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Mussmann Anna croppedAnna Mussmann and I have never met.  So it was with great surprise that I received the following review of my book from her blog Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife.

Linda Bartlett has worked in the pro-life movement for years. Among other positions, she has served as the national president of Lutherans For Life and as chairman of the LCMS Sanctity of Life Task Force. As a pro-life leader; a mentor of young women; an instrumental participant in the launch of Word of Hope, a post-abortion ministry; and a parent, she has come to believe that the foundational philosophical approach behind modern sex education is in utter conflict with Scripture. This month, I read her book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity: Questions and Answers for Christian Dialogue.

Initially, I found myself somewhat resistant to her message. Two issues distracted me. One was my own background. After growing up in a homeschooling community that included a large number of fundamentalist families who tried to “ensure” their children’s purity by rejecting the world entirely, I have seen overly-controlling parents and overly-sheltered (adult) children. There was no outward immodesty, no dating, and no “sex education” in these households. I remember one woman whose son wanted to become a doctor. She would not agree to his going to medical school because there is “so much nudity” there, and she hoped that he could find a nude-free, apprenticeship route to medical training with a Christian physician. These families sought protection from sin through ignorance, and their legalistic attempts did not usually work out as they hoped. Because of all this, I was hesitant when Mrs. Bartlett argued that children ought not to receive “sex education.” I even shied away from her use of the word “purity.” After all, we and our children are all sinners. How can we be “pure?” However, as I completed the book, I came to realize that what Mrs. Bartlett advocates is different from the errors I saw growing up. Mrs. Bartlett’s arguments are insightful, thoughtful, counter-cultural, and deeply important to parents and to the church as a whole. Her writing is well-worth your consideration.

She argues that the modern understanding of sexuality (itself a loaded modern term) is the result of “sexual social engineering” based upon the discredited and deeply flawed research (some of it involving shocking child abuse) of sexologist Alfred Charles Kinsey. Due to Kinsey and his followers, the world has accepted the idea that human beings are “sexual from birth” and that sexuality (as opposed to sex, in the sense of being male or female) is key to each person’s identity. Believing that these arguments (and all that they imply) were proven science, the church changed its approach to sex, sexuality, and human identity and sought to provide a Christian version of the same flawed sex education that became universal in the public sector. This, Mrs. Bartlett says, was a well-meant but tragic mistake.

She points out that, while God created humans as male and female, Jesus also said that there is no marriage or giving in marriage in heaven. We know that we will not lose our humanity or our identity in heaven. Therefore, our “sexuality” is not essential to our humanity and identity. When we focus only on our sexual identity instead of our identity as a man or a woman, we lose out on the broader picture of who we are. She says, “We are fully human—male or female—whether we are a child or an adult, whether we are married or single,” and that, “To accept that children are human beings and therefore sexual beings is to accept wrong teaching that leads to wrong practice. It bestows a mistaken identity that compromises faith and purity.”

When Christian parents and Christian teachers believe that their children are sexual beings, they teach the wrong things at the wrong time. Instead of focusing on teaching children what it means to live out the vocation of man or a woman in the broad sense (and providing appropriate sexual information in one-on-one conversations at appropriate times), sex is overemphasized. Children are placed in mixed-gender classrooms away from their parents and told how to have sex, how to prevent physical side-effects of sex, that sex is wonderful, and that they will no doubt think about it a great deal and want to have it, but that they must wait for marriage. Twelve years of sex education, added to an oversexed culture, is unhealthy. She argues that this approach is more likely to stir up lust and inappropriate desire than to help young people relate to each other in a Christian manner. It is like surrounding them with wonderful-looking candy and saying that they must not eat it!

She also argues that children and young people’s natural delicacy and modesty about such topics is a good, healthy, and protective thing. “Christians should know that due to sin’s corruption, having sexual information is not sufficient to make good sexual decisions.” A system designed to desensitize them (even if well-meaning and based on the assumption that they are already hardened to sensuality and sexuality because of the culture they live in) does no one any favors at all, and is in fact harmful—it can “actually weaken the child’s resistance to sexual temptation.”

Furthermore, if Christians accept the idea that their primary identity is that of a sexual being, it become far more “excusable” for them to engage in sex outside of marriage and even to have abortions. How can they be expected to live chaste lives if that is contrary to their nature? How could anyone believe that they can really wait years and years to engage in an essential aspect of their humanity? After all, “If we are ‘sexual from birth,’ then one may believe that his current lusts and desires were created that way by God, rather than being horribly corrupted by sin. If people believe their current desires are God-given, it would follow that no one has the right to tell them how to define or express their ‘sexuality’.” Because of this, she objects to the term “God’s gift of sexuality” because it leads to misguided emphasis. If instead we talk and teach about “God’s design for sexuality,” the emphasis is far more Biblical.

