Category: Sexual Brokenness

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Glorious Orientation

Orientation refers to where one is going in relation to others, which include his or her thoughts and beliefs that guide that direction. Much is made today about different ‘sexual orientations.’ I suggest that there is one glorious orientation: ‘the deep orientation toward the personal dignity of what is intrinsically masculine and feminine.’

St. John Paul ll said that line first and best in his masterful Theology of the Body (TOB). My friend theologian Christopher West joyfully invites us all to make the late great pope’s orientation our own. West is the TOB bridge over which thousands of us have been re-oriented towards our original dignity as men and women and the adventure of a lifetime: activating our sexual dignity in a way that dignifies this ‘other’. A lifetime trajectory indeed!

We at Living Waters know this in our own way. We need Jesus and His Church to be reconciled to the sexual gift we are. But that gift means nothing in social isolation. Confirmation of our sexual integrity comes not in the mirror but in the grateful face of the other. We become who we are in holy, earthy communion.

Abbey, Marco, and I had the privilege to impart our gift to West and his team last week. Humbling. They are my heroic guides. The TOB Institute in Lancaster Pennsylvania hosts weeklong immersions into this ‘orientation’ toward sexual dignity; I dive into these waters often and emerge more converted each time.

As we shared and prayed for West’s 11 team members, I marveled at the way each lives the truth of TOB. The staff is transparent and submits humbly his or her unique gift to the whole. We from DSM gave what we had and received more.

Noteworthy were the witness of both Abbey and Marco, young adults who don’t know TOB through the lens of marriage but as single persons who in Jesus aspire to give their gift to others with integrity. They embody Christ-centered mercy, courage, and insight; all three gifts helped the TOB staff to know how to best serve persons with identity conflicts in their glorious reorientation.

Regardless of one’s starting point, we at DSM and TOB agreed: there is one destination—the dignifying of our intrinsic masculine and feminine selves in community. That is the glorious orientation of the sons and daughters of God! On the plane home I felt more inspired than drained. As I rested, I longed for Annette and eagerly awaited our reunion.

Fruitfulness

By Abbey Foard

Anniversary celebrations run the risk of becoming sappy and nostalgic in ways that diverge from reality. Don’t get me wrong: reflecting on accomplishments is important, but best when inspiring a good future hope! Gratefully, we experienced such clarity as Desert Stream celebrated 40 years of ministry last week in Kansas City.

We considered 40 years’ worth of reflections from Living Waters representatives who gathered courageously amidst COVID. (Maybe the courage was reminiscent of what each mustered the year he or she first set foot in a Living Waters group?!) We worshipped the Lord with a team that spanned geography and eras; we became ‘church’ in all our diversity and celebrated the work that He began and has not stopped doing in each of our lives.

We honored Andrew and Annette, our fearless and passionate leaders, for their integrity, faithfulness and commitment to Jesus and this unique work. All of us in the audience were delighted as the four Comiskey children emceed each decade. They noted their intersections with Desert Stream/Living Waters and in sum gave us a tangible picture of the worthiest fruit of this ministry: the life that flowed from the couple who founded it.

A marriage that the world tells us should “never have been” now exhibits and envisions the fruitfulness that comes from Jesus; is this not what life-in-Christ is about?

Fruitfulness is unique to each of us. It may look different than we expected–partial and progressive, still in process in our lives. But fruit is always a byproduct of our “yes” to Jesus. He tells us that when we remain Him and Him in us, we “will bear much fruit” (John 15:5).

The Comiskeys bear fruit, as does Desert Stream. Not because of any superior gifting or inherent strength. Having walked closely with Andrew and Annette these past four years, I can say that they are fun-loving, earthy people who live simply to love Jesus and others. They don’t seek to be “special” but to be “faithful.”

That’s what makes them special: they seek to be true to Jesus. He wells up from them like “living water.” He makes them fruitful like the trees in Ezekiel 47 “whose leaves neither wither nor whose fruit fails; they bear fruit every month because the water from the sanctuary flows to them, with their fruit serving for food and the leaves for healing” (Ezekiel 47:12).

As we reflected on the fruit of Andrew and Annette’s persistent ‘yes’ to Jesus, He inspired us to bear fruit for another 40 years (at least!), fruit well-watered by Desert Stream.

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!

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.

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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