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Chastity: Order in Our Courts

Chastity: Order in Our Courts

Following Jesus to Calvary requires temperance, that gift of the Holy Spirit which sets love in order within us. The ordered soul loves to linger with Jesus. Yet we with shifting, bloodshot eyes struggle to keep watch with Him. Gerald May is right: ‘Addicts cannot meditate.’ So we cry out: ‘Come Holy Spirit, set love in order within us by uniting us with the One who has power to compose us. Make us whole as we fix our eyes on the One who suffers to set us free!’

Leanne Payne describes the peril of the divided heart: ‘An unhealthy fantasy life destroys. It wars against the true imagination which can intuit the real and thus is creative. When our minds are pregnant with illusion, we cannot be impregnated with what is true.’ (The Healing Presence) This Holy Week let us ask Jesus to take every lie that divides our hearts and unite us with Himself through His Spirit. May we linger longer with Him, uniting our suffering with His as we await new life.

Chastity is the first fruit of temperance. It derives its meaning from 1Cor. 12:24 in which St. Paul describes how God orders His members into one whole Body, ‘giving greater honor to the parts that lack it.’ So too does God order the various parts of our individual humanity into a whole. Chastity involves the integration of sexual love—the powerful, frustrating well of desire we bear in our bodies—with our first love relationship with Jesus (CCC #2335).

The Holy Spirit guides this lifetime goal of integration. Becoming chaste is about becoming whole, and involves as much our accepting the good gift of our gendered humanity as it does rejecting ‘the seductive power of an artificial civilization driven by lust and greed.’ (Joseph Pieper; 1Thes. 4:3-8)) Knowing how we subject our gift to La La Land, we cry out: ‘Jesus, the very forces that gave us life now threaten to destroy it. Have mercy, holy God!’

He does have mercy. His kindness draws us and binds up our fractures so we can abide longer with Him. His purpose in ordering our sexuality? So we can enjoy creation with the One who created it. He does not want His world to demonize us but rather to be a source of delight, within the loving limits of truth and the Spirit-fed virtues of temperance and chastity. How liberating to turn from sensational self-interest toward a genuine desire to know and honor the whole of a person!

We cleave to the One who is ‘resolute toward Jerusalem’ where Calvary awaits Him (LK 9:51). He calls us to walk with Him so we can gift others with a whole (enough) witness of gender clarity and tempered desire. We become for them a witness of the God who amid suffering binds up sorrow with love.

‘We seek to be chaste because someone we love needs us to be chaste.’ – Heather King

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Love

God gave everything for us at Calvary. He poured out His life, which is the best definition of love I know. We have all (I hope) known someone who sacrificed for us. But he or she did not give everything. God did. He died for us.

He died for us in order to gain us: He died to draw near to us, to be with us, to calm us with His Presence, to speak words we can hear, to nourish us with His body and blood. He ‘who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see’ (1T 6:16) humbled Himself in His Son and came closer to us than a mother or a lover ever could.

Love means God comes near to us in Jesus. We who are little and rebellious and unable to love Him back now have access to God through this Jesus. We are not alone anymore. Because of Him, we need not be destabilized by other lovers. All He asks is that we give everything to Him.

That seems like a lot. But it’s the only way we can live happy lives. To know Him but to serve other gods is torture, hell before hell. Discovering the secret of surrender opens to us the music of the spheres, the peace that surpasses understanding, unbounded joy. We die to worldly distractions in order to rest in holy love, to enjoy the fruit of His suffering–the Creator’s desire for intimate union with His human creation.

I want to rest in the arms of the One who fought for me. I want to know that sweetness in full. To do so, Oswald Chambers quotes St. Paul: ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’ (Gal. 2:20); “These words mean the breaking of my independence with my own hand and surrendering to the supremacy of the Lord Jesus…it means breaking the husk of my individual independence of God, and the emancipating of my personality with Himself, not for my own ideas, but for absolute loyalty to Jesus.”

Lent then is an opportunity to let go of specific distractions so we can know Him more. It is simple: we give Him more space to love us; in gratitude, we love Him back. That rhythm sets in motion the ordering of our other loves, the people He calls us to love.

Immersed in His Spirit of love, we may hurt when we discover that we have loved others poorly, be it in needing another too much out of disordered desire or withholding love because one threatened us or did not give us what we wanted.

Our pain is good. Weep and rejoice in His mercy that renews our efforts to love others better. The Lord is faithful. He will not leave us alone in our human loves. He loves us and them too much! He converts us continuously with His self-giving until we love as He does. By the time we see Him face-to-face, we may well love others better than we do now.

