Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

swordEllie is a 30-something wife and mom. Last fall, she came to hear a book presentation, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, followed by a panel of pastors. She was attentive during the discussions about created order, biblical manhood and womanhood, and purity in singleness and marriage.

A week later, Ellie attended a Titus 2 retreat. She scribbled notes as we disproved the feminist myth that “equal” means “being the same,” proclaimed God’s Word that male and female are not interchangeable, and contrasted the worldly sexualized identity with our baptized identity as daughters of God in Christ.

Winter and spring passed. Ellie was aware that in schools across the country dangerous decisions were being made in the name of sexual identity. For example: The Fairfax County Public School Board in Virginia voted to add “gender identity” to its nondiscrimination policy in spite of massive protests from parents. Boys who identify as girls would be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice—and vice versa. This school also announced changes in the family life curriculum for their 2016 school year. Lessons will be included on “sexual fluidity” and “spectrum,” the idea that there’s no such thing as 100 percent boys and 100 percent girls. In other words, girl parts and boy parts are really just the same.

When Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner, Ellie went public with her concerns. She posted an article describing Jenner as “not a hero” on her Facebook page. Many women responded. Some posted Scripture passages or brief statements of faith. It was a woman “pastor,” however, who increased the intensity of the discussion with two primary claims:

  • Jenner is courageous because he knew there would be judgmental people like you who need to remember that Jesus said “Judge not.” And, by the way, there are upwards of 40 different gender possibilities.
  • You have your truth, but it’s not the only truth in the world.

Ellie did not despair. She explained that she was not judging. As a sinner, she was not depending upon her own feelings but on The Word which is “breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Ti. 3:16 ESV).

The woman “pastor” persisted with her insistence of multiple truths and warned that Ellie should not pass judgment on a Scriptural interpretation different from her own. At this point, Ellie beseeched the shepherd of her congregation to engage. And he did. A few days after Holy Trinity Sunday, he posted “The Inspiration and Inerrancy of Holy Scripture.” It began,

“My Church has recently been called into question on Facebook for holding to the Scriptural truths regarding the creation of man as male and female. This does not surprise me nor do I think that it is an isolated occasion. When one holds to absolute truth in a relativistic age, one should expect nothing else than retaliation and attacks from those who raise the banner of ‘tolerance.’ When considering how best to address the questions raised by those who would attack my members and their confession of faith, I realized that the issue revolves around one thing: inspiration. That is, are the canonical books of the Old and New Testament breathed out by God in a pure form, or are they merely the thoughts of men wherein one might find truths intended by God? Also included in this discussion is whether we should take all of the New Testament as God’s Word, or only include those ‘red letters’ spoken by Christ.” (Complete document.)

“Red letter editions” of the Bible can be helpful but, at the same time, our doubting nature may tempt us to think: If the Scripture passage isn’t in red, then Jesus didn’t say it and, therefore, if Jesus didn’t say it, then it’s just the opinion of the men who wrote that chapter or verse. But, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:1-5; 14). Jesus is the Word. All of it. Old and New Testament, from Genesis 1 all the way through Revelation. To deny any part of the Word is to deny Christ.

Church-going people in this present age seem to have a particular struggle with the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture when it comes to identity issues. When considering abortion, the Christian may ask, “Does Jesus identify a fetus as His own?” Yes! The Word, “the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb” probes, “Will you command me concerning my children and the work of my hands?” (Is. 44:24; 45:9-11)

When considering gender, the Christian may ask, “Does Jesus really say there are only two genders?” Yes! The Word Jesus, second Person of the Triune God involved at creation, says, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Gen. 1:27; Mt. 19:4-5)

When considering behavior in singleness or marriage, the Christian may ask, “Does Jesus really define who I am and, if so, what does this mean?” Yes! The Word, Jesus, defines baptized Christians as “temples of the living God,” “my people,” and “sons and daughters” (2 Cor. 6:14-18) called to be “obedient children” who are “holy” because God is holy (1 Pt. 1:14-16).

