Category: Catholic Sexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
behold the sham james martin

Behold the Sham

‘You are the truth presiding over all things. But in my greed, I was unwilling to lose You, and wanted to have You at the same time as holding onto a lie…That is why I lost You: You do not condescend to be possessed together with falsehood.’ St. Augustine

We gathered in Palm Springs last weekend to celebrate the Lamb—He who became living water for us in the desert of sexual brokenness. Years prior, many of us had frequented this storied playground in pursuit of ‘gay’ everything; we fled to the desert from our Los Angeles suburbs to submerge ourselves in gleaming, toxic pools. Now we behold the Lamb and invite others to do the same. The marvelous Lutheran Church that sponsored us has a huge exterior cross emerging from a rock fountain. We entered those waters and were saved. Again.

With a 75% LGBT+ population, Palm Springs prides itself on having a City Council composed solely of LGBT members. We opened our doors to all who thirst. Cross and fountain await, smack dab in the middle of downtown!

A few persons asked me there about Fr. James Martin who also seeks to be a bridge between LGBT+ Catholics and the Church. He recently had a meeting with Pope Francis who Martin claimed was altogether supportive of his initiative ‘to offer this most marginalized group in the Church welcome, inclusion, and love.’

First, what I like about Martin.

He reminds us that many persons who identify as LGBT+ are baptized Catholics. That should encourage all family and friends to pray: ‘Awaken each to the truth of his or her status as a child of the Father, deeply loved!’

He points out that persons who are hidden in their own divided sexuality may tend to demonize persons who are ‘out and proud’: ‘Remove the beam from our own eyes, O God, that we may behold the speck in our loved ones!’

He also underscores Pope Francis’ call to accompany LGBT+ persons patiently and mercifully. We are dealing with people–not abstract ‘issues’—who need our presence over the long haul.

But Martin’s reminder that we are all sinners in need of mercy rings false. He deceives us here. He does not view the LGBT+ set as sinners in need of a Savior. Rather than absolving them of sin, he claims they have none, at least in the sexual arena. The Church Martin invites them into is cross-free. Behold the Lamb? No need. Let the good father assume it by crying ‘peace’ when there is none.

Let me be specific. Father Martin insists that as a priest he would never challenge Church teachings. But he already has. He efforts to alter the Catholic understanding of same-sex tendencies and action. The Catechism defines the latter as ‘intrinsically disordered’ (#2357) and other documents define the attraction as ‘objectively disordered.’ Martin seems to support a new definition that reframes same-sex desires and actions as ‘differently ordered.’ No disorder, no need for redemption. Behold the man who takes away the sin of the world.

He writes that LGBT+ persons will not ‘receive’ the call to chastity. I think what he means is that the Church needs to wake up to the fact that LGBT+ persons should be free to act upon their feelings. Martin makes a big deal of how the Church houses all kinds of traditional sinners; what the heck, why not welcome a host of exotic ones too? And let’s not call them sinners! He cannot advocate for LGBT+ sexual liberties and not redraw the moral boundary lines for all persons. Martin wants to redefine chastity for us altogether.

Finally, Martin advocates for a new anthropology—the ‘LGBT+ Catholic’—and wants this language in Church documents. Here we face the difference between ‘disordered’ and ‘differently ordered’. If a person’s SSA or gender dysphoria is disordered, then why build an identity around a disorder? Isn’t it more congruent with Scripture and Catholic teaching to identify with the Source of our ‘ordering’—Jesus, who defines us as sons and daughters of the Father, and endows us with His Spirit to make it so? But here Martin is consistent. He sets up a new ‘order’ by normalizing a range of gender identity fractures and placing them on par with persons inclined toward the opposite gender. Martin wants to integrate LGBT+ reality in the Church. He wants Jesus’ Bride to take her cues from all the rainbowed institutions of our western culture.

Martin’s good intentions veil deception. In undermining Church teaching, he removes the heart of the Gospel for LGBT+ persons. Behold the Lamb? Nah. Behold the sham.

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Surrounded 2 Mending the Net

Surrounded 2: Mending the Net

Since becoming Catholic, I’m more aware than ever of the ignorant, prejudicial attitudes that pervade both sides of our divided Church. I’m also aware of real ‘reformation’ differences that should be acknowledged and respected.

That is not my concern here. Sexually lost and broken people are. I am convinced that the unwillingness of both evangelicals and Catholics to first recognize the Jesus who is present in the other fractures and weakens our witness.

Our divides are like cracks in a glass globe that skews the Light of the world; our disdain for each other tears the net that would otherwise bring in a haul of fish.

God will have His way with His Church. I delight in witnessing how in Living Waters evangelicals and Catholics are coming together to heal and to heal others. Our just commenced group at my parish in Kansas City serves mostly Catholics but the team is equal parts evangelical and Catholic.

How wonderful that deep thinking, contemplative Catholics who tend to doubt their own capacity to administer healing to others are welcoming the charismatic candor of evangelicals who from the start of their faith life welcomed the call to heal in the power of the Spirit.

