Category: Catholic Sexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
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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papa-do-preach

Papa Do Preach

‘All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to say nothing.’

For a Pope quick to quip about any number of thorny issues, Frances was strangely silent about the 62% of Ireland who legalized ‘gay marriage’ last month.

OK, OK, a Vatican official did declare the redefinition a ‘defeat for humanity.’ But for a Pope who insists on a merciful tone when addressing ‘gay’ issues, his omission here is nothing short of cruel.

Papa, preach on the beauty of man for woman and woman for man, and the dead-end of trying to make same-gender friends sexual complements.

Papa, preach on why the Catholic Church upholds marriage as a sacrament—a wellspring of grace to all every person who encounters a man and woman committed to lifelong unity.

Preach on why ‘gay marriage’ messes with kids by omitting 50% of what they need to become whole men and women themselves.

Papa, preach for the ones who have no voice.

Papa, on behalf of Christian families being torn apart by ‘gay’-identified members, preach on the beauty of repentance to chastity, and the thousands of faithful ministers who will walk with repentant ones to wholeness. Highlight Courage and the huge strides this most courageous apostolate has made in extending mercy to all persons impacted by SSA.

Papa, preach against the lie that ‘gays’ are an oppressed minority. Papa, preach the truth that the Irish were hoodwinked by a billion dollar gay organization from America that poured millions into Ireland and fueled a campaign based not on truth but emotional myths like all who are against ‘gay marriage’ decry human rights, economic recovery, and most of all, ‘love.’

Papa, preach on Jesus’ real love, the love that cleansed Mary Magdalene of her 7 demons and persuaded the Samaritan woman that mercy was better than sexual disorder. Preach on the splendor of mercy to supplant pagan counterfeits.

Papa, preach now on real mercy, and real marriage. Your silence is deadly.

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lust

Lust in the Light

‘Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.’ (Rom. 12:21)

All sins are not created equal. Overeaters wear their vice in plus-sized outfits; the slothful bear a gloomy countenance, swathed in grave clothes. Both confess their sins wordlessly. Yet the lustful can radiate good health from overheated frames, giving the appearance of order while driven by disordered desires that if conceived commit violence against all involved. Let’s not compare a breakfast of brownies or dour self-doubts to the one sin that St. Paul claims most opposes one’ own body (1Cor. 6:18) while violating intimacy with Jesus. (vs. 13-17)

Lust is a secret sin that incurs the shame of wasting one’s generative powers; that shame can further isolate the sexual sinner from openly expressing his/her vice. Yet the technology that now drives lust has so obliterated our good shame that we are now nearly shameless, naked and on fire, losing the feeling of exposure which demands what only the Lamb can provide.

With the help of Google fiber, split seconds exist between any lustful thought and a perverse pornographic image that sears itself on the heart, to be recalled at whim. Lust begins with disordered curiosity and ends up disordering our desires by awakening passion it only frustrates. Good gifts we are, yes, but lust lures us to pervert the essence of that gift in cheap exchanges that bankrupt our most precious offering. Even the shameless can feel its futility. Scripture claims that the law is written on our hearts, (Rom. 2: 15), which testify to the truth that God made us to give ourselves only where committed love creates an openness to life.

Any fluency on this topic is because of my sordid history; lust is my most deadly sin. For this I feel blessed shame, a gift in light of my rather shameless background. Growing up on the CA beach in the sexual revolution, we ‘spent’ our bodies to buy new sensations. Although my inclinations were homosexual, lust may better define what drove and derided me. The Catholic Church smartly defines lust as sexual pleasure sought for itself, without the goals of lasting communion and child-bearing, and cites masturbation, pornography, fornication, and homosexual practice as among its expressions (CCC2351-2359). Sexual immorality is an equal opportunity offender. For all who lust, we have an Advocate, the ‘Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.’ (JN 1: 29)

The Lamb leads us to purity, or better put, to chastity, which is the stern and splendid task of integrating our sexuality within both our bodies and our spirits. (#2337) What a long and invigorating adventure! His unfailing love enables our daily surrender to Jesus and His members. Through trustful confession, accountability, and ongoing prayer, He pours Himself out upon us and accesses the heart’s true cry for love and connection. We learn to love real people. Overtime, Jesus helps us to become chaste and so overcome our disintegration, the lustful tendency to dart from real love to fantastic counterfeits.

Along the way, many of us welcome the call to offer our bodies to one person over a lifetime. Jesus and His bride prepared me for Annette. With her I learned to focus my sexual energies in the context of loving a person who was like me and yet profoundly ‘other than me’—body, soul, and spirit. I praise both marriage, and the Lamb who was slain. Together, the two reclaimed for me the gift of sexual love from the distortions of lust.

‘Jesus has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being: He has set us free from the domination of lust.’ (St. John Paul ll, Veritatis Splendor)

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