In these last couple weeks of our fast, I’ve had the privilege of making two trips to the Northeast where I witnessed the irresistible splendor of Jesus in His Church, both evangelical and Catholic. The Spirit is stirring up His saints, girding them in truth and welling up like living water to grant the gender broken a better Word. One can have any number of freedoms and still be a slave! Jesus alone frees the sin-shackled and makes us true sons and daughters of the one Father.
In Pennsylvania, I gathered with a group of priests who meet regularly to share their sexual vulnerabilities and the healing love that sets them free; in New York City and New Jersey I gathered with turned-on Korean-Americans who are as committed to becoming whole as they are becoming good news for their LGBT+ friends. I spent most of my time in the borough of Queens where I invested in a church renowned for its efforts at creating emotionally healthy community and fostering racial reconciliation. Stunningly so! Yet the pastors have the wisdom to know the difference between ethnicity and gender identity issues; they celebrate a diversity of tribes and tongues while refusing the ‘gender spectrum’ ideology that fractures God’s children. Mercy welled up as we testified of His unfailing love that reconciles us to our true humanity—male and female–in this one body.
Before setting off for these trips, I had the privilege of assisting at the Mass celebrating the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. It is my favorite feast of the church year, as it is the only one that celebrates the Church herself: the irresistible splendor of Jesus revealed in His body. As I read from Ezekiel 47 about the water levels rising in the temple until the saints are immersed and flowing out into the world in order to heal and feed the broken (‘their fruit shall serve for food and their leaves for medicine’, EZ 47: 12), I realized that this is our mission. It is being fulfilled as we gather and lift up Jesus as Healer!
In all of our Northeast gatherings, I fielded questions from countless saints who face increasingly complex hardships due to LGBT+ demands: the deacon working with a nominal Christian family whose 4-year-old daughter showed up in Sunday School as a boy, the assistant male youth leader who announced his ‘transition’ to womanhood, the influential minister now ‘gay married’ and adopting children while extolling the joys of ‘gay Christianity’, the worker whose ‘gay’ boss firmly encourages his employees to stick rainbow emblems on their office doors, and many who simply want to know how to care for loved ones who now live under the rainbow. As we prayed at every meeting for Jesus to come and show us His way–the mercy that is ours only as we enter through the gate of His body and blood shed for us in the one body–the water levels rose and immersed us in the divine love that breaks human enslavement. We bring a better Word endowed with power to save the gender broken. His love radiant in humbled, poured-out saints: Irresistible.
While we as the Desert Stream staff prayed for our upcoming Living Waters European Leaders gathering in Poland, I received these words: ‘relationships that heal.’ They do indeed.
For over 30 years, blessed Europe has been the site where deep bonds have been forged. And fractured. The pain of the latter can tend to overshadow my Euro-friendships that endure. Could my ‘bent’ perspective be a part of the problem? Perhaps splinters from broken relationships still sting and obscure my vision.
Isn’t this true for most of us? When we get hurt, affliction infects our eyes and we see others (and the persons they represent) as symbols of conflict that we want to avoid. God was kindly challenging my vision. ‘Open your eyes to the love that is there for you…’
Maybe it’s because our wounds are deep, so much so that we fall into them like ruts in a highway. Our ‘wounders’ loom large and appear bigger than the healers whose unfailing love helped bind up our wounds. God wants us to look up and out to the persons who know us honestly and who still love us. He wants our healers to inhabit our hearts more than our perpetrators.
During our days together in Warsaw, I marveled at several fellow healers with whom I have walked for years in Europe. But none captured my gaze more than Werner and Charlotte Loerschter who as directors of Torrents-de-Vie (Living Waters) in France have been a source of healing for me unlike any others. I recalled our 23 years of digging wells of healing throughout Europe: we wearied ourselves in exhilarating service, in working out conflict, and in binding up each other’s wounds. Through it all, we have come to know each other deeply and at times painfully. Love pervaded all. I know they love me authentically because they know how hard it is to love me. And they have succeeded brilliantly. Whatever wholeness I possess I attribute in part to their love.
