Category: Catholic Sexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

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)

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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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Power to Change 2: A Fortress of Friends

‘A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.
A faithful friend is a saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds.
For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself.’  (Sirach 6: 15-17)

Fortress of FriendsThe journey out of homosexuality and into Christ-centered heterosexuality is unimaginable to many. That is apparent in the ludicrous way that the popular media frames ‘change.’ From cartoonish images of flipping off the ‘gay switch’ to ‘praying away the gay’ to intensive ‘camps’ that promise reorientation in a week, journalists seem intent on dismissing efforts to grow beyond the ‘gay self’ as nearly delusional.

What most fail to realize is that the journey to actually becoming a whole-enough gift for the opposite gender is a magnificent and arduous journey that cannot be reduced to a method. Rather, it involves a profound relationship with Jesus Christ. Through His advocacy, we can be reconciled to the intrinsic value and worth of our respective genders. Yes, we face real impasses to becoming the men and women of God’s design. Yet the fractured and shameful parts of our identities are no match for His power to redeem us. Such redemption is the task of His empowered Body, the Church.

Gender integration requires ‘grace with faces’: those walking partners we discover in the healing community who satisfy our deep longing for same-gender identification and intimacy. Here we discover the love/hate relationship we actually have with our own gender. Holy and humble friendships help us navigate the fear of rejection, the threat of desiring too much, and the surprise discovery that that we are actually good gifts to out comrades. Deeper still, we realize that our ‘homosexual’ needs are not erotic at all but rather deeply emotional.

These needs line up with how the book of Sirach describes real friendship: ‘a sturdy fortress’, ‘a life-saving remedy’, ‘a treasure, beyond price.’ These attributes describe beautifully my significant friendships. United in Christ, these comrades have freed me to be forthright, even painfully honest. Together we have discovered what it means to be men whose goal is faithfulness to Jesus Christ.

That is where Sirach’s emphasis on ‘the fear of the Lord’ comes in. Our fighting for the best in each other is informed by how God defines us. We offer great drafts of mercy to each other in our weakness. Yet such weakness also compels us to call each other onto the deeper, truer realities of God’s destiny for us.

Refusal to uphold a brother in truth is serious business. That is why many fall away. They define love as accepting whatever one wants at whatever point in time. Friends who fear the Lord know better. We know that to love another means to see him as God intends him to be. We become sturdy fortresses for one another, a life-saving remedy for those of us seeking to follow Jesus in a perverse, uncomprehending age.

‘Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.’ (Is. 32: 2)

 

 

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Truth Ascending

‘When He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you into all truth.’ (John 16: 13)

 

weddingringsGod has a lot of nerve. He comes and He goes with only the promise of an unseen Spirit to remind us of His truth (John 16). I know, the Holy Spirit is awesome but we are weak and fickle creatures more inclined to spiritual dullness than acuity.

Yet Jesus trusts us with His truth; His ascent to the Father declares: ‘Listen to Me, My Spirit is speaking and you can hear Him; submit to His lead and I will guide you; as My Spirit advocates for your dignity, advocate for the dignity of others.’ What a God! What trust He places in our responsiveness to Him and His truth!

Like you, I look upon many indignities in our world today, especially those concerning the dull and irrational misinterpretation of homosexuality. That has resulted in ‘gay marriage’ victories from New Zealand to France, and in several states in the USA.

Amid the deadening clamor to redefine marriage, the voices of the faithful can also be heard. Are we listening? I have been amazed in the last several weeks as I have heard those who listen to the Spirit and who declare His beauty in marriage.

The Church of England recently defied its Prime Minister’s drive to legislate ‘gay marriage’ by insisting: ‘Marriage is a gift from God, not a right granted by the state or a cultural construct…It is an expression of the human nature which God has willed for us and which we share.’

Flatirons, the largest congregation in Colorado, defied its ‘hipster’ status by declaring unashamedly ‘God defines marriage, and no human institution can change that; we can only choose whether we want to acknowledge it or not.’

Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann spoke beautifully for his state and God’s heart when he said last week: ‘Cultures and societies place themselves at risk when they no longer recognize the importance of marriage as an enduring, committed relationship between one man and one woman…this is primarily about the well-being of children’ who result from such a relationship.

