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crown of thorns with crossJesus Christ welcomes sinners.  He wants us to acknowledge and repent of our sins, but He does not identify us by our sinful desires and inclinations.

It is for this reason that I, a confessional Lutheran, am appreciative of the documentary produced by Blackstone Films to help the Catholic Church share its view on homosexuality.  The film is entitled The Third WayMercatorNet notes that even though it is “not perfect” and features “stereotypical religious” settings, the film is powerfully compelling because of the “authentic, convincing and coherent” voices of seven men and women who live with same-sex attraction.  These men and women  do not deny their personality nor do they argue that same-sex attraction must lead to same-sex lifestyle and same-sex “marriage”.  They confess that homosexuality is a sin even as they confess the struggle to live self-controlled and pure lives.  In the struggle, however, comes joy.  Joy comes when we relinquish our own identity and, in Jesus Christ, see ourselves the way God sees us.

The Word tells us to remember Whose we are and to live accordingly.  In Baptism, Jesus assures our true identity as sons and daughters of God through His sacrificial and redemptive work.  What does this mean?  It means that we are daily called to resist the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature.  It means that we are not common for use by anyone, but uncommon for use in the hands of the holy God.

I am especially appreciative of The Third Way because, for many years, I have been moved by the stories of men and women who were caught in a lifestyle shaped by the lie of a homosexual identity.  Their life experiences and encouragement of the Holy Spirit motivate me to speak Truth on their behalf.  Forgiven of every sin, the repentant sinner stands at the foot of the Cross where we hear Jesus say: Come!  Deny yourself!  Take up your cross and follow Me!  Lose your life and in Me you will find it.  (Matthew 16:24-25).

Please.  Take the time to watch this film.  Its message is for all who are deceived by mistaken identity.

Linda Bartlett is the author of
The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity (Amazon)

shadow of girlMany years ago, I began researching Planned Parenthood (PP) to learn what kind of information they give young women.  I read books about PP’s founder, Margaret Sanger, to learn her worldview and goals.  I ordered PP brochures and instructive pamphlets.  I studied the PP teen website.  With two friends, I took a private tour of a well established PP facility so that I could learn firsthand what goes on inside the place where “parenthood” is “planned.”  I’m more familiar with PP than I care to be.  This summer, I’ve been following the undercover investigation of PP by Live Action in midwestern cities.

Live Action reveals that PP tells 15-year-olds: “In the sexual world, anything is normal.”  PP says that the bondage, sadomasochism and pain inflicted in Fifty Shades of Grey is “normal” as long as it is “consensual.”

I’ve never read the novel Fifty Shades of Grey.  I don’t plan to read it.  I am ashamed to learn that women in my church have read it.  But I wonder how they would respond if they knew that PP counsels fifteen-year-old girls to practice the same kind of sadomasochism described in that novel?

PP is dangerous.  Very, very dangerous.  You should see for yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

Robin Williams with maskIn searching among the many photos of Robin Williams, I’m surprised by my emotion.  I’m in awe of this creature of countless expressions and I believe that God mourns his apparent suicide.  The Potter of William’s life took such care to shape a vessel for esteemed use.  Surely, Williams brought laughter, posed questions and made us think.  But what did he think of himself?  Could he no longer laugh or find joy because his identity was so precariously unsure?

Williams was somebody.  And while we can no longer help him recognize his true identity, we can help ourselves and our children.

Our identity is not actor or senator or founder and CEO of Microsoft.  Our identity is not Victoria’s Secret model or teacher of the year or Supreme Court justice.  All of these are types of vocations or things we chose to do that affect the world around us.  Our identity is not heterosexual or homosexual.  These are behaviors and ways to grow–or not grow–the family tree.  Our identity is what God says we are.  To the baptized Christian, He says,  “You are my adopted child in Jesus Christ.  You are my heir.”  Nothing–no, not one thing save our own rejection of this identity–can change who we are in God’s eyes.

