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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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satan tempting JesusIn today’s world, we are all at risk of having our identity stolen.  We call this crime “identity theft”.

But do we realize that identity theft begins at birth?  Alfred Kinsey and other humanists attempted to steal away our true identity when they theorized that “children are sexual from birth”.  But children are not sexual from birth, not in the way that Kinsey meant.  It is not normal or beneficial for a child to engage in sexual activity.  While it is true that a boy or girl will, with maturity, develop sexual desires and have sexual inclinations, it is hardly true that a boy or girl should be defined by those desires or inclinations.  We are not, first and foremost, “sexual beings”.  We are male or female persons called by God’s name and created for His purpose.  We are not primarily “sexual beings” but spiritual beings with body, mind and soul.  Our identity and how we live based on that identity has eternal ramifications.

We humans are not the first to have our identity challenged.

Not long after His Baptism, the devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness.  Satan literally challenged Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.

How did Jesus respond?  “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test” (Matthew 4:7).

When Satan persisted in challenging Jesus’ identity, the Son of God replied, “Be gone, Satan!  For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve'” (v.10).

In today’s world, there is the very real risk of “identity theft”.  It happens when our credit card or personal information is stolen.  It is a crime.

But the subtle and far more dangerous identity theft that is practiced by the culture and in sex education classrooms should be recognized and resisted by every believer in Jesus Christ.  When children are sexualized, we can respond, “Be gone, Satan!”

Let us not put the Lord God our Creator and Redeemer to the test.  He has made male and female for His glory and purpose, not our own.

He has called us by name.  We are His.

Please visit Our Identity Matters.

 

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My book coverThe Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity is slowly making its way into the hands of Lutherans, Baptists, Catholics, and those who gather in what C.S. Lewis calls the “hallway” of Christianity.

God asked Adam and Eve,

Who told you that you were naked?”

This book asks,

Who told us we are sexual beings from birth?”

Questions about the book?
Please visit Our Identity Matters

 

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writing a letterDear Friend,

It was my hope to write much sooner.  I hope this finds you growing in the confidence of our Father’s mercy and love.

Our paths crossed for a time on this earthly journey.  Choices you were making brought suffering to your family and those you care most about.  Those choices forever changed their lives… and yours.  Perhaps the sexual sin that held you captive for too long is part of the reason why I’ve been working on a project.  A very difficult project.  A book that I’d rather not write.  The actual writing began almost two years ago, but the experiences and lessons learned over a period of nearly thirty years laid the foundation.  For now, the working title is The Failure of Christian Sex Education: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity.  I have no idea when the last sentence will be written or, if published, who will want to read it.  But the book begged to be written.

Over fifty years ago, those who promoted the new concept of sex education in both public and parochial schools said it was necessary to decrease unwed pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.  To parents and congregations they said, “Stop teaching so many ‘nos.’  Let us teach your children to say ‘yes’ to the wonders of sex because, after all, children are sexual, too.”  They promised: “Getting everyone comfortable with their sexuality will benefit marriage.”

All that I see proves that too many of us believe the lie that “children are sexual from birth.”  Kinsey built that lie on skewed research and criminal behavior.  He called it science.  Those of the humanist faith were waiting for such “science” to reform the whole of society, one child at a time.  But children are not “sexual” (as Kinsey meant it) from birth.  And we are certainly more than sexual beings, we are spiritual beings.  We will live forever — either with or apart from God.  The Church has forgotten to be distinctively different from the world and, in doing so, failed to encourage children and adults to see themselves as God does.  As baptized persons, we are sons and daughters of God in Christ.  That makes us holy.  Holy means being set aside for noble purpose.  We are not common, but uncommon.  As such, we are useable not just by anyone but by God.  What a difference it makes to see ourselves this way.  Sadly, the world convinces too many of us to identify ourselves as sexual beings and that — from early on — has set the stage for promiscuity, abortion, living together, homosexuality, re-definition of marriage, pedophilia, and a great deal of sin, suffering, and separation from God.  The humanists may claim some victory now, but we know Who has the final Word, don’t we?  Souls are in danger… and for that reason we need to do battle with the sinful world and our own corrupted nature even as we fall at the foot of the Cross — every day — and thank God for his mercies in Christ.

