Category: Homosexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Unoffended?

John the Baptist, imprisoned and burning with hope for the Messiah, sends friends to check out if this Jesus is the real deal. Christ’s response? ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the Gospel preached to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at Me’ (Matt. 11:4-6).

Why are Jesus’ miracles of transformation offensive to us? Pastor Jimmy Seibert, founder of the evangelical Antioch church planting movement, took heat recently for upholding how his congregations are helping persons with same-sex attraction ‘find out who God is and who He has made them to be…I’ve seen hundreds of people change their direction from SSA to a heterosexual lifestyle. It doesn’t mean there isn’t struggle…but there has always been grace for those who choose that.’

Yes and amen! We honor the work of Seibert and Antioch–a fresh wave of mercy flowing throughout the USA and the world in order to provide community support for persons turning from all types of false identifications unto Jesus Christ. Among them are persons rendered blind, lame, deaf, and poor by the exploits of the ‘gay self’ and who discover a whole new way of being in Christ and His Church.

Offensive. What may once have seemed like an ordinary expression of Jesus’ transforming love has now become a feast for media vultures. And sadly, as in Jesus’ day, it is often the religious establishment who join in the accusations. Remember, it was the Pharisees and Sadducees who railed against Jesus’ wonder-working power. They found His almighty mercy disruptive and intrusive; He encroached on their domain with power to set captives free. He exposed their powerlessness to call persons out of the tomb of sin and death. They took offense, and put Him to death.

Similarly, the Jimmy Seiberts are among the bold and few churchmen who do more than uphold the law of God–they champion His power to raise sinners from the dead! To be sure, breaking free of LGBT identification and becoming wholly grounded in Christ is no minor miracle. It requires nothing less than the juncture of our recognized poverty with the One whose love breaks the low ceiling imposed by our rebellion and an unbelieving culture.

Such breakthrough should seem plausible in this season of angelic visitations, pregnant virgins and guiding stars; nevertheless, I encounter Catholics and evangelicals constantly who raise their eyebrows at the prospect of Jesus actually having the power to reorder the sexually disordered.

Maybe that’s the rub. Weary and worldly, we now tend to doubt that there’s anything ‘disordered’ about same-sex attraction, or any other gender variation. To recognize another’s transformation would be to admit that maybe something is wrong—with a loved one, or with oneself. And that we are wrong for settling for less than God’s best.

And if something is wrong, then what? Does God have good things for us beyond our agreements with the status quo? Will He bear with us in our fragile and inconsistent efforts to become all that He has called us to be?

We are in the center of His heart. Advent is a time of hoping for more, of recognizing that the deserts in our lives are actually virgin territory, the very ground in which Jesus wants to impart to us the seed and water and breath to make us fruitful. A Child is about to be born; He vows to summon a host of sons and daughters from the dead of sin.

‘Then will the eyes of the blind be open, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy’ (IS 35: 5, 6).

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Best for Last

Around the same time (mid-seventies) and place (San Francisco) that Harvey Milk aspired to become the first openly gay politician in history and firebrand for ‘gays’ as a protected ethnic group, God plucked another brand out of the fire. Frank Worthen repented of an adulthood defined by homosexual pursuits and turned toward Jesus as the basis for a new life. Sourced in the deep well of his ‘Jesus-people’ community in Marin County, Frank began to minister to men and women who needed help bridging the gap between the ‘gay’ community and the Church.

‘Love-in-Action’ was born, the first formal ministry ever to expressly bridge such a gap. It was truthful, Spirit-inspired, and hammered by demonized Pharisees and immoralists ever since.

I first met Frank in the early eighties when I was at Fuller Seminary; he sought me out to give practical steps to his people on how to progress into healthy opposite-sex relating. Annette and I drove up from LA to his ranch in the bay area where we met him and his roommate/best friend, a longtime business partner who shared Frank’s sexual background but only marginally his faith. ‘No wonder he is asking me to teach THIS lesson,’ I thought as I considered what could be an impasse in Frank’s path to whole relating with women.

Don’t get me wrong. Frank was morally clear but still in process. Soon after, a prophetic friend challenged Frank: ‘You need to be open to all that God has in store for you!’ Anita was right around the corner.

The two first met at a conference in Oregon where Frank taught steps out of homosexuality and Anita, an earthy and fun single mom, wondered how she might best care for her ‘gay’-identified son. Like the clash of many strong-willed people, they liked each other as much as they did not. Through the sparks they fell in love, married.

I tracked with them only a little since that time. I simply know our efforts at Desert Stream draw life and strength from Frank’s faithfulness. The Worthens went ahead of us and a host of others to blaze a trail of hope throughout the world for persons impacted by SSA; they did so graciously while enduring more attacks than an entire book could contain.

