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One Little Word

casting-out-demons

In A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, we sing, “…One little word can fell him.”

What is that word?

When Jesus cast the demons out from the possessed men, He uttered one word: “Go.” And so the demons did go into the pigs and “… behold, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned in the waters” (Matthews 8:28-32).

Nehemiah buildingWhat is a Christian to do?  It’s as if God asks the impossible of us.  He wants us to build with one hand and resist evil with the other.  But with more cultural decay comes more evil.

Mindful of raising up a new generation of Christians but also keenly aware of our own inadequacies and failures, parents, pastors, and all who love children become discouraged and even fearful.  With fear comes the temptation to doubt the sufficiency of God’s Word and more easily accept the help of passionate unbelievers.  “Why do you cling to ancient traditions?” they ask.  “Can’t you see?  We have something new!”

There is a lesson to be learned from God’s people who, in a time before us, were also discouraged, overwhelmed, and taunted by unbelieving neighbors who offered something new.

The remnant of Israel that had survived exile in Persia returned home to find the walls of Jerusalem broken down and city gates destroyed.  To this small number of faithful people was given the arduous task of re-building the temple and walls of Jerusalem.  God also wanted His people to grow faithful families.  He wanted them to be holy and set apart in their worship and practice.  When people in the neighboring land saw that Jerusalem was being restored, they offered their help.  After all, these people explained, they worshipped God, too.  (In reality, they were a people of blended religions.)  Fearing that they would commit themselves to false worship, the Israelite fathers refused the offer of resources and help.  They knew that God had entrusted the job of rebuilding the temple and walls only to them.  So “the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah and made them afraid to build and bribed counselors against them to frustrate their purpose” (Ezra 4:4-5).

The culture in which God’s people found themselves made the building project very difficult, but the Word of the Lord consistently commanded the people to persevere.  God also reminded His people that they were to be holy and set apart for His good purpose.  But the people of Israel, following the example of some of their leaders, mixed themselves with the Canaanites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and others through marriage (9:1-2).  The people were guilty of breaking faith with God and allowing impurity of worship, teaching, and practice.  There was confession and absolution but, because the potential for continued corruption of worship was so great, illegal marriages were identified and ended (10:18-19).  The rebuilding of the temple, restoration of the walls, and growing of faithful families began anew.

However, when the neighbors in the land saw that the Israelites were again doing the work of God in rebuilding Jerusalem, they were angry.  “[T]hey all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it” (Neh. 4:8).  It was easy to cause confusion and discouragement among the Israelites because fathers, mothers, and grandparents were overwhelmed by the task that lay before them.  “There is too much rubble.  By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall” (4:10).  The enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work” (4:11).  Nehemiah encouraged the people, “Do not be afraid of them.  Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes” (4:14).  When the walls were rebuilt and the gates restored, the law of God was read to the people who were both joyful and repentant (chapters 8 and 9).

Everything was coming back into order and Israel was prepared to live by the truth of God’s Word.  What could go wrong?  What went wrong is incredibly significant.  Eliashib, the priest appointed over the chambers of God, gave Tobiah the Ammonite a place in the temple (13:4-5).  Under the guise of helping God’s people, Tobiah was given a room formerly used to store the offering for God.  There, within the temple, sat Tobiah and his possessions.  Nehemiah was away when this happened, but when he returned, he “was very angry, and [he] threw all the household furniture of Tobiah out of the chamber.  Then [he] gave orders, and they cleansed the chambers, and [he] brought back there the vessels of the house of God” (13:8-9).

God entrusted the rebuilding of His temple and the city walls to His people.  He entrusted the growing of holy families to husbands and wives equipped with His Word.  He does the same today.

God wants His people to keep their worship, teaching, and practices pure and different from that of the dark and unbelieving world.  Certainly, there are resources in the world that can be practical and helpful to the Christian.  But we must take care especially when it comes to instructing Jesus’ little ones.  “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.  For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 18:10).  It is a frightening thing indeed to compromise one of the Father’s children.

