Category: Sexual Brokenness

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

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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Naming Persons in Truth

‘So from now on we see no-one from a worldly point-of-view’ (2Cor 5:16).

It helps persons to name them as they really are. Everyone loses when we heed the false naming of persons according to feelings of same-sex attraction or other expressions of gender disintegration. We as Christians must lead the way by inviting others to align language with God’s vision for humanity. He made us and should be honored in how we see and what we say about others.

I refuse to call anyone ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ or ‘straight.’ I see a man or woman, made in God’s image. However estranged from Him, each person is deeply loved by the Father who through His Son seeks each out as His beloved son or daughter. He calls us to integrate our gender gift by learning how to befriend (not romanticize) our own gender and to honor the other as an essential good.

We set ourselves up for trouble when we adopt LGBT+ language; in doing so, we empower systems to grant a ‘people group’ status to an ever-morphing assortment of gender ‘selves.’ This proves dangerous to Christians. Last week, Canada’s Supreme Court ruled to remove graduate school accreditation from the law arm of Trinity Western University because this reputable Christian institution insists that its students abstain from sexual intimacy outside of marriage, a requirement deemed ‘discrimination’ by LGBT+ activists.

The Court ruled that abstinence clause would ‘deter LGBT+ students from attending the law school and would cause them harm.’ Wow. The state insists that Christian morality bow before a fractured band of persons who pretends to be a ‘people group.’

Not much different from AB 2943 in California. Based on false assumptions that persons are intrinsically wired as ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ from early childhood and will be devastated by anything less than a ‘gay’ wedding or gender ‘reassignment’, the state now seeks to remove any other option. In other words, the state seeks to make fraudulent a person’s decision to be reconciled to who God says he or she is.

We fight deception with proper language. Everyone can make the choice to integrate his or her gender; we base our way, and the words that describe it, on our Creator and Redeemer. He authors clarity, not confusion.

Speaking of confusion, a proudly Bible-based denomination with many good expressions in Kansas City has been significantly influenced by the ‘gay Christian’ slant of Wesley Hill. Hill embraces his same-sex attraction as identity, impermeable to change, yet holds to abstinence. I find that split between being and doing confusing.

Hill has impacted a Kansas City man who ‘gay’-identifies and who was recently ordained a minister in that denomination. He misleads others in his language and witness. Seeking no further integration in his sexual self, he exhibits a ‘gay’ sensibility in his identity and relationships with other men. He may be free from same-sex behavior but is unchaste, disintegrated. What can be expected from one who declares himself ‘gay’ as a Christian minister and leads others accordingly?

Finally, we see the impact of this confusion upon the most vulnerable. The New York Times celebrated two ‘men’ having a baby–in truth, one a woman pretending to be a man. This full-page article sought to normalize diverse families during ‘Pride’ month and ended up displaying the chaos that results when persons are encouraged to assume false selves. Honestly, their story descended into such confusion that even the one who gave birth remarked: ‘This is not real life; it’s some crazy soap opera.’ That may be a scream for consenting adults but now a child is involved who is daily subject to her confused caregivers.

Without consent. That is nothing short of child abuse, and everyone who champions LGBT+ selves without any consideration to God’s will and way may well be an accomplice to these injustices.

Christians run the risk of becoming insipid and dim when we begin to adopt LGBT+ jargon. Name persons in truth. See and say according to God’s will for our gendered humanity.

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Surrounded 2

My friend Jim Doman is man of the hour in California right now. He has organized pastors from all over the state through his group, Pastors United, to declare that Jesus transforms persons with gender problems in the face of AB 2943. I was honored that he featured the impact of Living Waters in a press conference he organized last week in Santa Ana.

Expectant, I was distressed to discover that I felt bad, really bad, as soon as I stepped on the plane. I later discovered I had walking pneumonia; all I knew then is that for some reason I could barely function.

Perfect conditions for the Kingdom of God! Without reserve, I shared my story and our fight for freedom of choice in California to an elegant-looking professional woman besides me. She quietly confessed that she had been in a 15-year relationship with a woman before she married her husband. We both agreed that the opposite gender keeps us sane, and it shouldn’t be a sin to say so.

After that, I could no longer sustain a clear thought. So I just let 40 years of worship music rise up from within and play. I was flooded with memories of all the churches throughout California we had served. It helped. My next flight was canceled, so I stalled out in the airport and feared I would not make it to Orange County.

Yet in truth I did not fear. It’s easy to trust God when you feel like dirt. I was docile and patient with cranky service people. And guess what? I kept getting texts from people like you who sent scriptures and encouragements from around the country. I meditated in the still of the night on the beauty of Christ’s body. When I arrived at the courthouse, just in the nick of time, I was greeted by a handful of old friends who came to support our fight for choice. We had served them at some point and they wanted to support our service. I was touched.