Our value comes not from anything we do, but from what Jesus Christ did for us.  The Savior of our lives has covered us with His Robe of Righteousness.  Now, when God looks at us–even when we’re suffering sin and depression–He sees the treasures for whom Jesus gave all He had.  Did anyone tell this to Williams?  Are we sharing this truth with family members, neighbors and friends?  Or are we reluctant to speak this truth because we, too, are deceived about who we really are?

In her post “Murderous Mendacity of Depression,” Elizabeth Scalia wrote,

Depression is a hissing false witness. It lies and tells someone there is no hope; it lies and declares, “you’re a fraud”; it lies when it warns you to hide your feelings, because people won’t love you if they know how terrified and alone and desperate you feel; it lies and sneers that you’re weak — that you can just snap out of it, anytime, if you really want to; it croons the lie that love is not real, and hope is for suckers; it whispers the most insidious of lies: that your pain will never ebb, cannot be transcended, and has no value at all.

After a while, the pain begins to feel like all you are and all there is: a worthless, pointless void. And when your life becomes just pain-without-end, suffering-without-meaning, tomorrow seems like less a promise than a prison.

When depression wins, it is such a damned tragedy, no matter whether it has carried off a big rich somebody, or an ordinary nobody, because it is the victory of an incessant liar.*

Jesus knows the liar.

He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 ESV).

We all hear the hiss of satan.  The evil one tempts: “Did God really say . . . ?”  The question stirs doubt.  In doubt, we put ourselves in God’s place and assume control.  After we do what we want and suffer the consequences, the tempter becomes our accuser: “Did God really say He can forgive you?”

Both questions are intended to separate us from the one who knows us better than we know ourselves.  The one who calls us by name.  The one who promises a future of hope.

It is right to mourn the loss of people who, in darkness or desperation, take their own lives.  Then we must ask: In light of my true identity, how shall I live?

Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or  nakedness, or danger, or sword?  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-38 ESV).

 * I am appreciative to Sheila Liaugminas
who quoted Scalia in her Mercatornet article of 8-13-14

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)

???????????????????????????????We recently returned from a week on the northern shore of Lake Superior with our sons, daughter-in-laws and grandchildren. Paul and I wanted to celebrate 40 years of marriage with the family that matters so much to us. Hundreds of photos testify to the fact that precious memories were made.

We hiked, biked and dove into the cold waters together. We bumped heads and dried tears. We sat at table together. Laughed together. Prayed together. We are three generations not randomly thrown together by chance but purposefully knit together by the God of design.

On Sunday morning, we gathered in the great room of the cabin to read God’s Word, sing, and encourage generational faithfulness. It seemed fitting for me as a grandmother to speak to the eldest of the grandchildren Jaden, Ethan, Andrew and Max because they will always have the privilege of setting examples for their younger brothers and sisters Kate, Leah, Sam and Lane.

To get their attention, I asked: “What do worms, mosquitos, bedbugs and flies have to do with being a Christian and following Jesus?” Then I shared with them the true story of Darlene Diebler.

Darlene was born in Boone, IA. She was raised in a Christian home and knew Jesus Christ as her Savior. Encouraged by parents and pastors, she memorized Scripture and words of hymns. As her love for the Lord grew, so did her desire to become a missionary. When Russell Diebler, an experienced missionary, asked her to marry him, she said “Yes!”

The newlyweds settled in New Guinea before their first anniversary. Darlene was excited by the possibilities of living among people who had never heard of Jesus Christ. But Darlene did not become the kind of missionary she had dreamed of. A world war broke out and, together with other missionaries, she was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Men were put in one camp; women and children in another.

Darlene spent her days caring for the sick, comforting the fearful, working in the gardens or pig house, and repeatedly shared the hope of God’s Word—even with the camp commander. On the day when he called her into his office to tell her that her husband had died, a strange thing happened. Instead of breaking down in despair, Darlene witnessed to her captor about why her faith in Jesus Christ would sustain her. Her confidence and uncommon behavior caused the man to leave the room, but not before Darlene saw his eyes glisten with tears.