We may often feel overwhelmed by a world gone mad. Even some church leaders re-interpret Scripture in light of “new” information and their own inspiration. But, this is idolatry! Jesus says: “In vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15:9).

Human reason is not equal to divine truth. Where God has spoken, the right of personal judgment ceases. The Apostle Paul was inspired to put it this way: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5 NKJV).

We will surely be troubled by those who distort God’s Word. But Jesus is the Word made flesh. Nothing else can be Truth, not even if preached by an angel (Gal. 1:8).

The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
may be ordered from Amazon.com.
Learn more at Our Identity Matters

Read Full Post »

christian children in palestine

When I look at the photos of children in the Middle East, I wonder:
What if we knew we had one year left of Christian freedom in this country?
What would we most want our children and grandchildren to know…

iraqi christian children

…and what would we be willing to do about it?

 

 

Read Full Post »

candle lightTwo thousand fourteen years ago, God came into this sin-tainted world so that Light would shine in the darkness.

But, today, the darkness seems so oppressive.  Will it overwhelm the Light?”

Sexual immorality abounds. Sensuality is an idol. Girls assume that it’s “normal” to be sexually intimate with boys. Planned Parenthood uses the book Fifty Shades of Gray to explain to 15-year-old girls why sadistic and masochistic sex is “okay” if the girl “gives permission.” Pedophilia is on the rise. Sodomy is tolerated as just another expression of “love.” Marriage is assaulted not just by advocates of same-sex “marriage,” but by adultery, cohabitation, no-fault divorce. Children grow up in homes with their mommy and her boyfriend. Grandchildren see their grandparents “shacking up.”

The darkness seems so oppressive… will it overwhelm the Light?  No!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it (John 1:1-5).

But aren’t we living in times more dark than any other? Isn’t darkness more oppressive and evil more ominous than ever before? No!

Alvin Schmidt, the author of How Christianity Changed the World, explains that from early on, Christians have found themselves in cultures that, indeed, “exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator,” and because of this, “God gave them over to shameful lusts” (Romans 1:25-26). This is how St. Paul described the Greco-Roman society of his day.

Schmidt writes, “By the first and second centuries after Christ, undefiled sexual intercourse, along with marital faithfulness, had essentially disappeared. Not only were adultery and fornication common, but people engaged in all sorts of sexual methods, many of them obscene.”

He continues, “Roman marriages had greatly deteriorated; they had become a ‘loose and voluntary compact [and] religious and civil rites were no longer essential.’ Marriage was ‘detested as a disagreeable necessity.’ Since people had become obsessed with sex, marital unions were very short-lived.” The Latin Church father, Tertullian, “noted that male/female sex relations had become sadistic and masochistic . . . Heterosexual love had turned into a type of sport.” Prostitution, incest, and mutilation were not uncommon.

The world at that time seemed very, very dark. Overwhelmingly dark.

But, writes Schmidt, “into this immoral sexual environment came the Christians with a radically different sexual ethic and lifestyle . . . [W]hen God instituted marriage at the time of creation, He told Adam and Eve that the sex act made a husband and wife one flesh (Gen. 2:24). The one flesh concept required the married couple to be totally faithful to each other.” Schmidt points to a second-century document that describes how the early Christians differed from the pagan Romans by confining their sexual behavior to married life. The document reads: “They [Christians] marry as do all; they beget children . . . They have a common table, but not a common bed” (Epistle to Diognetus).

One would think that the darkness of the Roman culture was so oppressive that Christians would shrink away and take their Light with them.  But, no!

Schmidt writes that “Galen, a Greek physician of the second century, was impressed with the upright sexual behavior of Christians. He said they were ‘so far advanced in self-discipline and . . . intense desire to attain moral excellence that they are in no way inferior to true philosophers.’”

The Christian doctrine and practice of marriage was “so powerful,” writes Schmidt, that historian Edward Gibbon says, “The dignity of marriage was restored by the Christians.”

