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DSC05973With appreciation to Karen Frohwein, Titus 2 Talk offers Chapter One of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity.  Author Linda Bartlett reads it in three sections:

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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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???????????????????????????????Sex education is built on a foundation that diametrically opposes God’s design for parents to instruct their children in purity.

Sex education is not biblical; rather, it grows from the ideologies and humanist faith of sexologists like Alfred Kinsey and Wardell Pomeroy, birth control and eugenics advocate Margaret Sanger, social reformer and SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) co-founder Mary Calderone, and advocate of child sexual rehearsal play, Dr. John Money.

Sex and sexuality education, sometimes called family life education, is described by Miriam Grossman, M.D., as “a social movement, a vehicle for changing the world. It happens one child at a time, and it goes on right under your nose.”

Sex education has led our boys and girls closer to the edge of the cliff. Parents and grandparents are not to lead children as close to the edge without falling off, but to keep them far away from the cliff. In a sexually-saturated society, what can a parent or grandparent do? First, we need to prepare ourselves:

1. Develop your parental “mission statement.” What do you want your son or daughter to know about their identity in God’s eyes? What do you want your child to know about sex or things of a sexual nature? Why will you strive to teach and mentor your child while also guarding the innocence of childhood?

2. Spend time with your child so that you can discern his or her questions. When your five-year-old asks, “Where did I come from?” don’t be too quick to assume, “Oh! It’s time for the full-fledged sex talk!” He might just want to know what city he came from because his friend Billy came from Denver. As the parent, you can ask questions of your child that will go a long way in determining what he or she really wants to know and is ready to hear and process, i.e. “Why are you asking me this?” or “What do you think?”

3. Follow the order of purity. When the Christian mother Laeta wondered how she could prepare her daughter for a life of purity in Christ, the Church father Jerome offered this order of instruction using God’s Word: 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. (Appreciation to Rev. Dr. Christopher W. Mitchell, Concordia Commentary The Song of Songs, 278.)

4. You may have never thought about it, but fatherhood, motherhood, and grandparenthood are vocations. They are vocations that show love for God by serving others. Parents serve their children by teaching them to fear and love God, mentoring biblical manhood and womanhood, and preparing them to be good neighbors and citizens. (To consider parenthood from a biblical perspective, you might read God at Work by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.)

5. Many resources that instruct in purity come from Christians who do not believe in original sin. With the psalmist, I believe: “In sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm. 51:5). Every Christian parent must bear in mind that even if we try to keep the walls up and the gates closed, evil still dwells within children. The purpose of instruction in purity should be to guard against temptations and attacks from the outside while we do our best with the help of the Holy Spirit to fight and clean things up on the inside, too. Our goal is not to keep children pure, but to purify them with the grace of the Holy Spirit and guard them from daily attack. We are to help them: “Put on the whole armor of God, that [they] may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil . . . and spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians. 6:10-18).

6. In every culture of madness, the unchanging Word of God gives fathers and mothers what they need to resist evil and build a future of hope. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not “progressive.” Tell them you’re progressing out of the insanity and chaos of this world into the sanity and order of God’s Word.

7. Become uncommon parents in a highly sexualized world. Look to the example of Joshua who proclaimed, “Choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in this region beyond the river, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Do not be faint of heart by what you see and hear. Sexualized cultures have always pressed on the Christian home. Create opportunities to talk with your child and contrast myths and half-truths with what is holy and pure.

8. Do not be afraid to question professionals and experts. If you remember, the Bereans “received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11). The Berean Christians questioned the Apostle Paul, the one called by God to instruct them! Contrast God’s Word of purity with those who have a wall of diplomas but advocate sex education. A diploma doesn’t necessarily reflect wisdom. If your discerning conscience says, “No! Not for my child,” listen to it!

9. Personalize God’s call to live a life of holiness and purity. Familiarize yourself with His Word and how it contrasts “purity” with “sensuality.” Then ask: Do I dress in a way that tempts the opposite sex? What books, magazines, and movies do I bring into my home? What do I look at on the internet? Do I go against the “flow” of a sexualized culture? Your child needs an example to follow.

10. As a parent, take comfort and instruction from your own Baptism and that of your child. In the flood, Noah and his family were preserved. In Baptism, Christ the Savior brings parent and child into the holy ark of the Christian Church where He marks us as His own, cleanses us from sin and, for our sake, appeals to God for good conscience (1 Peter 3:18-22). Remind yourself of the promise of Baptismal identity and life by reading the Order of Baptism and the words of hymns. (Suggestion: Lutheran Service Book [Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO.], page 268 and pages 594-605.)

11. As a family, pray that the Lord be in your home and drive from it all the snares of the enemy. Develop friendships with other parents whose greater desire is to help children trust their identity as heirs of God in Christ rather than identity shaped by a restless and shallow culture.

12. Don’t be ashamed by what you believe and teach; rather, be convinced that the Holy Spirit sustains you and your child. Together with your child, live as people who know that Jesus is coming again (1 John 2:28-3:3).