My deepest sense tells me that you know what I mean.  We modern sinners are no different from our first parents.  Eve doubted and thought she could become god of her life.  Adam failed to remember God’s Word and use it to bring order out of the chaos.  Ever since, the enemy of our lives comes to us in our weakest moments, tempting us to doubt God’s strong Word.  We think ourselves wise, but we are foolish.  We think ourselves “good” and, most certainly, we are not.  So, at the end of every day, it is a great privilege and comfort to entrust ourselves to our Savior, poor miserable beings that we are.  In the morning, all things are new and, because of His forgiveness, we can begin all over again.  You know this.  You believed this.  But wrong choices taught you how much sin hurts.  It changes lives.  Covered sin saps our strength.  It shapes us more and more into a common vessel useable by our enemy.

However, there is hope.  There is always hope!  Hope came to us in the Son of God Himself.  Harold L. Senkbeil wrote a revealing book entitled Dying to Live (The Power of Forgiveness).  It explains what the Incarnation — the Word made flesh — means for us.  Simple water, bread, wine and words work in sinful lives to make people over into new creatures.  We can’t go back to Eden.  We live in a dying world.  But God is with us!  Like Moses and Elijah, we cannot look directly at God, but God comes to us in mystery.  Senkbeil calls Jesus (who is God) the “backside” of God.  He is the part of God we can see.  He came in flesh — to teach, to sacrifice, to die — but also to conquer Satan and eternal death.  For me, this is a new way of thinking about Christ.

Consider what this means.  God comes to us in the mystery of water (Baptism), bread and wine (Communion), and His Holy Word.  Wow!  God really has come to you and me… to all who are dying to live 🙂  I think you would like what Harold Senkbeil has to say about the power of forgiveness.  May you know that power in Christ.  May I know that power in Christ.  And may we persevere — with our families and loved ones — on this journey through a strange and unfriendly land to our eternal home.  Can you imagine?  There, at the banquet table, we will be able to rest our eyes on the magnificence of God.  He will no longer have to hide His fullness from us.  We will know His glory in every way.

Your life took a dramatic and traumatic turn.  Sin never improves us but, rather, beats us up.  You have known guilt, regret and great loss of relationships.  Your family, friends and loved ones have also suffered.  But each new day is new opportunity.  The past is what it is.  We are affected by every choice that we make.  Life becomes much more difficult and painful when we fail to use the Word to bring order out of the chaos of life.  But no matter those choices and circumstances — no matter our sins, or lack of health or popularity — our identity never changes when we cling to our baptism.  We are sons and daughters of God in Christ.  Think of what this means!  We really do have hope.  New hope every morning!

May you cling to your baptism even as I will strive to cling to mine.  I am amazed that God continues to carry me.  Forgive me.  Work through me.  It is for this reason that I have grown in a deeper appreciation of the Divine Service.  God doesn’t need my praise, but this empty vessel sure needs to be filled with His Word and Sacrament.  I need to be divinely served by Him in a service distinctively different from the world… and then, in response, I can praise Him in my work, relationships and service to others all week long.  I pray that you know his Divine Service in your life so that, no matter what the days ahead may bring, you will be able to say: I am not common.  I am uncommon in the hands of a mighty God.  I am poor.  I am miserable.  I am unworthy… but I am chosen as a son of God in Christ.

May you know the overwhelming mercy that only God Himself in the humility of Christ can bring to you.  The Cross changes everything for us.  We are no longer captive to sin, but set free to leave old ways behind.  Dear friend, let us both pray for a diminished pride so that we don’t get in the way of the Spirit’s work in us, through us…

… in spite of us.

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Open forum here.  Your thoughtful answers to my question are coveted.

What civilization would sexualize daughters and then provide free sterilization services?

People with opposing worldviews bemoan the fact that we are sexualizing American girls.  One group worries about the sexualization of girls but promotes more sex education as the answer.  The other group promotes abstinence but uses sex education to do it.

