Category: Sexual Brokenness

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Greatest Story Rarely Told

‘As long as it continues to be told, no story is ever wasted,’ opines a ‘gay’ Christian writer. Like many today, he feels compelled to testify of how Jesus confirms his intrinsically homosexual self as one expression of the good news.

Everyone has a story indeed. But not every story tells the truth of the Gospel. I contend that persons whose stories feature Jesus as the advocate of identities based on disordered desires distort the Gospel. However charming their speech and poignant their frustrations, these ones build on a fault-line that undermines the power of Christ and His Cross. When validated–published and platformed–by arms of Christianity that claim to be orthodox, these story-tellers become enemies of the Cross (Phil. 3:18).

To be sure, we all need the freedom to sort out our disintegrated lives with wise Christian friends and elders; we tell our stories in order to break down certain worldly assumptions and so become conformed to the Crucified. Jesus uses the little cross of our garbled confessions! He leads us through our crises in narrative, which are resolved only through death to the ‘selves’ we have cobbled together from feelings and worldly attachments.

In light of the Father’s marvelous love for us shining on the Cross and mediated through His community, we can exchange our rags for God who alone has power to establish our identities. We discover that we need not be slaves anymore to the world. He gives us the choice to lay down our ‘gay’ selves or any other LGBT+ aspiration and simply rest in Him who through Christ calls us His sons and daughters, men or a women made to reveal Him in our human dignity (Gal. 4:3-7).

We can choose not to lay them down. We can nurse ‘gay’ feelings and plateau on a kind of eloquent melancholy (self-pity?) that empowers the ‘gay’ self (Wesley Hill picks up where Henri Nouwen left off.) Or we can arise in the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. We died with Him, and need not worry about residual same-sex attraction. We are defined by the Father now, and therein resides His authority to restore us, His way. We are no longer tossed around by feelings. We are becoming conformed to Christ and His Cross. That is our commitment—a once and daily decision to pick up our little crosses in light of the one Cross that shelters us and makes a way for us. Always.

Only then can our stories reveal Jesus. I would dare to say that our stories are worth telling only if they reveal something about His Cross, and the joy of carrying our small ones into newness of life.

‘If no-one said “I die but I shall live” then there would be no hope for those who suffer. All suffering would be senseless, destructive pain; all grief would be the worldly sorrow that brings forth death. But we know people who have lived and suffered differently. There is a history of resurrections significant for others. A person’s resurrection is no personal privilege for one’s self alone. It contains within itself hope for all, hope for everything.’ Dorothy Soelle

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Rainbowed

June initiates ‘Gay Pride Month’ in which LGBT (and so on) folks celebrate more gender selves then there are colors in the rainbow. Liberty? Think again. Their promise of freedom becomes enslaving liberties. (2P 2: 9).

How so? Our common enemy picks off the most vulnerable then offers well-intended solutions that neither fit the wound nor its cure. Simply put, sensitive, beat-up kids are misinterpreted as intrinsically ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ or whatever and are encouraged to ‘live their dream’ under the rainbow. That dream usually involves blessing the child as he or she aspires to an adult identity/fantasy, often with sexual connotations. (The boy wants to be Beyonce, the girl, a swaggering dude.) But gender ‘expansiveness’ (how we are now encouraged to define kids at odds with their gender) actually becomes a reduction of the self.

The threat to a child’s well-being lies in mistaking normal emotional needs for sexual ones. Developmental psychologists have always known that kids, from infancy to adolescence, need to be emotionally bolstered in the goodness of their own gender. That’s not about binding kids to rigid gender stereotypes. But a child’s freedom to flex in non-traditional ways needs to be grounded in self-acceptance. That involves parental attention, setting limits, and becoming trustworthy bridges between the child’s emerging self and his or her gender.

These are normal emotional needs! But in our virtual, sexually-exaggerated, and abuse-ridden world, a child’s bridge to gender security can break. In the void, emotional needs can become eroticized, and a ‘self’ begins to be constructed that promises freedom but may well fracture the already vulnerable soul.

That is the premise and unintended result of ‘Moonlight’, the Oscar-winner for Best Picture of 2016. A sensitive boy (who we have not reason to assume is ‘gay’; he is simply, shatteringly, in a state of emotional retreat) growing up in the hood with a drug-addicted mother is bullied and bloodied then befriended by a drug dealer and his girlfriend. The emotional core of the boy’s childhood involves a scene in the ocean where this unusually kind drug dealer teaches him to swim (a life-giving glimpse of ‘fathering’); the film treats this bond as a kind of baptism.

Sadly, a similar ‘baptism’ occurs when the boy-now-teen’s sole peer friend fondles him to climax on the beach, replete with swoony romantic images. While the boy’s ache for masculine advocacy is heart-rending, his need for connection is misconstrued as sexual and framed as almost divine in its consummation.

