Tag Archives: Christian Arrogance

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

New Pharisee 3

Only through the Cross and the mercy released from the One who gave all can we counter the new Pharisee.

Boy, do we need it now. I am witnessing a new Pharisaic tendency in Christian spokespeople for ‘GLBT’ (etc.) communities. Instead of surrendering the sexually broken ‘selves’ to Jesus, these ones make huge efforts to justify their homosexuality. Though some claim orthodoxy (no sex outside of marriage), they nevertheless seek to integrate the gay self and ‘celebrate the grace of God in homosexual terms.’

Precepts of the new Pharisee include:

  • Exempting themselves from a theological anthropology that defines humanity as made in God’s image as male and female. Instead, these GLBTers define their humanity as fundamentally homosexual. Same-sex attraction sets them apart from straight people. Being ‘gay’ figures in profoundly to how they define themselves.
  • A split between being and doing. Though some may not believe in acting upon one’s homosexuality, they encourage strugglers to integrate their homosexuality. Given the momentum toward gay affirmation throughout the Christian culture, I suspect that abstinence will fall way as these ones find ‘good’ gay partnerships.
  • According to Christian GLBTers, Jesus chooses to not effect much, if any, change of their sexual inclinations. Alan Chambers is now infamous for his assertion that 99.9% of all persons with SSA seeking change do not change. Implicit in this assertion is that nature figures in more profoundly to the roots of SSA than nurture. For the new Pharisee, gay people are probably hardwired at birth and the redeeming power of Jesus does not touch this ‘gay’ foundation. Though one might say in the abstract that the ‘fall’ is responsible for SSA, (s)he actually concludes there is nothing wrong with it.
  • A new narrative in which one has little if any psychological brokenness undergirding their SSA. The new Pharisee need not muck around with messy relational and family-of-origin factors, cultural influences, or specific incidents that altered one’s sexual development. ‘Gay’ just is and needs no healing. ‘Healing’ efforts are framed as an old paradigm that they rather smugly refuse on the ground of their rather normal lives.
  • Scandalizing reparative therapy. Christian GLBTers scorn clinical efforts to overcome SSA. They suspect any therapeutic effort to ‘change’ on the ground that it manipulates and may even abuse people who cannot change anyway. Despite the fact that most have not actually surrendered their sexuality to a constructive course of action, they denounce such action and claim that the only just action is to integrate their homosexuality.

In our current Living Waters group, we are asking Jesus through His blood and Spirit to reveal the deep wounds that set us adrift in the first place. And He is answering, with insights that can only be understood as reparative, and with a Love that can only be experienced as healing.

In my small group, men from a variety of backgrounds are opening to the grace pouring from Calvary into the foundations of their humanity. We open our lives to God and each other. He comes as we prayerfully welcome Him; He offers Himself as the answer to our deepest needs for love and identity.

While preparing for one such meeting, God reminded me of a series of toxic early experiences in relation to other males. I felt the pain of these memories deeply. A few nights later I had a dream. While driving quickly through a strange town my car stalled and I sought help. I saw a small boy lying wounded and unattended in the street. I began to pray for his healing. I then felt a warm masculine presence reaching his arm over me and praying for the child too. It was a strong, tender man: Jesus? Perhaps. His very presence healed me as I sought to give life to the wounded one in my arms.

The Cross opens the horizon of our real brokenness and real healing. Mercy exposes faulty foundations and secures them in Love. Only Mercy compels us to drop our self-justifications. Manifest in a merciful people, Jesus makes a place for the new Pharisee at the foot of the Cross.

‘The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the one who is not scandalized by Me.’ (Luke 7: 22, 23)

Read The Sin Blog

New Pharisee 2

‘Your most merciful Heart is all my hope. I have nothing for my defense but only Your mercy; in it lies all my trust.’ St. Faustina Kowalska

The New Pharisee 2 Photo by RottnApplesHow do you restrain the inner Pharisee? Stay near the truth of your own sinfulness and the Cross. That fount of Mercy confirms our worst impulses but also cleanses us at their source. Then, together with all the saints, we discover the depth and power of love that becomes our offering to others. We become good gifts, the fruit of Calvary to a hungry world.

I witnessed this profoundly at our first Living Waters meeting last week. The newly revised material centers on that theme of becoming good gifts to others. Together we expressed our starting points: SSA, addiction, high anxiety, and the ache of old wounds among them, as well as how shame hovers over these problems and veils the gift we aspire to be for others.

I wondered where to go with the ministry time. We needed the Cross, pure and simple. Before I could finish the call to come forward and unite our need for Mercy with the wood of Calvary, I saw in a flash a dark strain of sin in me. Prior to the meeting, Annette and I had just discussed an unresolved issue. For the first time, through the illumination of the Spirit, I saw my sin clearly.

Love for her mingled with remorse and shame and I knew only Calvary would suffice. At the Cross (literally), together with fellow strugglers, we lingered. We endured the shame of sin for the joy of discovering our Advocate in overcoming sin. Over the course of our 20 weeks together, we shall learn that Mercy alone is our cure. We will continue to make that great exchange: surrendering sin and receiving in turn a double portion of His blessing as we pray for each other.