Deeper still is the healing I see between evangelicals and Catholics in Latin America–a much more divided context than in the north due to historic wounding (300 years of Spanish colonization: imposing Catholicism and persecuting Protestants). Two nations we work with in the Southern Cone have forged a strong alliance, even though our Chilean friends are evangelical, the Argentines Catholic. Yet they love and value each other as people with traditions distinct from their own. The evangelicals benefit from the gift of Catholic thinking and symbology, while the Catholics grow from the beautiful healing community we work with in Chile.

That Vineyard Church in Santiago is a model of what every community could be for the sexually broken. With Living Waters rooted deeply in its DNA and core church members its leaders, this Body now has a well-deserved reputation as a safe and holy place for the divided to heal. I encountered more than a few persons from around Latin America who are integrating into that church family in order to grow in their integration of persons. The Vineyard is a place where one is free to struggle in the light of Jesus’ inclusive love and to take ground over time.

I love that place. The Argentine Catholics love it too; they are now working with Vineyard folk in their city to provide a healing community for the sexually broken there.

God wants to save the lost and the least. And He honors the coming together of Catholics and evangelicals who are willing to combine strengths and gifts in order to become an empowered, welcoming home for the broken.

A cracked lamp skews the light, a broken body struggles to heal, a torn net cannot catch fish. A united Church can land a good haul and clean it too.

Many Catholics and evangelicals from around the world will be joining our Becoming Good News prayer effort. Let us build a united house, pleasing to God, on our knees.

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Surrounded 1: Chariots of Fire

It can be tough to burn with hope for some LGBT+ persons; allergic to chastity, alive to sensational new ‘sexualities’, they frame us as ‘haters’ and our fire dims.

As we prayerfully ‘Become Good News’ (starting Oct. 16th), it may help us to recall that God is igniting a global army of persons—each one divinely commissioned to do his or her part to liberate loved ones from enslaving ‘freedoms’. Like a station in a relay, every one of us can help a vulnerable pilgrim take the next step in discovering Jesus as the source of true liberty.

That helps me. Nearly overwhelmed by the gender fracturing in our day, I fret for lost ones and assume too much responsibility (and thus guilt) for their rescue. Recently I noticed a disoriented looking man after Mass who looked like he desperately needed to talk to someone about his divided life. I was happy to begin praying under my breath for him but failed to attend to him due to pressing issues that awaited me elsewhere.

Burdened by my omission, I confessed later to my pastor who wisely and simply said: ‘Andrew, do you not trust God to work throughout His Church to awaken a team of persons who will bring many strugglers into His freedom?’ He referred to the communion of the saints—a great cloud of witnesses in heaven and on earth who advocate for the saving of many lives, relentlessly. Some pray, others–in a variety of positions and relationships–launch out as answers to those prayers.

God assured me that day that there are many more for us in this ‘underground railroad’ than there are against us. I just needed to be reminded. We need Jesus to open the eyes of our hearts to behold what is going on in the Spirit, just as Elisha did for the poor man who went out to battle and could only see ‘an army of horses and chariots surrounding his city.’ Elisha said to him: ‘Don’t be afraid. Those who are with us are more than those who are with the enemy… Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha’ (2 Kings 6: 15-17).

Open the eyes of our hearts to these chariots of fire–saints burning with simple, wise love for the lost–both in the unseen realms and in the unexpected partnerships God is forging here on earth.

I write this in route from Cordoba Argentina to Santiago Chile. My dear Argentine friends, Catholic, are digging a deep well of ‘living water’ in their university city and have prayed for creative ways to reach young LGBT+ persons. God united them with an old friend of theirs, an evangelical woman who runs a theatrical company in town; she sought them out for help in providing real answers for the young people she directs who are divided in their sexuality and seek a better way.

They are crying out for Jesus. He hears their cries and He is summoning you and me to pray and to act. We can do so urgently yet without strife, knowing that a global team is being assembled to set captives free, one station, one leg of the relay, one chariot igniting another’s, one at a time.

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Download PDF

Living Bread, for the World

Long before I centered on the Eucharist as the focus of worship—the real meal that Catholics celebrate–I understood this breaking of bread as how us saints can make known our brokenness to each other in fellowship. ‘Communion’ involves just that—gathering in community before the Crucified in order to place our wounded lives in His. Somehow, He takes the edge off our edginess and makes us better gifts for the world—a little more humble, clear, and merciful.

The meal we share isn’t an official sacrament but rather the common grace of the ‘one another’ that somehow gives us a share in Jesus’ words (Jn. 6:51): ‘I am the living bread that comes down from heaven. If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’

When we gathered in Philadelphia last week for a ‘Gender Matters’ conference, I wondered who would break bread with us. I don’t know many Catholics there (it was sponsored by the Diocese) and I’ve little marquee value. Praise God.

How surprised I was to discover a host of hungry, humble saints from that area who came together to ‘eat’ with us that day—to go further along the little way of offering our wounded lives to Jesus and each other so He can season and solidify us—at least enough for us to convert the world rather than be converted by it! My fear turned to faith as I met person after person whom Jesus had connected to us through one person who knew another person who knew another, etc.

