I did not grin over skater Adam Rippon’s campy exuberance nor fawn over commentators Johnny Weir’s jewels during the Winter Olympics. I grieved. Here are two strong, disciplined men who acted like girls, preening before cameras in full make-up and elaborate hairdos, gushing clever trash like ‘I’m a glamazon bitch ready for the runway’ (Rippon) and inviting us into his (Weirs’) room crammed full of women’s clothes and accessories, twice as many as his female counterpart. These guys are cartoonish violations of womanhood.
And America loves them. Time Magazine tagged Rippon the ‘winner of the Olympics’, though he placed 12th in his competition. These are our ambassadors to the world: out and proud and lauded at every turn. To the degree that we laughingly embrace their fractured personas, we contribute to their disintegration. And to a generation’s. Rippon and Co. are converting the lukewarm into gender anarchists.
Are you complicit? Do you not know that your giggling advocacy of gender-benders grieves the heart of God? He who made us in His image detests it when humanity forsakes its integrity, its ordination as either male or female and mocks both instead. Do you no longer take God at His Word? In order to show Himself and His creation strong, the God of Israel warned His nation to forego the confusion of the gender-bending Canaanites: ‘A woman must not wear a man’s clothing, not a woman, a man’s’ (Deut. 22:5), and ‘No-one who has emasculated himself by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the Lord’ (23:1). If the Olympics are any indication, we are now subject to a prideful, shameless parade of persons who defy the Creator by investing in false, demonized selves which enslave them and the vulnerable.
We need truth on which to sober and straighten up if we are to face rightly our prideful, disintegrated comrades. My favorite book on homosexuality and truth remains Dr. Robert Gagnon’s The Bible and Homosexual Practice, from which I quote: ‘Genesis 1-3, Lev. 18:22; 20:13, and Romans 1: 26-27 all suggest that same-sex intercourse was rejected on the grounds that it violated the anatomical and procreative sexual complementarity of male and female in creation—by definition an instance of pride, a supplanting of God’s design in creation for sexuality in favor of one’s own design.’
Those who appeal to merciful Jesus will find no softening of His commitment to the integrity of male and female in the Father and Son’s creation of humanity: ‘Jesus unreserved embrace of the creation account and his bold appeal to it establishes His commitment to one and only one model for sexual reunion…on matters relating to sexual ethics, Jesus adopted stricter, not more lenient, demands than most other Jews of His time…His expectations regarding sexual purity exceeded both the Torah and the tradition prevailing in His day’ (Gagnon).
So we turn toward Jesus: sobered, we need to care about what matters to Him. That means foregoing our own interests (Phil. 1: 21) and reconfirming our commitment to humanity aspiring to gender integrity. When we encounter popular perversions, I urge you not to laugh but rather to grieve over the prideful rebellion that hurts people and desecrates the Holy One. Cry out for the gentle wooing of His mercy, which invites each Rippon and Weir to turn to Him and so overcome our common enemy (2T 2:26).
Please forgive the error. The wrong blog was posted this morning.
Gender matters because we do not create ourselves. We have a Creator who made us to reflect something of Himself in our bodies as male and female. Our gendered humanity is not an accident. It is an ordination. No matter how much we devalue ourselves as gender beings, One remains true in His favor upon our distinctly masculine or feminine selves. We who disagree with Him contribute to our own disintegration.
Or we can concur that His will is our freedom. No matter how deep the discord in our souls, we can aspire to true happiness. We can stretch our hands and our hearts to become a more whole expression of Him whose image we bear. In these bodies! Our form takes on meaning in light of the one next to us whose very difference highlights our own and draws us into wholeness. Enjoy this story of a recently married man who aspired to a life beyond ‘gay’-identification.
‘I love being married. We’re only 2 weeks in, but it’s absolutely wonderful. For those of us on the journey out of SSA, we tend to emphasize healthy friendships with other men. But I must say, being married has helped me to understand and embrace my masculinity as nothing else has.
