Category: Gay Marriage

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Heartless

‘All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.’

If you remove the central feature from which something derives its nature, you distort its meaning. That ‘thing’ ceases to be what it is; it loses its heart. Look at the Gospels. Cut out Christ’s resurrection and you have a teacher/healer doomed for his radical goodness. Or the film ‘Unbroken,’ in which the screenwriters omitted the hero’s watershed conversion to Christianity. Unbroken indeed.

Now we face the prospect of marriage without male and female. Last week the Supreme Court agreed to decide by June whether all 50 states must allow gay couples to marry. Following the breathless pace at which individual states have assumed gay marriage rights (36 and counting), it seems unlikely that the very court which encouraged these changes two years ago will now backtrack.

A chief activist gushed prophetically: ‘Finally gay couples will be able to share in the joys, protections and responsibilities of marriage…’ Right?

Wrong. Marriage without male and female ceases to be marriage. Why? Because marriage is fundamentally about children. Same-gender couples cannot create them and should not parent them. (Would you want to be a child trying to secure its gender self from parents evidently unsure of their own?)

Since time began, marriage has been about creating and tending to kids. Although not all couples create them, it is still the orientation of male and female to do so. And family remains the fundamental fruit of marriage, complete with the ‘joys and responsibilities’ that the modern state seeks to protect. Why? So that couples can have tax benefits and hospital visitation rights? No, so that their commitment might stabilize sexual love and give rise to children, who in turn might secure a foundation of stable love from the man and woman who made them. Period.

Remove male and female from marriage and it ceases to be marriage. It mutates; it becomes an extension of something else. In this case, marriage becomes the selfish arm of an extremely individualized, short-sighted people who refuse to recognize that marriage must answer to a call greater than the bond of two persons. Sex like marriage must answer to children.

If the Supreme Court defines marriage as free from gender restraints, then it will take the heart out of marriage. We will pass down a cruel decree on persons who have no voice and who need protection from the state. Children deserve a higher standard that will protect their formation and dignity as male and female.

It is no irony to me that the Supreme Court agreed to decide ‘gay marriage’ just days after the anniversary of ‘Roe vs. Wade’ which legalized abortion. For over 30 years now, we have lived heartlessly, in the shadow of life without protection. Do we want life without gender clarity?

Pray for the Court’s abrupt reversal of the slide into national ‘gay marriage.’

Pray for and encourage the marriages around you.

Do everything in your power to ensure that your church becomes a safe and powerful place of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction. God desires mercy and not judgment. If we do not care for willing broken hearts before they are seduced by worldly solutions, we help create a problem. We become heartless, a boney arm of judgment.

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The Difference of Marriage

The two women looked and dressed alike: pleasant, middle-aged, graying hair cut simply, for the sake of ease. I discovered that they had just ‘married’ in Iowa. My first thought: how hard is it ‘to marry’ someone who mirrors yourself—the needs, hurts, and fears of your own gender and life experience? Not very: in order to be authentic, intimacy requires ‘otherness.’ The gift of one cannot be a whole gift to another if the receiver already possesses the offering.

Maybe that explains the frustration I ultimately felt in trying to make a guy a whole sexual partner. I tried. Admittedly, high-octane sensuality was compelling but at the end of the day, we were still looking at the horizon from the same masculine lens. He was a good friend. But we lied to ourselves in pretending that we had become ‘one.’

You could say our fusion was forced. To be sure, sharing the same wounds was helpful but ultimately boring. We could not conceive new life! That requires becoming one-flesh. And one-flesh requires the awesome and awful challenge of someone who shares my humanity but not my gender.

I say awesome because our bodies are designed for this other, even if our heterosexual desires are frustrated or exaggerated. What’s awful is that our grid has been so skewed by a host of injustices, many of which morph into expressions of false justice (‘marriage equality,’ anyone?) that we can no longer imagine that we were all made to long for this ‘other.’ Even many who love Jesus are convinced that their same-gender attractions are chronic, defining, and preclude the possibility for being reconciled to the sexual gift (s)he is to the opposite gender.

We oppose our own becoming. In the words of St. Catherine of Siena, Jesus creates us without our help but He can only save us with our help.

Jesus helps me become the man I am through my amazing wife. I saw this clearly and felt it deeply last month. Annette and I spent August together apart from ministry and other people. Except for the orbiting of our four adult children (who all live gratefully within ‘landing’ range) we did life together, unobstructed. At first this was hard for me. After an exhilarating year of ministry, I struggled to let down and enter into the quiet and deep place of hearing her, knowing her again, not in the everyday demands but in her hurts, fears, dreams, and observations that require attentiveness in order to become gifts. I sought awkwardly at first to grant her that space. Then it came gracefully, eagerly. No-one welcomes me like she does. And no-one provokes me more. We are one only because she is wholly other than me.