Catholic Bishops throughout the USA are united in their stand for marriage as an expression of the dignity of all persons, especially children who have no voice. The bishops declare together: ‘Redefining marriage says…what adults want trumps what a child deserves and has a right to.’

Jesus ascended and left us His Spirit. In spite of the dreadful drive to disintegrate marriage, let us advocate for what He advocates for in us: our dignity, our creativity, our capacity to make and keep promises of love that dignify all involved, especially children.

Please join us as we join prayerfully with the Catholic Bishops on behalf of marriage, June 21st to July 4th. For more info, visit www.Fortnight4Freedom.org

“He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; He gave gifts to men. What does ‘He ascended’ mean, except that He also descended into the lower regions of the earth? One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” (Eph. 4: 8-10)

 

 

 

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Third of Seven Prayers for Marriage: Honoring a Champion

‘In order for God’s image to shine radiantly in him, man must first receive the purification whereby the divine Sculptor frees him from that dross that conceals the authentic figure of his being.’ Pope Emeritus Benedict

Pope Benedict XVI leads his last Angelus as pope at VaticanI miss him already. Pope Emeritus Benedict was for this new Catholic my first pope, a genuine father whose advocacy for purity and marriage lit my path as the world descended into deep darkness.

Obama is the CEO of this delusion. The President now insists that the US Supreme Court strike down Prop. 8—the decision of CA citizens to uphold the proper definition of marriage. He asserts that the whole nation should be subject to ‘what he and his administration believe about marriage.’

Believe indeed. Obamas’ delusional beliefs make him the first US President to celebrate the desecration of God’s image in ‘gay marriage.’ Big-money America rallied right behind Obama; 100 of our biggest companies just filed similar briefs with the Supreme Court, urging the nine justices to redefine marriage for the country.

A near frenzy for ‘gay marriage’ is palpable in our land, as if its truth is a foregone conclusion. France and Britain vie with the USA to make national ‘gay marriage’ decisions. The west descends into a moral winter.

A couple months back, cast down by this delusion while the church capitulated in the name of ‘grace,’ I picked up a copy of Pope Benedict’s Christmas message. In his last most important speech to the world, he reiterated the key truth that human beings possess a nature granted them by God—humanity as male and female—and thus any effort to alter that truth in a gay or transgender identity, or in a ‘gay marriage,’ destroys at core ‘the essence of the human creation.’

Benedict grasped the fundamental truth that we are not our own, and that something as profound and sacred as gender and sexual identity cannot be ‘recreated’ by the creature in an image that seems right to him or her. Whether we like it or not, whether we are Christian or not, we must answer to God for what we do with our body. Benedict spoke the truth in love. He foresaw the clamoring for ‘gay rights’ as a false demand for justice that imperils the true natures of those enslaved by such demands.

Unloving? Not at all. As the leader of the largest expression of Christ’s body on earth, Benedict took ‘love’ and rightfully elevated it to something splendid and stern. His first encyclical as pope was entitled ‘God is Love.’ Here he joins eros, or sexual love, with sacrificial love (agape). He points out beautifully that Jesus’ sacrificial love makes holy our passions, and motivates us to build others up, rather than use them for our own desires and needs. He summoned both singles and marrieds to their truest, most fruitful potential.

Following his call to love well, we can leave a legacy of dignity for those we influence. He championed that dignity based on the will of Father and the mission of Mother Church. Our now Emeritus Pope taught us how to burn bright as sexual beings, made in the divine image. May we honor his leadership by standing firm for marriage and purity in this icy hour.

‘Father, we thank you for Pope Emeritus Benedict. We are grateful for his leadership and ask that we might convey that gratitude actively in our prayers and actions on behalf of marriage. We pray for each one made in Your image. Like Benedict, we champion the dignity of all; we ask that You would move on the hearts of decision-makers around the world who are posed to define what it means to be human. We pray in particular for our Supreme Court, especially Justices Kennedy and Breyer whose votes are most in question. We pray that these Supreme Court justices would rule with justice and discernment to protect marriage. We ask for God’s blessing upon each one and upon their families.’

 

 

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