Compromise happens, however, when God’s people are weary and burdened, or prideful and above reproach.  Compromise happens when we let down our guard and grow comfortable with the world.  At such times it is easier for an opposing foe to gain access by offering some kind of help or resource.  It was for this reason that Nehemiah “stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows … each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built” (Neh. 4:13, 18).  The men were on guard at night and labored by day (22).

We are weary and overwhelmed by a multitude of life issues.   Sometimes we are prideful after doubting God’s Word and trusting something else.   As the culture decays and evil abounds, we may believe that God asks the impossible of us.  But, Martin Luther reminds us that the task of rebuilding the temple and shoring up walls was given to a weak people, few in number; a people against whom stood powerful princes and nations, which lived round about and daily threatened imminent destruction.

There will be days when failure distracts us from the building project.  There will be those like Tobiah who mock our faithfulness to an ancient faith while tempting us with new practices.  In the face of evil, let it be said of us:  Look!  They remember “the Lord who is great and awesome,” and they “fight for [their] brothers…sons…daughters…wives…and homes” (Neh. 4:14).

Excerpted from The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity
(pp 61-63) by Linda Bartlett;
Amazon.com.  Please also visit Our Identity Matters.
Image: mudpreacher.org

mother and child holding handsGod entrusts children to parents.

Parents are called by God to guard the innocence of childhood.  This is a serious challenge in today’s society.  From early on, boys and girls are surrounded by the visual images and messages of a highly sexualized culture.  The Christian parent may feel overwhelmed by their role.  But parents today—as always—are equipped for the job.  The Word of God is sufficient.  The Bible provides all that is needed to help boys and girls respect themselves and others, understand why male and female are not the same but complementarily different, resist temptation, and protect human life from the moment of conception.  When sin and failure occur, the Bible points the way to forgiveness and hope in Jesus Christ.

One topic that perhaps most intimidates and even confuses parents is sex and sexuality.  Sex education sounds like a good idea, especially if it is taught in a Christian environment; however, the origin of sex education is not biblical.  It is founded on a humanistic and secular theory.

A zoologist and follower of Charles Darwin by the name of Alfred Kinsey concluded that children are “sexual from birth” and can enjoy and benefit from early sexual activity.  He believed that society should reflect his “science” by altering its moral codes.  Thirty years of study by researchers such as Judith A. Reisman, PhD., prove that Kinsey’s research was built on sexual experiments by known pedophiles on children ages five-months to 14 years.  The research was both fraudulous and criminal; nevertheless, it accomplished what it intended.  By the 1960s, Kinsey and his followers were recognized as the “experts” on matters of “sexuality.”  Kinsey associates and students opened the doors of SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S.) and partnered with Planned Parenthood to aggressively make their way into schools and churches.  Pro-homosexual and pedophilia groups were emboldened.  Over the next fifty years, moral codes based largely on the biblical worldview were dangerously compromised.  Never before had anyone considered a child to be “sexual” in the way that Kinsey meant, but today children are sexualized not only by the media but in sex education, health or “family living” classrooms.  The innocence of children is stripped away in classrooms where boys and girls together learn about their bodies, what their parents do in the bedroom and what it means to live a “sexual” life.

God calls us to holy living.

God does not call His children to be “sexual.”  He calls His children—of all ages— to be holy.  Therefore, the Bible does not educate in sex, but instructs in purity.

Purity is not prudish.  It is prudent.  Purity is not Victorian and antiquated.  It is God’s plan for children and adults whether married or single.

Purity focuses on our identity as redeemed sons and daughters of God in Christ Jesus.  God says, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).  We are “vessel[s] for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:21).  Daily remembering our Baptism, we see ourselves not as “sexual beings” captive to instinct and desires, but as heirs of the promise and clothed with the righteousness of Christ (Galatians 3:27-29).

Purity is about more than abstinence.  Abstinence says, “No, I can’t be sexually intimate right now.”  But purity says, “Yes, I can be the male or female God created me to be right now.”  Instruction in purity begins with an explanation of biblical manhood and womanhood.  It draws attention to the many ways that male and female, of any age and married or single, can work, worship and serve together without a hint of sensuality.

