Category: Homosexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

‘Becoming Good News’ for Wandering Loved Ones

I am excited about a new booklet I just wrote–‘Becoming Good News’–a daily, 40-part prayer guide for those of us seeking to love persons mesmerized by the LGBT+ dragon. Jonathan Hunter prayerfully glimpsed this brute: a shimmering beast that entrances a generation with the promise of new identities and partnerships. Having lured them, the dragon then loses them with one swift flick of its tail. Our common enemy is merciless to those seduced by this multi-faceted mirror of deception. We are right to be concerned for loved ones.

Yet we are all creatures of free will. We cannot change anyone; still we try, and can be tempted to employ our faith to control and manipulate others. ‘Becoming Good News’ majors on the truth that another’s disorientation invites us to conversion. We discover in our helplessness and shame and fear that Jesus is actually calling us to Himself. Simply put, He employs another’s more obvious disorder to reveal our own.

That disorder may take on two forms, either becoming complicit or contemptuous of the dragon’s influence. The complicit are worldly in their thinking but do not know it. We believe that we are being merciful–non-judgey–to loved ones by altering our truth in order to accommodate their poor moral choices. Aren’t we just cowardly, afraid to see and feel the truth of our loved ones’ devolution? Out of unexpressed anxiety come silly statements like ‘my gay son is perfect’ or ‘my lesbian neighbors are the most Christ-like couple I know.’ Bleech. Me thinks we fawn too much. We are just dodging the truth that someone we care for is in danger and we do not know what to do. So we concede to the culture. And people-pleasing. We need conversion, not caving.

Another trap is contempt. Here we appear to have the right on our side: the truth of God’s will for human sexuality, etc. But our hearts are not right. Though we plead ‘righteous indignation,’ we are actually projecting our anxiety onto good people (however wounded and rebellious) and hating them for their bad choices. Instead of identifying the dragon, we take aim and fire at those under its sway. Easy to do. Sickened by media glamorization of identity confusion and adultery of all kinds, we conceive the temptation to hate the deceived. We are like the Pharisee (LK 18) who thanked God he wasn’t an adulterer. We must repent of religious pride that breeds contempt, and ask for mercy’s conversion.

Whether complicit or contemptuous, we need conversion. Jesus asks for our undivided devotion; He changes us so that our offer of transformation is matched by our becoming whole. That is the invitation of ‘Becoming Good News.’ You can request more info on this new book at BecomingGoodNews@desertstream.org. And you can calendar in Oct. 10th-Nov. 18th, 2018 for a prayer drive this fall, using this book. Let’s cry out together for loved ones under the dragon’s sway. May our repentance loose a stream of truth and mercy that will convert hearts, starting with our own.

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Surrounded 2

My friend Jim Doman is man of the hour in California right now. He has organized pastors from all over the state through his group, Pastors United, to declare that Jesus transforms persons with gender problems in the face of AB 2943. I was honored that he featured the impact of Living Waters in a press conference he organized last week in Santa Ana.

Expectant, I was distressed to discover that I felt bad, really bad, as soon as I stepped on the plane. I later discovered I had walking pneumonia; all I knew then is that for some reason I could barely function.

Perfect conditions for the Kingdom of God! Without reserve, I shared my story and our fight for freedom of choice in California to an elegant-looking professional woman besides me. She quietly confessed that she had been in a 15-year relationship with a woman before she married her husband. We both agreed that the opposite gender keeps us sane, and it shouldn’t be a sin to say so.

After that, I could no longer sustain a clear thought. So I just let 40 years of worship music rise up from within and play. I was flooded with memories of all the churches throughout California we had served. It helped. My next flight was canceled, so I stalled out in the airport and feared I would not make it to Orange County.

Yet in truth I did not fear. It’s easy to trust God when you feel like dirt. I was docile and patient with cranky service people. And guess what? I kept getting texts from people like you who sent scriptures and encouragements from around the country. I meditated in the still of the night on the beauty of Christ’s body. When I arrived at the courthouse, just in the nick of time, I was greeted by a handful of old friends who came to support our fight for choice. We had served them at some point and they wanted to support our service. I was touched.