The truth of sin’s misery opens us to the Mercy that can be ours. Steeped in Mercy, we become fruitful gifts. Why then do we strive to justify our own virtue?

Could it be that the enemy of our souls has blinded our eyes to the Mercy that is there for us? Perhaps the reason that we cling to dehumanizing attitudes and behaviors is because we do not believe that there is anything for us in their place.

How else can you explain the irrational power at work in the weaknesses of those who insist that the ‘gay self’ or any other number of ‘selves’ is their deepest, truest expression? Cut off from Mercy, these ones construct fortresses to defend them from the threat of non-being. Here the enemy empowers a host of powerful ‘solutions’ to repair a broken life. It may be a sensually-exciting relationship or solidarity with others seeking ‘equality.’

Yet one’s new power is not sourced in God but a kind of self-justification that resists God and insists on its own well-being. Those who don’t like these new ‘solutions’ are judged harshly. Kind of like a Pharisee…

We are now witnessing this new brand of Pharisee with a vengeance. Activists from the GLBT (etc.) community convey a kind of moral and psychological invulnerability which when countered provokes an ugly defensiveness. And the enemy empowers this cause. Never before have we seen such a radical and irrational shift in public opinion concerning ‘gender diversity.’ What was once commonly understood as brokenness is now championed as an often superior alternative to male and female.

Only Mercy can counter this new Pharisee. Only living water can saturate the broken foundation on which these constructs are built. Only Mercy can dissolve these defenses. The false confidence and fleeting joy of these fractured ‘selves’ can only be displaced by a greater love.

Only Mercy invites us to own our most profound hunger. Jesus becomes the meal. At the Cross, the site of His complete self-giving, we can lay down our lies and welcome the Truth that makes all things new.

‘You say, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing. But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.” ’ (Rev. 3: 17)

The New Pharasees

New Pharisee

‘I desire trust from My creatures. Encourage souls to place their trust in My fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than all the grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the immeasurable depths of My mercy.’ Jesus to St. Faustina

The New PharaseesI could not believe it. A quiet acquaintance began to bring along a remarkably younger same-gender ‘partner’ to the gym; their evident attraction disgusted me. I felt angry at them for messing up my morning ritual with their mutual adoration and also superior for being ‘healed’ enough to disdain rather than to envy them.

Jesus addressed my perverted heart in The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Luke starts out strong: ‘To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable.’ (18: 9) Busted. Jesus got my attention.

The Pharisee thanks God for raising him above the stink of others’ sin—the evils of robbery and adultery, in particular. He does not thank God from saving him from those sins but implies he’s glad for his natural virtue that sets him apart.

Unlike the Pharisee, I know deeply this adultery of heart—bypassing God in order to idealize some creature and worship him/her. I remembered sin’s robbery in my own life, and those I had robbed by reducing them to my compulsive needs. And I recalled the long, slow climb out of the pit, one confession at a time, a practice I sustain daily in order to stay out of that pit.

I sometimes consider the deep imprint of sexual compulsion and can only conclude that God permits struggle in order to dig a deeper well of mercy in those of us graced by the awareness of sin’s misery. Mercy for sin’s misery: no wonder that the Latin word of mercy—‘misericordia’—literally means ‘miserable one.’

The miserable heart is the heart inclined to mercy. What a grace to surrender one’s ache to the only Source that can restore it. Like water, mercy seeks the lowest driest place and saturates it.

For release from sin’s misery and release for holy partnerships, I can only thank the God of mercy. Any righteousness I possess is a byproduct of that mercy.

Adultery is one thing; confidence in one’s own virtue is another. Arrogance remained the sin of this new Pharisee. Religious pride like mine prevents one from looking on sinners with eyes of mercy. Instead we see them as blights and bothers, below the mercy line. Jesus Himself spoke of this when He defined the human heart as the source, not only of adultery and sexual immorality, but of ‘slander and arrogance.’ (Mk 7: 21, 22)

Such arrogance is dangerous to souls. If cut off from mercy, my ‘righteousness’ has power to distance others from the mercy that could be theirs! That is reason alone to do what the tax collector did, to the disdain of the Pharisee. This suspect and much despised civil servant beat his chest and cried out to God (v. 13). The tax collector knew his misery and so he wailed for mercy.

I did the same. I realized that my righteousness could entomb me and others. I shattered that tomb with the cry for mercy; I renounced my arrogance and thanked God for the mercy that is my daily bread.

I began to fight prayerfully for the dignity of my gym friends. I finally got a chance to talk with the older one. His friend had left him and he was alone, wondering if God had a name. I hope he discovers the God of mercy, Jesus Christ.

We are growing in friendship and trust; we share more openly each time we meet. What a privilege to help him grow in his understanding of who Jesus really is. Mercy wins.

‘The tax collector, rather than the Pharisee, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’ (Lk 18:14)

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