I looked upon these friends with gratitude during our gathering. I drank in love. Love is stronger than the death of failed relationships; healing is more defining than hurt. We must allow it to be. I encourage you to look upon the ones who have loved you well. Live in their light, a glorious reflection of His own.
Join us for the ‘Becoming Good News for the Gender Challenged’ fast from Oct. 11th-Nov. 19th.
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Married couple Ed and Christine opened our Gender Matters conference in Pasadena last week; they spoke frankly about how Jesus and His Church were helping them to be good gifts to each other in light of fears and failures.
Healthy marriage is the foundation on which we as a community can call all persons to chastity—to rightful integration of our gender, as well as the self-control and confidence to offer ourselves to the other’s good. If Christian marriage falters, we as the Church have little authority to call persons fueled by LGBT+ fantasies to chastity.
How so? Today’s new freedom to change one’s gender or to seek to transcend gender altogether did not just appear out of nowhere. Perhaps it is sourced in our ‘no-fault’ divorce culture in which men and women sacrifice their children on the altar of broken vows, the snappy way we become one then tear ourselves from the other when things get rough. ‘Rough’ means disillusionment of many kinds—usually sourced in the perception that this one did not deliver the goods. So we move on. We create our own freedom distinct from Jesus’ stern warning that ‘what God has joined, let no-one tear apart’ (Matt. 19:6).
Today we employ ‘grace’ to give Christians the freedom to break vows and re-engage with sexier models as if God was giving them a ‘second chance.’ I marvel at our indiscriminate use of Scripture, our consumer mentality, our disregard for the spouse, and especially for the children of divorce who have no voice. In the wise words of Dr. Rebecca Morse: ‘We give adults every liberty they want then leave kids to take whatever these adults want to give them.’
We create our own freedom. On the fault-line of ‘no-fault’ divorce, a person with same-sex attraction creates his own ‘gay’ destiny; a woman seriously unhappy with her gender begins to transition to another ‘self.’ One false freedom does lead to another. And at our core, we know that our compromise chokes our witness of the goodness of God’s order—the Cross that enables us to stay true to what He asks of us and all of creation.
So we go back to the Source—Jesus and His effectual call to make our marriages work. A panel of 4 couples—two touched by good old traditional idolatry and two by same-sex idolatry shared incisively at our Living Waters Leadership Summit last weekend. They spoke joyfully of love and pain and the power of Christ to release them over and over to fulfill their vows. He is faithful to those who choose the other’s good. And who humbly enlist fellow members of Christ in order to do so. More than anything, we want Living Waters to strengthen chaste ‘gift-giving’ and so strengthen the whole Church to enjoy the freedom of God’s commands.
‘How pleasing it is when brothers and sisters live together in unity.’(PS 133:1)
We please Him. Maybe it’s because we realize that America is as much Mexico and Chile and Puerto Rico as it is the United States. Maybe it’s because we love marriage and treat it as holy, indissoluble, or because we have committed to growing beyond homosexuality and various addictions and abuses in order to become the good gifts we are. Or maybe He just loves us. Period. He showed His love for us by pouring out the oil of unity upon us as we gathered from the four corners of the Americas for our fifth Aguas Vivas Training in Cordoba Argentina last week. I have yet to experience such a diverse and ‘well-oiled’ team of leaders who gathered to offer their stories and gifts in love. Grateful for others’ gifts as well, we created a whole, united in our brokenness and the broken God who raises us up over and over again.
Miguel from Puerto Rico brought his two Pentecostal pastors and the woman he hopes to marry soon. He has become a mighty man of God since he joined us five years ago at our first training in Mexico City, a man divided by the ‘gay self’ yet desperately seeking Jesus. Five years later, he taught powerfully from his life experience about the gifts we can become for each other and for our churches.
