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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
sad-sam-rosie

Sad Sam, Not So Rosie

The problem with homosexual practice is not that the Bible and the Church say it’s one. Sin by nature hurts persons, beginning with the perpetrator and fanning out to loved ones.

Take Michael Sam, the first openly ‘gay’ draft pick of the NFL who 18 months ago was heralded throughout the USA as a courageous trailblazer.

Yet the whole thing derailed from the start. Sam lip-locked his new boyfriend on national TV in celebration of being picked up by the St. Louis Rams, claiming that the new lover was responsible for his selection. Weeks later, Sam was cut from the team, failed in his try out with the Cowboys, then was picked up by a Canadian team. Briefly engaged to marry his boyfriend, Sam left that team for personal reasons, which included breaking up with Mr. Wonderful.

Sad. Sam rode a brief wave of national adulation from fools like us who refused to tell the truth for fear of losing ‘place’ in our rainbow daze. In saying nothing, we contribute to the crashing and burning of misguided young men like Sam.

You cannot build your life on a fault-line and expect to stand. Funny woman Rosie O’Donnell’s fractured ‘gay’ life now fans out like fissures to impact a host of dependents. Her scenario points out how shortsighted our ‘gay’ advocacy is.

Chelsea O’Donnell was adopted by Rosie and her first ‘wife’ who left years ago. Rosie took up with another woman, adopted more kids then ‘married’ a third woman. Now 17-years-old, Chelsea has been diagnosed with a mental illness and disappeared for several days, gratefully to be found safe.

O’Donnell’s disoriented life now expresses itself in disoriented children.

We who comply with the false ‘justice’ advocated by the likes of Sam and O’Donnell contribute to their enslavement. I marvel at how otherwise compassionate people now contribute to the decline of the very ones they seek to champion. Shame on us.

We stop sin and shame by owning both and turning toward the Healer. May we fall face down before Him as we witness the wreckage. Have mercy on us all.

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greening-of-gender

The Greening of Gender

Those of us who have reduced Pope Francis’ recent encyclical–‘On Care of Our Common Home’–to a holy call to recycle may want to reconsider. The man advocates a rethinking of our relationship to all of creation, including our own gender and bodies.

‘Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential part of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way, we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment.’ (155)

An artist in Palm Springs who runs Living Waters there, Brian Barlow encountered a confused young man with merciful regard for his true gender home. Who knew that a green commitment is well-expressed in tending to another’s gender clarity? Pope Francis would be proud of the following:

drawing 1““Wow, what just walked up?” That was my weak response to a man God loves who stationed himself outside my art gallery in Palm Springs. He was dressed in women’s pajamas complete with a lace satin black top and a polka dot skirt accented by pink flip-flops; I watched as he rifled through his backpack which seemed to hold all his earthly belongings. He pulled out a wet-wipe and started to clean himself, beginning with his face from which he carefully wiped dirt and sweat then moved downward to clean his arms and finally his feet.

I recalled that I had a travel kit at the gallery for the times like that morning when I arrived early to start painting. I also remembered that I had a set of extra men’s clothes, including shoes at the gallery, as well as soap and water and towels. In a small way I could offer this broken homeless soul a small gift to show that he is noticed and not forgotten. In spite of his evident gender confusion, I could offer him a new set of clothes that testify to God’s design for him–a design intended for this child of God to walk uprightly in his male humanity.

I approached this gentle soul who, as I offered him the items, looked me straight in the eyes and asked, “Why are you doing this?” That is often the question I am asked when I reach out to the gender broken in this desert ‘city of refuge.’ It’s a pregnant question that means: “What is this going to cost me? Another piece of my dignity?”

I paused for a brief moment and said the first thing that came to mind, “We are a ministry that offers hope to our community through the arts. I thought you could use these things. I thought to myself, “Wow that was canned!” Sigh…Then a peace came over me and I offered to pray for him. He accepted. I asked for protection and blessed him with a firm hand on his shoulder on which he rested his hand.

drawing 2I watched him walk away and there was no mistaking his gender. He was a man!

Perhaps you might ask, so what?! ‘Good for you, you dressed up a homeless transgender person to look the part of a male. Big deal!’

My response, YES! YES! It is a BIG DEAL! Calling out the true self of every person we encounter matters! God has intentionally designed each gender as either male or female. That is the truth, and truth sets us free.

Fractured by life, assaulted by abuse and isolation, broken humanity needs to be reminded of the Father’s original design. Our confirmation testifies powerfully that there is hope for what went wrong. It answers a significant question: “Was I created for more, or is this it?” Jesus offered living water to the woman at the well who lived with an unquenched thirst for more. The good news: we can offer a drink of living water for a person evidently thirsting for life’s most basic requirements, which include cleansing and clothing one’s gendered humanity.”

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His-Body-Broken,-Bursting-with-Life

His Body Broken, Bursting with Life

What the world needs today is the credible witness of people capable of opening hearts and minds to the desire for God and true life.’ Pope Emeritus Benedict

The seed of God’s Life in us must be crushed in us and offered to Him in order for it to become fruitful (JN 12:24). Then we, like grain threshed and grapes stomped, become a meal for hungry ones.

I ate like a king at the Courage Conference in Chicago last week (Courage is the only recognized ministry in the Catholic Church for persons with SSA and their loved ones.)