On our honeymoon there was a moment when my wife and I happened to be standing next to each other in front of a nearly full length mirror, in our birthday suits. Just seeing the male and female next to each other—our bodies—I suddenly understood the beauty and wonder of the differences between the genders. Mine is angular, defined, strong, hers is gentle, soft, inviting. And they make sense only that mine is created for hers and hers for me, to be given to each other as a gift.
Although I have always been physically attracted to my wife, I am more filled with awe and wonder at the beauty of her body with each passing day. There is something glorious about the feminine body as God created it, something especially glorious when it is a precious gift given to you and only you by the person you love most in the world. Her body is beautiful, just as a sunset is beautiful, or an undiscovered land lit by the morning light. I look at her and catch my breath, and wonder how God could be so good as to give her to me.’
Jesus invites us to aspire to freedom in our gendered bodies. We who aspire become His re-creation and glimpse in each other the dawn of a new day.
We gathered for our Gender Matters conference in New York City last weekend (soon to be in Kansas City February 10, sign up now!); the Holy Spirit flooded us like a river overflowing onto parched land. He is re-awakening our call to live the-truth-in-love and so authenticates our claim that Jesus makes a better way for the sexually broken.
As Pope Francis says in ‘The Joy of the Gospel’, this can only be accomplished through ‘a radical openness to the leading of the Holy Spirit.’ At core, this is nothing less than the core message of the Gospel, which is at once simple, countercultural, and full of joy. We discover that our joy hinges upon responding to His whispers, and on trembling legs advancing His reign where He leads.
Prior to the conference, the Holy Spirit led me to two men with a small child. They were ‘gay’-identified and ‘parents’ of this adopted boy. God gave me His heart for this child; I realized at once that we have a responsibility to such kids. I spoke with the pair about how much Jesus loved them all and had special plans for the boy, a divine paternal desire to confirm him as His beloved. When they said they did not believe that way I said with joy: ‘Well, we all have ideas but none change the fact that Jesus is real and has a great plan for this kid that is greater than your plans!’ I couldn’t believe I said it. Yet the Spirit gave me joy, which enabled them to hear.
We proceeded to our conference where beautiful, broken Christians from around New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut gathered to become better news for persons with gender identity problems. From a host of brave churches, they like us are surrounded by the dull attitude that to be moral is to accept blandly whatever destructive choices others makes on the grounds of ‘love’ and ‘freedom.’ These believers know better and are crying out: ‘Holy Spirit, show us the better way to bring Jesus’ merciful reign to our friends who are self-destructing!’
Two realities were evident: we the saints are so broken! The church who hosted us had a huge cross before which we gathered and simply wept over our own sins and wounds, mostly traditional in nature. We are all victims and perpetrators. Our pain was based on a host of regrettable ways in which we have been complicit with deceived friends and family; crying ‘peace when there is no peace.’ Or the ways we have accommodated our ‘normal’ idols and addictions when Jesus wants to break our chains so we can be free to bring the Kingdom to the enslaved. He did it! His Presence for deliverance was evident and effectual.
The reality of our brokenness was surpassed by His power. Through the good teachings and testimonies, it was obvious that the Spirit is raising up an army of men and women for whom Jesus’ loving kindness is better than anything else in this life (PS 63:3). We live only to make Him known, joyfully, and with humble reliance upon each other. For the first time in years, I wanted to linger with all the saints in the church afterwards. My weariness was eclipsed by the beauty of this Gideon’s army. Jesus Himself is empowering us in our many weaknesses ‘to rout foreign armies’ (Heb. 11:34). We are His members, wholly submitted to our Head, and we will turn the tide of deception on waves of Almighty Mercy.
Please join us in Kansas City for our next Gender Matters on Feb. 10th. Become a part of God’s healing army for broken persons you love. Sign up now!
Hollywood’s award season is in full swing and will be dominated by actresses insisting on a new moral order in which men treat them with deference and respect. Right on. You witnessed Hollywood’s best on the Golden Globe Awards wearing black to honor those deadened by misogyny; most female winners will remark on overcoming sexual misconduct as Hollywood’s number one priority.
Time Magazine chose as 2017’s ‘Person of the Year’ the ‘silence-breakers’: women–some entertainers–who refused to be the dirty little secrets of men in power. Writers of the tribute raised a good point: ‘While anger can start a revolution, it cannot negotiate the more delicate dance steps needed for true social change…there’s a great deal at stake in how we assess these new boundaries, for men and women together.’
