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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
snakes in the bathroom obama bathroom law

Snake in the Bathroom

The Obama administration has just insisted that all US public schools allow students to use whichever bathroom matches their gender identity, that is, whichever identity one is experimenting with at the moment.

Overlooking the facts of one’s biological birth, and the torturous mental health consequences for persons who deny their gender birthright, Obama now leads the world in obliterating the most basic distinction of our humanity.

Your daughter attends school where a boy who likes girl’s play has absolute freedom to insist that he be considered a girl and to follow her into the bathroom. Of course that may change; he may come to his senses and realize that he wants to be who he is. Then your daughter will have to change all over again.

The US government now decrees that your children understand gender as fluid, a state of mind, with no necessary connection to our biological selves. For people of faith, that is idolatry, the creature raising itself above the Creator. For people who value the social sciences, that is psychological nihilism: we harm children by not reinforcing the value of their gender selves.

Secure upon the foundation of our male or femaleness, we can grow into the unique men and women we are, free to exhibit a range of gifts and aptitudes that defy gender stereotyping. But we damage the core of our sons and daughters by letting them tell us whether they are sons or daughters.

Obama and company now consider granting fragile children and their clueless parents that freedom. They consider gender fluidity to be another great step forward for human rights.

Tell that to my friend Daniel who was advised by his high school counselor to embrace his gender fluidity. Identifying as a woman and winning awards in drag pageants, he witnessed among ‘trans’ peers the ravages of implants, estrogen shots, and seductive exaggerated feminine behavior. The fantasy of becoming the other gender was in truth a death wish. And isn’t that the end of all deception, to destroy human dignity?

Deceived by the belief that he is protecting human dignity, Obama obliterates it.

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How to Love a Vulnerable Friend Responding to the Transgendered

How to Love a Vulnerable Friend: Responding to the ‘Transgendered’

First, thank you for your commitment to your friend. Sometimes devout, energized persons like you can help prevent an already vulnerable soul from doing further injury. I realize your friend is on the verge of doing just that by pursuing gender reassignment surgery.

Gender is not a product of the mind; it is a fact of our birth. To be sure, your friend has a deep conflict with his or her true gender self, for which one must only be compassionate. Such compassion flows from the truth. Your friend has a gender self and to be at odds with that truth is a serious affliction. Your advocacy may help him or her to begin to resolve this identity confusion in the right way.

Your friend is not hearing the truth today, only pretty lies. To paraphrase Dr. Paul McHugh, the idea that gender is a matter of choice remains unquestioned in our culture and is utterly without scientific foundation. Studies reveal that in spite of terrific costs to all family members, gender reassignment surgery does not result in happiness but the same or worse mental health conditions than existed before the surgery, including drug addictions, psychotic disorders and the risk of suicide.

Your friend is vulnerable to robbers, and needs understanding and inspired care. This is a person who looks in the mirror and hates the reflection. He or she believes that self-acceptance lies in becoming the other gender. Wrong. I have worked with several persons whose ‘fantasy gender selves’ arose in response to profound distress. Their fantasy selves became the prison. It is a joyful labor of love to accompany the gender afflicted out of unreality and into the truth of their real selves.

Spiritual and emotional intervention makes sense. Why? We cannot change our genders. Guess what? Bruce Jenner is still a man! The only real choice we have is to make peace with the gender of our birth. Nevertheless, we must recognize that our gender identities (the psychological adjustment we make to our gender) are subject to profound frustration. We may feel chronically inadequate to master certain ‘gender’ tasks, or experience repulsion over one’s body type combined with a persistent desire to have different body traits.

The gender-afflicted need inspired therapy, not surgery. It is cruel to subject a vulnerable soul to knives and implants and alien hormones. We do not ‘cure’ an anorexic by exercising fat from her body because she feels fat any more than we ‘cure’ a man who feels like a woman by cutting off his penis. We help him make peace with his intrinsic manhood, just as we help the anorexic adjust to a true body image.