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Faith

We are healed and we will be healed by faith in Jesus. So will our loved ones. To stop trusting Jesus for His full and perfect will for everyone we love (including ourselves) negates the power of what He won for us at Calvary. ‘By His wounds we are healed’ (IS. 53:5; 1P2:24). Period.

Like every virtue, faith is both a gift of grace and an arduous goal. For persons coming out of disordered identities and desire, it is easy to trust Jesus when we experience ourselves as solid expressions of our gender, our ‘sap’ flowing in creative directions. It’s quite another to trust Him for healing when we burn with lust and self-hatred. How much more difficult is faith in God for the parent whose adult-child announces the ‘gay’ wedding or gender reassignment? ‘Faith, the evidence of things not seen,’ (Heb. 11:1) indeed!

It helps to anchor our faith in Gospel accounts of healing; over and over again, Jesus honors the faith of afflicted ones (morally, physically, emotionally) by restoring them completely (Matt. 9:22, 15:28; MK 5:34; LK 17:19; 18:42, etc.). Today, we tend to use Gospel healing accounts as metaphors for healing, as if Jesus’ touch is a spiritual abstraction. That becomes an excuse for unbelief. I love the theology of Dr. George Eldon Ladd (The Presence of the Future, Eerdmans) who majored on healing and deliverance as evidence of God’s Kingdom come in Jesus, a key that John Wimber utilized unlike any other leader as he led the Vineyard movement (of which I was privileged to be a part for twenty years.)

Wimber knew that God’s Kingdom reign was heavenly, the ‘not yet’ of our pilgrim journey, but that Jesus brought heaven-to-earth ‘now’; Christ demonstrated tomorrow’s blessing today through signs and wonders. That means we as Christ’s followers, endowed with the Spirit’s power, can heal others this side of heaven. That requires faith in the unseen reality of Jesus who restores the afflicted through His faithful ones (JN 14:12). That drives our work at Desert Stream, and defines us as a Kingdom people who cry out constantly: ‘Come Holy Spirit, and do what only You can do for hurting ones, starting with us, the staff!’

The fact that we as a team (who have been praying and healing for decades) still cry out indicates that we live between two ages—‘the now and the not yet.’ We trust God to establish His rule and reign in our midst but know also that we are en route to full Kingdom reign.

I can recall multiple healings that Jesus has done at the core of my gendered and sexual self, each one a marvel of grace tied directly to sources of same-sex attraction. But I still must pick up my little cross daily, which means remembering who I am as a son of the Father, rebuking the devourer, and making good moral choices that ensure the health of family and friends.

Sometimes that cross is easy and light, at other times, a weight that can be carried only with the help of others. I can bear the moral effort required by faith because God has opened the eyes of my heart (Eph. 1:18). That is the gift of faith; I see and trust Jesus. I want no other Kingdom but His, and He grants me glimpses of this Kingdom as we walk together toward what I cannot see in full.

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Chastity and Mercy 4: River Near

‘She who has been forgiven of much will love much’ (LK 7:47).

Turning from our unchaste ways becomes beautiful when we turn toward Jesus. It’s not only family and friends we violated with our jagged divides; we pierced Him too. He retaliates by releasing a fountain of affection for us (Zech. 12:10-13:2) that cleanses and feeds us like the best mother and confirms us like the best father. St. Augustine said that the Church herself was born from Christ’s wounds– the blood and water released at Calvary (JN 19: 34). I would add that her chastity was born there too as we the divided bathe and become whole in the river of His life, poured out for our freedom.

No-one better reveals the magnetic pull of Jesus’ mercy than the sinful woman in LK 7: 36-50. Somehow she knew that He alone could set her free from the shameful divisions in her life (probably related to sexual immorality). Socially, the religious elite withered her with just one glance to remind her that she was unfit for holy love. That did not stop her. When she saw Jesus dining with a Pharisee, she seized the moment, enduring the shame for the Mercy sitting before her. She threw herself at His feet and offered her all to Him with great sobs of repentance. I like to think of her positioning herself before His flood of blood and water until it engulfed her and surpassed her tears.

All the while the Pharisee looked askance at the messy encounter. The woman had to contend with his scorn and judgment, a divide that had separated her for too long from the Source of her wholeness. No more! Mercy had permeated her in the person of Jesus and she drew near to Him, never to let go of Him as the link to the life she wanted to live. Her faith saved her; she proceeded in peace (v.50).

She demonstrates to all of us who struggle with moral divides and shame that our cure lies in positioning ourselves before Jesus. Our chastity depends on Him. And it depends on the moral effort we make to abide in familiar, intimate communion with Him. The Catechism is clear that our chastity is ‘a long and exacting work’ that can never ‘be acquired once and for all’ (#2342). Yet it is also ‘a gift from God, a grace’ granted to us by the Holy Spirit to become like Jesus (#2345).

