Category: Sexual Brokenness

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

True Justice in Race & Sexuality

By Pastor Andrew Franklin, Living Waters leader and author of
‘Created for Love: Reclaiming Jesus’ Vision for Sexuality, Gender, and Relationships.’

Jesus created every tribe, tongue, and nation to express His glory in unique but equally meaningful ways. That means standing in colorful ethnic diversity and in the unique glory of our bodies made male and female in His image.

Through racism, the inherent dignity of the human person is compromised. Racism, whether overt (violence, discrimination) or covert (“I don’t see color”) distorts God’s image in us. Rather than defending the weak and vulnerable and loving justice, we defend our own compromise and love our own view of ourselves.

That brings us to our generation’s other social justice debate. Whenever awareness dawns on our duty toward black brothers and sisters, many Christians turn the focus away from them (too painful to stay there?) and begin to champion other causes, specifically LGBT+ ones, that have a similar “feel” of justice while serving a radically different ideology.

For many of my conservative friends, their hesitation at embracing social justice for African Americans may be rooted in the fear that the rainbow flag will follow the cause of black dignity. At the same time, I know many friends who begin to internalize the pain of the black experience then begin to question their sexual morality. “Am I blind, intolerant, and hateful toward homosexuality, just as my ancestors were blind, intolerant and hateful toward black people?”

We must give Holy Spirit room to search our hearts and expose pride, feelings of superiority, and unbiblical assumptions. Then, as we repent, we must re-define our anthropology and morality around the Word and ways of God. Repentance means returning to God’s vision for our humanity, His design for our unique ethnicities and our common call to sexual integrity as men and women choosing to dignify one another.

Through sexual immorality as with racism, the inherent dignity of the human person is compromised. Perversion, whether overt (sexual abuse, molestation) or covert (“love is love”) distorts God’s image in us. We again defend our own compromise and love our own view of ourselves.

Our enemy has insidious plots to de-rail us, to pervert us so we embody lust more than whole-hearted love. Over our history, and particularly in the last few decades, Christian leaders have used a distorted interpretation of God’s Word to defend sexual sin. As with any sin, the underlying thought is that I, the mere human being, have the definitive grip and grasp on what’s best for the human person (over the years, what has been “best” for the human person has included divorce, abortion, and LGBT ideology).

Although the LGBT movement positions itself to be the natural successor to black rights, it is more aligned with racism, for both positions base their view of dignity and destiny on ‘feelings’ rather than on God’s glory in creation. The LGBT advocate believes that ‘gay’ marriage or gender reassignment is what most dignifies a gender-insecure person, because it ‘feels’ just. A racist may ‘feel’ that subservience or silencing most dignifies a black person.

Our advocacy in social justice must come from the Word and ways of God.

Regarding racism, the New Testament is clear. The book of Acts describes racial compassion toward Gentiles as the source of early church persecution. Paul regularly reminds the church that Jesus has torn down the dividing walls between ethnic groups and has called for unity in the spirit and familial love for one another regardless of race (Ephesians 2:11-22). He reinforces that different ethnic groups are supposed to shine in their unique ways (Romans 3:1-2).

Regarding sexual morality, the New Testament is clear. In Acts 15, the apostles must decide on realistic expectations for new ethnic groups who are learning to follow Jesus without knowing Jewish ways. They encourage the new church leaders not to worry about making the Gentiles conform to Jewish culture but instead create a short list of essentials, such as rejecting sexual immorality. They challenge each person to be express their own ethnic heritage while calling them to a Jewish high standard of sexual integrity. Paul takes up this theme when he specifically charges the Gentiles to not act in accordance with their ethnic group’s values of sexual immorality, but rather clarifies that God’s will for each of them is to overcome lust and walk in a sanctified vision of sexual love (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7).

Paul commands us to renounce ethnic superiority and lust and perversion. That can liberate us to champion racial justice and sexual integrity. The early church did just that: these two values turned the whole world upside down by a love superior to the emptiness of racism and perversion. Let it be so in our generation!