Doman had assembled a diverse group of pastors for the press conference: a variety of Latinos, Asians, and African–Americans who all testified beautifully to their transformation from ‘gay’ to Christ-centered. Everyone was in sync with each other. We needed unity because LGBT+ protesters were crass, invasive and heckled each speaker. An unseen Presence freed us to keep focus, stay loving, and speak soundly of the beauty of Jesus’ body in California.

The Church is beautiful here. That was my takeaway from the press conference. Whatever our trials, however far the pendulum swings in the direction of LGBT+ nonsense, Jesus remains clear and faithful in His members. AB 2943 goes up for vote soon in the senate and will most likely land on Gov. Brown’s desk by the end of the month. We pray, we wait, and we stay hopeful. We are surrounded. I limped back to the airport, as if sustained by a great cloud of witnesses. Heaven’s song flooded my heart til I could no longer hear the din of hecklers.

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Polish Spring

‘See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come.’ (SS 2:11, 12)

Amid abuse and cover-up, confusion from Pope Francis regarding homosexuality and Irish citizens overturning their abortion ban, the Spirit of Pentecost enveloped a hundred of us in Krakow Poland who gathered for our second Living Waters Training there.

We couldn’t stop singing, and the Spirit kept raining on us as we offered our brokenness to the Crucified in tears and joy. Surrounding our songs was a chorus of birds that worshipped day and night in huge trees that flanked us on every side.

Trainings are just that: arduous, messy, shame and glory, revelation amid hard reality. Why now after seven 16-hour-days am I refreshed? All I know is that I was buoyed, as if I caught a current of the Kingdom and knew intuitively how to navigate the waters. Extraordinary.

It is easy for an outsider to idealize this land of St. John Paul ll and St. Faustina. Traditional values are evident (Poland is not sympathetic to ‘reproductive rights’ and LGBT+ aspirations) and create a kind of moral clarity not evident in America or Western Europe. The Church here is cohesive, a national rallying point amid devastating historic batterings. To many Poles, Jesus through His Mother (Church) sustained the nation’s hope and dignity throughout centuries.

Yet good ethics and history can become prison bars unless the Spirit liberates wounded lives. The Poles may be clearer in their devotion to Christ than many Europeans today but they are no less broken by their bloody history, which gave rise to deep patterns of family disorder, including disordered church dynamics.

For these reasons, I take heart that many Poles are facing their wounds forthrightly with each other. I am in awe of men and women we have now walked with for three years who are different people today: joyful, not glum, with a new well-being in their gendered, bodily humanity. They no longer avoid others’ gaze. One young woman whom I first met in Lithuania couldn’t walk unassisted due to the oppression of her sin and wounds. During this training she bounded around the site, taught better than I did, and will return refreshed to her hometown to lead a Living Water group which is changing the culture of her church.

Most importantly, the nine Polish priests who attended the training taught and shared openly about their wounds and sins against chastity. They honored their office by making clear they live through the wounds of Jesus discovered in His broken merciful members. They released deep drafts of mercy for all of us. We exhausted them and each other in laying bare our need for ongoing conversion.

Wearied in doing well, we welcomed the Spirit’s refreshment. He is accomplishing in the Polish Church what we can only hope for. A Polish Spring, welling up with song in the Spirit of Pentecost: He will have His way with His Church.

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At Risk

‘If our Gospel is hid, it is hid toward those who are perishing’ (2 Cor. 4:3).

An outraged congregant railed at Pastor Patrick on the eve of our Gender Matters conference at his church: ‘This isn’t one of those “pray away the gay” groups, is it?’ Unflinchingly, the good pastor responded: ‘Yes, our church believes in the power of prayer for all broken persons seeking Jesus.’

Worldly Christians—more influenced by snide soundbites from the Internet than by the Kingdom of God—now contribute to the din of unbelief and popular ‘born- that-way-can’t change-anyway prejudice that surround persons with gender identity problems.

In failing to extend God’s Kingdom to those at risk, worldly Christians risk the loss of that Kingdom. Their light dims, the snap of their salt dulls.

Hopefully, the overreach in the California legislature of AB 2943 gives all Christians the chance to wake up and forego this compromised, guilt-by-assimilation mindset toward persons with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. Together, let us burn off lies by reigniting these three truths:

First, persons most at risk in their gender identities need the Kingdom of God more than state-mandated identity formation, e.g. you must embrace your ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ self. Only the Father through the Son and by His Spirit can confirm true identity. This is the business of the Church and the cure for the fractured heart.