Is there a connection between sexualizing children — completely inundating them in school and culture with a steady stream of information on sex, sexuality and sensuousness — and a national health care mandate that covers contraception and sterilization for girls as young as twelve?

Is something foul afoot?  Does a power or principality despise new life?

A CNSNews reporter asked former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi a critical question: “One of the services that health care plans have to offer free of charge (under the HHS mandate) are sterilizations . . . do you agree with the federal government mandating . . .”

Congresswoman Pelosi cut the reporter off, saying, “You know what, I told you before, let’s go to church and talk about our religion.  Right here we’re talking about public policy as it affects women . . .”

Government-sponsored free sterilization services should set the pants of Biblical thinkers and people of faith on fire.  It should set the pants of every parent on fire.

Under the HHS mandate, every health plan except those held by houses of worship (what about the church-run school or organization?) conceivably must not only cover contraceptives, but sterilization for children as young as twelve.  But, it gets even more serious.  Many states require parental consent for the sterilization of a minor, but as CNSNews reported, some don’t.  In Oregon, for example, girls as young as fifteen can now undergo sterilization procedures without their parents or legal guardians knowing a thing.  All they have to do is sign a consent form.  (Source: www.breakpoint.org 9/6/12 and CNSNews.com 8/10/12)

On my library shelf is a book by Edwin Black entitled War Against the Weak.  He states, “I find it abhorrent that a 15-year-old girl who’s not old enough to consent to sexual activity, who’s not old enough to consent to buying a beer, who’s not old enough to drive herself to the hospital could possibly be considered old enough and mature enough to give informed consent for her own sterilization . . .”  Black is a student of history.  He has done his homework and connected the dots between population control, abortion, sterilization, and eugenics.  By the way, the subtitle to Black’s book is “Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race.”  Some of my fellow Lutherans and other believers on the Lord Jesus Christ have studied under men like Paul Popenoe, once a leader of California’s eugenics movement.  Here, I think, is a topic for another blog.

What civilization would sexualize its daughters and then provide easy access to abortion and free sterilization services?

What does this say about the sanctity of human life?  About our identity and purpose?  About being male or female?  About marriage?  About the act of sex?  About family and society?

Have Christians, too, been deceived?  Are we unintentionally dehumanizing sons and daughters by putting them in the same category as animals: “After all, we’re afraid they’re going to do it anyway”?

Have we enabled the divorce of sex from procreation?

Have we bought the lie that we are “sexual from birth” rather than the truth of God who tells us, “I have called you by name, you are Mine . . . You are set apart to be holy, even as I am holy”?

How do you answer?

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There is a “shocking level of moral illiteracy” among American kids.  A few years ago, writes Chuck Colson, the Josephson Institute of Ethics released the findings of its survey, “Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth.”

“Ninety-two percent of kids surveyed admitted to lying to their parents; seventy-eight percent admitted lying to a teacher.  Seventy percent said that they had cheated on a test, and half of them said that they had done so more than once.  Twenty-five percent said that they would like to get a job.”

The findings, notes Colson, were summarized by the Atlanta Constitution: “America’s next generation [believes that] it’s perfectly acceptable to lie and cheat.”  This is true despite the fact that three quarters of all U.S. states mandate some form of “values” or character education that encourages honesty, trustworthiness, and respect for others.  (How Now Shall We Live: A Devotional, 2004)

Does character education work?  If so, why are so many young people increasingly willing to lie and cheat?  Could it be that that most character education fails to explain why people behave morally? School programs may tell students that honesty is the best policy or that respecting others is a good thing to do, but they don’t provide reason for these beliefs.

Why not?  Because they are forbidden from doing so.  Discussion of moral behavior that grows from a faith foundation is not allowed in the public school.  The government has determined that Christianity has no place in education.  Neither does teaching young people that each individual is ultimately responsible for personal behavior.  The Biblical faith community which can explain the origin of humanity, why bad things happen, that good and evil exist, and why resisting evil and doing good builds a healthy society is shut out of public discussion.   This leaves girls and boys with only self-gratification as a reason for moral behavior.  It leaves them vulnerable to their fickle emotions and the pressure of peers.