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Injustice for All

‘Protecting our neighbors from unjust discrimination does not require redefining human nature.’ Archbishop Jose Gomez, President of US Bishops Congress.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of America violated the meaning of sexual identity by broadening it to include persons who LGBT+ identify. Our highest Court did so by amending a 1964 Civil Rights Act designed to protect workers of all races, religions and both men and women, namely the latter due to misogynistic policies, from job discrimination. Now men who ‘feel’ like women are legally recognized on par with women. America just divorced sexuality from the body. We feel, therefore we are.

America just redefined sex. Gone are the days when we assumed male and female had meaning, dignity, some intrinsic value tied to creating and protecting new life. The 1964 Act defended that meaning by insisting that women not be excluded from fair treatment on the job. Any person at odds with his or her sexual birthright was considered in need of clinical and spiritual help, not legal status.

Well, you say, haven’t we already been through this when the Court sanctioned ‘gay’ marriage in 2015? Kind of. But that involved only same-sex friends who want to ‘play house.’ Redefining any figment of one’s fractured imagination as a protected minority is far more dangerous than ‘gay’ marriage.

How so? In redefining human nature, the Court legalizes human unhappiness. Our freedom hinges on aligning ourselves with Reality. Reality includes sexual birthright. I may feel many things about my sex: empowered, oppressed, lusty, anxious, splendid, empty, proud, etc.; my peace rests on integrating the truth that my body is either male or female and there is no other! To grant ‘feelings’ the power to cancel out who we in truth are is nothing short of sexual suicide.

J.K. Rowlings elucidates this well. (and has taken huge hits for doing so). As one intent on empowering women, she points out that females who ‘transition’ alter their bodies irrevocably and cannot reclaim their fertility once they seek to ‘de-transition’ as many do. She cites the faddish ‘social contagion’ of the trans-phenomenon, and the truth that most young people who feel at odds with their sex pass through dysphoria unto making peace with ‘birth’ bodies.

Her main concern? Women’s well-being. The very Civil Rights Act that sought to protect women now endangers them. ‘When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believe he is a woman, then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside.’

America just opened that door. Unhappiness, injustice for all.

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Holy Resistance

‘In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood’ (Heb. 12:4).

Guys tend to be soft these days, orbited by helicopter parents and overly self-aware, as if sensitivity to one’s ‘needs’ means feeding time. Now.

Forgive me, but I cannot empathize for long with dudes committed to Jesus but pixelated, poisoned by porn, who regret that they are not ‘free’ to cave into sexual sin with either gender. They may even fall into self-pity over the loss of beloved idols, as if idols wanted their good. Note to self: idols want your blood, not your best.

Wake up. To become our best, we need resistance, a fight, a battle worth waging that will enliven something noble in us and burn off moral flabbiness. We need a clear vision of chastity—of holy love that rouses us to stop pleasuring ourselves long enough to pick up the sword of the Spirit and wield it. We are built to fight, not fantasize; Jesus redeemed us for war, not whining. We are made to reach beyond childish things and offer ourselves as honorably as possible to others. For their good, not our perceived fulfillment! That noble aim requires full surrender to Jesus and all our strength, endowed by His Spirit.

We have help from our fellows. Last week was the Feast Day of St. Charles Lwanga and friends, a group of about 22 13-30-year-old males who served in the court of a perverse and lustful Ugandan king in the late 19th century. As their spiritual leader, Charles discipled his band of brothers in the holiness of Jesus, which included training in chastity; that training was aimed at resisting the king’s sexual advances. For refusing royal lust, Charles and friends were martyred. They resisted to the point of shedding their blood; that sacrifice quickened the conversion of a nation that now boasts an 81% Christian population.

How far will you go to resist lust? I challenge you. Pick up the sword. Renounce self-pity. Ask Jesus for power you don’t feel. Live like you’re strong: surrender porn and foolish fantasies about the lover you deserve. You have One—Jesus who comes closer than the consummate friend and trains you for war. He has entrusted you with this fight. Start waging it. Become the man you are. Who knows? Your resistance might convert a crowd, even a country.