Later on, the teen-now-man, an emotional cripple who can barely speak, reteams with his beach ‘boyfriend’ for a sexual reunion. The film’s last scene revisits the man as a boy, baptized afresh in the cleansing waves of the ocean. Sexual connection triumphs over all! He was ‘gay’ all along and now free! Added bonus: black pride is ‘gay’ pride too!

We mess with kids when we misinterpret normal emotional needs for sexual ones. Hollywood majors on this. So does Gay Pride Month. Stay clear. We who are vulnerable to this deception must stay true to the Lord and one another. Let’s exemplify real freedom for a new generation, especially those as poignantly in need as the protagonist of ‘Moonlight.’ We can do better.

Please join us in San Diego on June 16th and 17th for the sixth annual RHN Hope 2017 Conference as hundreds gather to celebrate how Jesus has set them free from gender identity distortions. Preview with us the first full-length documentary film ever made–Tranzfomed–on how Jesus restores the transgendered. Register here today!

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Unmasking The Enemy Tower of Gender Babel

Unmasking the Enemy, Part 2

Words fail to express the suffering endured by persons who resist identification with their biological gender. Left-leaning analysts would attribute that suffering to external sources–the rejection a tough girl or soft boy incurs from peers.

The problem runs deeper still. To refuse acceptance of oneself as male or female conveys a wound and a deception at the most basic level of being. Researchers who chart the uniformly poor adjustment these persons make in the whole of life point to a fault-line in the soul that is not healed by our agreement that the confused person is imprisoned in the wrong body. In solidarity with our friends who live with an internal divide that defies our empathy, we cry out for the courage to connect this one with the Author and Finisher of his or her true self.

Our common enemy knows that a war against one’s gender poisons the soul with hatred and wreaks havoc with one’s spirituality. Why? To disassociate from one’s gender and to create an alternate reality, a fantasy self, separates one from God. Our Creator may love His confused children but cannot connect with an illusory self. The enemy dwells in the murkiness of our flights from reality; he loves to devalue our gender selves and empowers efforts to re-create ourselves in an image that seems safe and powerful, valuable in our own eyes.

Many craft such a self in order to escape a losing battle to ascribe value to one’s gendered self. Years of secret fantasy—a defense against the reality of one’s own body—form a powerful stronghold against the truth. Some gender vulnerabilities are obvious: a good friend of mine was regularly abused by her father and would steel herself against his blows by imagining herself to be a male soldier who could endure anything. Young boys whose fathers fail to help them unite their creative drives with masculinity too readily identify with ‘fabulous’ women, and increasingly seek refuge in these fantasies as peers reject their alternate ‘selves.’

Creative personalities seem especially adept at forming alternate gender realities. What began as a wound, a de-valuation, an authentic cry for confirmation at the level God created us all to receive becomes a defense against reality. In the absence of a biological base for these conflicts, we must be compassionate about the depth of the wound. But pain does not give one a pass. The wound has now become a stronghold—a fortress of rebellion against oneself and one’s God—which bars this one from dignity on all fronts. The most wounded can become the most rebellious, tender-hearted sons and daughters now hard in their self-pre-occupation and disregard for what is holy. We should not snicker about this or quietly concede to one’s ‘choice.’

We must pray that God would empower His Church, His community of healing, with a love more splendid than the passive acceptance we extend. As Leanne Payne loved to say, we are comfortable when Jesus says ‘judge not’ (LK 6:37), referring to hypocritical judgments, but refuse His command to see through mere appearance and ‘make righteous judgments’ (JN 7:24). More than ever, we need a fresh wave of Pentecost to burn up the Tower of (gender) Babel and give us fresh tongues with which to declare the truth, with signs and wonders following. Without an emboldened Church, we will lose souls to our common enemy.

‘Come, Holy Spirit of fire; we are desperate for You-through-us to rout the enemy and set captives free.’

Please join us in San Diego on June 16th and 17th for the sixth annual RHN Hope 2017 Conference as hundreds gather to celebrate how Jesus has set them free from gender identity distortions. Preview with us the first full-length documentary film ever made–Tranzfomed–on how Jesus restores the transgendered. Register here today!

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Unmasking the Enemy, Part 1

How do you make sense of a breezily written Time magazine cover entitled ‘Beyond He or She,’ in which the author Katy Steinmetz champions kids from around the country who refuse any gender identification (March 27th)? Or seventy congresspersons who are seeking a nationwide ban on an individual’s right to seek therapeutic help to make peace with the gender of one’s birth, on the basis that ‘LGBTQ people were born perfect; there is nothing to treat them for’(Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif.; Washington Post, April 27th)?