Purity is about God’s design and order for life.  It is also about mystery and modesty.  God’s Word says, “Do not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (Song of Songs 3:5b).  This is why purity must be nurtured in a special garden tucked safely behind a protective fence.  That fence is the boundary of home.  God entrusts the training of children to their parents.  Children trust parents.  The Church supports parents by equipping them with God’s Word of Law and Gospel, the catechism, and models for instruction.

Purity is nurtured in an environment where modesty is preserved.  This is not a classroom where boys and girls together learn about sex or sexuality.  It is nearly impossible to train in purity when intimate topics are discussed between boys and girls in a common and casual manner.  Why?  Because holy people and the behavior God expects from them are not common but, rather, uncommon.

Modesty emphasizes the importance of the sexual organs (which God placed out of view and behind hair, 1 Corinthians 12:23) reserved for the special and honorable use within marriage.  Rather than trying to remove embarrassment (a natural protection from God in a sinful world), adults should do everything they can to maintain modesty.  A father can best explain to his daughter that there is mystery in more clothing rather than less, and that a girl’s behavior can raise—or lower—a boy’s standard of thinking and behavior.  A father can encourage his son to guard a woman’s virtue and lead him away from the “temptress” (Proverbs 7).

Purity grows from the truth of Genesis.  The first man and woman were created in a complementary but different way, each with a unique and vital role.  Purity understands that a man is a good steward (Genesis 2:15) and defender of life (Genesis 16-17) who takes a stand against evil.  The man is to lead, not as lord and master, but as one who goes first to make sure the path is safe.  Purity understands that a woman, as a “helper” (Genesis 2:18) and a “rib” or “pillar” (Psalm 144:12b), is strong and supportive, yet vulnerable to abuse.  Purity understands that a woman, as the bearer of life, has the most at stake; therefore, it places her within protective, yet pleasant boundaries.

These boundaries are drawn by God to respect the physical and psychological differences between male and female.  Woe to those who attempt to erase these boundaries by pretending that boys and girls are “the same”.  Woe to the adults who remove the protective covering of modesty and desensitize children.  Woe to the adults who dangle the carrot of joyful marital union in front of children but then tell them to “wait” for marriage after graduating college and securing a job.

God Gives a Model to Parents.

God has given all parents and grandparents a model for the instruction of purity in Titus 2:3-8. Older men are to mentor younger men by being examples of sobriety, dignity, self-control, sound faith, agape love, and steadfastness.  In addition, older men are to model the sacrificial love of Jesus (Ephesians 5:25).  This love is shown today by men who defend the honor of women, rescue children from abortion, and guard the door of homes.  For a young man, it means treating all girls as he wants his sister, mother, grandmother, and someday-wife to be treated.

Older women are to mentor younger women by being examples of goodness, self-control, purity, homemaking, kindness, and respectfulness for God’s orderly design in marriage.  In addition, older women can contrast the “temptress” with the holy woman who calls attention not to self but God (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:3-4).

If there is no father present or involved, mothers can point both sons and daughters to their Heavenly Father who is very present and involved in the lives of His children.  Timothy was raised to purity of faith and behavior by his mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).

Parents can be confident in raising sons and daughters to a life of purity.  They need not be intimidated by the world—or by their own past.  Sins that have been confessed to God are forgiven and forgotten.  Parents can show children the way to the Cross every time a wrong choice is made.  Parents, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can help sons and daughters resist the temptations of a self-focused and sensual world.

It is an awesome thing to know that the God who calls us to holiness also saves us when we are not.    Even when all seems lost to sinful people, we can reclaim our purity in Jesus.

Jesus Christ came to live among us.  He experienced human emotions and feelings.  He knows our weakness.  But for our own sakes, He calls us to lives of purity.  Purity does not seek its own way.  It models biblical manhood and womanhood.  It raises standards for behavior and encourages self-control.  Purity guards body, mind and soul.  It lays a foundation for friendship, marriage and family.

Purity anticipates a future of hope.

