Tag Archives: courage

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
becoming home

Becoming Home

‘We fully “become” our true selves within relationships. A positive sense of self, rooted in worth and value, arises out of an attuned, empathic, supportive and caring environment in which secure attachment is established. By caring for and attuning to another’s needs, and by empathizing with his or her emotional world, we help others to internalize a sense of well-being.’
Dr. Janelle Hallman, Living the Truth in Love (Ignatius Press)

How many young persons are emotionally homeless? How many have been set adrift by a break in early bonds of love? How many angry, hungry lambs forsake the witness of their own bodies and the Good Shepherd then morph into a number of selves and sexual partnerships in order to secure that love? How much of the ‘trans’ craze is undergirded by the near inability of persons to welcome the good gift of their gendered humanity through whole-enough persons who make a home for them in their constant love?

These questions arose for me throughout an intensive leadership day sponsored by Courage last week. Dr. Paul McHugh of John Hopkins University who led his team there to stop gender reassignment surgery when it became clear that most young people change their minds and later regret such surgery addressed us and made clear that the real battle is spiritual and philosophical—‘what constitutes human nature?’ If our biological selves have substantial meaning, then we must direct persons onto a course of loving care that will help them come home to their real selves. Another keynote, Dr. Paul Sullins, is among the foremost researchers today on the effects of ‘gay marriage’ on children. His evidence that these children are over twice as likely to develop serious emotional problems made clear that ‘the absence of sexual complementarity creates obstacles in a child’s development.’

We are creating an emotionally homeless generation who does not want to hear that they need to come home to anything but their new liberties. But these liberties damage them further; the need for empathic, attuned, and loving care is what they need in order to be reconciled to who they are. So when Dr. Janelle Hallman finished up the day with three hours of recounting how she has cared for women with a host of identity issues for over 25 years, I listened and connected with her attunement to the real needs behind the ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ self.

I marveled at her therapeutic expertise, empowered by the Holy Spirit and her own integrity as a woman, that has enabled her to walk for years with wounded ones in all their defensive glory until trust is achieved and the tending to the core needs can begin. Love wins, as caregivers like Janelle become a home (of sorts) to the emotionally vagrant.

It brought up a flood of healing memories for me. Many years earlier as a young married man and minister, a flood of same-sex desires arose; I knew it was a symptom of deeper needs and stubborn defenses that I had to face with skilled care. I began a long relationship with an amazing Christian therapist who was strong and masculine but deeply attuned to my plight and wise in helping me to probe beneath the surface. I worked out deep ‘father’ issues with this fatherly healer and he helped me further integrate my longing for masculine love into real friendships, not shameful fantasy.

Jesus wants the best for us and He wants us to give the best to those we love. Had I not found the kind of loving care I did, a man who helped secure me in my home as a whole-enough man, I may have been unable to provide a home for Annette and my four children.

I am about to proceed to our Living Waters Training where men and women whom Jesus is restoring are seeking to gather in groups in order to provide safe, healing places in the church for identity strugglers. Pray for us as we humble ourselves before God and one another to become a home for others.

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the nations return living waters

The Nations Return

Last year, some Living Waters friends from Thailand and China urged us at DSM/LW to gather international leaders again in Kansas City.

I balked and winced as I recalled the vision a dear friend had given me five years ago—it was nothing but a burnt field, still smoking. So was I. After 30 years of building Living Waters around the globe, I was asked by a council of Living Waters leaders to step off the team so that they could pursue other goals.

Overnight, friends with a shared language became strangers whose perspective I could no longer discern, let alone contend. The joy of gathering with the nations became a landmine, which had blown up in my face. A burnt field indeed.

In the years that followed, I spent time daily before the Crucified and died to what had been. I alternated between hope that leapt at God’s lead and despair that slouched toward early retirement (bleech!). I wondered if seeds that die always release more life (JN 12: 24-26).

God invited me into new friendships. Anne Paulk and Stephen Black asked me to join them in starting a national coalition of ministries—Restored Hope Network–for persons impacted by SSA, as Exodus tanked before our eyes; of equal blessing was Father Paul Check, the leader of Courage, who mentored this new Catholic and gave me a chance to share my witness in his world (which is becoming mine as well). I love these networks; I hope you do too, as they are beautiful expressions of God’s heart for persons with SSA.

My primary call, however, is Living Waters. To my surprise, some of the nations where we had released Living Waters re-initiated relationship with us. Provoked by conscience and now seasoned in ministry and decision-making, they wanted to return to the source. I was grateful yet tentative as I was and am still unwilling to return to the ‘good old days.’ They weren’t that good and they are over.