Doman had assembled a diverse group of pastors for the press conference: a variety of Latinos, Asians, and African–Americans who all testified beautifully to their transformation from ‘gay’ to Christ-centered. Everyone was in sync with each other. We needed unity because LGBT+ protesters were crass, invasive and heckled each speaker. An unseen Presence freed us to keep focus, stay loving, and speak soundly of the beauty of Jesus’ body in California.

The Church is beautiful here. That was my takeaway from the press conference. Whatever our trials, however far the pendulum swings in the direction of LGBT+ nonsense, Jesus remains clear and faithful in His members. AB 2943 goes up for vote soon in the senate and will most likely land on Gov. Brown’s desk by the end of the month. We pray, we wait, and we stay hopeful. We are surrounded. I limped back to the airport, as if sustained by a great cloud of witnesses. Heaven’s song flooded my heart til I could no longer hear the din of hecklers.

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Surrounded

“‘Go in the strength you have…am I not sending you?’ ‘But my family is the weakest and I am the least in my family…’ ‘I will be with you’, says the Lord.” (Judges 6:14-16)

I write in weakness; amid our busiest season of international ministry, Jesus has called me to do my part to combat AB 2943, up for vote this June in the California legislature. I combat this clever bit of fascism so that ‘every person experiencing same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria might be allowed to pursue help in achieving desired goals and outcomes.’

The golden state wants to decide our sexual destinies for us. Each of us must effort to keep the path clear for choice. Let us fight for choice together.

Would you please pray in the next couple days today for a press conference we shall be having tomorrow in Orange County, CA at 11am PST (Tuesday the 29th)?

I touch down for a moment in Kansas City after a heavenly training in Krakow Poland and leave soon for this important gathering in Santa Ana sponsored by Pastors United (check it out) where many like me who will testify to the glorious splendor of Jesus’ Kingdom—how He offered Himself as our way forward for sexual wholeness.

Weak, I am surrounded. I have dug wells of ‘living water’ in Southern California for decades; in this dry and weary land, I now experience the refreshment of the saints. Many of my best friends are wounded healers in CA who after years of chaste living and serving the broken in churches will testify alongside of me.

What joy! Alone we are weak, prone to wander, but together the Jesus who is present to the weak empowers us through the gift of one another. Together we sing a resounding hymn of praise that spans octaves of His faithful love in our messy lives. On one point we are utterly clear. Jesus met us in mercy and laid the foundation for a whole new way of loving. In California! There the Creator became our Redeemer; He gave us back our beauty. Let us make that way clear for generations of Californians-to-come.

Pray please, now for tomorrow, 11am PST, Tuesday the 29th. Thank you.

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Is the Pope Devolving?

In a private meeting with Juan Carlos Cruz, Chilean survivor of clerical sex abuse, Pope Francis reportedly told the ‘gay-identified’ Cruz that ‘God made him gay’ and ‘that you have to be happy with who you are.’

Huh. Always a chance the Pope was misquoted.  If not, I submit the following.

Pope Francis may have changed his views on what he terms ‘gender ideology;’ something he renounced in his last two encyclicals.   ‘Gender ideology’ holds to a distinctly non-Christian understanding of humanity; it demands that we accept any number of gender configurations on the grounds that they are inborn, unchangeable, and normal – morally neutral.  Telling another that ‘God made him gay’ is a pastoral application of ‘gender ideology,’ not a challenge of it.  The good Pope didn’t think it through.

Pope Francis fails to grasp that sexual abuse actually damages a child’s sexual development.  Recent studies show a strong corollary between adults who ‘gay-identify’ and their experience of sexual violation as kids.  Instead of attributing Cruz’s sexual identity to God, Pope Francis should ask him pardon for contributing to his same-sex attraction through a priest’s perverse invasion of his childhood.

Maybe the Pope makes the mistake of compensating for the damage done by giving Cruz a pass.  Letting go of reason, he assuages Cruz’s violation with a platitude like ‘you have to be happy with who you are.’

Jesus took a different approach with the woman caught in adultery.  Fierce, and with wise compassion, Jesus first defended her from a system designed to scourge her, not unlike blame shifting mucky mucks in the Catholic hierarchy who Francis rightly exposed and disciplined.  But Jesus, after every Pharisee dropped his stone, exhorted the woman ‘to leave her life of sin’ (John 8:11).  He didn’t encourage her ‘to be happy’ with her adulterous tendencies in the hope that she might be further fractured by immorality.

Pope Francis gives a platitude to one who needs inspired, fatherly guidance.  His kindness masks the cruelty of an ideology that confirms God’s children in a lie.  I applaud him for stepping up efforts to cleanse the Church of abuse; if this reported exchange is true, I correct him for springing one trap only to set another for the most vulnerable.

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