Category: Sexual Brokenness

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Conversion Therapy: Six Points Worth Considering

First, ‘conversion therapy’ is the current lightning rod of contempt for anyone who refuses LGBT+ identity and destiny. And anyone who supports that decision: friends and family, churches, therapists. While celebrating every person’s right to change partners or genders, our culture demonizes those who choose to align their bodies with their obvious purpose of generating new life.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the entertainment industry. 2018 began with ‘Miseducation of Cameron Post’ and ends with ‘Boy Erased’, a small film with big stars about a young man who following his rape by a college friend attends a 12-day ‘conversion therapy’ camp where he is subject to a prison-like house of horrors marked by manipulation of every kind. The credo is coercion: Christians imposing nightmarish tactics upon otherwise well-adjusted persons with same-sex attraction who become self-hateful. The cure? A jail-break! (In this case, with the help of Mama Nicole Kidman, for whom I would gladly flee the big house.)

Nicole aside, the vibe is everywhere. I just read a detailed article entitled ’Taught to Hate Myself’ that lists drug-induced aversion therapy, electro-shock treatments and use of heterosexual porn as ‘conversion’ tricks in curing gays, resulting in failed ‘straight’ marriages, suicide, and overall wrecked lives. Surprisingly, no professional counselors are named. You know why? No therapist worth his or her salt would engage in any of these trumped up shenanigans. ‘Conversion’ therapists do not exist. And if any facsimile of the ‘conversion camp’ of ‘Boy Erased’ ever existed, we can be grateful it does no more.

Second, the term ‘conversion’ therapy never existed in any professional sense of the word. Since the beginning of psychotherapy, clinicians have understood same-sex attraction to be a ‘reparative’ drive—not the defining characteristic of one’s sexual adulthood but a symptom of something else, an unconscious effort to repair some deficit or breach. From this understanding, skilled helpers help persons ‘to read’ their sexual desires properly; that involves helping clients to recognize legitimate needs at the heart of same-sex attraction, and to face painful relationships and traumas that may have contributed to the attraction. Here therapists function as healers of actual wounds that have divided lives and made persons more vulnerable to LGBT+ self-perceptions and behaviors, as in the case of childhood sexual abuse.

My journey to wholeness was laid by Jesus. But along the way, skilled helpers helped me sort out my desires along the narrow road to life, neither condemning me for them nor limiting me to their demands. They helped me to walk through same-sex attraction, face squarely some factors that contributed to it, and grow in self-acceptance.

Third, Living Waters, Courage, and all the ministries I know in the Restored Hope Network do not practice this form of therapy. How do I know that? We are not therapists! We are lay persons who come alongside anyone who—in light of identity conflicts and sexual addictions–wants to grow in the love of Jesus Christ. We meet in groups, which are voluntary, coercion-free, and aimed at centering one’s affections and identity upon Jesus Christ. ‘Therapy’ is a meaningful term and practice that should only apply to persons who have the skill to forge a long term, in-depth relationship with a person who wants professional help for the purpose of clearing out debris from his or her path to wholeness.

Fourth, we need these therapists! Persons with gender identity problems are vulnerable, not only to conflictual sexual desires but to mental health issues like chemical addiction, personality disorders, depression, and suicidal tendencies. We lay persons must recognize our limits in the face of another’s fragility. We must learn to refer our people to skilled helpers who can help individuals navigate a range of issues, including constructive ways of facing same-sex attraction beyond merely branding them LGBT+.

Fifth, I suggest that we work with new language. I’m fine with reparative therapy, but it is now guilty by its bizarre ‘conversion’ association. How about ‘integration’ therapy, which references the goal of becoming whole, united with the good of our own gender selves by overcoming divides that bar us from chaste relating with either gender?

Sixth, the battle is raging to demonize and do away with therapeutic help for persons refusing the LGBT+ destiny. Christians around our country are drinking the cool-aid; refusing to believe there is any psychological ‘stuff’ to gender disorders, they are joining the tirade against providing such help. That was evident in our recent, temporary win against 2943 in California. Although the bill was shelved, many Christians, including the saints at Rosemead, Biola University’s clinical counseling arm, went on record (see website) to refute therapeutic ‘change’ efforts as a kind of olive branch to the LGBT+ community. This will come back to bite us. Gay activist and author of 2943, Evan Low, has announced his plan to reframe the bill in 2019 and to outlaw all such therapeutic efforts. The fight goes on, and we must wage it without throwing our clinical allies under the bus.