The only personal item not taken from Darlene was her Bible. God’s Word was light in her darkness. When she got mad at God, she read. When she questioned His will, she read. When she felt sorry for herself, she read. We might wonder: Why didn’t she just give up? Why continue fighting for life when all seemed so hopeless? Darlene didn’t give up because God’s Word was life to her! In meditating upon the Word, the Holy Spirit overcame doubt and turned her eyes to the goodness, faithfulness and promise of God. She was reminded that God had already gone before her and yet, at the same time, was right beside her.

Fear rose up again when Darlene was accused of being a spy for the American army. She was taken away by angry men who had no respect for her as a human being. They placed her in solitary confinement and took away her Bible. Her meals consisted of rice infested with worms. There was no way to protect herself from the flies and mosquitos that carried diseases. Bedbugs bit her flesh all night. Soon, Darlene became very ill. Malaria, beriberi, and dysentery ravaged her body and drained her physical strength. At times, words of prayer failed her. But the Holy Spirit was interceding for her with “groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26). He brought to mind Words of the Lord she had committed to memory and verses of hymns sung as a child.

When Darlene was feverish and quite possibly near death, a man appeared with a little bit of medicine. She never saw that man again; in fact, no one else saw or knew of him. To this day, she is convinced he was an angel. Within a very short time—and without a doctor—Darlene regained her strength.

All the worms, flies, mosquitos, and bedbugs tortured her body, but they did not kill her. The Japanese soldiers treated her worse than an animal, but they could not remove her identity as a daughter of God or take from her the Holy Spirit who dwelled within her.

What does this story have to do with my grandchildren? I believe that the prince of this world, the devil, and the culture shaped by his deception will pester my grandsons and granddaughters like so many mosquitos and flies. God’s Word is their only defense. Jesus says,

Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you . . . your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:19-20).

I believe the names of my grandchildren are written in heaven. As baptized children of God in Jesus Christ, I believe they have power over the enemy. I also believe that when they live their faith, they will have an uncommon effect on the people around them.

Darlene’s faith in Christ had an effect on the Japanese prison commander. When he saw that she was not crushed under her load of suffering but had the strength to speak of Jesus even to him—her enemy, his attitude toward her changed. He became her advocate and, even though she was removed from under his authority into the hands of others, he did everything he could to keep her alive during her time in solitary confinement.

It won’t be easy for my grandchildren to live their faith; to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness” (1 Timothy 6:11). Even their friends may taunt them or abandon them for not “fitting in”. But God does not want His children to be common and malleable in the hands of just anybody. He wants them to be uncommon and malleable in His hands and for His purpose.

To help my grandsons and granddaughters, I want to be what my grandmother was to me. She was my encourager. My comfort. My example of faithfulness.

When I think of my grandmother, the words of one of her favorite Scripture passages speak to me. They are also words to a hymn. Because I pray my family will fight the good fight, I asked my husband, sons, daughters, grandsons and granddaughters to sing it with me:

Fight the good fight with all your might;
Christ is your strength and Christ your right.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Your joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race through God’s good grace;
Lift up your eyes, and seek His face.
Life with its way before us lies,
Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;
He changes not who holds you dear;
Only believe, and you will see
That Christ is all eternally.

(LSB 664 “Fight the Good Fight” -
Text: John S.B. Monsell – 1 Timothy 6:12)
This post inspired by Darlene Deibler Rose
Evidence Not Seen:
A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II
A Ruth Graham Dienert Book, 1988

A Moment to Ponder?

potter and woman

Do you have a few quiet moments today?

Do you need to ponder your identity in this crazy, mixed up world?

Then, if you like, please visit Case of Mistaken Identity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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