Opponents of Mrs. Bartlett’s view would probably claim that her approach will lead children to think that sexuality is shameful. However, she quotes C.S. Lewis’s comment that, “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.” She wants to teach a positive, active approach to life, and says,

“Abstinence says, ‘I must wait for sex until marriage.’ Purity says, “I don’t have to wait to be the woman (or man) God created me to be.’ Abstinence says, ‘Because we are sexual beings, I must be cautious with the opposite sex.’ Purity says, ‘Because we are persons more than sexual beings, I can respect, talk to, learn from, work beside, and be patient with the opposite sex.’ …. Purity always journeys toward hope with the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. In fact, because of Jesus Christ, we can be restored to a life of purity even after we’ve failed to abstain.”

Mrs. Bartlett provides a great deal to think about. It took me a while to realize that her approach was not the legalistic one that I have witnessed among some critics of the modern world, in part because her text is composed of (often overlapping) questions and answers, so it felt more like reading material from an online forum than a traditional book, and it took me some time to grasp the overall context of her ideas. She fully recognizes the sinful nature of humanity and the need to provide children with appropriate information at appropriate times. Yet she challenges the church to completely rethink the way we approach sex education and human identity. I find it fascinating that even though most Christians would agree that our culture is over-sexualized, many people respond with alarm to the idea that children should be taught less about sex. We are much more attuned to the danger of insufficient than of over-abundant information on this topic. Mrs. Bartlett’s book offers an explanation for why that is, and suggests an alternative model that could be used to train our children.

 Anna Mussmann is the editor of the
blog Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife;
a teacher and enthusiast of classical education;
a wife and mother of an infant son.
Her blog What’s Wrong with the Phrase,
“God’s Gift of Sexuality?”
(12-9-14)
is reprinted with permission.

Please visit Our Identity Matters.

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teacher and studentsSexual” is ambiguous. Christians may use the term to describe our sex: male or female. We may use the term to describe our procreative nature. But Alfred Kinsey, SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and others like them refer to children as being sexual” which, to them, means “capable of sexual activity.”

We are disregarding God’s created order when we say that “children are sexual.” Children are not “sexual” in the sense of being capable of sexual activity nor do they benefit from early libido. God does not mock His little ones by creating them with tendencies that would be harmful both physically and spiritually.

Kinsey wanted society to accept pedophilia as a natural act and believed that sex with children is a problem only because we have laws against it. The crimes of Kinsey who gathered data for his research from the sexual abuse of 317 infants and young boys by known pedophiles were exposed by Judith Reisman, Ph.D., in Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences (also: Stolen Honor, Stolen Innocence). Kinsey used his fraudulent statistics to convince the world that “children are sexual from birth.” This opened a Pandora’s Box of illicit sexuality.

Forms of sex education, based on Kinsey’s research, worked their way into state and parochial schools with the purpose of helping children learn about sex. Children began experimenting with sex at earlier ages with sure and certain consequences. By the 1980s, schools that didn’t have sex education welcomed it out of fear of AIDS. More recently, pro-sodomy groups have gained entrance into classrooms to encourage fellow “sexual beings” to express all manner of “sexuality” without fear of bullying. Slowly but steadily, attempts to break down the walls guarding children have been made since those with Kinsey’s worldview settled onto university campuses.

Anne Hendershott is a distinguished visiting professor at The King’s College in New York City. She writes,

It was only a decade ago that a . . . movement had begun on some college campuses to redefine pedophilia as the more innocuous “intergenerational sexual intimacy.”

The publication of Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex promised readers a “radical, refreshing, and long overdue reassessment of how we think and act about children’s and teens’ sexuality.” The book was published by University of Minnesota Press in 2003 (with a foreward by Joycelyn Elders, who had been the U.S. Surgeon General in the Clinton administration), after which the author, Judith Levine, posted an interview on the university’s website decrying the fact that “there are people pushing a conservative religious agenda that would deny minors access to sexual expression,” and adding that “we do have to protect children from real dangers . . . but that doesn’t mean protecting some fantasy of their sexual innocence.”