The dignity of marriage was restored! And there’s more! Schmidt writes, “The dignity and sanctity of marriage that Christianity brought to Roman culture were mostly due to the early Christian women. They appreciated the dignity and worth that Christ’s teachings accorded them” (prior to Jesus’ earthly ministry, women were too often held in low esteem). Women, “more so than men, understood the seriousness of their biological role as bearers of children in God’s created order. Thus, the wedding rite, the precursor to the fulfillment of that role, needed to be conducted with solemnity and reverence.”

Lest we think this is mere speculation on the part of Schmidt or any other historian, here’s what the pagan Libanius said about the dedication of Christian wives and mothers of that time: “What women these Christians have!”

It is no different today.  A woman who sees herself in the Light of Christ can also see her relationships, choices, and behaviors in that same Light.  As she begins to see the seriousness of her biological role as a bearer of children in God’s created order, she can also help her boyfriend, fiancé, or husband understand this, too.  As she contrasts passionate eros love with patient and virtuous agape love (1 Corinthians 13), she can positively influence not only the man in her life but her children and grandchildren.

It is true that the darkness of sin and evil is oppressive.  Marriage is under assault and weakened by every form of sexual idolatry.  But the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  God is faithful to use men and women who trust the Light to make a difference one person, one family, one neighborhood at a time.  Sometimes, as happened in Rome, even seemingly hopeless and depraved cultures begin to look with favor on wives and mothers, husbands and fathers.

Darkness is oppressive, but the Light cannot be overcome.  And in that Light, the dignity of marriage and family can slowly be restored.

I believe it.

Read Full Post »

My book coverThere is hope.  There is always hope.

Many parents, grandparents, pastors and teachers mourn the sexualization of children.  They ask: Why?  How did this come to be?  In what ways have we failed Jesus’ little ones?  Were we deceived?  If so, by whom?  Did we put our trust in something other than God’s Word?

These questions and others are being discussed this fall in various locations across the Midwest.  Together with pastors who have read and affirm my book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity,  I am engaging Christians who grieve the loss of childhood innocence and want to do something about it.  Most hopeful is the vocal and discerningly wise response of a younger generation of parents and pastors.  Soon, I hope to make public some of those responses.

For now, however, let me encourage all moms and dads who want to guard the physical and spiritual health of sons and daughters; who want to guard a son’s right to childhood, right to boyhood, and right to godly manhood; who want to guard a daughter’s right to a childhood, right to girlhood, and right to maidenhood.  Be not ashamed to instruct your child in purity for it is the Word of God.  Sex education, in or out of the Church, builds on a secular humanist foundation; therefore, it will always lean the wrong way.  Instruction in purity is rooted in Christ Himself; therefore, it will serve well in this life and into the next.  Sex education too easily shapes a sexual identity.  Instruction in purity reminds the baptized of their holy identity.

Sex education helps children focus more on the “yeses” of sex and less on the “shalt nots.”   Sex education dangles the carrot of glorious marital sex before children beginning at a young age, but then instructs young people to delay marriage until graduating from college, securing a good job and paying off some debt.  Instruction in purity understands that we no longer live in the Garden of Eden.  For this reason, it neither arouses love before its time nor does it place obstacles in the way of youthful marriage and the faithful growing of family.

True to God’s Word, there is an order for instruction in purity.  When a Christian mother by the name of Laeta asked how she could raise her daughter to purity, the Church father Jerome answered: First teach the rules of life from Proverbs, the patience and virtue of Job, the epistles, and the prophets.  Only then, and at a more mature age, is there wisdom in directing a young woman to read about marriage and the spiritual bride in Song of Songs. *

There is hope.  There is always hope in God’s design and order for life.

*With appreciation to Christopher W. Mitchell,
Concordia Commentary The Song of Songs, p. 278

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

Read Full Post »

The following was written by Rebecca Mayes and posted on He Remembers the Barren.  Thank you, Rebecca.