Neither Steinmetz nor Lieu recognize that they are participating in the fracturing of lives; they insist that the freedom to refuse one’s male or female self is a human right, a moral good, that must be defended as squarely as recognizing the homosexual or lesbian ‘self’. Where does it end? If we agree that ‘feelings’ about oneself and the other are the foundation for human freedom, we can only observe and congratulate a generation that seeks to transcend gender altogether.

The truth: we are witnessing the enemy of humanity robbing a generation of its fruitfulness and families of their cohesiveness. In what may best be described as domestic terrorism, parents endure one bomb blast after another as sons manifest their intention to become daughters, daughters sons, or most confusing, kids who insist on being called ‘they’ in order to keep all their gender options open. It is a new and demonic twist on the teen theme of exaggerated self-investment and experimentation: every day a new mask, a new self, a new partner for the ever evolving ‘self.’

Claiming ‘freedom’ from old traditions of male or female, these ones become slaves to their own self-interest. In search of a self, they are never able to become a whole-enough self for another, for their families, for the greater community. It is impossible. How can one become outer-directed when he or she refuses to land on the most basic level of being—the truth of one’s gender? The very powers that God gives one to create life (in his or her gendered self) now threaten to destroy that life and deaden the lives around him or her.

We have a common enemy who tries to render good evil and to enslave humanity with that distortion.

Karl Barth was right. Reflecting on gender duality as the only conclusion we can draw biblically about what it means to manifest the image of God in our humanity (Gen. 1: 26, 27), he concludes that a refusal to gender identify is a descent into inhumanity and a refusal of God Himself. God created each person either male or female. There are only two natures. When we refuse that fact, we refuse Him.

Our ‘feelings’ will not save us on the last day. In light of many desires, we can look straight in the face of the powers-that-be, be they political, journalistic, pseudo-scientific, or pseudo-religious, and declare their advocacy of LGBTQ ‘rights’ as an alliance with the dark powers governing our world today.

Turning from the enemy of our souls, we turn to the One who came down from heaven in order to rent the divide between us and evil. He descends into our very depths. Upon the ground He conquered in dying for our fractured selves, He lives in order to raise us according to His will for our gendered humanity.

‘The whole life and ministry of Jesus has been a battle with demons…This battle has been with the rulers of this world, the power structures that have organized themselves and their authority so that there is no room for God in the world. Jesus, then, has not come to offer yet one more political alternative but to break the stranglehold that the powers have on the world. He offers a new world, a new world in which God is God and human beings are set free to be human beings.’ N.T. Wright

Please join us in San Diego on June 16th and 17th for the sixth annual RHN Hope 2017 Conference as hundreds gather to celebrate how Jesus has set them free from gender identity distortions. Preview with us the first full-length documentary film ever made–Tranzfomed–on how Jesus restores the transgendered. Register here today!

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Salient Joe

‘I will send you the prophet…who will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers’ (Mal. 4:5, 6).

The late Dr. Joseph Nicolosi popularized the ideal of a ‘salient’ father who embodies both tenderness and strength. His point? Children who grow up respecting such a dad while welcoming his kindness proceed successfully into adulthood and are less likely than detached children to spin out into sexual and relational brokenness.

I had the privilege of honoring Joe at his memorial service last week in California and recalled him as a prophet who never lost focus on repairing the wound–the gap in connection between fathers and children that render us vulnerable to seeking sexualized mothers and fathers. In sunny immoralist Southern California, Joe stood as a prophet who insisted that restoring breaches in father/child relating could redirect the wandering of pleasure-seeking orphans.

He was and still is demonized by the professional community he represents for coining the term ‘reparative therapy’, which simply means that same-sex attraction is a symptom of an early attachment wound and sound psychotherapy can begin to heal it. Joe made a way for us to name the wound and access real mercy—‘my feelings are not my fault’—and at the same time to challenge us to resume the journey to gender wholeness. Joe was salient: equal parts tenderness and strength. The host of spiritual sons and daughters who honored him last week—mostly psychotherapists who trained under him at The Thomas Aquinas Psychological Clinic he founded in 1980—bore witness of his fruitfulness as a spiritual and clinical father.

The most moving part of the memorial was Joseph Jr.’s tribute to his dad. I witnessed a grateful son grieving for a father he loved and respected who was taken away too soon, without warning. Salient Joe imparted the whole of his life to his only child who proceeded on to become a devout Christian and psychologist and who now heads the Aquinas Center. Joseph Jr. spoke eloquently and honestly—equal parts tears and joy—of the adventures he shared with his father. The elder passed on to the younger a vocation of fathering vulnerable ones into wholeness. All the while, salient Joe loved his son well. His final witness lies in the fact that the ideals he taught he also lived. Bravo, salient Joe.

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