Tag Archives: Adultery

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Binding Up the Betrayed Heart

‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me; He has sent Me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty for the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication from our God’ (IS. 61:1, 2).

I just read an essay in the New York Times with an all-too-familiar narrative: man divorces pretty good wife and kids in order to hook up with others, in this case, other men. His adventures, including ripping the clothes off a new friend, are framed as freedom. Our heightened awareness of the impact of sexual assault (‘me too’) apparently does not extend to the no less devastating assault of adultery upon families: male and female spouses who betray loved ones continually through illegal bodily offerings. Adulterers impoverish and imprison the ones who love them most in their quest for a better orgasm.

Adultery and divorce jackhammer human hearts. No spouse or child is left unshaken; the bad choices of another create a fault line that quakes like seizures over the course of many lifetimes.

Until Jesus binds up their broken hearts. I love the above-mentioned verses from Isaiah which Jesus cites (LK 4:18) when He announced His public ministry. He comes to heal the betrayed heart! His healing Presence is how He vindicates those fractured by the folly of others. How? He opens His flesh to assume our lacerations. And our shame. I believe that the shame of adultery is greater upon loved ones than upon the perpetrator; spouses and kids now live under a shadow they neither chose nor can grasp.

The betrayed ask themselves: ‘What’s wrong with me?’ Jesus takes His advantage. He draws the broken-hearted to Himself where His wisdom, His steadying hand and His peace that surpasses understanding and circumstance elicits good grief. He speaks the healing Word: ‘This is not your fault; I bind away your accuser and confirm the truth–you are wanted, you are mine, and I will never leave you nor forsake you. I close the gap in my spousal devotion to you!’

These would be mere ideas if we as members of Christ did not do our part. We are the ones who Jesus calls to be His hands and eyes and words and heart for the betrayed. As our culture reframes shameful acts as ‘freedom’, we must welcome the shamed into fellowship. We are the ones Jesus calls ‘to give greater honor to the parts of the body that lack honor’ (1 Cor. 12:24-26). Honor is slaughtered in persons betrayed by adultery and divorce. It is our job to champion the dishonored and to help them exchange another’s sin for a double portion of blessing. We can help them to realize ‘the year of God’s favor.’

We must also note that betrayers can exchange their shame for honor too. Just after reading the Times essay, I heard from a married friend who committed a string of adulteries. Broken by the impact of his sin, he repented and now makes every effort to reconcile with his wife. Having devastated her, he now encourages her healing by living the truth-in-love. Only Jesus can cancel out adultery by provoking and sustaining one’s lifelong repentance. Once an adulterer, no longer an adulterer! Jesus opens prison doors for the betrayed and betrayers.

May this Advent, a beginning unlike any other, become your ‘year of God’s favor.’

‘Instead of their shame, my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, they will rejoice in their inheritance; so they will receive a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs.’ (IS. 61: 7)

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Magdalenes-in-the-Making

As I looked out at the Latinos who had come forward to ‘clean house’, I was struck by their radiance. Though time-worn, their faces looked new; defilement underfoot, they beamed like virgins. Pure gratitude shone from hearts washed afresh by the blood, water and Spirit. I marveled at this corporate witness of our faith’s most basic truth: Jesus makes all things new…

Such cleansing required good hard work from all who attended our Living Waters Training in the flowering hills just south of Mexico City. Natural beauty hid a slew of demons—lay leaders and clergy from around Latin America had resumes of sexual abuse, sexual addiction, adultery, and religious abuse, with generational sins empowering shame and lust. Young ones among us bore the mark of ‘gay’-affirming mandates from nations like Argentina, and Mexico which approved ‘gay marriage’ just days before the US Supreme Court did.

Our international leadership team entered into the battle being waged for souls, and had to contend with irrational forces seeking to weary and divide us. God sustained us through His Spirit; we responded through constant prayer. We offered ourselves at Jesus’ altar on behalf of all who had been sacrificed on the altar of lust—an altar constructed by a culture of honor that neatly hides the violence of sexual sin committed against the most vulnerable.

I thought of Mary Magdalene from whom Jesus expelled seven demons. In His delivering Spirit, I called all who already had confessed their sins to renounce the demons that had empowered those sins. Like Jesus, we were taking authority over our own temples and casting out robbers who had desecrated our ‘homes.’ The Spirit, the blood, the water— gifts that confirm what Jesus has already done on our behalf —converged to renew us in the almighty tenderness of our God.

When He draws close, the demons tremble and we must act decisively. He is holy. Intimacy with the holy God requires that we refuse the idols around which demons congregate. We did just that. God came in power and cleansed us powerfully so He could dwell with us. We are His; virginal sons and daughters.

Like Mary Magdalene, we embody His witness. Jesus makes all things new!
‘What counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule.’
(Gal. 6: 15b, 16a)

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Pray More

‘Patience, prayer and silence—these are what give strength to the soul.’ St. Faustina

If we want to be more like Jesus, we must be with Him more. And do less of everything else. Our roots must sink and stay deep in the Source if we want to bear fruit that remains.

I do badly when first thoughts of the day revolve around unsolved problems. I start striving, and my words and actions become cutting. I know right away that I am not in Christ; I am worldly, and thus unable reveal Him to the world.

I used to wake up each morning and see if the little red light was flashing on my phone. My first thought of the day revolved around which text or email or phone message needed me. One morning, weary and anxious after a fitful sleep, I bawled out a colleague who had left a disturbing message during the night.

So the next morning I bypassed the phone; I vowed to pray for a good while before anything else.

