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Posts Tagged ‘sexual identity’

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“I never chose to be gay; I was born this way.”

“I’ve felt same-sex attraction since I was very young.”

“Who would choose to be gay?  If it were actually a choice, I would have chosen to be heterosexual.  My life would be so much easier.”

“I believe God created people to be gay; therefore, how can it be a sin?”

The statements above were made by Scott Barefoot during the ten years that he openly practiced the behavior of homosexuality.  The gay community with whom he surrounded himself reinforced his beliefs.

Love.  Peace.  Happiness.  When Scott read his Bible or went to church, these were the things he was searching for.  When his definitions of “love” and “happiness” differed from God’s, he moved on.

Scott moved on from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod* of his childhood during the time he was a practicing homosexual to attend a church where 80 percent of the members identified themselves as gay or lesbian.  The pastor went to great lengths to spin the interpretation of God’s Word and did not address the spiritual danger that threatened to consume Scott.

Do not judge became Scott’s “go to” scripture.  If he needed to tweak God’s Word to justify sexual relationships with other men, he did so.  But something was happening to change Scott’s perspective.

Scott held the prestigious position of Clinical Assistant to the Director of Interventional Cardiology at a large hospital in the Washington, D.C., area.  He immersed himself in the gay “Christian” community,  had plenty of cool guys seeking to date him, and brushed aside guilt in order to celebrate his sexual freedom.  Then Scott learned he was HIV positive.

For a year, Scott was in severe depression.  Slowly, he came face to face with the realization that his “unnatural and unrepentant behavior” had placed him in physical and spiritual danger.  He had wrapped Jesus around his sensual desires and, in so doing, moved farther away from God.  But how could he ever change?  How could he overcome same-sex attraction?

On his own, Scott could not change.  But through the work of the Holy Spirit, Scott acknowledged that he was sinning against God and his own body.  Like King David, Scott felt God’s hand “heavy upon” him and his “strength was dried up” (Ps. 32:3-5).  Scott, the creature, was led to trust the pure Word of his Creator.  At the foot of the Cross, Scott confessed that his behavior was not pleasing to God and, with the shedding of any notion of a sensual identity, he was set free by Christ to continue living as a redeemed child of God.

But redeemed children of God are not promised an easy life.  Jesus says, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).  Scott—like every one of us—is called to resist earthly temptations and persevere in Christ.

Scott did not wake up one magical day with a natural attraction to women.  He may never marry or father children, but he finds peace in celibate singleness that gives him freedom to grow in the Lord.  He can choose to live in a way that honors God and does not tempt others.  He is free to shine light in dark places and help others know that release from sexual captivity is possible.

Like an alcoholic who never returns to a bar, Scott explains, “I am no longer captive to a destructive behavior . . . The Holy Spirit led me to make my exodus from the fantasy land of thinking I could live as a practicing homosexual and still be right with God.”

This is the message that Scott brought to my hometown during the weekend of April 9-10.  His visit was sponsored by the Lighthouse Center of Hope, a pregnancy and family life center.  Why?  Because at the Lighthouse, we see young people struggling with the deception of a sexual identity.  We want male and female to know who they are in Christ and why that matters.  So we invited Scott to speak to teens, parents, and pastors.  At three different locations, Scott shared his story and offered wise and sensitive counsel.

Scott does not stand alone.  In my book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I quote another man who turned from his homosexual practice while in study of God’s Word.  Christopher Yuan writes, “My primary identity didn’t have to be defined by my feelings or sexual attractions.  My identity was not ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual,’ or even ‘heterosexual,’ for that matter.  My identity as a child of the living God must be in Jesus Christ alone.”  Christopher continues, “God did not say, Be heterosexual, for I am heterosexual.  God says, ‘Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy’ (1 Peter 1:15-16).”  (Out of a Far Country, p. 187-188)

The opposite of holy is common, referring to things that can be used by anyone.  But to be holy means to be uncommon and useable by God.  Once Scott let go of his proud identity as “gay,” he could begin to see himself as God does.  He is called by name (Is. 43:1)!  He is an heir of God (Ro. 8:17)!  He has come out of darkness and into the light (1 Pt. 2:9) for God’s good purpose.  From the time of Scott’s baptism, the Holy Spirit was faithfully at work in him.  The world and his own sinful nature did not want Scott to change.  But change for this repentant man was possible because of mercy and grace.

Scott told me, “I was, but now I am.”  The Word of the New Testament explains —

Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).

If you are a Christian struggling with same-sex attraction, Scott has a message of hope for you.  If you are a parent concerned about a son or a daughter, Scott has resources and helpful advice.  Please contact him or visit his ministry, People of Grace.