So I wondered; might we build relationship based on mutual respect and a desire to grow together into a new season? I now realize that I had tolerated ‘cloak and dagger’ stuff in the old system. No more. Either we trust each other or we choose other partnerships. This work is impossible when squinting at and whispering about colleagues.

The DSM/LW staff agreed to host our international friends who wanted to come. Most of our friends did (which floored me) and honestly, it was heaven-on-earth. We started at the Restored Hope Conference in Chicago (amazing) then met at my home and at our offices for 3-days in which we dined, prayed, and centered on the Kingdom of God, embracing the whole Church, and identifying weaknesses in our married and single lives. No pressure, just the real Presence of God meeting us and helping us to love Jesus and each other more. Fragrant. God kissed us.

Poured out, the DSM/LW staff inhaled the truth that the nations had returned to us. But differently now, like adults with a shared bond. We like each other; we want to be together. Beautiful–new life springing forth from scorched, rich soil.

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An Open Letter to Every Man who Leaves Wife/Kids Because He is ‘Gay’

An Open Letter to Every Man who Leaves Wife/Kids Because He is ‘Gay’

Dear ____,

Bless you for finally being open about your same-sex attraction. That is a brave step and I pray that God and a faithful community will honor your confession. You have a big part to play in whether your honesty honors you and your loved ones.

What you are admitting is that you have desires that seem to conflict with loving your wife and children. That is different from assuming a ‘gay’ identity. As we are sons of the one Father, made in His image, we can agree that God sees us not as ‘homosexuals’ but as His men. He calls all men to live in right relationship with our brothers and to choose (or not) to express our sexuality in a loving bond with a particular woman and to open together to the new lives created by marital love.

Guess what? You made that choice! What best defines our sexual humanity is not our feelings but our capacity to make sound, thoughtful decisions about what we do with our sexuality. Your choice to marry and to have children defines you far more powerfully than same-sex attraction. Plus, the person you said ‘yes’ to with your body and the lives you fathered need you. Your freedom depends on it. You will never find happiness outside of your faithfulness to these relationships.

You say you hoped that marriage would resolve your same-sex attraction. It does not. In fact, it tends to highlight the many desires that conflict with being faithful to our loved ones. That is where love finds its most perfect expression. Your same-sex attraction is the tool God wants to use to teach you to love others because they are worthy of love, not because all your needs are being met. Welcome to ‘the club of men with conflicting desires’; welcome to the Cross whereby we surrender worldly dreams and mobilize for real people, real love.

I am surprised you never sought out any help for your same-sex attraction. God wants to use your ‘secret’ to cause you to grow through conflicting desires, not in spite of them. You have not exhausted the depths of the help available to you through Courage or the Restored Hope Network. The question is: will your honesty lead you to repentance or will it be an excuse to leave your loved ones for the ‘gay’ life? You are already playing victim. Don’t. You are not one. You can make choices for fidelity in the full light of your same-sex attraction.

Doubtless, many persons today will champion you ‘coming out’ as an act of bravery. Get real. If your honesty results in divorce, you act like a coward and subject your loved ones to grave injustice. St. John of the Cross said: ‘In the end, we will be judged by love.’ In light of your admitted weakness, choose love, real love and so prepare for eternity today. If you choose your ‘gay’ freedom instead, you will inflict damage on all you influence and will suffer eternal consequence.

We do not choose our desires but we choose what we do with them. Choose well friend. Please feel free to contact us at Desert Stream/Living Waters if you want to talk through your options. Don’t get lost in our cultural confusion. Last week, a new study came out that documented how gay unions in the USA have doubled in the last 25 years. Don’t be a casualty. Don’t make loved ones a casualty. I urge you to think and act and love like a Christian. Bless you friend. Hope we will hear from you.

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How to Love a Vulnerable Friend Responding to the Transgendered

How to Love a Vulnerable Friend: Responding to the ‘Transgendered’

First, thank you for your commitment to your friend. Sometimes devout, energized persons like you can help prevent an already vulnerable soul from doing further injury. I realize your friend is on the verge of doing just that by pursuing gender reassignment surgery.

Gender is not a product of the mind; it is a fact of our birth. To be sure, your friend has a deep conflict with his or her true gender self, for which one must only be compassionate. Such compassion flows from the truth. Your friend has a gender self and to be at odds with that truth is a serious affliction. Your advocacy may help him or her to begin to resolve this identity confusion in the right way.