When Christian faith, which partners so beautifully with science, is kept out of discussions on sex education, students who are told to wait for sex until marriage justifiably ask, “Why?  If it feels right for me, why would I wait?  I’m a sexual being, after all, so having sex is perfectly acceptable.”

Helping young people become morally literate, writes Colson, “requires that we change how we teach them about right and wrong.  This doesn’t mean turning classrooms into Sunday schools.  But if we want to give our kids reasons for acting morally that actually work, we must get over our phobia about the role of faith in public life.”

The lives of our children and grandchildren hang in the balance.

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I often hear: “Your faith is a good thing… but, you should keep it separate from real life.”

So, I must ask: Of what good is faith in something if it can’t be used to make a positive difference in the world?

Biblical faith is useful because it pairs perfectly with science to protect vulnerable life.  In this case, I’m talking about adolescents and teens.  My faith tells me their lives are valuable.  Faith compels me to post this blog.  It is science that explains why.

Science tells me that the body and mind – intricately woven together — are in need of protection.  Faith tells me that parents are the best defenders of their child’s body, mind (and soul).  Planned Parenthood and local “teen pregnancy prevention coalitions” have concerned themselves with teen pregnancies.  When my sons were in high school (they now father their own children), comprehensive sex education was believed to be the answer:  “If we can give as much information as possible starting at early ages, then adolescents and teens would be able to make better choices.”  Twenty-five years later, we have an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, diminished respect for self and others, emotional anguish, and increased teen pregnancies.

It’s not lack of information that’s the problem.  It’s lack of judgment.

Faith and science explain why:

1) Children need parents to protect them from themselves.  The prefrontal cortex (PFC) of the brain is not fully developed or functioning until the late teens or mid-twenties.  The PFC is responsible for the executive functions of judging, reasoning, decision-making, suppressing impulses, and weighing the consequences of actions.  However, the amygdala, or “feeling” and emotional part of the brain is functioning early in life.

2) Daughters need their dad’s appropriate love and set boundaries.  They  need their dads to explain why they are worth waiting for.  A girl’s mind and body just aren’t ready for sex.  An immature cervix has only one layer of protective cells to guard against infection; a mature cervix has 20-30 layers.  The risk for a life-long disease or even sterility is too high.  (Not to mention the psychological damage of relational bonding, un-bonding, bonding, and un-bonding.)

3) Adolescents need help with self-restraint.  In “cool” conditions, children can appear to have excellent thinking.  For example, in the classroom a boy may say, “Sure, I’ll wait to be sexually active,” or “I’ll remember to use a condom.”  But, “cool” conditions are not the real world.   Place that same boy in the “hot” environment of an unsupervised party with a “sexy” girl looking for love and, well, his emotions hijack his ability to think and be self-controlled.

More information on sex isn’t the answer.  Nor is letting children “decide for themselves.” The answer is a distraction from sex and help with putting on the brakes.

God says wait; biology explains why.

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Yesterday was Reformation Day.  It is the Sunday that Lutherans worldwide reflect not so much on a man, but on the request made by that man of his church.

Martin Luther saw some abuses in the church.  Worldy ideas and opinions had crept into the church and affected both teaching and practice.  Luther was greatly concerned by what he saw.  As one called to speak truth and lead away from danger, Luther warned the people not to put too much trust in one particular practice.  Those in authority over Luther were angered by his boldness.   He was told to stop speaking.  To mind his manners and know his place.  But, Luther grieved for the people who were affected by the abuses of wrong teaching and practice.

Luther’s conscience found no peace in silence.  So, he brought his concerns to the attention of the church by inviting his fellow professors to a debate.  His thoughts were carefully composed into 95 Theses (or ideas), printed and, with a few blows of a hammer, nailed for all to see on the door of Wittenberg’s Castle Church.  There was nothing unusual in this action.  It was the customary way to announce a debate.  Luther was now public with his criticisms of Rome and concerns for the people.

Rome heard the blows of Luther’s hammer.  “We are the church!  Who is this man?” spoke the pride of authority.