Your friend is imprisoned by the lie that ‘feelings’ can and should determine biological gender. Wrong. God determines our gender and we must work that out in fear and trembling. Yes Jesus is the door that swings out from the prison and yes we must open it. Praise Him—we can do so in the light of Divine Mercy and merciful friends like you.

For this transformation, we need entire faith communities. I would suggest that you check out our offerings at Desert Stream/Living Waters (desertstream.org), the national Restored Hope Network of ministries (restoredhopenetwork.org), and the international network of Courage (couragerc.org). Please stay in touch. If your friend and family want to come out and meet with some of our staff, please let us know.

Andrew

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blazing love

Blazing Love

‘Everyone will be salted with fire.’ (MK 9:49)

I met Ross a couple of years ago and could tell by his puzzled yet open face that he knew little about religion, for better or worse. He did seem attentive to my offering that God—a Father—cared for him and wanted the best for him. It made sense to Ross that if God had set him on course in the first place then He probably did care how his life turned out.

Over the next couple of years, I prayed often for Ross and encouraged him when I could. I could not read his detours precisely. He did confess to drinking way too much and his ache seemed open to both genders. I did not know; in these days of gender gymnastics, I neither trust my ‘gay-dar’ nor do I believe in boxing someone into dead-ended categories. I cared for him as an estranged son of the Father.

Some days his hangovers made him look 10 years older; other days he looked expectant, especially when his lucrative job promised more money. Yet I could see a longing in him for something more. Maybe that’s why he did not avoid me when I came around.

Yesterday in prayer, the Father re-ignited His desire for Ross in my heart. I knew it was the Holy Spirit. I agreed with God that if I ran into him I would act decisively. Sure enough, when I bumped into Ross and he told me that he was soon leaving Kansas City for a job offer elsewhere, holy fire blazed in my heart and I prophesied over him with tears. I reconfirmed the Father’s good will to give him a future and a hope, to free him from robbers who wanted his blood.

Blazing love broke ground in Ross. He expressed a desire to know more about Jesus and His Father before he leaves town. At least he knows now that the Father loves him and desires more for him.

There is a lot of talk in the Church today about loving ‘gays’ but very little is said about our need for the Spirit’s power in doing so. The strongholds of sin are too thick to break through, our own unbelief too great, without blazing love–the flame of the Father’s heart enkindled in our prayers and stoked into a torch by the union of His Spirit with ours.

‘Salt us with Your fire for estranged sons and daughters everywhere, Holy God.’

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ignite the torch joy of love

Ignite the Torch

‘The Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children by restoring their hope like a torch carried among the people to enlighten those who have lost their way in the midst of a storm.’ Joy of Love, Pope Francis

While Pope Francis magnificently honors marriage in his recent exhortation, he falters in fueling the torch necessary to enlighten persons lost in the storm surrounding homosexuality. Yes, he exposes the lie of constructing one’s own gender ‘self’. But he falls fall short of illuminating Christ Crucified and Raised as the fire that can consume the disordered heart and win it over to holy love.

Pope Francis does not connect the dots. On the one hand he alludes to misbegotten cultural shifts like ‘gay marriage’ and the folly of being tossed about by self-serving, shortsighted desires. He highlights the Gospel passages in which sexual sinners are admonished by Jesus ‘to live more worthy lives’ as His love awakens ‘consciousness of sin.’ Yet his pastoral directives for enlightening persons lost in the gender storm are bland and dim; Francis invokes accompaniment and the law of gradualism and other references to walking with persons in pain. All good—but none adequate to awaken the soul in darkness to the saving light of Jesus.

I longed to hear Francis refer to repentance and sexual sin in the same sentence. He hesitates here. Inspired by the Spirit and commensurate with the damage done, the urgent call for repentance seems in line with Francis’ consistent regard for ‘the immense psychological burden’ that unfaithful adults impose upon children. We serve justice to kids by returning to the Father and casting off destructive identities and relationships. By aspiring to be faithful ‘gender’ witnesses, we the repentant do our part to meet the identity needs of children.