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Grounded 9

‘The dignity of every woman is the responsibility of every man.’
St. John Paul 11, Theology of the Body

The test of my love lies in marriage; it is revealed in the eyes and heart of a person, a woman, my bride.

I will not be judged on my ministry gifts; these I exercise freely and receive some reward from others who value a snapshot, a post card, an edited glimpse of me.

Annette witnesses the whole broken image, or rather a series of images—the unrated miniseries without end. God keep her.

Marriage casts a searchlight that reveals the delightful, dirty dance—how we bless and bedevil each other with our love, or lack thereof—the hopes and fears of all these years, 39 and counting for this marriage. Sure, there are gaps, every marriage has them, but also treasures hidden from others that confirm two persons’ best selves and establish home on earth.

I love what for me is the apex of Theology of the Body: John Paul exhorts marrieds to not reduce sexuality to orgasm but rather to recognize and savor the extraordinary sexual essence of her womanhood, his manhood—the person behind the passion. A whole-enough marriage summons that essence and gifts each party with the other.

The other day, after two virus-inspired travel-free months, enjoying very much the rhythm of Annette and my uninterrupted life together, I noticed something: Annette’s peace. She looked lovely, at ease, a little playful. She was grounded because her husband was. I fell in love again.

Truth is, we married, committed to a long stint in grad school and baby-making, then I took off on a runway and never looked back. (I’ve accrued nearly 3 million miles with one airline.) Racing around the world may be good for the Kingdom but hell on a marriage. Annette learned how to partner with me from a distance. Costly. Our syncopated rhythm has not served her well. Her reward is heavenly, mine purgatorial. Who said life was fair? Mercy trumps justice!

Normal anxieties aside, she is more beautiful when her man is around. You could say the pandemic invited Annette to breathe. I savor the gift.

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Resounding Authority

‘I pray that you would know…His incomparably great power toward those who believe’ (Eph. 1: 18, 19).

Not a big surprise that sexual temptation has increased in the pandemic. But this Easter, with Pentecost right around the bend, I am fighting for a ‘yes’ to chastity that surpasses concession to moral sloppiness. Might our God-breathed resolve rise! Like a prayer, may our authority for purity resound and empower fellow strugglers around the world.

Doesn’t matter the season; we choose today who we will serve. This is what Catholics call self-mastery, taking charge over our own temples. God makes the way and invites us to walk in it. St. Paul couldn’t be clearer—Jesus bought our bodies with His blood and filled them with the Spirit that raised His dead body. Now we can act decisively and ‘honor God’ in our passions (1 Cor. 6).

Harder than it sounds. One cannot underestimate the depth of disordered desires, the divides that define and deride us. We invest more in porn than chastity; we think like Christians but worship at pagan altars. Our common enemy mocks our ‘yes’ to Jesus when we bow the knee to sexy idols. No wonder we’ve little appetite for real people. Shame and self-reproach are closest companions.

No good waiting for magic—the experience that changes everything. We admit powerlessness and we cry out for mercy; we activate the authority He has already given us. In the sexual realm, we act like our own exorcist, or master house cleaner. In the Spirit of Jesus, we cast counterfeits out of the temple. We let them in. Expel them, in the Name of Jesus. Use your authority: ‘GET OUT!’

Countless times, under the sway of temptation, I have simply chosen Him. I cling, His right hand upholds me. With one hand I embrace Him; with the other I wield the sword and decapitate snakes. Simple. Intimate authority that resounds throughout the universe.

All this is impossible without help, without Church. We MUST be known to a handful of persons who share our struggle and our commitment to chastity. Jesus in our friends is stronger than Jesus in our weakness. No other way than through the broken body of Christ—real members who fall, get back up, help us stand.

We are winning because He won already. That win is deeper in us today than it was yesterday. Our ‘yes’ to Him is far more powerful than the grip of sin. Every time we forego lust through our ‘yes’ to Jesus, holiness resounds and strengthens a host of struggling hearts.

Instead of lamenting the influence of charming idolaters, let us exercise our authority. We have power to unite the divided with robust chastity.

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