Written by Linda Bartlett for Lutherans For Life.
Available in brochure format (#LFL903T)
from CPH or Lutherans For Life

man standing reading BibleThe Word is true: “… Male and female He created them.”  But in hastily skipping ahead to “and they shall become one flesh,” we miss God’s description of what it means to be a man or a woman.  This is a costly omission for us all; most certainly for our unmarried sons and daughters.  But there is someone else who has been harmed by withholding God’s word on manhood and womanhood.  That person is our neighbor who struggles in a fallen world with the reality of same-sex attraction.

My neighbor (I shall call him David) is humbled by what he knows is an unnatural attraction.  Although “gay,” he does not want to parade with pride.  David was catechized by Christian parents who offer unconditional love.  He believes God’s Word that places sex within the boundaries of one man, one woman marriage.  But, David wonders, where does a person like me fit?  What does being “gay” mean for my future?  What about marriage and a family?  To me, however, the most heart-piercing of David’s questions is this: What about friendships with other men?

“Sometimes,” David explains, “I look at another man and am attracted to an attribute of his that I wish I had.  I don’t know, perhaps I am jealous.  But here’s the thing.  My self-centeredness and envy of that guy’s admirable qualities tempt me to imagine a sexual bond, but might my feelings actually be those of brotherly love and admiration?”

David is exposing a vulnerability.  He is pointing out how vulnerable any of us can be when we focus exclusively on human sexuality but remain awkwardly silent about biblical manhood and womanhood.

David is one of the compelling reasons why I authored The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity.  Too many in the church insist that we talk early and long about the wonders of sexual intimacy between a husband and wife in the faithfulness of marriage.  This, I’ve been told, will help remedy the problems of premarital sex, teen pregnancy, and divorce.  But it has not!  Nor has it made a place at the family table for our brothers like David who struggle with unwanted desires.

If David had his prayer answered the way he’d like, his same-sex attraction would be cured and his burden lifted.  He does not embrace unnatural inclinations.  He knows he cannot act on his feelings and be at peace with God.  But how, then, can David live… with himself, in relationship with the Man Jesus Christ, and in relationship with other men?  How can we help?

First, we welcome David to the table of the human family where the Body of Christ can remind David that he is so much more than a sexual being.  He is created to be a man: steward of all that God has made, bearer of the Word of life, and leader away from death.  How do we know this?

Before God created Eve and brought her to Adam as his wife, He “took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Although the work is made more difficult outside the Garden in a sinful world, man is still called to be the good steward over God’s creation.  The “Lord God also commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (2:16-17). Adam’s failure to remember and obey brought sin into the world.  In this fallen world, God’s perfect design and rhythm of life are distorted; nevertheless, God’s order of creation stands.  Man is still entrusted with the responsibility of bringing order out of chaos by speaking the Word of life and leading away from destruction and death.  This is David’s call from God.  It is his first vocation.

We can help David focus on the identity bestowed upon him at Baptism.  God does not identify him as “gay,” “homosexual,” or even “heterosexual.”  We all struggle with sinful desires, but because of our Baptism, they do not define us nor do they have to enslave us.  We were “far off” from God, but in Baptism, we are “brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).  We are “washed … sanctified …  justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God (1 Co. 6:11).  We can cry “Abba!  Father!” because “you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:6-7; Ti. 3:5-8).

At Baptism, the sign of the cross is made over us to indicate that we are redeemed by Christ the crucified.  We have His mark on us.  We are baptized, not in the water of sexuality, but in the water of pure Word and through the work of the Holy Spirit.  We are called not to ways of weak flesh, but to holy and noble purpose.  We are encouraged not to glorify self, but to glorify Jesus Christ who makes us children of God.

We can remind David that his Baptism is “an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21).  Even as Baptism cleans the sinner, it gives strength to be different from the world and restrain our own fickle desires.  Through daily contrition and repentance, the Old Adam in us is drowned and dies with all wrong thoughts and desires.  A new person in Christ rises up to live before God in righteousness and purity (Rm. 6:4).

We can remind David that sons and heirs 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).  We are promised the Holy Spirit who helps (Jn. 14:26) and intercedes for us (Rm. 8:26).