Yet for me, ministry is not their main legacy. It is their love for each other.

Last year, I caught up with the Worthens in their ranch above Sacramento after Frank had a serious heart attack. It was beautiful to witness how a crisis could distill their devotion to each other, reveal its essence. While Frank napped, Anita confided in tears that her only desire was to give this man the full honor he deserved. Weakened by the prospect of loss, she feared her adequacy to give him his due. To honor him in life and in his passing impassioned Anita.

Frank recovered only to discover less than a year later that cancer was spreading throughout his body. Nothing could be done, so the two determined to enjoy their lives together on the ranch. I recently visited them again and when Anita left the room, Frank confided in me that his one desire was to leave Anita as financially secure and settled on the ranch as possible. While that desire tempted him with fear that he might fail her, it also motivated him to act and to succeed, one task at a time, to make a way for her future. He welcomes heaven, while laboring in love for his beloved. Not much else matters to Frank.

Frank’s days are in God’s hands. By the report of both Frank and Anita, these days together are their best ones. Peace prevails, and invites them to reflect on a life together that has created thousands of spiritual sons and daughters.

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contending-for-the-bride

Contending for the Bride

‘Zeal for His House has Consumed Me.’ (JN 2:17)

In order ‘to contend for the faith entrusted to all the saints’ (Jude 3), we must follow Jesus into the House of His Father and purge ourselves of what divides us. Yes, we must come into the light of fellowship and enlist the help of others, and yes, no-one can cast out our personal temple robbers but us. Our decision to refuse every altar but Christ Crucified is nothing short of a miracle of God’s mercy—His fiery kindness (mirrored in His members) persuading us that holy Presence beats the unstable presence of other lovers any day.

Then we are ready to give all for the saving of many lives—contending for the Gospel and its power to transform broken lives through the Church. We fight against every stronghold of thought that dulls and blurs the goal of purity and wholeness (aka chastity). We contend against the sick mercy of ‘gay Christianity’ and against the sick truth of pounding vulnerable ones with scripture and church teaching without lending a hand to help them overcome real conflicts. (Spoiler alert: this takes time, sometimes a lifetime…) Troubling too are evangelical churches so intent on reaching the LGBTQ+ community that they naively adopt non-biblical language and ethics and become converted by good ‘gay’ people.

We roll up our sleeves and fight for:

1. The lifting up of the One Cross in order to redeem the two natures—male and female. Under Christ, no LGBTQ+ community can stand. We unite under one gracious hope—Christ Crucified—and one goal, the encounter between the blood and water, and our gendered selves. Only Almighty Mercy can dissolve the catastrophic impact of sin upon what it means to be male and female, created in His image. We must keep the message simple and clear—the Cross invites every person to enter that healing flood, and we in the Church must be constant in extending that invitation.
2. We preach the full range of sins against chastity, beginning with common ‘heterosexual’ ones we often wink at—misogyny, misandry, porn and romantic addictions, divorce, abuse, weird sexual legalism (everything but intercourse), etc. After that, it’s water off a duck’s back to preach repentance to the more obviously confused—‘Come into the water with us; we won’t throw stones but we will take your sins seriously, even as we have taken ours seriously and are doing the hard work to get free.’
3. We provide real outlets where people can get free. I am troubled by communities which preach the truth beautifully but provide little if any in-depth pastoral care for sinners who need it. We must recognize the healing army that is there (and refer!) while adding to its ranks by getting free ourselves. Then, as our gift to the Church, we accompany real sinners who desire freedom: real repentance unto the real Jesus who shows us the Father and His all-surpassing power to restore what is broken.
4. Under the one Cross, we fight for the truth of every person’s gendered dignity, regardless of their confusing starting points. We summon it, we contend for it as part of what it means to be an ambassador of the Gospel. In the same way that we lovingly silence the Pharisee, so we refuse the false ethnos of the LGBTQ+ community. Under the one Cross, we recognize two natures–male and female–, and one goal, that estranged children of God encounter the Father and become beloved sons and daughters, empowered to resume the journey to wholeness.

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Living the Truth in Love

We ‘equip holy ones for the work of the ministry…so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human craftiness and cunning…Rather, living the truth in love, we shall grow up in every way to Him who is our Head, that is Christ’ (Eph. 4: 12, 14, 15).

What is the solution to the ‘craftiness and cunning’ of the Obama administration (to be accelerated by Hillary’s) in regards to a radical gender agenda now played out on the global arena (see Obama’s speech to the United Nations, September 20th, 2016)? This is the man who began office by pledging fidelity to traditional marriage then pushed through ‘gay marriage’, condemned reparative therapy, and ramrodded transgender bathrooms in every elementary school in the USA.