Marie-Innes had been sexually and spiritually abused by a New Age leader which damaged her marriage to Daniel, a man struggling with same-sex attraction. After they became part of a dynamic Catholic community in Cordoba, the couple drank in ‘Living Waters’, which brought renewal to their marriage and a vision for their vocation as husband and wife. Along with awesome Father Adrian, they are raising up witnesses and healers throughout Argentina, several of whom shared brilliantly at the training (Griselda, Roxanna and Walter, you are the best!)
In 2001, I met Ruth, a pastor’s wife with a deep wound from her pastor/father and Ignacio who was seeking to overcome sexual addiction. In their brokenness before Jesus, they represented beautifully the Vineyard Churches in Chile. For nearly 15 years now, they have dug a deep well of Living Waters in Santiago; that was evident in the team they brought to the training to minister expertly to all. Gracias Carol and Alberto, and Ruth’s daughter Constanza whose worship leading broke open the fragrant oil Mary of Bethany offered to Jesus. We offered ourselves to Him, sweetly broken and grateful.
From Guadalajara Mexico came Father Ricardo, and Veronica who is growing out of same-sex dependency and into a calling to offer the gift of ‘Living Waters’ to Catholic young adults throughout Latin America. She is sharp and humble and loved by all. Father Ricardo is among our greatest gifts. Before he imparts his considerable priestly wisdom, he offers his humanity to us and like Pope Francis simply asks: ‘Pray for me.’ He receives Living Waters like dry ground and wants to ensure that his diocese is a deep, evident well of ‘Living Waters.’
From the Caribbean, to the Southern Cone of South America, then upwards to Mexico–Catholics, Pentecostals, and evangelicals entered the ‘Living Waters’ together in Cordoba under the sure leadership of North Americans Daniel Delgado and Ondine Morales (with special assist from our Kansas City treasure, Pamela). Undergirding the seven days was a team led by Anne in Canada that interceded daily and specifically for us; I believe their prayers guarded our graceful cohesion. Prayerful trust in His divine mercy forges a unity among us that pleases God’s heart. That unity overflows as a fountain throughout the Americas.
Sexuality has something to do with directing us out of our aloneness and into creative communion with others. God made it that way. However challenging that ‘gift-giving’ is today, it remains the way that we honor our parents, grow in appreciation of our gender and that of the other, and become parents ourselves. The Scripture says it best: how wondrous that God did not create us to be alone (Gen. 2:18)! (Special thanks to Theologian Dr. Mary McCarthy for this insight.)
How clever of the evil one to introduce the idea that real freedom comes from foregoing the aim of one’s maleness or femaleness and exploring any number of gendered selves (60+ and counting). As I engaged with many twenty-somethings who came to our Living Waters Training last week, I could see their battle to forego onramps to alternative identities so they might proceed on the one true highway to wholeness. A route defined by becoming the awesome man or woman, son or daughter of the Most High!
Think about this battle. ‘Tim’ has certain feelings for his own best male friend and comes out as ‘gay.’ Immediately he foregoes the intended good of his masculinity by offering it to a non-creative source (The friend’s mouth or anus.) Immediately, his parents are put in a weird position: they conceived him, after all, and want him to grow in that openness to life. Instead, he insists that they embrace his identity or else. ‘Or else’ probably means he rejects them for telling their truth. Tim’s new way imposes a prison of aloneness: alienation from his family and the purpose of sexuality. All he gets is a friend with benefits, and that won’t last long. Tim is alone. Satan has his way.
We forsake the enemy by entering into the great waves of mercy flowing from Jesus. We immersed ourselves in those waters last week. Repentance to Him and a process of gender reconciliation unites us with the Father’s love for us and the advocacy of His people. Surrounded by that cloud of witnesses, one begins to belong to his or her gender peer. One begins to appreciate the other. One begins to sorrow over the breakdown with parents and begins to access mercy for the damage done. Jesus becomes the conduit of ‘living water’ that liberates a community that (s)he has never known.
When we as the Church become what Jesus always called us to be—a tender almighty, consistent and trustworthy love that dissolves walls and reveals our naked longing for communion—the enemy will slink away like the defeated tyrant he is. Alienated children will discover their true home. This is a home where we live the truth together: ‘It is not good that we be alone.’