We can grieve with David.  The mistaken identity of “sexual being” and exaggerated place of sexuality misleads and often destroys the godly relationships of men with women, men with men, and women with women.  What is to become of us if we find a friend of the same sex—someone who is patient, kind, and selfless—but confuse lust with brotherly affection?  It is a dystopian world when boys and girls are mentored in all things sexual, but actually grow up fearing masculinity and femininity because they are untrained in biblical manhood and womanhood.

We can rejoice with David.   God created us to be relational people but, because He did not make sexuality central to being human, we can relate to one another in non-sexual ways.  Yes, my friend David!  You can admire the attributes of another man without sensual implications.  That’s because mature manhood (and womanhood) is about relating to one another in light of our baptismal identity.  As brothers and sisters, God wants us to be what He created us to be: holy people who live our daily lives as male or female not just in marriage, but in familial and social relationships, in school, at work, and in worship.  We do not need sexual intimacy to be a man or a woman, but men and women do need to be relational.

We can assure David that the Tenth Commandment has something to say to single men and women.  We are not supposed to covet “anything that is your neighbor’s.”  This includes our neighbor’s sexuality.  Marriage is the sacred place for all things sexual, but being a husband or a wife in this fallen world is a vocation for some and not for others.  It is important for the Body of Christ to see each member as fully human as opposed to sexual and, therefore—whether young or old, married or single—“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).

We can encourage David to practice self-control which, evidenced by the Apostle Paul (1 Co. 7:7), is a gift.  With the gift of self-control comes order and strength for life.  Mature manhood and womanhood receive the gift of self-control and are not dependent upon sexual intimacy.  Chaste singleness is not an affliction nor is it lessening of personhood; rather it, too, is a vocation and way to serve God and our neighbor in a way different from marriage.

We can point David to the Man Jesus Christ.  Jesus was fully human.  He was true man.  Yet, only in error would we identify Jesus as a “sexual being.”

We can assure David that Jesus has something to say about human identity being far more than sexual.  Jesus says there is no marriage in heaven (Mt. 22:30).  Therefore being sexual, that is, capable of sexual activity, is not part of what it means to be human after the resurrection.   If it is not part of our divinely created human identity in the resurrection where everything will be made perfect, then it is not the central part of our divinely-created identity here and now.

God tells His beloved human creation to abstain from sensuality.  But He does not tell us to abstain from being male or female.  We don’t do battle with the attributes of manhood or womanhood, but with “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry …” (Gal. 5:16-24). To be lovers, that is, to share sexual intimacy and literally fit together as “one flesh,” is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman. But to be male or female is not bound by marriage.  Each is a vocation or calling for daily use in glorifying God.

In Christ, we can fully engage in our vocations of manhood and womanhood in ways that will not bring shame on the Day of the Lord (1 Jn. 2:28).  We can think, work, create, serve, communicate, encourage, problem-solve, mentor, build relationships, and practice agape love.  This is truth with promise for those who bear the cross of same-sex attraction but don’t want to parade with pride.

The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity

is available from Amazon.com
(image credit: westminpca)

Disney! Let It Go!

elsa frozenThere are those who say that Elsa’s special powers are her repressed lesbianism.  Thus, the song: “Let It Go.”  Disney!  You let it go!  Don’t give Elsa a girlfriend in Frozen 2.  Give her a someday Prince Charming… and all of our daughters and granddaughters a break!

Once in a while, it is the most helpful thing I can do — not to post a blog of my own — but to share an article written by someone else who seeks to rightly inform for the good of biblical manhood and womanhood.

http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/give-elsa-a-girlfriend-no-give-the-kids-a-break/18087

Image: fanpop.com

children sketch

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when sex education was brought into schools and churches.  “We are sexual from birth, so let’s get comfortable with it!”  Five decades later, communities are brimming with “nobodies” who were denied their childhood; who know a lot about sex but very little about manhood and womanhood; who are cohabitating, pregnant but unwed, fearful, depressed, relationally dysfunctional, discontent, insecure, and paranoid about “sexual identity.”