God has built into marriage the challenge of gender difference for the sake of teaching us the art of self-giving. Let’s be clear: friendship is friendship, one-flesh is one flesh. ‘Otherness’ is the goal of sexual self-giving, and only one expression of that ‘otherness’–the lifetime commitment between a man and woman—deserves to be called marriage.

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Gift of Tears

“A large number of people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him. Jesus turned and said to them: ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me; weep for yourselves and for your children.’ ” (LK 23: 27, 28)

Last year during Holy Week, I witnessed a bitter fruit of our nation’s idolatry. ‘Gay marriage’ advocates outnumbered us on the Mall in Washington DC while the Supreme Court gave every indication that marriage could and would be defined by any consumer-group (in this case, gay activists) that wanted it.

Nothing sacred about sex or the covenant that gives kids a chance for stability: since last April, the Supreme Court struck down Prop. 8 and DOMA and our nation followed suit. Sociologists claim that US public opinion on homosexuality has shifted faster than any other social issue. Ever. Nearly every protection for marriage and the freedom to define homosexual identity and practice as morally wrong has been burned in the fire of our idolatry.

We cry peace when there is none; we have been duped by the persuasive charms of those so intent on deconstructing gender that we are now considered bigots for clarifying the goal of human sexuality. On the altar of our nation we now worship a libidinous, transgender icon. We are sacrificing our children upon it. Weep over our national wound.

‘Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is there no healing for the wound of my people? Oh that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.’ (Jer. 8:22-9:1)

When we honor sexual unions that cannot engender life and that confuse the gender of both parties, we welcome the spirit of death. Through ‘gay marriage,’ ‘Death has entered in through our windows and has entered our fortresses; it has cut off our children from the streets and our young men from the public squares.’ (Jer. 9: 21)

As we follow Jesus to Calvary, we can and must weep for what has overtaken us. We have brought it on ourselves. We have committed idolatry and our wound is grave. Our hope now rests not in the government or the counsels of deceived prophets and pastors. Our hope lies in recognizing the trouble we are in—the wages of sin and death—and placing our hope wholly in the One who turns death around.

As a staff we are praying for all intercessors to weep and so inspire tears in the hearts of all who have a conscience. ‘Consider now! Call for the wailing women to come; send for the most skillful of them. Let them come quickly and wail over us till our eyes flow with tears and water streams from our eyelids.’ (Jer. 9: 17, 18)

We ask those gifted with tears to release that gift in us. Weeping over our idolatry seems the only apt response to the mess we have made. Through Your Cross, might you, O Jesus, assume our suffering and transform it into a gift of Life?

‘The fact that the Savior bore our sin, sorrow and death does not mean that we bear none of them; rather, it means that we are invited into that place (the Cross) where suffering is transfigured. We (the Church) are His Body. As such we share in His suffering for the life of the world.’ Thomas Howard

PRAYER for Maundy Thursday, April 17th: ‘Who is like You who washes the feet of His betrayers? We have betrayed You with our cowardly indifference. Wash us afresh. May Your mercy prime us and teach us to weep.’

PRAYER for Good Friday, April 18th: ‘Teach us to abide with You at Your Cross. Release water from our stony hearts. Make our hearts tender and our eyes wet with tears. You gave all to gain us.’

PRAYER for Holy Saturday, April 19th: ‘Teach us to linger with tears. Help us to wait, trusting that You will transform our suffering into Life for the world.’

Prayer for Easter, April 20th: ‘May new life spring forth from us as surely as You sprang forth from the tomb. Break chains with cords of compassion. Turn our mourning into dancing, our sorrow to joy. As we break fast, may feasting break out as we join in glorious celebration that You the abandoned are now reconciled to Your Father. And so are we, Your beloved brothers and sisters, united in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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The Disappearing Path

“Jesus said to His disciples: ‘I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!’ ” (Luke 12: 49)

The Disappearing Path by K.McKeownThat God created humanity to be good gifts for each other, grateful for the other’s difference and committed to offering one’s body to him or her only as a lifetime pledge of allegiance, is a path disappearing on the earth.

Instead we celebrate ‘gay marriage’ and forego real marriage; we criminalize teens who seek to grow beyond their homosexuality but advocate for a child’s right  to determine his or her own gender and have as much ‘consequence-free’ sex as (s)he wants by legalizing over-the-counter contraceptives.

We champion the demonized and demonize those in search of deliverance.