The beautiful thing is that we become like Him through Him; we position ourselves before His merciful flood. That should include stirring up the waters of our baptism in multiple confessions, and many trips to the communion table where we unite our ache with the feast of His body and blood. It may involve extended silence before Him, meditating on Scripture, singing simple love songs to Him and listening to Him sing over us. He has given us a host of ways to live in the river. He is near. It is up to us to get in the water.

That means all of us, regardless of our sexual sin. Though no person’s disintegration is exactly alike, the source of our wholeness is: Jesus Christ. It is inspired that we do not know the ‘sin’ of the sinful woman–was it lust, masturbation, pornography, fornication, or lesbian activity? Was she a prostitute, perhaps the victim of rape? All of these are included in the Catechism as offenses against chastity (#2351-2359). We who have fractured and been fractured find freedom at His feet. Like her, may our weeping be assumed in the river of Mercy.

‘Jesus, we love You. We thank You, Lord of the Universe, that You draw near to us in our divided state. Help us to see Your mercy more closely than we see the Pharisee. Thank You that You are our one thing, our everything, the consummate friend. Thank You that You are the gift and the goal of our wholeness. Holy Spirit, remind us of the many ways we can live in the river. May we act on those promptings with surety of will and so contribute to the freedom of many. Grant us patience for the lifetime plan of becoming chaste.’

 

We are looking to hire an Assistant Director for Desert Stream Ministries. Here is the job description if you’d like to know more.

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October 25: Flesh of Our Flesh

‘The bride belongs to the bridegroom.’ (Jn 3:29)

We who welcome the Cross as the sign and seal of God’s unfailing love for us welcome Jesus as Lover. Calvary is the means by which He betroths Himself to us. His broken flesh is the means by which He incarnates Himself into our flesh—the whole of our humanity. Blood tore the veil of sin, water cleanses us for Him, His Spirit indwells us and makes us new. We are His, He is ours.

St. Paul recognized this profoundly. He addressed the sexual impurities of the Corinthians as the spiritual adulteries that they were. ‘The Lord is meant for the body, and the body for the Lord’ (1Cor 6:13) he exclaimed, then forbade them from spiritually bonding with false lovers as to prevent them from breaking one-Spirit communion with God. He reminds us that Christians—purchased by Jesus through His blood, and raised with Him through His Spirit–now belong to God in our very bodies. His faithful love commands a faithful, bodily response to Him.

I just met with an Archbishop whose eyes conveyed the depth of his spousal bond with Jesus. He wanted to know more about Living Waters but actually I needed to know something from him. As we shared with the Church leader about how we minister to persons coming out of deep sexual sin and wounding, he replied: ‘The key to all of this is intimacy with Jesus.’ Enough said. In exchange for all my words, he summarized the essence of what we and all healers do (or should do): invite broken ones into the Cross—bridal intimacy that has power to transform the most sin-wracked frames into vessels of honor.

Many of us have served couples whose one-flesh unity was ruptured by sexual infidelity; some of us have been those couples. The beauty of yielding our bodies to give love highlights the damage done by breaking vows with our bodies. If we can see and ache for the infidelities we have committed with each other, might we not ask God for the grace to feel the damage done when we as mere creatures violate our spousal pledge to the Creator?

His intimate love invites us to surrender our heart afresh to Him, especially when native lust tempts us to wander. As we grieve over sin, let us also lament the spiritual adultery which resists communion with the very One who is our cure. His very Presence is the antidote for the addictive soul; He alone composes us and invites us to rest once more in perfect love.

‘The knowledge that God is truly with us—that it is possible to be in familiar communion with Him—is the primary need of every lonely, suffering soul. Our work as ministers is that of praying “Come Lord Jesus” then inviting each one into the healing Presence.’ Leanne Payne

Please join us as we pray:

1. Ohio, Crispin & Annelyse DeBellis – Coordinators: For strength and vision for Cris & Annelyse, for existing groups and to see new groups established. Blessings on partnership with their church to establish more Living Waters groups throughout Ohio.

2. Aguas Vivas: Cordoba, Argentina, Maria-Innes- Coordinator: For Lord’s guidance, strength and protection as they finish their first Aguas Vivas (LW) group.

3. RHN: Prayer for wisdom, discernment and protection for RHN board members: Andrew Comiskey; Stephen Black; Karen Booth; Robert Gagnon; Denise Schick; Jason Thompson.

“Courage for Reverend Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury), that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD BLOGS & PRAYER POINTS FOR OCTOBER 23, 24, 25, 26

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