For this, we the Church need to declare the clear and compassionate call for all to turn to Jesus amid confused identities. Repentance is the base on which our eyes are opened and we can begin to make wise choices. Yes we slowly progress in our moral formation, and yes such formation is founded on the Word who exposes our chains and offers Himself as the key.

I now live in a Catholic world where the slight majority uphold gay unions, are intolerant (often cruel) to persons who lovingly refuse to bless ‘gay unions’, and whose clergy men tend to invoke a repentance-free mercy for persons with SSA. Where is the Church who blazes like a torch in order to enlighten her members? Where are the merciful lights to guide lost loved ones home? May God fan into flame a host of blazing lights to light the way in the storm that Francis describes but inadequately guides us through in this turbulent hour.

‘For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent; for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, until her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.’ (IS 62:1)

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Prodigal Pope

Prodigal Pope Embraces the Family (and this family man)

Francis’ long awaited report on marriage and family is good news, a hearty hug of a document that encompasses the best of what marital love can be.

I consumed the 256 page exhortation—Love in the Family—as a hungry man. Pressures on my own marriage and family life had been mounting in the days leading up its release; I needed release from my clouded capacity to be a ‘good-enough’ gift for wife and kids. Like a father embracing his confused son who knew only to turn in the general direction of home, Pope Francis met me; his intention to reclaim and renew the value of marriage nourished me like an empanada thick with meat and vegetables. ‘He set me at His banqueting table, and His banner over me is love’ (S of S 2:4) conveys well the impact of Pope Francis’ fatherly, at times folksy exhortation to this prodigal.

With characteristic tenderness, Francis champions marriage and family as the basic cell endowed with power to transform the world; at the same time, he realizes the anxieties and tensions faced by the modern family. He cites the impact of today’s extreme individualism, consumerism, social networking, and just plain narcissism that renders people immature and unable to see the ‘other’ beyond one’s own effort to find a ‘self’.

Drawing significantly on the ‘imago dei’ (humanity made in God’s image as male and female, Gen. 1: 26, 27) as parsed by his predecessors St. John Paul ll and Pope Emeritus Benedict, Francis summons our capacity as gendered, passionate people to be good gifts to another over the course of a lifespan, a commitment he claims can grow more beautiful over the course of a hard knock life. He melds expertly the ideological with the practical. An extended meditation on the ‘love’ chapter (1Cor. 13) goes hand-in-hand with tough words on why marriage must be ‘open to life’ then tempers the call to fruitfulness with wisdom about family planning, marital communication, and humane parenting. Uncle Francis indeed.

Most interesting to me are his limited references to homosexuality in the document. As you know, I had the privilege addressing some ‘Family Synod’ delegates in Rome last September as to convey an orthodox, merciful approach to persons with SSA. Those synod members wrote reports for Francis from which he created ‘Love in the Family.’

Francis deflates any hope that he has joined the rainbow bandwagon. Twice he states emphatically that ‘there is no ground for considering homosexual unions even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’ And he extols every child’s need for both a mother and father in order to mature into wholeness. He decries modern gender theory on the grounds that ‘it promotes a personal identity and emotional intimacy that is radically separate from the biological difference between male and female.’

Pope Francis upholds the most vulnerable—children–who before God deserve the most strenuous efforts of both a mother and a father to succeed at marriage.

At the same time, Francis cites the very real difference between biological gender and how we develop a gender identity. He is nuanced and graceful with this distinction, which leaves room for women to lead and for men to dance. Yes we need to make peace with the gender of our birth in submission to our Creator, says Francis, and yes, we must respect diverse expressions of male and female identity. Alleluia. What a pope.

In regards to persons with SSA, Pope Francis directs us back to the wellspring of life, the nuclear family. He instructs family members to love us well so that ‘we might understand and carry out God’s will for our lives.’

I would have appreciated a little more input on pastoral care of persons with SSA (grounds for next blog, perhaps.) Perhaps that is beside the point, or at least a secondary one. Love in the Family reminds me that I am more than a person seeking freedom from disordered desire. I am a husband and a father who possesses the freedom to love well and so leave a legacy of truth and mercy for persons I love most. Thank you, Pope Francis.

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