Jessica Chastain and Meryl Streep.
What are the new boundaries? Is Hollywood capable of covering and protecting its beautiful flesh? Renowned for pushing limits until they shatter, can the entertainment industry tow a line, any line that refuses sexual ‘freedom’?
Case in point. At the same awards ceremony where Jessica Chastain insisted that Hollywood clean up its act (the Palm Springs Film Festival), the young actor Timothee Chalamet won an award for playing a 17-year-old boy having an affair with a 24-year-old man in the film Call Me By Your Name; he thanked his costar’s wife for ‘letting me crawl all over her husband for two months.’ Huh.
In its yearend edition (Dec. 18th, 2017) featuring the ‘silence-breakers’, Time chose this romantic tale of sexual abuse as its sixth best film of the year. Times critic Stephanie Zacharak gushed over the film-as a ‘rapturous, bittersweet seduction. To fall into its arms is bliss.’ No mention that its story centers on a classic Hollywood hunk seducing a teen, and performing a host of orgasmic sexual acts with him. It is soft porn with literary pretensions. Breaking emotional, spiritual, and physical boundaries with other men cost Kevin Spacey his career. It will make the careers of the actors in Call Me By Your Name. So Hollywood says ‘Me Too’ to some, and ‘Not You’ to the films that seduce us.
Having seen the film (please don’t, as its explicit content is disturbing), I marveled at the lack of moral tension contained in it. The boy’s father consoles his distraught son by blessing this most special friendship and even expressing his regret over not ever having had such a same-gender affair. (Adding to the irony: the seducer was the father’s academic assistant whom ‘Dad’ invited into the home to share a room next to his son!) Even worse is the lack of tension experienced by Hollywood over the film. Have you heard any outcry against it?
Apparently Hollywood is selective in protecting human dignity. The industry must become consistent in her moral revolution. That must apply first and foremost to children. If Hollywood wants to create new boundaries then it must also repent for breaking good ones. Hollywood abuses everyone by applauding Call Me By Your Name.
‘The incarnation has forever hallowed the flesh.’ Charles Williams (as quoted by Leanne Payne in The Healing Presence)
Today we rejoice in God assuming baby flesh—the Father and Son’s choice for the King of glory to become as small and dependent as we are. It’s weird: here I am on the crest of my 60th Christmas and I feel smaller than ever, reduced to utter dependence upon Jesus. Our spiritual life is not like our psychological journey in which we master one stage in order to proceed onto the next. In Jesus, we are continually reduced to His greater Life until we, aging fetuses all, launch into the Life for which we ache more today than yesterday.
It helps to revisit what happened on Christmas: ‘God really came down. He became an infant and placed Himself in a state of vulnerability and total dependence, which is the condition of a newborn human being. The Creator who holds the world in His hands, on whom we all depend, became a little child in need of human love’ (Dom Jean-Charles Nault). God depended on love.
That gives me hope. He gets the longing in our hearts for connection and communion, the ache for the full breast and strong chest, a yearning much deeper than survival or sexual needs: it is the ache to be enveloped and infused by the Creator. And here is the mystery of Christmas. The humble babe has never ceased to be Almighty God who declares to us today: ‘I am Jesus, and I will love you better than the best mother or father or friend or lover or spouse!’
God in humility entered into our dependency; in majesty, He offers Himself as the Source to whom we can cling. I don’t cling to people any more. But I linger longer in His Presence than before. The winds blow harder on my thinning skin. Over the last few weeks I have broken down on several occasions and just wept, His mercy priming my heart to feel the burden of those I love and to know somehow that Jesus is enough for them. Tears release my distress and draw me near the One who took on baby flesh in order to reduce me to utter dependence. Gloriously.
He upholds me for the sake of pure joy. Yesterday I dangled my grandson on one arm while throwing balls to our two labs. He loved it! His head bobbled as he tracked the dogs racing around the yard. What better than a laughing babe, rejoicing at creation for the first time? Jesus, Jacob, us. Merry Christmas.