The redefinition of childhood innocence as “fantasy” is key to the defining down of the deviance of pedophilia that permeated college campuses and beyond. Drawing upon the language of postmodern theory those working to redefine pedophilia are first redefining childhood by claiming that “childhood” is not a biological given. Rather, it is socially constructed—an [sic] historically produced social object. Such deconstruction has resulted from the efforts of a powerful advocacy community supported by university-affiliated scholars and a large number of writers, researchers, and publishers who were willing to question what most of us view as taboo behavior. (Excerpt from “The Postmodern Pedophile” by Anne Hendershott in Public Discourse [A publication of The Witherspoon Institute], December 20, 2011.)

Public opinion that pedophilia is deviant behavior still remains. We should take note that even SIECUS does not currently promote pedophilia or incest even though its early officials did. However, as we see the barriers protecting childhood innocence removed in classrooms and society in general, groups such as NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) will push for “boy love” in every community claiming that child/adult sex is acceptable intimacy among generations.

So, the question arises: Does sex education help protect children from sexual abuse and predators? Lynette Burrows writes, “The increase in talking graphically about sex to children is essentially pedophilic in nature.” Lest anyone think her remark too sensational, let’s hear her out. She continues,

It is increasing the number of people who are allowed to “talk dirty” to children, and so to breach the protective armor of their innocence. Thus it is widening the scope for pedophiles to target children. Warning children with slimy disclaimers about “inappropriate touching” is simply token and meaningless to a child. How can they recognize the danger signals from those who wish to exploit them if such a large number of adults are implicated in the same “dirty talk”? (Excerpt from “Worst Sexualisation of Children is Happening in Schools” presented by Lynette Burrows to the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children [SPUC] Safe at School “Sex Education as Sexual Sabotage” meeting in Westminster, London, 2011.)

Sex education in any classroom encourages children to talk about sex and sexually-related subjects in explicit terms with adults who are not their parents. This strips them of natural embarrassment and modesty which play an important role in protecting them from sexual abuse. Let’s also bear in mind that many of those trained or certified to teach sex education or family living have themselves been stripped of embarrassment and modesty in postgraduate degree programs developed by Kinsey followers and using Kinsey methods. The Christian should remember that embarrassment was a new emotion for Adam and Eve after their sin, but it was for their protection in a sinful world.

What does God say? Does His Word tell us that children are sexual from birth and that child-adult sex is normal? No, it does not. The culture desperately needs the Church to stand on the solid ground of God’s Word about children, the act of sex, and marriage.

For the sake of precious souls, we must resist evil even as we shed light in dark places.

This post is taken from Chapter Three of
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
(Amazon) by Linda Bartlett.

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modest dressWelcome back!  Are you ready to…

#4 — Mentor a Changed Attitude

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Reflect Christ, not self.  It is natural to default to self.  We too easily focus on our needs and defend our behaviors.  But it’s not about me!  It’s about God our Creator and Redeemer!  It’s not about first loving “me”; it’s about first loving God.  Loving God first means that we will more easily love and serve others in His name and with His forgiveness, mercy and kindness.  God created the first man and woman in His image.  We have fallen from that perfect image, but because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, it is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit to reflect more of God and less of self.  In what ways can we point people to God and less to ourselves?  How does a woman who professes to worship God speak?  Dress?  Treat others?  What kind of choices does she make?  What does it mean to be free of the life that we thought would make us happy and to, instead, live life in a way that leads others to Christ?

Be a Vessel for Honorable Use.  God’s Word tells us, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).  What is our house?  Who is the “master of the house”?  What is our “good work”?   What more do we learn about ourselves in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20?   What a difference it makes when we see ourselves as God sees us!  Recognizing that our Baptism makes us daughters of God through Christ, we can “flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” (2:22).

Practice a Changed Attitude.  On brightly colored sticky notes, write: “It’s not about me”.  Place this reminder on a mirror, in a wallet, by the sink, on the refrigerator, in the car, and inside the cover of a well-worn Bible.  Jesus promised that He would send “another Helper” (John 14:16).  That “Helper”, the Holy Spirit, “will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (14:26).  That “Helper” is “the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.  And you also will bear witness” (15:26-27).  When we believe that Jesus is Truth, how will our attitude and witness change?

Adjust Focus.  Instead of fantasizing through the pages of romance novels (which, if played out in real life, should make us blush) or searching for our inner selves through “spiritual masters”, we can find our true identity and rightful behavior in Jesus Christ.  Rather than being tempted by the ideas of others or our own passions, we can turn our eyes away from “irreverent, silly myths” and, instead, “train [ourselves] for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).  Training in godliness begins at the foot of the Cross where, at the beginning and end of every day, we can leave our baggage of sin, disappointments, and wrong perspective.  There, at the Cross, we can focus on Jesus who says, “I am the Way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

Live a Holy, Not Sexy Life.  God calls us to be holy (1 Thessalonians 4:7; 1 Peter 1:14-16).  We can mentor others away from the self-focus of sensual dress by explaining our responsibility to help men avoid temptation.  A suggested Bible study for girls ages 13 and up is Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up (#LFLDFL) available from CPH.