This is the miracle of Jesus’ Church composed of His many members—little grains of wheat, each one, crushed in surrender to Jesus and releasing many seeds in the dying that bears much fruit (Jn. 12:24), especially when we gather in order to become ‘living bread’ together.

The miracle of many members—Archbishop Chaput blessed our gathering as he trusted my colleague Marco Casanova who just finished seminary there in Philadelphia. With Chaput’s go-ahead, Marco began to connect with friends in the area who loved Marco and wanted to know what he was up to. I had come often to Philly to be converted by Christopher West and company (their take of St. John Paul ll’s work is splendid) so he did his part to direct friends our way, including his parents and sister who are now charter members of our Living Waters family. At West’s Institute, I had met moral theologian and bioethicist Dr. John Haas who I respect more than almost any other, so I was incredulous when he agreed to open our meal with a word on the dignity of gendered humanity that blew everyone away.

Especially lovely was a table full of radiant nuns—aptly called the Sisters of Life—who were directed there by my best friends in New York City, Joe and Anne Nolte, who know all about me and love this work anyway! We were hosted in the parish of Monsignor Hans Brouwers who had started Courage in Philadelphia years earlier; his still vital, fatherly advocacy was healing for all of us. We love Courage and took heart in partaking of their pioneering efforts in Philly. Friends from Baltimore who love Courage and Encourage joined us too, as did some cool evangelical friends of Abbey from her Penn State days.

Many more to name, no more room. It is enough to say that Jesus is joining His members together to become a fragrant, nutritious loaf of ‘living bread.’ He is doing it! We need not fear; let us rather behold the Spirit as He unifies saints who together are turning outward to become the ‘real meal’ for a world that will choke on its own poisons until we become what we eat—the healing body of Christ, broken for the world.

Bless you all. Please join us for our forty-day-fast: ‘Becoming Good News’ for the lost and the least, beginning October 16th. More on this next week!

You can purchase “Becoming Good News” in book form directly from Desert Stream or get it from Amazon for your Kindle.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Download PDF

Abuse and Authority

The Church’s authority to restore sexually broken people with the power that raised Jesus from the dead hinges on her repenting from abusing the most vulnerable.

I just returned from what has become one of my favorite nations—Poland. Theologically, St. John Paul ll paved the way for my conversion and St. Faustina permeated his take on gendered humanity with Almighty Mercy. These two Polish patrons ushered me into relationship with perhaps the finest Christians I known in the Living Waters world. Our third training there clarified the import of the Catholic Church to Poland. Hammered on all sides by cruel foes, the nation has looked to the Church as a bulwark against indignities that span centuries.

She now faces new challenges. Outside Church walls, LGBT+ activists bang on her doors with accusations that she is unloving and irrelevant; inside her walls, adult children of abuse are now claiming that her ‘fathers’ corrupted them and must be stopped if the Church is to be faithful to Jesus. Both challenges were palpable at our gathering; I saw both ugly defensiveness and beautiful repentance.

The threat to Poland of a ‘gay’ agenda fired up a rigid traditionalism in some participants. A few expressed contempt for anyone ‘homosexual’, not knowing that they were surrounded by ‘them’ in their small group. Mercy melted machismo as these ‘super’-Catholics realized that their training peers had no political agenda other than repenting unto chastity. All found level ground at the Cross: one people under one Merciful Source. Hardened hearts softened, calloused hands dropped stones. Instead of adopting a Noah’s Ark attitude—close the door and let the wicked drown—repentant ex-abusers committed to becoming Jesus’ hands for all persons.

Add to the mix very recent clerical abuse allegations in Poland. Under this now familiar shadow, LW training participants were troubled, confused, and incredulous. Some coped by denying the charges, claiming anti-Church conspiracies of varying kinds. I would not have it. For every one brave soul who dares to break tradition by confessing how a cleric broke his or her body, there are a hundred more. In a flash I saw clearly how prideful denial of the Church’s capacity to violate the most vulnerable is the essential tool God gives His enemy to fetter the Church’s capacity to heal sexually fractured persons. No confession from the top, no splendor of the Kingdom for the broken below.

So we repented. I veered off my teaching and we as a group wept at the damage: real people, faithful sons and daughter of the Father, picked off by demonized fathers. This spirit of repentance longs to rest on us until every secret is exposed. I contend we must bear that spirit prayerfully until we see Him face-to-face.

Yes we repented, and yes we must seek a posture of repentance. After a while, I felt led to ask all persons sexually abused as children to come forward (if they so desired) in order to receive prayer. I discerned that God was pleased by our posture, as I could smell the fragrance of healing. A dozen came forward, including two priests. In an unprecedented way, the Holy Spirit permeated these brave souls with a dense mist of grace, flooring many. People could not get up for around 15 minutes. I did nothing but watch while others prayed. When the glory lifted, relief and joy and lightness overtook the receivers. The Kingdom came. God gave tomorrow’s blessing that day. He healed the broken-hearted.

‘Restore our authority to heal, O God. Let not prideful self-protection get in the way of Your-Kingdom-come for the abused, persons most in need of Your touch.’

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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