“Behold!  This is a work of Satan to stir up division within the church!” spoke well-meaning but frightened leaders.

“This is an attack!  An apology must be written, or else!”  spoke angry voices in well-established positions.

But, what did Luther request?  And why did his request anger certain people in the church?  Anyone reading Luther’s written concerns today would recognize that he was a loyal son of the church.  He spoke and wrote with respect for the church, but also caring concern for those under the influence of the church.  Luther was not guilty of questioning the Word of God, but of questioning the church’s interpretation and application of that Word.  A practice, indeed, built on human and flawed assumptions.

Luther was heard and understood by many of his peers.  After all, he was not the first to speak up.  Others had recognized certain church practices to be more faithful to human opinion than the Word of God.  Pointing out errors in scholastic theology had already cost some believers their lives.  Luther, who by the mercy of Christ had experienced his own reformation, was motivated to ask important questions of the church.  His concerns were faithful to The Good Shepherd and sensitive to the sheep.  But, Luther’s public posting drew fire.  It caused some to move into a defensive posture.  Ears were ringing from the hammer blows on the church door.

Some ears are ringing today from the blow of another hammer on a church door.  For a long time, some parents have seen certain abuses in the church.   They have been “speaking up” with valid concerns about the teaching and practice of sex education.  Sex education is a concern for Christians in particular because it is founded on human and flawed assumptions.  Alfred Kinsey, often called the “father of modern sex education,” did not seek Wisdom (Jesus Christ); therefore, his perspectives on male, female, modesty, patience, purity, marriage, children, and society are directly opposed to the Creator and Redeemer of life.

So, when a concerned Christian parent does not see that the church’s teaching and practice of sex education is distinctively different from the world’s, she feels compelled to speak.  She writes a kind of request, asking that the church wake up.  Listen.  Think.  Dialogue on the issue.  When he posted the 95 Theses, Luther did not attack the pope. Neither does a discerning and concerned parent attack a particular person.  Instead, she relies on the fact that she has a duty to request that pastors and all church leaders be faithful to The Word and consider the source of every teaching and practice.

With the best of intentions, the church may want to equip parents to better teach their children about male and female, relationships and love, marriage and procreation.  Unfortunately, a weakness of sinful Christians is to believe we can sort through worldly models and make proper use of the “good stuff” in our teaching.  There is wisdom in a lesson from history.  The Israelites, returning from captivity to rebuild Jerusalem, were overwhelmed by the responsibility given to them.  They were tempted to accept the help of unbelieving neighbors in the land.  But, God warned them not to accept such help.  To do so would be to compromise faith and practice.

Luther posted 95 Theses in a public place because faithfulness to the Word — Jesus Christ — would not allow him to be silent.  His compassion for people would not let him be silent.  Once he saw abuses and the consequences that followed, he could not un-see.  It was long past time to dialogue.  To correct error.  Even though he was told not to do anything that might disturb the church, Luther would not — could not — recant.

A Christian parent posts a thought in a public place because faithfulness to the Word — Jesus Christ — will not allow her to be silent.  Her compassion for people, especially children, will not let her be silent.  Once she sees abuses and the consequences that follow, she cannot un-see.  It is long past time to dialogue.  To correct error.  Even though she is told that her concern is inappropriate and might disturb the church, this parent will not — cannot — recant.

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I’m still wondering:  Why did publication of the article, “Child Abuse” (an original post of ezerwoman), bring an angry response from a Christian author on “sexuality?”  Might this response be similar to the response of a woman angered by her pastor’s pro-life sermon?  Pro-life pastors have learned by experience that when they speak God’s Word on abortion, it’s not unusual for a woman to respond in anger because she is either in denial over a past abortion or maintaining a defensive posture.

For many years, I’ve been made aware of certain choices, behaviors, defensive reactions (i.e. “abortion is the lesser of two evils”), and cover-ups within my own church.  Indeed, we are “saints and sinners,” but can we encourage the “saint” without calling to accountability the “sinner”?

Silence is not a virtue, not when virtue itself is being mocked.  Disrobed.  Stolen away.