Second, persons most at risk in their gender identities are helped far more than they are hurt by the Church. In the same breath that we acknowledge our failures, we declare it libelous to frame faith communities as rife with fraudulent ‘conversionists’ who impose impossible burdens on the vulnerable. I work with hundreds of churches in California where I witness humble groups who welcome all persons who know they need the Savior. California is especially adept at providing multiple onramps for seekers to receive blessing, belonging and transformation through Jesus represented well in His yielded members.

Third, persons most at risk in their gender identities are not well-served by the lie that drives AB 2943, namely, that persons who seek change in their desires will hurt themselves because change is impossible. That is patently untrue: not just questionable science but fraudulent science. In ‘Ex-Gays?’ (IVP, 2007), the impressive book that details the best ‘longitudinal study on religiously mediated change in sexual orientation’, Drs. Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse make clear that people can and do experience change in their sexual desires and identity, and that seeking such change does not incur harm. Check it out.

The bias against change for an ‘at risk’ people now drives the psychological community which fuels the LGBT+ political caucus that leads the California legislature by the nose. Persons most at risk lose options that could set them free.

Christians, wake up. Arise out of your risky state–your agreement with popular lies. Burn again with the truth, endowed with power, to secure at risk persons in holy love.

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Why Gender Matters 2: Good Grief

I did not grin over skater Adam Rippon’s campy exuberance nor fawn over commentators Johnny Weir’s jewels during the Winter Olympics. I grieved. Here are two strong, disciplined men who acted like girls, preening before cameras in full make-up and elaborate hairdos, gushing clever trash like ‘I’m a glamazon bitch ready for the runway’ (Rippon) and inviting us into his (Weirs’) room crammed full of women’s clothes and accessories, twice as many as his female counterpart. These guys are cartoonish violations of womanhood.

And America loves them. Time Magazine tagged Rippon the ‘winner of the Olympics’, though he placed 12th in his competition. These are our ambassadors to the world: out and proud and lauded at every turn. To the degree that we laughingly embrace their fractured personas, we contribute to their disintegration. And to a generation’s. Rippon and Co. are converting the lukewarm into gender anarchists.

Are you complicit? Do you not know that your giggling advocacy of gender-benders grieves the heart of God? He who made us in His image detests it when humanity forsakes its integrity, its ordination as either male or female and mocks both instead. Do you no longer take God at His Word? In order to show Himself and His creation strong, the God of Israel warned His nation to forego the confusion of the gender-bending Canaanites: ‘A woman must not wear a man’s clothing, not a woman, a man’s’ (Deut. 22:5), and ‘No-one who has emasculated himself by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord’ (23:1). If the Olympics are any indication, we are now subject to a prideful, shameless parade of persons who defy the Creator by investing in false, demonized selves which enslave them and the vulnerable.

We need truth on which to sober and straighten up if we are to face rightly our prideful, disintegrated comrades. My favorite book on homosexuality and truth remains Dr. Robert Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice, from which I quote: ‘Genesis 1-3, Lev. 18:22; 20:13, and Romans 1: 26-27 all suggest that same-sex intercourse was rejected on the grounds that it violated the anatomical and procreative sexual complementarity of male and female in creation—by definition an instance of pride, a supplanting of God’s design in creation for sexuality in favor of one’s own design.’

Those who appeal to merciful Jesus will find no softening of His commitment to the integrity of male and female in the Father and Son’s creation of humanity: ‘Jesus unreserved embrace of the creation account and his bold appeal to it establishes His commitment to one and only one model for sexual reunion…on matters relating to sexual ethics, Jesus adopted stricter, not more lenient, demands than most other Jews of His time…His expectations regarding sexual purity exceeded both the Torah and the tradition prevailing in His day’ (Gagnon).

So we turn toward Jesus: sobered, we need to care about what matters to Him. That means foregoing our own interests (Phil. 1: 21) and reconfirming our commitment to humanity aspiring to gender integrity. When we encounter popular perversions, I urge you not to laugh but rather to grieve over the prideful rebellion that hurts people and desecrates the Holy One. Cry out for the gentle wooing of His mercy, which invites each Rippon and Weir to turn to Him and so overcome our common enemy (2T 2:26).

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