In Jesus Christ you, too, have mercy and grace.

 

                                                                                                                                              * Scott returned to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod

Linda Bartlett is the president and co-founder of
The Lighthouse Center of Hope in Iowa Falls, IA.

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Gold Bands Showing Eternal Commitment

Recently, I was given the opportunity to respond to an 8th grade student who had written a paper for her American History class favoring same-sex “marriage.”  Anya began her defense of same-sex “marriage” by praising Harvey Milk, “an openly gay politician in California who was only in office eleven months before he was assassinated.  Harvey “opened the door for us to now be able to talk about gay rights issues.”  Anya explained that “Mr. Milk started a revolution . . . If Harvey Milk wouldn’t have fought so hard, gay marriage may not be legal.  It needs to be legal.  It is a basic human right to love and marry who you love.” 

In conclusion Anya wrote, “Love who you love, marry who you love, and love your life, because it is your Constitutional right. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

What follows is my response to Anya.

Dear Anya,

Thanks for letting me take this opportunity to respond to your paper on same-sex marriage.  I’m a woman who is involved in our present-day culture as a national speaker, author, and advocate for human life.  I respect people, no matter their differences of opinion.  I care enough to ask questions, listen to the responses, and remain someone’s friend even when we don’t agree.

As you are learning in American History, men and women—human beings in general—will always have differing perspectives on what we should and should not do.  Whatever the faith or worldview of a person might be, it should influence that person’s decision-making and actions.  Perhaps one of the best things about a nation like the United States is that it allows for different faiths or worldviews to be expressed, lived, and judged as helpful in building up—or tearing down—society and the nation.

America is truly “exceptional” because it defends the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  But what is the origin of those “rights”?  Did we give them to ourselves?  And from where does life come?  Is it an accident, or by design?  Who ultimately defines liberty and who grants it?  Does the pursuit of happiness mean that every citizen gets to do anything we darn well please, or does it mean that we have the opportunity to pursue right things for the benefit of not just ourselves, but our family and neighbors, too?

Sexual Revolutionaries: Good for Society?

As you report, Harvey Milk was an openly gay politician.  It is a crime against humanity that he was assassinated.  Someone took it upon themselves to deny him the “right to life.”   Murder—be it the murder of an adult man like Harvey Milk or a pre-born child residing in his or her mother’s womb—is never right.  Harvey has been remembered by some as the man who opened the door for this country to talk about “gay rights.”  But two questions should be asked by any critical thinker.  1) Is a human being defined by their sexual behavior, or something more?  And, 2) If homosexuality is “normal” and “good,” why is sickness and a shorter life span associated with its practice?  Harvey Milk may have had the freedom to express his thoughts and beliefs, but like all of us, he also bore the responsibility of proving why those beliefs would be helpful to himself, his neighbors, and the future of the country in which he lives.

No matter what one’s opinions or religion (i.e. secular humanism, atheism, Islam, New Age, Buddhism, or Christianity) might be, the holder of that belief bears the responsibility of allowing it to be put to the test.  When a person like Harvey Milk proclaims his belief, he must be open to discussing the consequences of that belief.  He must show why calling the union of two men or two women “marriage” when it was not instituted as that (nor ever could be that) is in the best interests of an entire society.

It is always appropriate for citizens to hear someone’s opinion or belief, discuss it, and choose to act or not act upon it.  Whether we agree or disagree, we owe one another the honesty of facts rather than emotion, kindness rather than meanness, general welfare of neighbors rather than “me, myself, and I,” and long-range perspective rather than “all I care about is right here, right now.”

Alfred Kinsey is another person in our American history who started a revolution.  It was the revolution, in fact, that opened the door for men like Harvey Milk.  Alfred Kinsey was a practicing homosexual, pedophile, and perpetrator of hideous crimes against humanity.  His theory was that “children are sexual from birth,” and to make that claim stick, he knowingly allowed convicted pedophiles to sexually abuse and experiment with children, ages six months to 14 years of age.  He took the “statistics” gathered from those experiments, called them “science,” and used them to prove that children and adults alike should be permitted to participate in any kind of sex if it brought them pleasure.  After 30 years of research and study of Kinsey, Dr. Judith Reisman and others proved that Kinsey had abused science in order to change public opinion on sex and the teaching of sex to children.  But it was too late.  Kinsey, a zoologist with absolutely no respect for women, had changed the way we view men, women, and children.

Yes, Kinsey had freedom to express his beliefs.  But he did not have the freedom to abuse science, use deceit, or do harm.  The duty of the American public was to question Kinsey.  Not to call him names, or belittle him, or deny him the right to speak, but to ask him to show the source of his “science,” reveal the methods used for research, and verify his data.