Resist the Idolatry of Self-Worship.  Analyze words and phrases such as “self-worth”, “self-promotion”, “celebration of self”, and “self-esteem”.  In the last days, writes St. Paul to Timothy, people will be lovers of self (2 Timothy 3:2).  Spend a day with an “older” Christian woman whose life appears self-less.  Ask: Is it necessary to preserve self?  From where do we get our worth?  Is there benefit in promoting self?  Is there any reason to celebrate self?  What do we learn from Christ?  To “put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” and to “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” and to “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:21-24).

Rebel Against the Culture.    Help a younger generation turn from “me” to others.  Gather a small group of women together for an “It’s Not About Me” night.  Forget the pedicures and pampering.  Instead, discuss what women can do to bring out the best in men by way of dress, speech and behavior.  List the ways that women can help one another practice biblical womanhood and not be shamed in doing so.  Design postcards that proclaim “It’s Not About Me” with 2 Corinthians 4:5 printed on each card.  Finish off with stamping, calligraphy or artwork. Be of service through accountability by sending the cards to one another throughout the year.

What’s Next?  #5: Mentor Self-Control

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

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modest dressI walked into a hospital lobby recently and was met by a pair of barely covered breasts.  “How may I help you,” they asked.

I know.  I know.  You think I’m being prudish.  No, I’m being prudent.

Now, the woman might defend her choice of un-dress in one of many ways.  For example: 1) It’s my body, my right or, 2) I didn’t even notice or, 3) What’s the big deal?  I’m comfortable with my body, aren’t you?  Other women might chime in, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.”

Many women believe that the freedom to dress how we please empowers a woman.  I don’t agree.  The erotic photos of women on the covers of Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Women’s Health (for heaven’s sake!) and Victoria’s Secret; the photo images that pop up when I google “women;” and the photos of girls semi-attired for spring prom do not empower a woman.  In fact, wearing sexy, form-fitted, revealing clothing distorts the way that men see women.  This is nothing new.  Why do you think prostitutes and sex-trafficked slaves are dressed the way they are and always have been?

Feminists, you can argue all you want.  You can tell me that a woman has the right to show her womanly features and if a man has a problem with it, tough!  But, you will be arguing foolishness.  That’s because men and women aren’t the same.  Never have been.  Never will be.  Just ask the boy in the tuxedo dancing with the girl in the lingerie at prom.

Feminism and the sex merchandising industry have wrapped themselves in political correctness but, in so doing, stripped girls and women of their dignity and true identity.

We are not sexual beings!  We are, first and foremost, spiritual beings who will live forever either with God or apart from Him.  Our souls are housed in a body where our minds also reside.  We are human beings, male or female, created at different times, in different ways, and for different purposes.  Female bodies look, tick, and respond to life differently than men’s bodies.

So, when my husband was also greeted by the pair of barely covered breasts, I wanted to apologize.  “In this world, women dress as they please, but don’t judge her, honey.  Be the gentleman you are and avert your eyes.  See her as a sister or your daughter-in-law or your granddaughter… each precious in God’s sight and covered in Jesus’ Robe of Righteousness.

You see, that’s the thing.  God did not leave the first woman, Eve, naked and uncovered.  He covered her embarrassment of nakedness with neck-to-knee clothes and her shame of sin with the Robe of the forgiving King.  When we see ourselves as daughters of royalty, we not only dress differently, we act differently.

Does stripping away clothing empower a woman?  No.  It makes her an object for man’s desire.

I believe that every woman is far more than that.

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Clothing — or lack of it — remains a lively topic wherever I go.  Age doesn’t matter.  Both younger and older women argue that it’s a woman’s right to dress however she pleases.  Calling oneself a Christian doesn’t seem to matter, either.  I am always encouraged, however, when someone in the secular world views women and their clothing in a sane and sensible way.

The results of a Princeton study found that when men were shown images of women dressed in bikinis, the region of the brain associated with analyzing a person’s thoughts and feelings was deactivated, and the part associated with objects of use (like “tool”) lit up.  In the minds of these test subjects, the women were quite literally objectified and dehumanized.  (Source: Verilymag)

“Well, ” a woman might respond, “that’s not my problem.”  Another might ask, “But, what about the male responsibility?”  The answers, from my Biblical perspective, are these: 1) We live in community, therefore, the choices we make invariably affect those around us, and 2) Men do bear the responsibility of practicing self-control, but so do women.   A woman can deny reality all she wants, but the truth is that she is always helping a man one way or another — for good or for bad.