One of the aspects of barrenness that is so awkward is the fact that the “success” of your marital relations (more modernly called your “sex life”) with your spouse is often scrutinized by those around you, either privately in their own minds, or quite publicly to your face. The joining of two fleshes into one in the bonds of holy matrimony used to be treated with such modesty and respect. No one would dare ask you whether you’re “doing it” right or if you’ve tried such-and-such a method. But the sexual revolution changed all that, and in numerous Christian publications we read that the act is a beautiful, natural part of marriage and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We should celebrate our gift of sexuality and teach the children in our Church all they need to know to be prepared for utilizing this gift. But is this what the Bible says? When we blush at the questions about what’s wrong with our reproductive organs, is that for a good reason, or are we just prudes?

Linda's bookLinda Bartlett, former national president of Lutherans for Life, has just published The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, which exposes the myths that our generation, as well as our parents’ and grandparents’ generations, have been taught to believe about what children should know to be prepared for marriage, the marital act, and procreation.

Bartlett begins by giving the necessary history of how the Church,  during the mid-20th century, put too much trust in “experts” instead of the inspired Word of God and willingly traded in our biblical understanding of manhood, womanhood, procreation, parenting, and purity for a more “scientific” approach to teaching children about the intimacies of marriage. Falsified, inaccurate, and even perverted studies on the “sexuality” of the human male and female conducted by Alfred Kinsey were presented to universities, medical associations, and church bodies as facts which could not be ignored by enlightened academics. Christianized versions of the sexual revolution’s message were then (and still are) passed down to schools and parents to share with children.

Are just what are some of these myths?

  • Children are sexual from birth.
  • Children should be taught about sex, and with the proper terminologies, beginning in early elementary school.
  • If children are not taught about sex early on, their naiveté could make them prey to sexual predators.
  • Parents aren’t trained to properly teach their children about sex. The schools are the best environments for this to take place.
  • Boys and girls should be taught about puberty and sexuality while in the same classroom, since there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
  • Sex education will help prevent unplanned pregnancies, STD’s, and abortions.

The Church was naive in its promotion of sex education in the parochial schools, Bartlett points out, but not malicious. We were deceived into believing that we are “sexual from birth,” and this brainwashing had the complete opposite effect on our Church members as what was intended. It cleared the way for the acceptance of fornication, homosexuality, birth control, and even abortion as a normal part of life for those who are simply expressing their sexuality – being who they thought they were created to be.

But that’s not how we were created, Bartlett reminds us. The solution to the mess we are in now is our Baptism. This is where we received our true identities as children of the Heavenly Father, not sexual beings created to express our sexuality, but holy beings, created to live holy (not sexual) lives. “It is important,” Bartlett says, “for the Body of Christ to see each member as fully human as opposed to sexual and, therefore, an instrument for God’s purpose and glory whether a child or adult, single or married, in this circumstance or that,” (pg. 108).

Because Bartlett presents such shocking evidence of our deception, she presents her case in the form of a patient dialogue between herself and her readers, including over 100 questions and then answering almost every objection one could think of to the notion that there is anything wrong with the way the Church has been educating her children. Her love and concern for her Church family flow through each section as she gently reminds us all that, “Even well-intentioned sex education in the Church leans the wrong way if built on the wrong foundation,” (pg. 129).

If you have children, if you teach children, if you are related to children, or if you once were a child, this book is for you.

Rebecca Mayes
He Remembers the Barren

Read Full Post »

crown of thorns with crossJesus Christ welcomes sinners.  He wants us to acknowledge and repent of our sins, but He does not identify us by our sinful desires and inclinations.

It is for this reason that I, a confessional Lutheran, am appreciative of the documentary produced by Blackstone Films to help the Catholic Church share its view on homosexuality.  The film is entitled The Third WayMercatorNet notes that even though it is “not perfect” and features “stereotypical religious” settings, the film is powerfully compelling because of the “authentic, convincing and coherent” voices of seven men and women who live with same-sex attraction.  These men and women  do not deny their personality nor do they argue that same-sex attraction must lead to same-sex lifestyle and same-sex “marriage”.  They confess that homosexuality is a sin even as they confess the struggle to live self-controlled and pure lives.  In the struggle, however, comes joy.  Joy comes when we relinquish our own identity and, in Jesus Christ, see ourselves the way God sees us.

