December 5, 2013

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

Our paths crossed for a time on this earthly journey. Choices you were making brought suffering to your family and those you care most about. Those choices forever changed their lives—and yours.

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

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

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

However, there is hope. There is always hope! Hope came to us in the Son of God Himself. God comes to us in the mystery of water (Baptism), bread and wine (Communion), and His Holy Word. Wow! God really has come to you and me—to all who are “dying to live.” 

May you know the power of forgiveness in Christ. May I know that power in Christ. And may we persevere—with our families and loved ones—on this journey through a strange and unfriendly land to our eternal home. Can you imagine? There, at the banquet table, we will be able to rest our eyes on the magnificence of God. He will no longer have to hide His fullness from us. We will know His glory in every way.

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

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

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

Linda. D. Bartlett is the founder of Titus 2 for Life.