We are currently in a time of prayer and fasting. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Monsters

The ongoing outing of men acting badly (Les Moonves of CBS, new evidence against Weinstein, Cardinal McCarrick and his cronies, hundreds of American priests who abused in the second half of the 20th century) may tempt us more to disgust than self-examination. I refer here to my brothers who may not be big players in the Catholic hierarchy or media but who are familiar with sexual disintegration—ways we have squandered our powers of life and love.

The cycle is all-too-familiar: high stress, low significance, mounting pain, decreasing words, sensational pleasure, greater shame, riskier business, escalating shame, huge-consequences-if-caught, SILENCE. Until exposed. Then the glare of public scorn burns off hope of restoration.

We may never have coerced another person sexually but our sins of omission and commission have doubtlessly wounded others. And fractured our dignity. We thank God that we are not felons yet we share in the wound of corruption common to men, disordered desire which results from mistaking random sexual release with power. Then the delusion: ‘it’s what I need’, or ‘(s)he likes it.’

This is especially tragic when paired with religion. Many of the abusive priests were orthodox in their understanding of purity. They just failed to become what they believed. Mastered by lust and shame, they learned to compartmentalize, to live elsewhere, to tune out the lament of a dying conscience and conjure an unreal world. Then religion becomes part of the defense against reality. I dreamt last night of a priest who wrapped himself tightly in scholarly and spiritual vestments; instead of guiding or cleansing him, these garments protected then mummified him, hastening a shameful death. ‘If religion does not make you better, it can make you a whole lot worse’, to quote C.S. Lewis.

What good purpose can these monstrous sins have? They can reveal our little monsters, men, and invite us to do urgently and persistently what Weinstein and Moonves and McCarrick never did: we can expose ourselves before the throne of grace and receive grace to help us’ (Heb. 4:16) so that our little monsters stay small and cease to govern us. Rather, we tame them, and learn to direct our sexual energies in alignment with the dignity afforded us by God and His friends.

We must be the first to confess our sins, to reveal our monsters before we are silenced by shame and dwell in darkness. Presumption and pride fall away, and the narrow way which leads to life becomes lit for our brothers. That is precisely what we as men accomplish together in Living Waters. We live in the light of mercy for 6 months of daily accountability; connection rather than shameful isolation begin to define our lives.

In the shaking, the exposure of monstrous things, we can fall on the Rock before it falls on us.

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AB 2943: Love Greater than Fear

California Assemblyman Evan Low’s decision to not send his bill for a final vote is a marvel of love, the love that casts out fear (1 JN 4:18).

Christians of all stripes came together gently, lovingly to uphold the truth of how we see reality: God made humanity in His image as male and female. We must be true to God our Creator and His will which frames LGBT+ reality as disorder; in the same breath, the faithful are true to our Redeemer who beholds all persons—including LGBT+ activists and politicians–with eyes of mercy and always invites the lonely into families where disordered ones can be loved into wholeness.

In every conversation and gathering, I had about 2943, Christians, especially the many pastors who took a stand, exhibited an unflinching heart of truth through the face of compassion. Down-to-earth, prayerful, and ethnically diverse saints endured with kindness the mockery of LGBT+ activists in order to ensure that their Christian consciences would not be outlawed by AB 2943. These are disciples who look out, not for themselves, but for the interests of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2: 21).

So Christians conveyed unchanging truth with deep compassion. That love overcame fear. Evan Low, a ‘gay’-identified politician, feared that these pastors were small-minded, autocratic moralists who wanted to close the horizon for LGBT+ persons. Courageous and just, he stood on trembling legs and listened to a number of these pastors who made a case for churches to have choice regarding sexual identification. Low heard them, and despite differing opinions, he realized that the Christian view was neither controlling nor manipulative. Freed from unfounded concerns, he concluded that AB 2943 was an inadequate bill.

Would you please pray for Evan Low in this season? He is under fire from his LGBT+ support base for withdrawing a bill that would have passed. He deserves our respect and our prayers.

Keep in mind that this marvel of love is not perfect. Low still wants to stop all clinical efforts to overcome gender identity issues, and I am concerned by the CA Christian leaders who threw their counseling friends under the bus by agreeing with Low on this point. Evan’s concerns will re-emerge in 2019 in another bill. We will be ready, conveying truth-in-love that casts out fear.