Janet Sahm, writing in Tiger Print, also references the Princeton study.  She praises one-piece swimsuits and modest clothing in general.  She does so “in recognition and understanding of a reality about human nature.”  Men and women are attracted to one another, but most often view each other in different ways.  “Would anyone doubt,” Sahm asks, “that, in general, men tend to be more visually stimulated than women and are susceptible to using and viewing women as objects?”

Some of my gender want attention.  They want to be the object of a man’s desire.  Others become temptresses of men because they are naive about the different ways male and female brains are wired.  Sahm makes a strong statement to both, be they women of faith or women of the world.  “Let’s not forget that, as people, we’re all susceptible to using one another for our own gratification.  For a man, it may be to solely focus on a woman’s sexual values, leaving the rest of who she is fade into the background.  For a woman, it may be to fantasize about a man she’s just met, crafting a romanticized imaginary future that’s sorely in need of a reality check.  We’re in this struggle together.”

Yes, we are.  So, here’s a fair question for all of us women: In the midst of life’s struggle, how do we choose to help?

Within each of us is the beauty of personhood that grows more lovely with time.  Character attracts attention in a way that the flesh never can.

“Without saying a word,” writes Sahm, “what you wear influences how people respond to your beauty.  Perhaps it’s not that bikinis reveal to much, but too little.”

Appreciation to Tiger Print, a blog of MercatorNet, 7 Sep 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A cross has a special meaning for the Christian woman.  It is a reminder of a love so great that it was willing to endure ridicule, humiliation, pain, and even death.   The cross — hanging on her bedroom wall or on a chain around her neck — reminds the Christian woman of the amazingly  unselfish love of Jesus.  The “look” of Jesus’ love is one of humility.  The “behavior” of Jesus’ love turns away from self to others.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross  (Philippians 2:1-8).

Not long ago, I was with my husband and several male members of my family at a restaurant.  The woman who served our table was wearing a cross necklace which hung deep between her partially-exposed breasts.  When the men at my table looked (can I deny that they did?), what do you suppose they saw?  The cross — or something else?

The woman who served our table most probably had no intention of being a temptress.  She probably gave little if any thought to the partially-exposed look of today’s woman.  After all, from kindergarten through high school, girls are encouraged to be comfortable with their bodies.  Their “sexuality.”  This woman — like many of us — intended no harm.  But, perhaps she was uneducated.  Perhaps no one cared to explain to her how sin distorts a man’s visual appreciation of a woman’s body.  Or, perhaps she did not understand the look and behavior of the cross and her responsibility to lead away from temptation.  At that moment, the Christian men of my family were called to turn their eyes away from the woman and, instead, focus on the cross of Jesus.  This meant acting like gentlemen who are respectful of women.  (A Christian man finds wisdom in Job 31:1; Proverbs 4:14-15; Ephesians 6:10-11; and Luke 11:4).

The world’s look and behavior of love boldly screams: Look at me!  God’s look and behavior of love tenderly encourages: Look at the cross!  Jesus’ look turned outward toward others.  Jesus’ behavior placed the well-being of others ahead of His own.

For a number of years, Judy Hayen and I traveled the country with the purity lifestyle show called Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up.  We transported a collection of vintage clothing from Oklahoma City to Chicago to Detroit to help us illustrate what the first Fashion Designer — God — has to say about clothing.  On one of our journeys, Judy encouraged me to write a Bible study for girls and their moms to use at home, church, or a girls’ sleepover.  A pastor’s wife used portions of the study at volleyball camp.  One of the ten lessons is titled “The Look and Behavior of Love.”

Other lessons are:

  • Fig Leaves Aren’t Enough
  • Jesus Covers Our Shame and Embarrassment
  • Embarrassment on a Windy Day
  • Worldviews in Conflict
  • My Body, My Choice…or Is it?
  • Is Clothing a Language?
  • Beauty at Any Price?
  • Living in the Presence of God
  • The Perfect Dress
  • Dressing for Life… the Secret is Out!

At this time, the study is available as a reproducible PDF from Lutherans For Life or Concordia Publishing House (#LFLDFLWEB – $12).  However, with growing interest, ezerwoman may be encouraged to publish in a different format.  Hmmm.  What thinkest thou?

Do women need to know why it’s so great — not only to cover-up, but be covered?

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