Why would concerns about protecting virtue and modesty cause anger?  Why would someone take offense when others caution against breaking down naturally protective inhibitions, or putting children in harm’s way with too much information too soon (and then expecting them to “wait”), or raising curiosity about all kinds of “sex,” or borrowing tools and techniques from non-Biblical models, or choosing the word “sex” to describe the subject matter rather than “purity”?   To bring clarity, I’ve been digging out old phone logs, journals, scribbled notes, research papers, and stories from pastors, teachers, parents, and students I’ve met along the journey.  We are in a marriage-breaking, family-fracturing, child-hurting, soul-risking mess.  I wish I could word it better, but simply put: I’ve seen too much on my “watch.”  And…  there is a shameful lack of accountability.

Bearing that in mind, I’m further determined to hold myself accountable.   First to my Savior and, next, to those who put their trust in Him rather than human opinion.  Dealing with sensitive and difficult issues, even finding myself in conflict with well-meaning Christians, requires the good counsel of wisdom.  I make a practice of running my thoughts by my husband because I need his logic and practical sense.  He has a “three day rule.”  Give major decisions or responses three days.  Write the letter.  Make the phone call.  Speak up… but, when possible, only after three days.  In addition to my husband, I seek the counsel of a core group of pastors I’ve come to trust over the years.  I seek the counsel of wise women who properly understand the role of “ezer.”   By surrounding myself with a group of people who have also seen Christians build on the wrong foundation when it comes to “sexuality” — and then witnessed the consequences and mourned with hurting people — I hope to be faithfully encouraged to the highest standard.  The standard of God’s Word.  The Word that exhorts us to “speak up” when wrong things are happening and human lives are at risk.

Silence is not a virtue.  That’s what a woman told me following a Titus 2 Retreat.  She explained years of childhood sexual abuse that led to promiscuity, abortion, and despair.  She wanted the cover-up to stop.

Silence is not a virtue.  That’s what several men and women told me when thirty years of sexual abuse of children by their Christian school principal came to light.  They wanted the cover-up to stop.

Silence is not a virtue.  That’s what a young woman told me after being encouraged by Christian parents to date older, more “experienced” men.  When she became pregnant by an “experienced” man, money was handed over for an abortion so that the daughter “wouldn’t have her life ruined.”  She wanted the cover-up to stop.

Silence is not a virtue.  That’s what a Christian youth director told me after marrying his Christian sweetheart.  But, because both had learned about sex early and encouraged to be open about their “sexuality,” each had bonded to several others before the youth director and his sweetheart married.  The marriage was troubled for a long, long time.  He wanted the cover-up to stop.

Silence is not a virtue.  That’s what an older woman told me who admitted that, for years, she was taught to be comfortable with her body, her “sexuality.”  In boy/girl classrooms, inhibitions were stripped away.  Seeing herself as a “sexual” person, she played the “game.”  When she captured a man’s attention and certain expectations followed, she grieved her loss of innocence.  She wanted the cover-up to stop.

Silence is not a virtue.  In a few short years and close proximity, four pastors within my Christian denomination apparently saw themselves as “sexual persons” with a “need” to act out their “sexuality” rather than as human persons created by God to live as men under Christ’s robe of righteousness.  One openly embraced his homosexuality, left my church body, and became an Episcopalian priest.  Another was charged and arrested for “lascivious acts with a minor and third degree sexual abuse.”  Two more were caught in a prostitution sting, one of them the former pastor of my home congregation.  Is the response to this: “Forgive me!  Love me!  Let’s go on with life”?  Or, do we want the cover-up to stop?

Christians may think they are different from the world when Jesus is wrapped around everything we say and do.  But — you’ve heard me say it many times — Jesus does not wrap Himself around worldly things.  Christians may believe they are helping others toward a brighter future.  But, if they’re using styles and techniques learned from any source other than God’s Word, then the outcome will have undesirable consequences.  God brought to Adam and Eve new emotions of embarrassment and shame with their nakedness and sin.  He covered that embarrassment with clothing and that shame with Jesus’ robe of righteousness.  We must honor that covering, even when a modern sex educator insists: “No need for modesty!  Don’t be embarrassed!  Be comfortable in your glory!”