The same is true with same-sex “marriage.”  Anyone who demands that marriage become what it was never intended to be should be asked to give evidence of why non-traditional, two men or two women, and intentional non-procreative marriage is healthy, sustainable, and in the best interest of family, society and civilization.  In Rome, it was common for a man to have a sexual relationship with a young boy, but even Rome never legalized same-sex “marriage.”   Why?  Because Romans knew that marriage, and the stability of the family, was foundational to Rome’s existence.  For this reason, when a boy was old enough, he was expected to marry a woman and father children for whom he would be responsible.

Marriage: To Anyone I Love?

Marriage does not intrinsically mean uniting oneself to someone you love and who makes you “feel good.”

That brings us to the now popular thinking that “as long as you love someone, you should be able to marry them.”  I love my dad.  I love my brother.  I love my son.  I love my niece.  I love my best friend, Jane.  Can I love them so much that I want to marry them?  Maybe.  But is it in your best interest that my “right” to marry my son becomes the law of the land?  Is something in jeopardy here?  And what will be the cost?

Marriage is not founded on someone’s concept of love.  Human concepts and ideas of love are changing all the time.  Today, I love you.  Tomorrow, I don’t.  Or, I love you because you make me feel good about myself.  But when you don’t make me feel good about myself, I won’t love you anymore.  And so on and so on.

Here’s where love needs to be put to the test, too.  Love is about more than feelings.  It is about patience, kindness, selflessness, and perseverance in good and bad times.  Marriage requires this kind of love.  Marriage also requires one man and one woman, two different genders, because it makes biological sense!  Not only do male and female fit together perfectly to create new little humans, but they also mentor male and female characteristics… both needed by a son or daughter.  Even if two men or two women (who call themselves “married”) don’t have children of their own, but adopt or use a surrogate mother or in vitro fertilization, it is unfair and actually quite selfish to intentionally deny any child the right of both a mother (female) and a father (male).

For many years, I have kept a file of the testimonies and true stories of women who thought they were in love with another woman and so took up the lesbian lifestyle, or men who thought they were in love with another man so took up the gay lifestyle.  The relationships did not last.  Why?  Because they were built on an idea of love, and not the truth and faithfulness of love.

Have you ever noticed that even in a same-sex relationship, one plays the role of “husband” (or the male) and one plays the role of the “wife” (or the female)?  It’s true!  A young friend of mine “married” a woman.  Her partner took on the role of the “man” and she took on the role of the “woman.”  My young friend became pregnant by way of in vitro fertilization and she stayed home to be the “mom.”  Her partner went outside the home to play the “male” role of “provider.”  Now, years later, my young friend is hurting.  She is in conflict with herself, with nature, and with the God she says she believes in.  She might be wondering: What am I teaching my little boy about the value of becoming a man?  How can I help him learn about manhood when he’s being parented by two moms?

Alfred Kinsey and Harvey Milk may be commended for their courage in speaking up about things they believed to be true.  But can we see the consequences of what happens when all ideas are considered “equal” and valid?

People are equal, yes! 

People of different colors, nationalities, and cultures are equal, yes! 

But not all ideas, desires, and practices (sexual or otherwise) are equal.  They must be questioned and put to the test.

Anya, that is the responsibility of people like you and me.  It is ok to differ in thought and behavior.   But with concern for more than just ourselves, we must wisely consider the consequences of each thought and every behavior.

With sincere respect for you as a person,

Linda

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My book coverThere is hope.  There is always hope.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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boy scout pledgeA Boy Scout learns how to survive in the wilderness.  Trained correctly, he can sense danger and steer himself and others clear.  But when faulty ideologies reconfigure the training ground, a young man’s moral sense is compromised.

Adults who should know better can boast, “Look at what we’ve done!  We broke new trail for young men!”   But this trail most definitely leads off the edge of a cliff.

Why would anyone want to tamper with moral behavior and remove boundaries put in place for the human good?  Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42).

There is little that influences society more than mentoring a boy to be a man.  Dennis Prager writes,

Wise cultures have learned that happiness is attained only when we conquer our nature . . . Historically, societies and parents have always known it’s a good thing to teach boys to control aspects of their male nature – their sexual desires and their predilection for violence.  Decent men were taught from youth to touch a woman sexually only with her permission and to channel physical aggression into sports or into helping fight evil by joining the police force or military.  Men who didn’t learn to control these aspects of male nature not only became bad men, but unhappy men.” (“Wanted by women: A few good old-fashioned men,” The Washington Times 6/30/08)

When a scout questions his male nature, how will his troop leader respond?   Will he help the young man practice self-control?  Will he remind the scout of his pledge to “do my duty to God . . .”?  And, if so, what god will he be pledging to?  Here he faces the most dangerous cliff of all.