(Note: These preparation suggestions for parents were excerpted from The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity by Linda Bartlett [Amazon.com.] The book offers questions and answers to help Christian parents and pastors navigate a sexually-saturated society. It includes age-appropriate suggestions and resources for teaching purity and biblical manhood and womanhood.)

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people on beachWhat is mature manhood and womanhood?  Here is perhaps one of the most important questions for Christian parents to help their adolescent children answer.  If we place emphasis on an identity as a “sexual being,” we miss the opportunity to discuss what masculine or feminine personhood really is.  Men are not men and women are not women because of their sexual urges or desires, nor does marriage make a person more fully male or female.  By labeling children or adults as “sexual beings,” we can actually distort the purpose and vocation of manhood and womanhood.

Genesis 1:27 tells us four things about the first man and women.  They were created by God to be human, not the same but male or female, in the image of God (not animals) and, because they were created in God’s image, they were created to be holy.  There is no mention of anything of a sexual nature (“one flesh”) until God brings man and woman together as husband and wife (Gn. 2:24).  Too may of us scurry from Genesis 1:27 and skip straight to that union.  But in doing so, we miss something very important about the essence of male and female.

We are more than sexual beings because God first spoke to Adam about being a man.  Man was put in the Garden to “work and keep it” (Gn. 2:15).  Man was to be a good steward over all of creation.  In faithfulness to God, he was to defend life and avoid death (Gn. 2:16-17).  “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gn. 2:18).  The creation was incomplete without woman.  Man had no one like himself nor did he have a way to procreate.  God made (literally “built”) woman from man’s rib.  In marriage, the woman is her husband’s “helper” (Hebrew: ezer), assistant and ally.  The vocation of “helper” is not inferior.  Jesus called the Holy Spirit a “Helper” in John 14:16 which can be translated as “comforter,” “encourager,” or “advocate.”  In her “one flesh” union with Adam, Eve became the bearer of life who would nurture, comfort, and encourage husband and children.

Sin distorted God’s perfect design and rhythm of life.  Sin causes the relationships of men and women–married or not–to be difficult.  But even in chaos, God’s order of creation stands.  Whether  married or single, men are stewards of creation.  Whether married or single, men are called to defend life and lead away from death in faithfulness to God.  In or out of marriage, women are called to help men do good (not evil), be encouraged (not discouraged), built up (not torn down).  Mature manhood and womanhood are not dependent on being married; thus, neither are sensually or sexually driven.

Do you see that boys can be mentored to work, build, protect and engage life without sensual implications?  Do you see that girls can be mentored to help, encourage, counsel and build relationships without sensual suggestions?

From The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (pp. 100-101)
by Linda Bartlett (Amazon)

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My book cover

Three decades of questions led to the writing of a book I did not want to write.

  • Why do even Christian women choose abortion?
  • Why do Christian girls and women dress as provocatively as non-Christians?
  • Why do so many Christians live together outside of marriage?
  • Why do a growing number of Christians defend homosexuality and counterfeit marriage?
  • Why are children sexualized beginning at young ages?

The book, says Dr. Daniel Heimbach, will “ruffle feathers.”

Daniel R. Heimbach, Ph.D., is the senior professor of Christian Ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC.  He is also a Research Fellow in Christian Ethics with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.  Dr. Heimbach has authored True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis and Why Not Same-Sex Marriage: A Manual for Defending Marriage Against Radical Deconstruction.

Dr. Heimbach recently reviewed The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon).  He writes:

This book exposes what has been driving the sexual education movement in Western culture in recent decades.  Bartlett speaks truth that will ruffle feathers because she exposes lies on which the PC movement operates.  Although she writes with conviction Bartlett is not contentious, meaning only to stop parents, churches, and schools from harming children in the guise of educating them.  This book may even startle some very conservative Christians, but what Bartlett argues is convincing.  Sex education cannot be redeemed and needs to be rejected entirely because the whole movement is established to forward notions fundamentally contrary to biblical reality.  We are never more free than when restraining the flesh on God’s terms and never more enslaved than when seeking to follow and express our own fleshly desires without restraint.

Dr. Heimbach and his ministry associates Russell Moore and Albert Mohler are faithful to examine the biblical standards on sexual morality.  They recognize the counterfeit views that have crept into our “sexually revolutionized” society.  Heimbach offers wise analysis of a deep and pervasive problem as a pastor, theologian, and professor.  His books, notes Albert Mohler, “frame debate and encourage Christians to battle for moral sanity and for souls.”  I am not a pastor, theologian, or professor.  My book is written from the perspective of a wife, mom, grandmother, pro-life advocate, and woman who has listened to countless stories of men, women and children who suffer the consequences of a mistaken identity.

I don’t want to ruffle feathers.  I am, at heart, a peacemaker.  But there comes a time when even a peacemaker has to rise up in the face of evil.  This is that time.  It is not because I want to, but because I am compelled to… for the sake of my grandchildren.

To learn more about the book, please visit:
Our Identity Matters or 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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At Titus 2 Retreats, one of the topics we discuss is modesty in clothing and behavior.  Perhaps, on behalf of our brothers, it would be best for me to share their thoughts on why modesty matters.  Please listen ~

 

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