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when abortion was legalized.  Today, mothers, fathers, and grandparents grieve lost relationships with 56 million “nobodies.”  Our nation is poorer economically because 56 million “nobodies” do not pay taxes, buy products, or invest in communities.

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when girls were told that “equal means being the same.”  In the effort to equalize the “playing field”—in sports, the workplace, and the bedroom—girls were taught that the two genders, male and female, are interchangeable.  Today, three generations of “nobodies” are at odds with their own bodies and minds.

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when gay and lesbian advocates began to circulate the schools.  That’s what they said when same-sex “marriage” was legalized.   That’s what they said when restrooms were changed from “men” and “women” to “whatever” so that people who have trouble identifying themselves can use whichever they please.  How many “nobodies” will have to suffer the consequences?  How many impressionable “nobodies” will believe the unnatural is “normal?”

Do we really think that nobody will get hurt when we tamper with God’s design?

Camille Paglia is a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  She is a feminist, social critic, and a lesbian.   She is also surprising.  When it comes to “identity politics” and transgenderism, Paglia says, “This hyper-self-consciousness about ‘Who am I?  Where exactly am I on the gender spectrum?’ is mere navel-gazing while, in the Middle East, ISIS is beheading people.  It is a kind of madness of self-absorption.”

Paglia says she pities “young people today” because “it’s one thing to feel, ‘I’m not quite comfortable in the gender I was assigned at birth,’ but the pressures are to change, change, change, and to telegraph it to the world.  People are pushed into making choices about surgical interventions and taking hormones, which is dangerous, and they will have all kinds of medical problems in the long run.”

Paglia believes “there are authentic transgender people who had a genetic issue from the start” and points out that “medical science is still developing to help these people.”   But transgenderism has “become a fashion statement, or a mask [for other problems].  People are being induced to think that all their unhappiness—in family life, in school, in relation to society—is to do with this gender issue.  Well, maybe it isn’t.  Maybe there are other issues a person needs to deal with.”

In a way, Paglia is speaking about the “nobodies that won’t get hurt” or, in this case, today’s college students.   She says, “They have no sense of the great patterns of world history, the rise and fall of civilizations like Babylon and Rome that became very sexually tolerant, and then fell.”

She continues, “If you’ve had no exposure to that, you can honestly believe that ‘There is progress all around us and we are moving to an ideal state of culture, where we all hold hands and everyone is accepted for what they are … and the environment will be pure … .‘”  This is their “magical utopian view,” explains Paglia, that “we are marching toward perfection.”  But what is the “sign of this progress?”  They believe it is “toleration,” observes Paglia, “for homosexuality, or for changing gender, or whatever.”

But to Paglia, “[I]t’s a sign of the opposite, it’s symptomatic of a civilization just before it falls.”

Babylon and Rome did fall.  They fell because men and women shaped themselves after the imaginations of their own heart.  They exchanged the natural for the unnatural and were foolish enough to believe that nobody would get hurt.

Our civilization may be rushing toward the abyss, but the Christian can blaze trail away from destruction.  We do this when we believe that there is no such thing as a “nobody” to God.  Every child—born or yet to be born—is already redeemed and called by name (Is. 43:1).  Every child—born or yet to be born—will be affected by what we do or do not tolerate.

We may wrestle with our identity and, therefore, the way we choose to live.  But, the Lord identifies us in His Prayer when He invites us to pray: “Our Father who art in heaven.”   We are not “debtors to the flesh.”  We are not slaves to our own fear.  What we are, in Christ, is God’s adopted heirs!  Tolerating no other identity, we and our children’s children can navigate out of hopelessness and away from the abyss.

The quotes of Camille Paglia are excerpted from an article by Carolyn Moynihan (www.mercatornet.com/conjugality/view/navel-gazing-about-gender-while-the-world-burns/17944 ) and an interview with Camille Paglia by Ella Whelan of Spiked (www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxoN4wTrnvs)

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when sex education was brought into schools and churches.  “We are sexual from birth, so let’s get comfortable with it!”  Five decades later, communities are brimming with “nobodies” who were denied their childhood; who know a lot about sex but very little about manhood and womanhood; who are cohabiting, pregnant but unwed, fearful, depressed, relationally dysfunctional, discontent, insecure, and paranoid about “sexual identity.”