I cannot live like a Christian unless I am founded in Christ. That means opening my heart and hands to Him in quiet before saying anything to anybody. My loved ones deserve better.

And Jesus expects more of me, and of all who claim to know Him. He said that ‘unless our righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, we won’t enter His Kingdom.’ (Matt. 5:20) Contrary to popular opinion, the Pharisees were good, conscientious people. But Jesus raises the bar for everyone when He equates murder with bawling out a colleague and adultery with thinking lustfully of another. He then broadens ‘loved ones’ to those who hate us and treat us cruelly.

How can we love like that–purely, gently, non-defensively–without more of Him? We need to go deeper in Christ if our love is to exceed the Pharisees’.

Pray more. Do and say less. Let what you say and do arise out of increasing times of silence before Him. Judge the fruit yourself. Do we manifest love, peace, joy and self-control? Or anger, lust, and self-vindication?

‘Let those who are singularly active, who think they can win the world with their preaching and exterior works, observe here that they would profit the church and please God much more…if they were to spend at least half of this time with God in prayer…They would certainly accomplish more, and with less labor, by one work than they otherwise would by a thousand…Without prayer they would do a great deal of hammering but accomplish little, and sometimes nothing, and even at times cause harm.’ St. John of the Cross

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Mercy for the Worldly Church

Join us today at 3pm (CST) as we intercede for loved ones in need of God’s mercy.

Mercy for the Worldly Church

40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012 – Day 35

O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church, give us holy priests. You Yourself, maintain them in holiness. O Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil’s traps and snares which are continually set for the souls of priests. May the power of Your Mercy, O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests, for You can do all things. (1052)

I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching, she misleads my servants into sexual immorality. I have given her time to repent of her immorality but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her to suffer intensely unless they repent of their ways. I will strike her children dead. (Rev. 2: 20-23)

Grant us a holy fear, O God, of worldly love that masks as ‘holy’. We are sick in our sin, unable to do Your will because we lack truth and discipline. Would you grant us Mercy to repent? And would You raise up repentant leaders who would lead others in genuine holiness and wholeness? Grant us holy leaders, and may each of us do our part to ensure their well-being.

For the complete 40 Days of Mercy Devotional – Lent 2012, click here to download.  For a paper copy, United States only, please call Desert Streams Ministries at (866) 359-0500. 

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry from the diary is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com

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Mercy for the Worldly Church

Day 35 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy for the Worldly Church

‘O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church, give us holy priests. You Yourself, maintain them in holiness. O Divine and Great High Priest, may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them from the devil’s traps and snares which are continually set for the souls of priests. May the power of Your Mercy, O Lord, shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests, for You can do all things.’ (1052)

St. Faustina is right in prayerfully advocating for our leaders. (I would extend this to all clergy, both Protestant and Catholic.) We must ask the Lord to strengthen leaders daily against demonic powers that deaden their authority and tempt them to infect others with a form of love that could only be described as worldly.

The first form of worldly love is love without discipline. It may be sourced in several things. ‘I am a weak leader who is not free from sin in some areas, so how can I judge you for your sin? We are all saved by grace anyway.’ Or ‘the Church has been so hard on people, I don’t want to be heavy; grace to you in your sin.’

How else do adulterers and pedophiles and others who use and abuse others in their sin get away with murder in the Church? From leaders who have become worldly, and who confuse forgiving offenders with their need for discipline.

What we fail to see is that sin hurts others, often those much less powerful than the one confessing his/her sin. And such sin grieves God badly. It infects His house. Leaders must learn to impose limits on those who risk damaging others with their sin.

Another form of worldly love is love without truth. Here leaders mirror worldly ethics for sexuality and relationships. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the homosexual question. Most ‘Christian’ higher education on the topic merely parrots secular views on the moral neutrality of homosexuality and how the worst thing you can do is to encourage the struggler onto anything higher or truer.

Why else would I hear reports of Catholic priests urging parents to celebrate the homosexuality of a child or dissuading same-sex strugglers from pursuing a course of healing? Love demands that we uphold truth-in-love regarding sexuality. When love becomes worldly, we bar individuals from their true hope in Christ.

And leaders run the risk of becoming immoral themselves, conceiving their own weaknesses into wickedness. I am appalled at the number of pastors and priests I know who regularly visit porn websites and live on the edge of crossing lines with those they serve, while others consider themselves ‘gay.’

Refusing the love that is full of truth and discipline, they succumb to the spirit of the age.

I contend that we need a new and merciful standard for our leaders. That means demanding that leaders are rigorous about submitting their moral weaknesses to mature colleagues, and fully, evidently repentant over wickedness. Until they are, they must be disciplined until they are ready to lead the sheep into holiness by their good example.

Truth and Mercy go hand-in-hand. Priests and pastors alike must repent of any alliance they have made with worldly love, that is, love unrefined by truth and discipline. We need love rich in these two minerals if we are to become a Church that disciplines her own. We will then no longer be under the world’s judgment; we will become spotless and pure, the Bride who has made herself ready. (Rev. 19:7)

‘I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching, she misleads my servants into sexual immorality. I have given her time to repent of her immorality but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her to suffer intensely unless they repent of their ways. I will strike her children dead.’ (Rev. 2:20-23)

‘Grant us a holy fear, O God, of worldly love that masks as ‘holy’. We are sick in our sin, unable to do Your will because we lack truth and discipline. Would you grant us Mercy to repent? And would You raise up repentant leaders who would lead others in genuine holiness and wholeness? Grant us holy leaders, and may each of us do our part to ensure their well-being.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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