Your friend is not hearing the truth today, only pretty lies. To paraphrase Dr. Paul McHugh, the idea that gender is a matter of choice remains unquestioned in our culture and is utterly without scientific foundation. Studies reveal that in spite of terrific costs to all family members, gender reassignment surgery does not result in happiness but the same or worse mental health conditions than existed before the surgery, including drug addictions, psychotic disorders and the risk of suicide.

Your friend is vulnerable to robbers, and needs understanding and inspired care. This is a person who looks in the mirror and hates the reflection. He or she believes that self-acceptance lies in becoming the other gender. Wrong. I have worked with several persons whose ‘fantasy gender selves’ arose in response to profound distress. Their fantasy selves became the prison. It is a joyful labor of love to accompany the gender afflicted out of unreality and into the truth of their real selves.

Spiritual and emotional intervention makes sense. Why? We cannot change our genders. Guess what? Bruce Jenner is still a man! The only real choice we have is to make peace with the gender of our birth. Nevertheless, we must recognize that our gender identities (the psychological adjustment we make to our gender) are subject to profound frustration. We may feel chronically inadequate to master certain ‘gender’ tasks, or experience repulsion over one’s body type combined with a persistent desire to have different body traits.

The gender-afflicted need inspired therapy, not surgery. It is cruel to subject a vulnerable soul to knives and implants and alien hormones. We do not ‘cure’ an anorexic by exercising fat from her body because she feels fat any more than we ‘cure’ a man who feels like a woman by cutting off his penis. We help him make peace with his intrinsic manhood, just as we help the anorexic adjust to a true body image.

Your friend is imprisoned by the lie that ‘feelings’ can and should determine biological gender. Wrong. God determines our gender and we must work that out in fear and trembling. Yes Jesus is the door that swings out from the prison and yes we must open it. Praise Him—we can do so in the light of Divine Mercy and merciful friends like you.

For this transformation, we need entire faith communities. I would suggest that you check out our offerings at Desert Stream/Living Waters (desertstream.org), the national Restored Hope Network of ministries (restoredhopenetwork.org), and the international network of Courage (couragerc.org). Please stay in touch. If your friend and family want to come out and meet with some of our staff, please let us know.

Andrew

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Rome Report 2: The Child is a Warrior

‘In today’s society, we grant adults any kind of sexual freedom they want and insist that children take whatever these adults are willing to give them.’ Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse

In the center of Rome, we convened on October 2nd to fight for children—those most vulnerable to adults who now define ‘justice’ as the freedom to assume any sexual identity their feelings demand. The Church is caught between this new ‘justice’ and her own age-old version of human dignity as she convenes for the Synod of the Family throughout this month.

Cardinals, bishops and priests listened intently as our warring band taught and testified to an authentic appreciation of the human person who originates from God as male and female and who reveals Him in that beautiful duality. To describe how Jesus redeems persons who confess the brokenness of that image—well, we had to become like children. In tears and great joy, we marveled at the Father who transformed us from slaves to chaste sons and daughters.

Not surprisingly, our advance began on the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. She urges us to not get entangled in the traditions of men and their constant strife (a temptation in the heart of the Catholic hierarchy) but rather to surrender ourselves to the Father ‘who hides Himself from the wise and learned and reveals Himself to little children’ (LK 10:21).

Children need strong, tender fathers who clarify the path to purity and gender clarity. I marveled at Robert Cardinal Sarah from Africa who spoke the truth to us with such gentle authority that we straightened up, feeling at once challenged and protected. The wise words spoken throughout the conference by Fr. Paul Check, Director of Courage, were best distilled by my friend Alberto (coordinator of Courage Rome) who said: ‘Fr. Check extends the arm of the Church to guide us to chastity.’ What the Church asks of us, she helps us to realize.

Children need a mother. For that, the Father provides His Church and the beautiful witness of Mary, whose womb housed Jesus and whose wonder throughout His life invites us to marvel at His desire to dwell with us too. Popes and pot-scrubbers find level ground as the resting place of God. Encircled by Mary, each child can welcome Jesus and nourish the divine life maturing within. Our sorrow lies in our resisting His Presence; joy rises as we yield to His stirrings and enter the dance of life.

As a child, I rejoiced in my fellow strugglers in Rome whose good lives reveal the Father who fought for them and ‘Mother’ Church who enfolds them. We rejoiced together, the shame of our ‘gay’ lives eclipsed by Someone glorious, the Child Jesus who frees us to be both children and warriors.

We fight for the dignity of voiceless children everywhere who need clear markers to chastity, and wise guides to help them realize that wholeness. Pray for the Synod gathering now in Rome. May the witness of the Church liberate the children of God.

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