help or encourage? Submission is another troublesome word for us as women, but a biblical perspective helps bring understanding.  God uses the order of His very nature—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—to bring hope to a sinful people.  The Trinity is equal, but with different and definitive roles.  Jesus Christ is God, yet He submitted Himself to the Father for the sake of our salvation.  To bring order out of chaos, God uses the headship of husband and father in marriage and family for the benefit and well-being of children and society.  God uses the submission of the Son, Jesus Christ, to save His Bride, the Church, and serve with humility.  What begins to change when we understand “helper” and “submission” in light of God’s Word rather than our own opinion?

Trust the identity bestowed in Baptism.  A woman’s identity is not dependent on a man’s love, her appearance or what she does.  God does not define a woman as “sexual,” but as “holy”.  In Baptism, a woman becomes a daughter of God in Jesus Christ.  Yes, she is still a sinner, but now God sees her covered in Jesus’ robe of righteousness.  From a biblical perspective, the word “holy” means “set apart by God”.  “Holy” is the opposite of common.  Something common can be used by anyone, but a holy woman is used by God for good and holy purpose.  In light of her Baptism, how can a woman view herself?  How does true identity affect our choices and behavior?

Believe That Male and Female Are More Than Sexual. Too often, we skip from Genesis 1:27 to Genesis 2:24.  In doing so, we miss something very important about the complementary purpose and vocation of male and female.  Before God brought Adam and Eve together as “one flesh” in His institution of marriage, He called man to be a steward of all that He had made, to remember God’s Word, and to choose life.  God called woman to help man in the stewardship of all creation and help him remember God’s Word and choose life.  Do men and women have to be married in order to serve God in these ways?  Although it has become commonplace during the last 50 years for men and women to be identified as “sexual beings,” we are more than that to God.  While it is true that God designed male and female in the faithfulness of marriage to procreate, it is just as true that unmarried men and women are “holy” in Christ Jesus and can work together as caretakers of God’s world and be people of His Word and advocates of human life.  We are not defined by our sexuality—in this life or the next—but by our holiness.  What do Jesus’ words about marriage in Matthew 22:30 tell us about our “sexual” identity?  To help yourself and others better understand true identity as male and female, google The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (publication release: May 2014 by Linda Bartlett).  We can help others understand that no matter our age, health or circumstance in life, every male and female has unquestionable identity and purpose as “holy ones”.

Stand Guard Against the Enemy of Life.  Satan despises God’s order of creation because he wants us to live in chaos.   His one question, “Did God really say . . .,” was all it took for Eve to doubt God’s Word for her life (Genesis 3:1).  In doubt, Eve loosened her grip on the Sword of Truth.  Did she believe that she was the privileged recipient of some new knowledge that God was keeping from her? Do you see how quickly she not only spoke for God but inserted words God never spoke (compare Genesis 3:2-3 with 2:16-17)?  Nothing has changed.  Satan continues to stir up doubt by asking women the same question.  “Did God really say . . .?”  Like Eve, do we respond by speaking what God does not about sexuality, marriage, abortion, headship and women’s ordination?  Do we try to establish our own standard of right and wrong?  Challenge yourself to help younger women fear, love and trust God above all things.  Help them to recognize what is counterfeit and of Satan by knowing Jesus Christ, the Word of Truth (John 1:1-5, 14).

What’s next?  #3: Mentor Biblical Womanhood

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats

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prison cellThe 28th of October — three days from now — marks the tenth year of incarceration for my young friend Travis.  His life was forever changed when the jury pronounced him “guilty.”  He has no excuses.  Travis knows that he made terrible choices that led to life-threatening drug addiction.

He remembers that day in court when the verdict was read.  His mom reached for him, begging for one last hug but was denied by the U.S. Marshall who cuffed him and dragged him away.  Travis describes himself as a scared little boy in a man’s body unable to grasp the reality of what was happening, yet conscious of frightful images.  Where was he going?  With whom would he be imprisoned?  What would they do to him?  Would he be raped, stabbed or killed?

Travis writes, “I began to plot in my head how to end it all . . . life was not worth living anymore.  I thought of creative ways to use a bed sheet, or perhaps I could pick a fight and hopefully be killed in the process.”  But God was with Travis.  “The comfort I felt when I cried out to Him in one last ditch effort before I ended my life was so amazing.  God really did put His arms around me and lifted me up.”

It would be easy to languish in prison, to let the depression win and the hopelessness take root.  But there, in the most unlikely of places and under the Potter’s own hand, Travis has learned his true identity.  The world calls him a criminal.  A drug-abuser.  A law-breaker.  A bad boy.  A misfit.  But that is not how God identifies him.  God calls Travis His son in Jesus Christ.  A forgiven sinner.  A person of value.  A man with a future of hope.

Travis could remember October 28 as the end of his life.  Instead, he remembers it as the beginning of new life.   Before prison, Travis was captive to the lies.  In prison, he was set free in the Truth.  Before October 28, Travis had forgotten who he was.  On October 28, The Father reminded his child, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

It is in darkness that light shines brightest.  Travis admits to struggling with fear, doubt, sadness, anger, and depression.  But knowing who he is in Christ, Travis also knows he is being transformed.  As a son of God in Christ, Travis has purpose.

You are . . . his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light . . . once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9).

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The mother of one of my dear friends is in a nursing home.  She is a widow of so many years I’ve lost count.  In the past year, she survived near death experience but, at 95, her body is weakened.  Her daughter is faithful.  She travels four hours one way to spend two or three days with her mother.  The daughter encourages the mother and, at the same time, I believe the mother remains the mentor.  Even in poor health and weakened condition, the mother is an instrument for good in the hands of the Mighty God.

I can do little.  But, today, I wrote my friend’s mother this note:

Dear One,

I had these note cards printed with the single word “Amen.”  Why?  Because this word means “so be it.”  It can be our voice, responding to God, saying, “I agree with You, Father!  You said it!  Yes, indeed!”

So many days of our life are spent wondering and questioning: Why, Lord?  Why am I in this place?  Why is this happening?  Where are You?

Without a doubt, you are asking these questions.  But, you know what?  You have the answer.  You are in the hands of the Mighty God.  He said it is so.  God has called you by name, you are His.  He said it is so.  God knows every hair on your head.  He said it is so.  Because of what Jesus has done for you, you are a treasure of great price.  He said it is so.

Do battle with the doubts and fears, my friend.  They are deceptions of Satan, your enemy and mine.  Hold fast to the Promise of Jesus who died for you and me.  Tell Satan to take a hike… be gone… diminish into the nothing that he is.

You remain — forever and in all circumstances — the daughter of the King.  You are loved no matter what.”

It is my hope and prayer that, someday, someone writes me an “Amen.”  “So be it!”  “You said it, Father, it is so!”  May someone else remind me to trust The Promise.  God, who calls us by name, is faithful to work a good work in us and through us — until the day He calls us home.

In Jesus,

Amen.

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