Tag Archives: Charles Williams

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

No More Becoming

Leanne Payne used to quote Charles Williams’ line: ‘Hell is an image that knows no more becoming’ in reference to persons who stall in their growth as persons and cease to aspire to more.

That came to mind as I read a review on the latest ex-ex-gay film ‘Pray away’. You’ve heard it all before—Christians with sexual identity issues who vie for chastity then relent to the broad path of LGBT+ options. Instead of going quietly into the night, they live to blast everyone who supported their previous commitment.

This docu-melodrama takes the now tired genre (‘I tried, I lied, now I vilify’) to new lows of irrationality. Catch these soundbites:

Witness ‘defectors from the religious right’ in a ‘sobering account of toxic homophobia’ driven by ‘barbaric notions of forcing people to live a lie’ through ‘soul crushing behavior modification programs’! Gasp as they are ‘fed a diet of internalized self-hatred while having their trauma shaped by manipulative religious leaders into a testimony’! Wince at their ‘self-harm rituals’! Marvel that ‘he never lived an honest day in his life’ though ‘her body never allowed her to keep lying’! Discover ‘the bitter truth about a morally and psychologically unsound practice’! Be afraid, be very, very afraid!

Enough already. Besides the Hollywood Reporter’s over-the-top review, this genre’s limited appeal is founded on persons making new decisions about their sexuality then revising history, e.g. remaking pretty good Christian caregivers (I am one and I know most of them) into creatures from the black lagoon. The ex-ex-gay stars become winsome victims reveling in their great escape, and 15-minutes of fame.

I contend that these now repentant rainbow devotees are in conflict, and that their conflict expresses itself in such historic revision. It is a tried and true defense mechanism: ‘underneath it all, I am not sure if I am right about this gay superhighway so I am compelled to demonize all the old reminders of my previous path, in this case, the orthodox Christians who cheered me on what is difficult and counter-cultural’. Jesus called it ‘the narrow way that leads to life.’

Sad. My wife Annette said it best: ‘What do these men and women have now? The freedom to sleep with their roommates?’ I know the depth of same-sex attraction but deeper still, the awesome adventure of becoming the man of God’s design. It is more conflictual to buck the way of the Cross for ‘gay’ liberties than to surrender to the One who loves me most. Hell is an image that knows no more becoming.

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Gloriously Dependent

‘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.

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