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2943 Withdrawn from CA Legislature! Long Live Freedom of Choice!

In an unexpected move, Assemblyman Evan Low withdrew his bill on the last day of its eligibility. Had it passed, Living Waters would have been outlawed in the state of California. The bill is now dead. Low engaged with many Christian leaders this summer and understood that the bill overreached its aim by treading on sacred ground. He acted with integrity and stopped the bill before it went to the governor who would have signed it. Thank you, Evan, for your humility and wisdom. Thank you Jesus for all the intercessors and witnesses You united throughout California to declare that Your way for our sexuality dignifies all persons who seek it.

More to come on this, but wanted to let you know this glorious news!

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Betrayal

For the last month, I have been sickened by reports of ex-Cardinal McCarrick’s long history of sexual abusing male teens and adults; more deadening still is his denial of the allegations (how so when a diocese settled a couple of these cases years earlier?). Most crucifying are reports that some leaders around him knew of his atrocities and turned a blind eye.

Each Christian bears the shame of this. Those aware of the devastating impact of sexual and spiritual abuse bear more. How could a religious system betray her most vulnerable over and over again? The Church’s structure lends itself to cohesion (for which I am grateful) and cover-up (for which we must become stubbornly intolerant).

Scripture guides me here. As the McCarrick allegations unfolded, I completed a Bible study on the Gospel of St. Mark with my children, using a commentary written by Dr. Mary Healy, a Catholic biblical scholar whom I esteem as one of the greatest gifts to the Church today. St. Mark is the leanest of the Gospels and thus fails to soften much of anything. His account of the events leading up to the crucifixion broke me; I shuddered as demonized men abused Jesus rapid fire, relentlessly. He suffered betrayal on every side, as if dark forces had captivated all men and made them violently stupid. On the cross, Jesus’ only words conveyed forsakenness (‘Where are You, Father?’), ending in a death cry.

Thank God for the cross, the Father’s inner logic that boomerangs wickedness into divine power and wisdom! Yet in St. Mark, even Christ Resurrected is hidden from witnesses who are either too dull or too afraid to believe the Risen Jesus at all. Mary Magdalene ‘gets’ Him but her report to the disciples falls on deaf ears and blind eyes. And this from the Gospel I most associate with spiritual power: St. Mark’s blazing witness of the Word confirmed by signs and wonders.

St. Mark reveals the cross as God’s strength, glory just waiting to shatter the husk of clueless men. If God truly works through human impotence, then we the Church have given Him a lot to work with—the ex-cardinal whose dazzling gifts obscured a predatory double life, dutiful men who doubted their guts and settled on hiding gangrene rather than amputating it. To quote Pope Benedict: ‘In the Church, Jesus entrusts Himself to those who betray Him again and again.’

Eloquent and true. Yet humanly-speaking, how are we to trust the Church now? We must grieve for persons abused by clerics who cannot help but gag at pics of McCarrick gazing effusively at Pope Francis. And what about the innocent clerics who fight for chastity and who urge us to integrate our own, priests now complicit in the eyes of the public who see ‘cover up’ in every Roman vestment? We must cry out for the abused who need justice, and for clergy who should not be maligned because of a cowardly few. And for the unbelieving world who needs to know that the Church is not a secret, self-protective refuge for perverse men who enjoy the theater of religion. Rather, she is a beautiful Mother, served by amazing Fathers.

Power in impotence—the cross, the gist of the Gospel, St. Mark’s especially. And that is what we are beholding as Pope Francis, with the help of friends, acts decisively and strongly to no longer tolerate clerical abuse. He is wielding the surgical knife, as evinced by the resignation of 34 Chilean bishops last month who participated in an extensive cover-up of ongoing abuse, and the conviction of an Australian Archbishop on similar grounds. Most resoundingly, Pope Francis stripped McCarrick of his cardinal status and removed him from public ministry. That is huge, a first, and needs to become standard practice for shepherds who eat sheep or look the other way while others do.

A trustworthy Church? Yes, when she verifies the truth of abuse, disciplines abusers, while making every effort to heal the abused and ensure the sexual integrity of her leaders. Strength at work in weakness: our faith is founded on nothing less. We’ve miles to go. Still, when lived in her members, the cross on which God was betrayed overcomes the sting and stink of this most intimate human betrayal.

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