The church tends to look on such trends naively, as if the separation between church and state protects the holy. But the emergence of GLBTQ ‘advocacy’ groups in orthodox Christian campuses and congregations across the USA suggest something else. We whom Jesus entrusted with the path to clarity and purity in our sexual humanity have become deceived. The path to life is disappearing among the faithful, overgrown with ideas and sentiments alien to Jesus Himself.

Only the blazing fire of love from the lips of those who know better can clear that path. I think of Mike and Diane who almost lost their marriage to sexual sin and who through the powerful grace of the church, reclaimed their dignity and fidelity. They tell the truth of their sin and redemption and raze weeds from the path.

I think of 21-year-old Kim who became aware of same-sex attraction early on and acted accordingly. Jesus and His friends fought for her best and gave her vision beyond a lesbian destiny. Her testimony floored me: ‘As I have engaged with all the resources God has given me through members of His body, my needs have changed. My desires have changed. God does so much more than free us from sin. He is restoring my beauty and dignity as a woman made in His image.’

The beauty of her words shames the band-aid we put on ‘gay’ youth by fashioning their vulnerability into an identity, a shaky foundation at least. The only sure ground is the Creator and Redeemer of all who longs to restore our broken humanity. The language of Kim’s life burns a path for others to behold that ground. It is holy ground, and yet wholly available for all who seek Him.

Last week in Detroit, my friend Dean preached a fiery Gospel. He told the story of his return to his conservative parents, both pastors, who welcomed their HIV-positive son home. Dean testified to living honestly in the light of Love’s community: how trustworthy members of Christ help burn off shame and the anxiety that drives holy ones into the shadows. Dean’s words cleared the path for anxious parents and struggling sons and daughters. They welcomed the blazing love of God, beheld the path once more, and resolved to walk it with renewed strength.

‘A gospel that does not unsettle, a Word of God that does not get under anyone’s skin, a Word of God that does not touch the real sin of society in which it is being proclaimed, what gospel is that?’ – Bishop Oscar Romero

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Enslaving Justice

‘By appealing to the lustful desires of human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves to depravity.’ (2 Peter 2:18, 19)

Enslaving Justice Photo by Chang-er‘Gay marriage’ advances in the USA promise justice but deliver oppression. To champion ‘gay selves’ and bind them together in a mockery of marriage diminishes humanity.

Real justice cannot be separated from what it means to be human, bearers of God’s image. To Him we are accountable as to how we live out the purpose of our gendered and sexual selves. These involve moral decisions as to how we form relationships and to whom we surrender our bodies. We either expand our humanity by staying true to His command or we contract our horizons and those with whom we partner.

‘Gay marriage’ represents such a contraction. Two members of the same gender cannot create a sexual whole. God cannot bless what He did not intend. Scripture, Church tradition and the most basic evaluation of human bodies attest to this truth: God created us to create life and that can only occur with the opposite gender.

My good friend and theologian John-Mark Miravalle makes this point beautifully (download his whole talk on this topic at the end of this blog): in order for a gender ‘gift’ to be authentic, it must be different from that of the receiver. Otherwise it is not a whole gift but rather a supplement, a ‘slice’ of what I already have. Same-gender gifts can empower or reinforce one’s own gender wholeness. But they cannot illuminate the contours and complementary gifts of God’s whole image. Nor can same-gender friendship create something altogether new. That belongs only to the realm of male and female.

Homosexual intimacy represents a sincere but misbegotten effort to achieve wholeness. These attempts result in brokenness: morally, spiritually, and often physically. Certainly gay unions are not the only expression of sexual brokenness. But they are one, and for the USA to enshrine these unions in ‘marriage’ is an expression of injustice and oppression that misleads her citizens.

Justice cannot be separated from the truth. Many Christians want to do just that: give gays ‘marriage’ and we shall keep our ‘holy’ version of it. That reveals a truncated and false morality, as if God’s truth only applied to the ‘saved.’ Truth is truth, and for Christian citizens of a democracy to sit lamely by as activists vaunt a skewed vision of humanity in ‘gay marriage’ is unjust.

Since the recent Supreme Court rulings, gay couples around the country have begun to plot to overturn ‘marriage as male and female’ laws in 30 states. Please pray with me for justice to be done. Hold the line with your state! Life, health and peace govern those who live according to the Creator’s will for their gendered and sexual selves. Let us set a precedent of true marital justice for generations-to-come.

‘But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of Your justice, of Your salvation all day long…I will come and proclaim Your might acts, O Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim Your justice, Yours alone. Since my youth, O God, You have taught me, and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, until I declare Your power to the next generation, Your might to all who are to come.’ (PS 71: 14-18)

Download Jean-Mark’s entire talk on ‘An Argument against Gay Marriage’ here.

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