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when abortion was legalized.  Today, mothers, fathers, and grandparents grieve lost relationships with 56 million “nobodies.”  Our nation is poorer economically because 56 million “nobodies” do not pay taxes, buy products, or invest in communities.

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when girls were told that “equal means being the same.”  In the effort to equalize the “playing field”—in sports, the workplace, and the bedroom—girls were taught that the two genders, male and female, are interchangeable.  Today, three generations of “nobodies” are at odds with their own bodies and minds.

Nobody will get hurt.  That’s what they said when gay and lesbian advocates began to circulate the schools.  That’s what they said when same-sex “marriage” was legalized.   That’s what they said when restrooms were changed from “men” and “women” to “whatever” so that people who have trouble identifying themselves can use whichever they please.  How many “nobodies” will have to suffer the consequences?  How many impressionable “nobodies” will believe the unnatural is “normal?”

Do we really think that nobody will get hurt when we tamper with God’s design?

Camille Paglia is a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.  She is a feminist, social critic, and a lesbian.   She is also surprising.  When it comes to “identity politics” and transgenderism, Paglia says, “This hyper-self-consciousness about ‘Who am I?  Where exactly am I on the gender spectrum?’ is mere navel-gazing while, in the Middle East, ISIS is beheading people.  It is a kind of madness of self-absorption.”

Paglia says she pities “young people today” because “it’s one thing to feel, ‘I’m not quite comfortable in the gender I was assigned at birth,’ but the pressures are to change, change, change, and to telegraph it to the world.  People are pushed into making choices about surgical interventions and taking hormones, which is dangerous, and they will have all kinds of medical problems in the long run.”

Paglia believes “there are authentic transgender people who had a genetic issue from the start” and points out that “medical science is still developing to help these people.”   But transgenderism has “become a fashion statement, or a mask [for other problems].  People are being induced to think that all their unhappiness—in family life, in school, in relation to society—is to do with this gender issue.  Well, maybe it isn’t.  Maybe there are other issues a person needs to deal with.”

In a way, Paglia is speaking about the “nobodies that won’t get hurt” or, in this case, today’s college students.   She says, “They have no sense of the great patterns of world history, the rise and fall of civilizations like Babylon and Rome that became very sexually tolerant, and then fell.”

She continues, “If you’ve had no exposure to that, you can honestly believe that ‘There is progress all around us and we are moving to an ideal state of culture, where we all hold hands and everyone is accepted for what they are … and the environment will be pure … .‘”  This is their “magical utopian view,” explains Paglia, that “we are marching toward perfection.”  But what is the “sign of this progress?”  They believe it is “toleration,” observes Paglia, “for homosexuality, or for changing gender, or whatever.”

But to Paglia, “[I]t’s a sign of the opposite, it’s symptomatic of a civilization just before it falls.”

Babylon and Rome did fall.  They fell because men and women shaped themselves after the imaginations of their own heart.  They exchanged the natural for the unnatural and were foolish enough to believe that nobody would get hurt.

Our civilization may be rushing toward the abyss, but the Christian can blaze trail away from destruction.  We do this when we believe that there is no such thing as a “nobody” to God.  Every child—born or yet to be born—is already redeemed and called by name (Is. 43:1).  Every child—born or yet to be born—will be affected by what we do or do not tolerate.

We may wrestle with our identity and, therefore, the way we choose to live.  But, the Lord identifies us in His Prayer when He invites us to pray: “Our Father who art in heaven.”   We are not “debtors to the flesh.”  We are not slaves to our own fear.  What we are, in Christ, is God’s adopted heirs!  Tolerating no other identity, we and our children’s children can navigate out of hopelessness and away from the abyss.

 

Quotes of Camille Paglia are excerpted from an article by Carolyn Moynihan
(“Navy-gazing about gender while the world burns,” Mercatornet)
and an interview with Camille Paglia by Ella Whelan of Spiked
Graphic: Etsy

student reading Bible

“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.