Anyone who disagrees with his advocacy of an ever-splintering array of gender identities is condemned as a hater, and is withheld power and finance. Worse, the majority of Americans have been tossed and blown about by this false justice; the latest Pew Research poll shows 54% of US Christians now believe that homosexuality should be accepted and integrated into society.

How do we respond? Legal answers won’t help us now. Nothing short of the radiance of wounded lives, raised from the dead of gender disorder by God’s grace, will do. They live the truth. Formerly divided, these men and women now bear Christ and bear witness to how He has united them with their gendered bodies and with His healing Body, the Church. They now live to make Him known through practical merciful service.

I witnessed this marvelously in Oklahoma City last week where sister ministry First Stone celebrated its 40th Anniversary. My great friend Stephen Black leads the work there and assembled quite a crew for the party, including ace radio talk show host Janet Mefferd and homegrown testimonies that blew me away. (Persons who almost lost their lives to the cunning and craftiness of men are always the best witnesses.)

One man became mercilessly addicted to meth in his ‘gay’ adventures and on his second jail sentence determined to follow Jesus, never to look back. He did not. Another lost family and self-respect to years of gender-bending pursuits until he began the road home, with a lot of help from Stephen and friends. Yet another testified of years of abusive treatment from men that resulted in a middle-aged affair with another woman and the torment that followed, torment that ended only when she called on Jesus Who then invited her onto a much longer process of gender reconciliation through a First Stone-sponsored Living Waters group. Her life radiated from within, a blend of beautiful womanhood lit up with merciful gratitude as she ‘shines like a star in the universe, holding out the Word of life’ (Phil. 2:15).

God is not duped by tricky humans. He foils their plans by persons who live to tell of His merciful love. We live only because of Him and for Him. We are many; He is rousing us for such a time as this.

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ (JN 1:5)

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becoming home

Becoming Home

‘We fully “become” our true selves within relationships. A positive sense of self, rooted in worth and value, arises out of an attuned, empathic, supportive and caring environment in which secure attachment is established. By caring for and attuning to another’s needs, and by empathizing with his or her emotional world, we help others to internalize a sense of well-being.’
Dr. Janelle Hallman, Living the Truth in Love (Ignatius Press)

How many young persons are emotionally homeless? How many have been set adrift by a break in early bonds of love? How many angry, hungry lambs forsake the witness of their own bodies and the Good Shepherd then morph into a number of selves and sexual partnerships in order to secure that love? How much of the ‘trans’ craze is undergirded by the near inability of persons to welcome the good gift of their gendered humanity through whole-enough persons who make a home for them in their constant love?

These questions arose for me throughout an intensive leadership day sponsored by Courage last week. Dr. Paul McHugh of John Hopkins University who led his team there to stop gender reassignment surgery when it became clear that most young people change their minds and later regret such surgery addressed us and made clear that the real battle is spiritual and philosophical—‘what constitutes human nature?’ If our biological selves have substantial meaning, then we must direct persons onto a course of loving care that will help them come home to their real selves. Another keynote, Dr. Paul Sullins, is among the foremost researchers today on the effects of ‘gay marriage’ on children. His evidence that these children are over twice as likely to develop serious emotional problems made clear that ‘the absence of sexual complementarity creates obstacles in a child’s development.’

We are creating an emotionally homeless generation who does not want to hear that they need to come home to anything but their new liberties. But these liberties damage them further; the need for empathic, attuned, and loving care is what they need in order to be reconciled to who they are. So when Dr. Janelle Hallman finished up the day with three hours of recounting how she has cared for women with a host of identity issues for over 25 years, I listened and connected with her attunement to the real needs behind the ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ self.

I marveled at her therapeutic expertise, empowered by the Holy Spirit and her own integrity as a woman, that has enabled her to walk for years with wounded ones in all their defensive glory until trust is achieved and the tending to the core needs can begin. Love wins, as caregivers like Janelle become a home (of sorts) to the emotionally vagrant.

It brought up a flood of healing memories for me. Many years earlier as a young married man and minister, a flood of same-sex desires arose; I knew it was a symptom of deeper needs and stubborn defenses that I had to face with skilled care. I began a long relationship with an amazing Christian therapist who was strong and masculine but deeply attuned to my plight and wise in helping me to probe beneath the surface. I worked out deep ‘father’ issues with this fatherly healer and he helped me further integrate my longing for masculine love into real friendships, not shameful fantasy.

Jesus wants the best for us and He wants us to give the best to those we love. Had I not found the kind of loving care I did, a man who helped secure me in my home as a whole-enough man, I may have been unable to provide a home for Annette and my four children.

I am about to proceed to our Living Waters Training where men and women whom Jesus is restoring are seeking to gather in groups in order to provide safe, healing places in the church for identity strugglers. Pray for us as we humble ourselves before God and one another to become a home for others.

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