I noticed Jill from a distance and remarked to myself how lovely she was: tender eyes as inclined to joy as sorrow, beautiful coloring, fragrant. I remarked to her that her womanhood was a gift to us at the conference. After years of walking with Jesus she could now receive that. ‘I marvel at how He keeps restoring me. I hated being a woman most of my life but now can accept the gift that I am.’

Riding the wave of a gay-affirming age, twenty-something Kevin recounted a series of ‘dating’ relationships with other men and the disintegrating effect they had on him and his family who looked on helplessly. His parting words were simple and epic: ‘Only Jesus can satisfy my longings. I will no longer look to mere men for what only God can give me.’

I sat down at table with a brawny man who alongside his wife looked uneasy. ‘I guess I‘d rather be somewhere else. But I am also glad. Our lives have changed since we discovered our son’s SSA. And I want to keep changing for the good so I can love him better.’ Another person at table, a mother, said this: ‘My daughter no longer practices her faith. But I have rediscovered mine. I now do all I can to help make my Church a merciful, truthful place for persons impacted by SSA.’

Courage helps us know Him more and serve His house better. Please pray for myself and other Courage delegates as we offer ourselves as witnesses of Jesus’ transforming love in preparation for the Catholic Synod on Family this fall.

Our goal is to influence powers-that-be who will make recommendations for pastoral care of persons impacted by SSA for the worldwide church.

Conference dates: August 10th-12th, Detroit Michigan; October 2nd, Rome Italy.

Suggested prayer: ‘Father, we thank you for the truth of how You made us and how You redeem us. Grant courage to the Catholic Church in her truth-bearing. May she not falter but carve a clear path of gender clarity and true chastity.’

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waking-up-jesus

Waking Up Jesus

“Jesus rose up…and said to His disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ ” (Mk 4:39, 40)

The sleeping Church can no longer ignore the alarms. She must become the answer to a consumer-driven culture intent on making gender identity and marriage a figment of our fallen imagination.

What’s at stake is the dignity of persons created in God’s image; will the Church mobilize and guide them into transformation, into becoming icons of the Holy One? Or will she slumber as the vulnerable are conformed to a host of worldly identities which reduce them to idols?

Like Jesus asleep in the boat, we His members must arise and calm the storm by mercifully calling all to chastity and relational integrity. The answers are ours, eternally; now is the hour to declare those answers clearly and humbly. Christians who mumble won’t be heard.

After the Court’s ‘gay marriage’ decision at the end of June, I attended Mass where the pastor alluded to Christian truth amid falsehood but never quite landed; I nearly fell out of my pew waiting for him to say something hopeful and helpful about how the Church’s embrace of persons with same-sex attraction exceeds false solutions to the problem. I waited in vain until the service ended then made a bee-line for the poor guy: ‘Please don’t forget persons like me who are vulnerable…If you the pastor don’t say anything, we won’t hear anything but ‘gay is the way, walk in it.’ “

Then I received a gift in the mail. That same Sunday, a Catholic Church in Pennsylvania (which just happens to run a Living Waters group) put out the most amazing church bulletin I have ever read. Really. Entitled ‘Difficult Conversations for Faithful Catholics’, it laid out a series of brief articles on how to love well persons with SSA while remaining true to one’s Christian conscience. Its premise? We all come to Christ broken; we all need Jesus in order to discover together what it means to become whole. I invite you to download the PDF. .

Simple. Smart. Truly loving. This is the Church who embodies what she preaches and does so with stunning accuracy. Jesus is waking up and arising through His body. All we need to fear is faithlessness. We have the answers. Let’s give them!

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Magdalenes-in-the-making

Magdalenes-in-the-Making

As I looked out at the Latinos who had come forward to ‘clean house’, I was struck by their radiance. Though time-worn, their faces looked new; defilement underfoot, they beamed like virgins. Pure gratitude shone from hearts washed afresh by the blood, water and Spirit. I marveled at this corporate witness of our faith’s most basic truth: Jesus makes all things new…

Such cleansing required good hard work from all who attended our Living Waters Training in the flowering hills just south of Mexico City. Natural beauty hid a slew of demons—lay leaders and clergy from around Latin America had resumes of sexual abuse, sexual addiction, adultery, and religious abuse, with generational sins empowering shame and lust. Young ones among us bore the mark of ‘gay’-affirming mandates from nations like Argentina, and Mexico which approved ‘gay marriage’ just days before the US Supreme Court did.

Our international leadership team entered into the battle being waged for souls, and had to contend with irrational forces seeking to weary and divide us. God sustained us through His Spirit; we responded through constant prayer. We offered ourselves at Jesus’ altar on behalf of all who had been sacrificed on the altar of lust—an altar constructed by a culture of honor that neatly hides the violence of sexual sin committed against the most vulnerable.

I thought of Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus expelled seven demons. In His delivering Spirit, I called all who already had confessed their sins to renounce the demons that had empowered those sins. Like Jesus, we were taking authority over our own temples and casting out robbers who had desecrated our ‘homes.’ The Spirit, the blood, the water— gifts that confirm what Jesus has already done on our behalf —converged to renew us in the almighty tenderness of our God.

When He draws close, the demons tremble and we must act decisively. He is holy. Intimacy with the holy God requires that we refuse the idols around which demons congregate. We did just that. God came in power and cleansed us powerfully so He could dwell with us. We are His; virginal sons and daughters.

Like Mary Magdalene, we embody His witness. Jesus makes all things new!
‘What counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule.’
(Gal. 6: 15b, 16a)

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