When we see bad things happening and people being confused, hurt or — most tragic of all — tempted away from the Father God, we cannot be silent.

Silence is not a virtue when virtue is being stolen away.

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An editor asked to reprint one of my blogs in a national publication.  The article, “Child Abuse” (7-29-11), suggested that we ought to examine the source of sex education.  It prompted notes of appreciation… but also a call of anger to the publisher from a person of authority in the church.  He felt as if he’d been “attacked.”  “Labeled.”  Why?

Some think the Old Testament is, well, “old.” But, I’ll tell you what.  At times like this, I find lessons taught by historic events refreshingly helpful and hopeful.  At this moment, with division caused among God’s people over sex education versus instruction in purity, I turn to Ezra 4:1-6.

The people of Israel had just been set free from captivity in Persia (formerly Babylon) so that they might return to Jerusalem.  Few Israelites, however, wanted to return to their homeland.  A great many had adapted to their new surroundings.  They had property and liked their new lifestyle.  Going back (as in “backward”?) was not appealing.  Very few packed their bags and returned to rebuild a crumbled and decaying Jerusalem.  Reality hit hard.  The job of rebuilding the temple to the Lord was going to be difficult.  How tempting it probably was to accept the help offered by unbelieving neighbors in the land.  Were the neighbors being kind, or did they have an agenda of their own?  Whatever the case, fathers of the Israelite houses said, “No.”  To maintain pure worship, the Israelites rejected the offer of help from the people of the land who lived a life of blended and false religious beliefs.  To accept would have placed households at risk of being deceived away from Jehovah God.  To accept help from nonbelievers — to use their tools or building materials — could not be tolerated.  The task before the few and faithful Israelites was daunting, in fact, reminiscent of Noah building the Lord’s ark in the midst of his more “progressive” neighbors.  But, then — as today — clear boundaries in doctrine and practice are necessary because a corrupt gospel is no Gospel at all (Galatians 1:8).

The Christian finds him or herself facing a similar challenge today.  God’s Word tells His people to instruct sons and daughters in purity.  But, the people in the land where we Christians live practice the impurity of blended religions.  These neighbors offer their assistance — tools and building materials (with an agenda of their own?) — to us .   But, what will happen if we Christians accept that offer of help?  Will there be compromise?  Clear boundaries in doctrine and practice are necessary because a corrupt teaching of purity is no teaching of purity at all.

Here is my prayer.  May the eyes of Christian parents, pastors, teachers or students be open to the deception of blended religious beliefs.  May we refuse the assistance of people in the land who have turned from the Creator of life, marriage and family to follow false gods.  May we, with humility, examine our building materials and if found impure, disgard them as trash.  If we have been influenced by the “father of modern sex education,” Alfred Kinsey, may we turn from the lie.  Yes, Kinsey attended a church.   But, he practiced the religion of Darwin.  He built on his own theory that “children are sexual from birth.”  He coined the term “sexuality” and worshiped in its temple.   False gods always demand sacrifice.  Today, Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, and GLSEN build on the religion of my personal “sexuality.”  The sacrifice is the innocence of children; the very lives of children through abortion.

If we have put our trust in ways of the world rather than in the purity of God’s Word, may we let go of pride and hurry to the Cross.  If we have innocently accepted help from unbelieving people of the land, may we repent and be drenched in Christ’s mercy.  The pure Gospel is this: Jesus is our Robe of Righteousness.  Even if we have been deceived and unintentionally brought harm to others, we have hope.  In our Savior Jesus Christ, there is always hope.

Only one voice hisses: There is no hope.  But, that lie of Satan has no authority over us.  Because of what Jesus has done for us — in spite of us, we have dominion over the father of lies.  Of false religions.  Of hopelessness.

Dear Lord,

You are the Builder of all that is good, right and true.  Give us courage to examine the source of our tools and, when we’ve trusted our judgment rather than Yours, accept our humble confession.  Forgive us.  Lead us away from the temptation to wrap Jesus around false teaching…  false hope.  Equip us to set the gate of innocence back in place and guard the household of faith.  AMEN.

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