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Posts Tagged ‘temptation’

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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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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pilgrimsWould you be a Pilgrim for your children or grandchildren?  Would you risk your life for their future?  Many of us believe that the Pilgrims came to America seeking religious freedom.  This is only partly true.  “They also came,” writes Chuck Colson, “because their teenagers were giving them fits.”

Here’s some background.  The Church of England was the established church in 1608.  If a Christian objected to aspects of the “official church,” they were labeled a Separatist and sometimes thrown into prison for worshipping “in their own way.”  A group of those Separatists escaped to Holland in 1608 because they were determined to worship as they believed they should.  William Bradford, age seventeen, was among them.  In his journal, Bradford noted how desperate the Separatists were becoming, not because they couldn’t worship as they wanted, but because it was difficult to make a living.  Labor was grueling and some of the Separatists actually preferred prison in England to liberty in Holland.

It was not, however, the backbreaking work that motivated this group of Christians to leave Holland and set out for America.  It was their children.  Many of the young people who had moved with families from England to Holland were losing their faith.  They were influenced by a licentious culture.  They were lured by evil examples.  They were turning away from their parents and living wayward lives.  The Christians who had escaped from England to Holland now realized it was time to plan a dangerous journey — for the sake of their sons and daughters.

Parents have always had to take a stand against evil in the battle for the souls of their children.  In the case of the Pilgrims, staying in Holland meant watching their children be tempted away from God by saloons, prostitutes and sensual living.  These parents, with their children’s eternal future in view, needed to act.

Perhaps you have thought about becoming a Pilgrim.  Perhaps, because your children are giving you fits, you have entertained the notion of packing them up and moving to a “safe” place away from it all.  But where is such a place?  For a while, the Pilgrims found new land where they could instruct their children in the way of the Lord.  But soon enough, their children’s children were also tempted and giving their parents fits.  That’s how it is with sinful people in a sinful world.

So what is a parent to do?  We may not be able to escape the culture, but we can certainly equip our children for living in it without being of it.  This requires training… training that begins in the home.  Our own as well as theirs.

This Thanksgiving, we can do what the Pilgrims did.  We can look at our children in light of their eternal destiny.  We can be willing to do the hard things that godly parents have always had to do.  We can be faithful… not trusting in ourselves, but holding fast to the Word of Life.

(With appreciation to Chuck Colson
and his devotional How Now Shall We Live, 2004)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I believe that every woman is far more than that.

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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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The word “male” (Genesis 1:27), from the Hebrew word zakar, could be translated: “the remembering one.  Isn’t this a strange description for the male?   What is it that God wants man to remember?

God’s wants man to remember His Story (history).  His instructions for life.  His warnings away from death.  Just as Adam passed on God’s Word to Eve, so is man to pass on God’s Word to his family today — sons, daughters, grandsons, and granddaughters.  Whoa.  Stop.  Adam passed on God’s Word to Eve?

Based on Genesis 1:27, I used to assume that God made man and woman at the same time.  That God instructed them both not to eat of the one tree.  That in choosing to do so, they would know good and evil… and die.  I was ignorant of God’s Word.  I was guilty of reading one passage, but not another.  God uses the first part of Genesis, chapter 2, to give more detail on His creation.  God didn’t create man and woman at the same time — or in the same way or for the same purpose.  Eve had not yet come to be when God gave the man His instructions for life and warnings against death.  She learned of God’s Word from man.  And, in God’s order of things, she would be privileged to help him remember it.  Trust it.  Use it.

One day, Satan slithered right past the man to deceive the woman.  The twister of Truth knew that Adam was entrusted with the responsibility of remembering God’s Word so he flattered the woman.  Put her in the role of leader.  Perhaps intoxicated by this attention, she disobeyed God and doubted His Word.  In doubt, she was foolishly emboldened to not only speak for God but add her own words as if they were His.  Eve’s words should have been to her husband.  She should have beseeched him to remember God’s Word and use it to engage the enemy.  Instead, she chose to tempt man to also eat of forbidden fruit.   Adam could have resisted.  Turned Satan on his tail.  But, failing to remember God’s Word and use it, the man was ill-equipped to cover his wife.  Lead away from danger.  God held man responsible because he failed to remember.  To act.  To engage the liar with Truth.  To bring order out of chaos.

It all could have ended there.  But, God’s love for His creation endures forever.  He promised that another Man would come.   The Man who would remember the Word and use it to cover every sinful man, woman, and child.  That Man is the Word.  The Word sent from the Father to be the Savior from sin.  In Jesus Christ, man has new opportunity to remember the Word and use it.  And woman remains privileged to help man remember.

How does she do this?

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tear it down (Proverbs 12:1).

She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life . . . she opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue . . . the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31).  (Note: She deserves to be praised not because she is so amazing, but because she is not deceived by the world.*)

She is reverent in behavior, not a slanderer or slave to much wine.  She teaches what is good, and so trains the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands [as to God], that the word of God may not be reviled (Titus 2:3-5).

Even if her husband doesn’t obey the Word, she may win him by her behavior when he sees her respectful and pure conduct . . . when she lets her adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious . . . likewise, her husband lives with her in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since she is an heir with him of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:1-7).  (No offense here!  God expresses care, not disrespect, for women because physically, women are typically smaller in size and weaker in strength which could make them vulnerable to abuse.  Husbands are not to exploit their size and strength in unkind ways.*)

A husband needs a wife who will patiently help him remember God’s Word.  Use it and pass it on.  On this earth, there is no more powerful union — for the benefit of children.  Society.  A future of hope.

*With appreciation for commentaries
from The Lutheran Study Bible

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