The Word tells us to remember Whose we are and to live accordingly.  In Baptism, Jesus assures our true identity as sons and daughters of God through His sacrificial and redemptive work.  What does this mean?  It means that we are daily called to resist the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature.  It means that we are not common for use by anyone, but uncommon for use in the hands of the holy God.

I am especially appreciative of The Third Way because, for many years, I have been moved by the stories of men and women who were caught in a lifestyle shaped by the lie of a homosexual identity.  Their life experiences and encouragement of the Holy Spirit motivate me to speak Truth on their behalf.  Forgiven of every sin, the repentant sinner stands at the foot of the Cross where we hear Jesus say: Come!  Deny yourself!  Take up your cross and follow Me!  Lose your life and in Me you will find it.  (Matthew 16:24-25).

Please.  Take the time to watch this film.  Its message is for all who are deceived by mistaken identity.

Linda Bartlett is the author of
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon)

Read Full Post »

Robin Williams with maskIn searching among the many photos of Robin Williams, I’m surprised by my emotion.  I’m in awe of this creature of countless expressions and I believe that God mourns his apparent suicide.  The Potter of William’s life took such care to shape a vessel for esteemed use.  Surely, Williams brought laughter, posed questions and made us think.  But what did he think of himself?  Could he no longer laugh or find joy because his identity was so precariously unsure?

Williams was somebody.  And while we can no longer help him recognize his true identity, we can help ourselves and our children.

Our identity is not actor or senator or founder and CEO of Microsoft.  Our identity is not Victoria’s Secret model or teacher of the year or Supreme Court justice.  All of these are types of vocations or things we chose to do that affect the world around us.  Our identity is not heterosexual or homosexual.  These are behaviors and ways to grow–or not grow–the family tree.  Our identity is what God says we are.  To the baptized Christian, He says,  “You are my adopted child in Jesus Christ.  You are my heir.”  Nothing–no, not one thing save our own rejection of this identity–can change who we are in God’s eyes.

Our value comes not from anything we do, but from what Jesus Christ did for us.  The Savior of our lives has covered us with His Robe of Righteousness.  Now, when God looks at us–even when we’re suffering sin and depression–He sees the treasures for whom Jesus gave all He had.  Did anyone tell this to Williams?  Are we sharing this truth with family members, neighbors and friends?  Or are we reluctant to speak this truth because we, too, are deceived about who we really are?

In her post “Murderous Mendacity of Depression,” Elizabeth Scalia wrote,

Depression is a hissing false witness. It lies and tells someone there is no hope; it lies and declares, “you’re a fraud”; it lies when it warns you to hide your feelings, because people won’t love you if they know how terrified and alone and desperate you feel; it lies and sneers that you’re weak — that you can just snap out of it, anytime, if you really want to; it croons the lie that love is not real, and hope is for suckers; it whispers the most insidious of lies: that your pain will never ebb, cannot be transcended, and has no value at all.

After a while, the pain begins to feel like all you are and all there is: a worthless, pointless void. And when your life becomes just pain-without-end, suffering-without-meaning, tomorrow seems like less a promise than a prison.

When depression wins, it is such a damned tragedy, no matter whether it has carried off a big rich somebody, or an ordinary nobody, because it is the victory of an incessant liar.*

Jesus knows the liar.

He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 ESV).

We all hear the hiss of satan.  The evil one tempts: “Did God really say . . . ?”  The question stirs doubt.  In doubt, we put ourselves in God’s place and assume control.  After we do what we want and suffer the consequences, the tempter becomes our accuser: “Did God really say He can forgive you?”

Both questions are intended to separate us from the one who knows us better than we know ourselves.  The one who calls us by name.  The one who promises a future of hope.

It is right to mourn the loss of people who, in darkness or desperation, take their own lives.  Then we must ask: In light of my true identity, how shall I live?

Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or  nakedness, or danger, or sword?  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-38 ESV).

 * I am appreciative to Sheila Liaugminas
who quoted Scalia in her Mercatornet article of 8-13-14

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »