Category: Catholic Sexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
lie

November 22, 2014: The Lie of ‘Gay’ Love

‘That evil appears in the form of light, of beneficence, of faithfulness, of renewal, that it appears in the form of historical necessity, of social justice, is for the commonsense observer a clear confirmation of its profound evilness. We experience and recognize ethical reality not by craftiness, not by knowing all the tricks, but only by standing straightforwardly in the truth of God and looking to that truth with eyes that it makes simple and wise.’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Today’s western culture has been captivated by the lie of ‘gay’ love. Out of the idol we have made of sexual expression, empowered by injustices we have committed against persons weak in gender security, our common enemy devised one of the most divisive strategies of our century: the ‘gay’ way or the highway. 

A western citizen is today considered ‘enlightened’ if (s)he embraces homosexuality as inborn and unchangeable, its expression worthy of all privileges accorded marriage and family. For upholding marriage, and disagreeing with the ethical good of ‘gay’ practice, that same citizen is judged at best as ignorant and worse as a bully, a bigot, and a ‘hater.’ Criminal charges may apply: anyone not on the ‘gay’ bandwagon will lose reputation and may lose his or her business for not cooperating with ‘gay’ weddings.

Seeking relevance, the Church at large has been reduced to silence then slow concession to what is a fierce yet well-cloaked ‘gay agenda.’  (I have witnessed this ‘agenda’ since I came out of homosexuality in the late seventies: even then, it was apparent that wealthy gay politicos were aiming at the gold ring of ‘gay marriage.’) The tactic is simple and goes something like this: “‘Gay’ people are loving and wounded. How can we further wound them by not giving them what they want? We believe in the pursuit of happiness for all, don’t we?”

Seeking to be ‘loving’, the Church bows to such superficial questions with superficial answers. I was shocked by an interview with Cardinal Schonborn (whom I deeply respect) after the Synod on the Family when he said: ‘I know a marvelous ‘gay’ couple in my diocese who really care for each other…’ On that basis, Schonborn encouraged radical (and I believe false) changes in the Catholic Church’s approach toward persons with same-sex attraction.

The new enemy of the Church’s clear understanding of sexual humanity is ‘nice.’ Without doubt, many persons with same-sex attraction (I do not use the language of ‘gay’; it is a socio-political identification that hinders persons from resolving the attraction) are kind and loving and capable of committed friendships. Not the question. The question remains: what is our sexual humanity for?  If we as Christians are not clear that the purpose of our engendered self is to mature into whole-enough gifts for the other so that we can create new lives together, then we have lost our way. We do no-one any favors to alter the boundary lines to include sexualized same-gender friendships, just as we did an earlier disservice by accommodating extramarital sex on the basis that ‘Christians do it anyway.’

Our young interns and I recently studied ‘The Bible and Homosexual Practice’ (Abingdon Press, Dr. Robert Gagnon), the best and most scholarly approach to the subject. Without doubt, Scripture from start to finish prohibits all homosexual acts on the basis that gender ‘discomplementarity’ is an act of treason against God and one’s fellows. Period. Our ‘loving’ hearts deceive us. An ‘agenda’ has deceived us. A common enemy has deceived us.

It may be too late for our nation to take marriage back from that agenda. But Jesus Himself will not allow His bride to be deceived. We must wake up and repent. It is not too late to forsake our ‘nice’ concession to ‘an enemy who came only to steal, kill, and destroy’ lives. (JN 10:10) In concert with the One who came that ‘all may have life and have it to the full’ (JN 10:10), let us open wide the doors of our hearts and churches and provide a merciful womb in which all may repent of the deception that is destroying them.

‘In the last days there will be scoffers who follow their own ungodly desires. These are men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained with corrupted flesh’ (Jude 17-23).

Please join us as we pray for:

  1. Church Unity/Ecumenical Spirit : Unity in the body of Christ as Living Waters is offered in both Catholic and Protestant churches. Also for an ecumenical spirit to be strengthened and encouraged throughout each community running Living Waters.
  2. Aguas Vivas: Southern California, Los Angeles area, Maria, Pilar, Zefereino and team: for discernment and wisdom as far as the best church covering for upcoming Aguas Vivas group.
  3. Encourage:  Bob and Susan (National Overseers): For grace to equip and unify chapters of   Courage around the country. KC Courage and Encourage : For an increase in local KC chapter of Courage/Encourage.

“Courage for Pastor Phil Strout (National Director Vineyard USA), that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BLOGS & PRAYER POINTS FOR NOV. 20, 21, 22, 23

family-redemption

Retrieving the Family from Synod’s ‘Gay Follies’

How is it that a fraction of the population manages to steal the beauty of family? According to media reports, one would think that the Synod on Family was little more than a battle for ‘gay rights’ in the Roman Catholic Church. Issues surrounding ‘gay-identified’ persons seemed to prevail, even though in its final report the synod rescinded its previous controversial references to homosexuality. In the end, only 2 of 62 paragraphs pertain to ‘pastoral care of persons with a homosexual orientation.’

The rest of the document is a marvel of Catholic truths and concerns for the whole family: sweeping topics like ‘the exaggerated individualism that perverts family ties’ (5) and how only ‘full commitment to Christian marriage can be an antidote to such individualism’(9), ‘children as the real victims of family snags’ (8) and potential victims of ‘the marketing of the body through Internet porn’ (10), how ‘a crisis of faith has led to our current crisis of marriage and family’ (32) and how we need testimonies in our parishes of seasoned families (39) who exhibit ‘an openness to life’ (57) and ‘how the indissolubility of marriage is a gift, not a yoke.’ (14)

Through the document runs a river of mercy, and an appeal to come alongside of persons who have fallen short of God’s best in any of these ways (and more), that they may be turn back to Jesus and be embraced by His Church.

Then why have we reduced the synod to a ‘gay’ culture war? Nothing new under the sun. For the last 40 years now, congresses of every mainline Protestant denomination in the USA have been divided and disempowered by ‘gay rights’ concerns. Eventually, persons of common sense who realize that Jesus loves persons with SSA so much that He calls them to more than the ‘gay’ status quo get tired and relent to the drive of activists who insist on ‘gay’ everything.

Every denomination who has relented in that way has essentially lost the power of the Gospel to define sexual purity and order and to transform persons who are impure and disordered. Sounds like we have a common enemy who will do anything to distract us from what really matters, and to divide us on what does not.

We all agree that there are really wonderful people with same-sex attraction. And we are fools to give them ‘sacred status’ as if they did not have to repent like the rest of us and get on with the business of picking up their crosses and following Jesus. Chastity is a common good and Christian goal that applies to all persons.

Please pray with us at Desert Stream Ministries as we continue our 40-days of prayer for the Church at large. Pray that the enemy will be overcome as the Church centers on redeeming the family and not appeasing the ‘gay agenda.’ Pray that this Synod and its report will bear fruit as it is deliberated upon in preparation for the larger and more conclusive gathering on the family to be held in Philadelphia, October of 2015.

limiting-anothers-horizon-Norma-Desmond

Judge Not? (Part 2) Limiting Another’s Horizon

God is the only One qualified to determine the eternal fate of His creatures. The fact that we even aspire to His role as Judge reveals an ugly trait in us. It may not always express itself in condemning others to hell; it may well involve lesser expressions of judgment in which we bind others to a lesser image of themselves.

Our own hurtful experiences with loved ones prompt defenses and fears that tempt us to reduce them to our image. That is far removed from the image of his/her Creator; it is the defensive image of our own design. Wounded hearts pronounce final judgments as a way of self-protecting and of getting even. We the created can operate outside the Creator and close the horizon of another.

For example, Annette and I faced much hardship with a gay-identified friend. In frustration and hurt, it was easy to agree with our friend’s own self-sabotaging, self-hateful ways. Our feelings were at once understandable and diabolical. Jesus gave us the chance to repent and forgive him, so that we could become mirrors and providers of his own dignity. God is faithful to help us keep another’s horizon open even when (s)he wants it shut!

The same principle applies as well to what I describe as ‘homosexual fatalism.’ That involves a secular understanding of persons with SSA in which we make them an ‘ethnos’, a people group defined from birth as ‘gay’. That engenders a strange kind of ‘queer’ orthodoxy in which the vulnerable must become baptized and confirmed as forever ‘gay’ if in fact they are to be true to their deepest ‘selves.’ This new sexual orthodoxy is neither scientific nor particularly moral; it is in truth a worldly spirituality.

As a student on the UCLA campus, two groups vied for my attention: the evangelical one and the Gay Student Union. I found the latter particularly compelling, as it is easier to worship the creature whom you can see rather than the Creator whom you cannot. By grace alone, I found the ‘gay’ world to be ultimately a closed horizon, a form of fatalism.

Richard John Neuhaus writes: ‘Fatalism is resigning ourselves to the inevitable; faith is entrusting ourselves to the ONE who is worthy of our trust.’ I am eternally grateful for the gift and community of faith. There I discovered Jesus– my goal and my path—my ‘new horizon and decisive direction’!

Naming one another as gay and reinforcing that identification closes one’s horizon; it is anti-Gospel. St. James invokes the power of the Creator when he entreats his readers to not close that horizon with false declarations about each other. ‘Brothers, do not slander each other…There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?’ (J 4: 11, 12)

Some macho friends at the gym were ranking on an evidently gender-confused man. I could not take it: ‘You know guys, your judgments only add to the pain and confusion of that dude’s life.’ We must live out in all walks of life this profound truth of St. Paul’s: ‘From now on we see no-one from a worldly point-of-view’ (2C 5:16).

We can train ourselves to lay down the false judgments of our modern age and see and name our fellows according to a true anthropology based on the catechism. ‘Every man and woman should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity; that includes gender difference and complementarity…the harmony of society depends on how that complementarity is lived out.’ (CCC2333)

That’s why St. JPll could say decisively in TOB: ‘The dignity of future generations depends on who man will be for woman and who woman will be for man.’ We each have the high call to help confirm the clarity of another’s dignity as either male or female; future generations will thank us for doing so!

Judging others by naming him or her according to an image less than what God intends usurps the role of God Himself. That tendency took on a more familiar form in Jesus’ day through the Pharisees. These Jewish religious leaders spun hundreds of rules from the Mosaic law and wound up entangling others in their web of religious tradition.

Pharisees complement the worldly spirituality of homosexual fatalism. Pope Francis describes them as infected by a ‘spiritual worldliness’: a religiosity based on rigid orthodoxy, pride in that orthodoxy, yet without an inner transformation of heart. With no ‘cor’ (or heart) shift, these ones could impose rules but not inspire redemption. The Pharisees tended to be punctilious, hypocritical, and uncaring toward those they served. Jesus said it best when he described the Pharisees as having exchanged the commands of God for the traditions of men (MK 7:8).

Pharisaic religion in Jesus’ day reduced the horizon of who God was and how He saw His children. Into that mix, Jesus brought a new Kingdom in Word and wonders. He invited the poor into a mercy tender enough to touch their wounds and strong enough to heal those wounds from the hazards of bad religion.

Pope Francis: Clarity, Please

Pope Francis: Clarity, PleaseAs the new ‘people’s pope’, Francis’ recent statements on homosexuality seem more concerned with shining the light of Jesus on persons with same-gender attraction (be they priests or seekers) rather than on making moral judgments about homosexuality. His good intentions could mislead us.

Take for example, his offhanded use of the English term ‘gay.’ Here he goes beyond affirming the dignity of persons with certain tendencies; he unintentionally affirms an identity which in our age has become the rallying point for an artificial ‘ethnos’, a people group, whose misbegotten activism has redefined marriage throughout the world.

To be fair, Francis decries any kind of ‘lobby’ with which gays bully their way into power and privilege. Here he references the alleged ‘gay’ block in the Vatican administration. The good pope wants to keep homosexuality an individual affair, and thus subject to the will of the person to choose Christ (or not).

Yet such an honorable intention fails to recognize the irrational and demonic corporate power committed to afflicting a generation with gender disintegration. To benignly ‘not judge’ that corporate power could mean a lack of pastoral clarity that subjects those afflicted with SSA to a nauseous blend of worshipping both God and Baal.

Priests with SSA need that pastoral clarity above all else. Francis’ claim to not ‘judge’ gay priests alarms me. Though I agree that the Church should not exclude priestly candidates on the basis of SSA, these ones need special care to ensure that they are sufficiently well-integrated to pastor others with clean hearts and hands. In the last month alone, I have counseled two vulnerable men who were objects of priests with SSA. Instead of wise counsel, they received spiritual abuse.

I wondered as I read the Pope’s comments: Does he know anyone who has actually repented of the ‘gay self’ and behavior, and who has given all to Jesus in order to live a pure life?

I just came from the annual Courage Conference where men and women with SSA gathered to urge one another onward to live chaste, integrated lives. (Courage is the only official ministry of its kind in the Catholic Church.) These men and women know both the afflicting nature of homosexuality and the sweet rigor of walking His way; their families have learned to love them courageously by refusing to name them as ‘gay’ but rather as beloved family members who need to repent unto the pure life Jesus offers. At Courage, I witnessed a renewed dignity born of sacramental grace and repentance.

These are the saints of the Church whom the Pope has a responsibility to shepherd with wise commentary. I fear he did not represent well the faithful in his words. His desire to provide a fresh open face for seekers is welcomed as long as he grounds it in the call of costly grace.

Such grounding is in part the responsibility of those of us who come out of SSA. Instead of slamming the Pope we must seek to inform him and any church leader with the witness of amazing grace. That is not the grace that threatens to become cheap by accommodating deadly mixtures of perverse sensuality and spirituality. That is the grace seasoned with virtue, a grace that is ours at the cost of Jesus’ life. It cost us our old lives too but those losses mean nothing in light of our gain, who is Christ.

‘Shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life.’ (Phil. 2: 15)

Power to Change 3: The Awakening Church

communityChanging deep patterns of sexual desire, behavior and motivation require the support of an entire community: it takes a village, Jesus-style. Any program or therapy is only as good as the greater community of faith surrounding the one seeking change. Perhaps that is why the enemy of sexual integrity seeks first to divide and weaken the church. If Jesus’ body falters toward those with same-sex attraction, no community of healing exists.

But when local churches become advocates of grace and truth for the gender broken, healing rises like sun breaking through clouds. And I am pleased to say that the church is rising in this hour to mobilize for such healing. She has been provoked by ‘gay marriage’ victories, by the confusing face of once reliable ministries, and by the falling away of many whose sexual shame has now become their boast.

Most importantly, her faithful pastors have heard the cries for help from children and parents alike who have been afflicted by homosexuality, sexual abuse, and sexual addiction. In Jesus’ Name, these shepherds are arising to become an answer to the prayers of the faithful.

Take Pastor James Marocco and his large church on Maui with campuses throughout the Pacific Rim. God provoked him to act on behalf of his sexually broken congregants. We are privileged to help the church there initiate safe and deep healing opportunities for the broken. Marocco is not content to merely react to the moral crisis at hand. He is acting on behalf of the God who delivers those in crisis.

Similarly, Catholic leaders in Kansas and Missouri are mobilizing priests, lay-driven support groups, and community-wide forums to offer loving, truthful care for persons with same-sex attraction.

We at Desert Stream are fielding requests from churches throughout the USA who are seeking out healing opportunities for the sexually broken for the first time. They can no longer minimize the suffering of their people, as if the moral decay ‘out there’ does not impact the people in the pews.

Catholic and Protestant churches alike are raising up ancient foundations (Is. 58: 12) for very modern problems. They are intent on becoming the healing presence of Jesus for those who will perish without Him.

We are in a moral eclipse. Right is wrong, and those who disagree are vilified. Good people deceive many. But the deceiver himself is not greater than our God. Satan’s exploitation of ‘homosexuality’ will only provoke God’s people to become what Jesus intends for them—a truthful and powerful community of transformation. What the enemy intends for evil, the Lord turns around for good—‘the saving of many lives’ (Gen. 50:20)–through His holy church.

‘Arise and shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.’ (Is. 60: 1-3)    

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