Defined as a “sexual being,” a boy may be tempted to give himself freedoms that God does not; to trust his own reason and desires; to, in fact, worship and serve self rather than God (Romans 1:24-25).  In time, sexual identity can influence everything… even the way a boy sees God.  When society redefines morality, identity and even the character of a Boy Scout, then it redefines God.  It will not just be young men who are in danger.  It will be all the others who fall into idolatry with them.

I’d like to believe that many young men, in doing their “duty to God,” have been encouraged to see themselves as God does.  God does not call a boy “gay” or “straight.”  He calls him “holy.”  Even in the midst of conflicting desires, God equips a boy to rise above self to Him and through Him resist dangerous attitudes and behaviors.  God says, you “will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Tim. 2:21).  Identified this way, a young man can blaze a trail for himself and others away from danger.

What god does a boy pledge to — the Creator who made woman a “good fit” for man in the faithfulness of marriage, or the god who declares sexuality not a moral issue but a civil rights issue?  It matters.  It matters a lot because a god in our own image is no god at all.  Such a god cannot help any boy navigate the wilderness of life.

Foolishness is tampering with marriage.  Now it threatens another institution.  God did not establish the Boy Scouts, to be sure, but He did establish the boundaries of morality and character.  He does not give us license to do as we please.  He does not make square pegs to fit in round holes.  He does not delight in a boy’s frustration and misery.  But He does offer wisdom and strength to change… or practice self-restraint.  Only the God of all creation enters the chaos of this world to bring order and goodness to life.

New trail for scouting may have been broken, but it leads off the cliff.  Rather than sinning against God and all that is holy, the most courageous thing a boy might do is to turn away to a trail less traveled.  Separate from the pack.  Together with dad, grandpa, and men of faith, set safer course.

P.S.  Looking for a collection of outdoor adventures and character building supplies?  I highly recommend Vision Forum.

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Boy scout logoThe Boy Scouts now allow homosexual boys to participate fully in its programs.

What does this mean?

Weren’t all boys always welcomed into the Boys Scouts?  Weren’t all boys invited to be morally trained in courage, tenacity, community service, trustworthiness, and good citizenship?  Weren’t all boys equally mentored to develop character and skills that honor God, country, and neighbor?

Has there ever been a time when a Boy Scout had to declare himself a heterosexual?

Who turns the heads of boys to think they must demand their rights to sexual preference?  Is sexual identity a pre-cursor to responsible citizenship?  In the name of common sense, we’re talking about children here!

Sexual identity rules the day… even for a Boy Scout.   Alfred Kinsey would be proud.  He’s the one who coined the phrase we’ve heard over and over again: “Children are sexual from birth.”  Prior to Kinsey, no one ever referred to children as being “sexual” or inferred that they enjoyed or responded pleasurably to a sexual experience.   Prior to the 1950s, a child was never defined as “sexual” except in the mind of a predator or pedophile.

A Boy Scout pledges on his honor to do his best “to do my duty to God and my country . . . to help other people at all times . . . to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”  What does it mean to honor God who never once identifies children as “sexual beings?”

God calls boys and girls by name.  He entrusts children to moms and dads within the faithfulness of marriage so that they won’t be mistreated by those who do not see them as He does.  To guard their personhood, God sets children apart from animals who are captive to instincts and bound to do whatever it is they do.  Honoring God, boys are equipped to mature into self-controlled men who rise above selfish interests.

In a sin-drenched world, boys battle sinful natures and the distortion of identity.  But a boy who is baptized is a son of God in Christ.  He is not defined as sexual, but holy.  He is not common, but uncommon.  He is not slave to the weakness of body, but strong of spirit.

Baptized or not, we are all – beginning in the womb of our mothers – both body and spirit.  Our bodies will change, but our spirits will live forever – either with God or apart from Him.  Spiritual identity matters for eternity.

So here is my plea to the Christian community: Do not hide behind choice words like “tolerance” or “compassion.”  Linger no longer in organizations shape-shifted by humanist ideologies.  Take a stand for the sake of boys who journey to manhood.  Treat them not as slaves to themselves, but as heirs of a Kingdom not of this world.

P.S.  Fathers, grandfathers and pastors interested in alternatives to the Boy Scouts might visit Vision Forum.  This ministry offers exciting resources to mentor godly young men.

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