How do we embody the Gospel for persons enslaved to the false liberties of our day? We pray, and ask God to give us mercy, vision and boldness to make known His transforming love to them.
The other day, I encountered a person staffing a drive-through window who could not be discerned as either male or female. Tempted by shock, I composed myself and recalled instantly a dream a few months back in which Jesus encountered an exceedingly fragile woman and said to her ‘I only want your best.’
Right away, I knew this was Jesus’ heart for His daughter, and for the entire creation, beginning with His church. He wants her best, which means wholeness, chastity, integration. I blessed the exceedingly fragile woman at the window; as I drove off, I wished I would have said more.
We need to find our voices. Now. In order to become good news for fragile persons being bludgeoned by today’s gender myths, we at Desert Stream Ministries are calling a 40-day fast/prayer vigil starting October 11th-Nov. 19th. Included in this blast is the entire 40-day devotional schedule. The DSM staff will be praying through this together at 3pm cst each day. Please join us!
Jesus employs almighty mercy to reconcile us to His best. And He is calling us to be His effectual messengers for persons who need to know what the ‘best’ is and how He helps us to discover it. Our prayer time together will include reflections on how Jesus is the answer to the gender mess we are in, and how we can become vessels of His transforming love to the people we face daily.
Let’s become answers to the prayers of persons who cry out for loved ones subject to dead-end ‘gay’ liberties and the gender-bending chaos that ensues. Let’s find our voices today, endowed with the Spirit and motivated by love. Check out this prayer guide and join us for ‘Becoming Good News for the Gender Challenged’ from Oct. 11th-Nov. 19th.
‘As long as it continues to be told, no story is ever wasted,’ opines a ‘gay’ Christian writer. Like many today, he feels compelled to testify of how Jesus confirms his intrinsically homosexual self as one expression of the good news.
Everyone has a story indeed. But not every story tells the truth of the Gospel. I contend that persons whose stories feature Jesus as the advocate of identities based on disordered desires distort the Gospel. However charming their speech and poignant their frustrations, these ones build on a fault-line that undermines the power of Christ and His Cross. When validated–published and platformed–by arms of Christianity that claim to be orthodox, these story-tellers become enemies of the Cross (Phil. 3:18).
To be sure, we all need the freedom to sort out our disintegrated lives with wise Christian friends and elders; we tell our stories in order to break down certain worldly assumptions and so become conformed to the Crucified. Jesus uses the little cross of our garbled confessions! He leads us through our crises in narrative, which are resolved only through death to the ‘selves’ we have cobbled together from feelings and worldly attachments.
In light of the Father’s marvelous love for us shining on the Cross and mediated through His community, we can exchange our rags for God who alone has power to establish our identities. We discover that we need not be slaves anymore to the world. He gives us the choice to lay down our ‘gay’ selves or any other LGBT+ aspiration and simply rest in Him who through Christ calls us His sons and daughters, men or a women made to reveal Him in our human dignity (Gal. 4:3-7).
We can choose not to lay them down. We can nurse ‘gay’ feelings and plateau on a kind of eloquent melancholy (self-pity?) that empowers the ‘gay’ self (Wesley Hill picks up where Henri Nouwen left off.) Or we can arise in the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. We died with Him, and need not worry about residual same-sex attraction. We are defined by the Father now, and therein resides His authority to restore us, His way. We are no longer tossed around by feelings. We are becoming conformed to Christ and His Cross. That is our commitment—a once and daily decision to pick up our little crosses in light of the one Cross that shelters us and makes a way for us. Always.
Only then can our stories reveal Jesus. I would dare to say that our stories are worth telling only if they reveal something about His Cross, and the joy of carrying our small ones into newness of life.
‘If no-one said “I die but I shall live” then there would be no hope for those who suffer. All suffering would be senseless, destructive pain; all grief would be the worldly sorrow that brings forth death. But we know people who have lived and suffered differently. There is a history of resurrections significant for others. A person’s resurrection is no personal privilege for one’s self alone. It contains within itself hope for all, hope for everything.’ Dorothy Soelle
‘Mercy without justice is the mother of disintegration.’ Thomas Aquinas
Conviction for sexual sin is dull today. We no longer feel bad for acting badly. Misuses of mercy may well enable the problem. When we placate the disintegrated who sow seeds of disorder everywhere, are we disintegrating others? Where is justice for persons caught in the crossfire of another’s sin?
Last week, we as a staff prayed for a godly wife whose husband abruptly left her and is fast-tracking a divorce so he can proceed with his sexy new friendship. Our small group surrounded a mother whose once beautiful daughter now postures as a macho dude and refuses proximity with her grieving mom. I talked with a colleague about how to best respond to a once chaste friend who now works for a ‘gay’ rights group and who slanders his former recovery/ministry mates as abusive and greedy ‘conversion’ therapists. All three cases involve persons who refuse the truth, cannot change the truth, and vent their conflict on loved ones who remind them of the truth.
Justice is all about the truth. As Pieper says about this foundational virtue, ‘What is right comes before justice; justice is second.’ The truth—we seek to give others their due. In this we serve justice. It is right and fair to seek to live undivided lives. However weak we may be, tempted by myriad desires, we can desire one true thing: to love others in a way that honors our commitment to what is best for all. In the sexual realm that involves keeping the commitment of love we sealed with our bodies (aka marriage), keeping same-gender friends chaste, and making every effort to honor the gender of our birth.
It is fair to name efforts to ‘expand’ human liberty by forsaking these truths as unjust. One person’s freedom becomes a loved one’s nightmare. Before we fawn over the unrepentant prodigal, we must first recognize that his or her sin has set in motion a series of sins that has victimized others. How are the forsaken spouse and grieving parent and helpless friend doing? We must first uphold what is just by caring for the injured.
Secondly, the injustice of today’s new sexual liberties wreaks havoc on children who grow up in an amoral, chaotic world. Yesterday, everyone had a ‘gay’ niece. Today, everyone has a ‘trans’ nephew. Is it because we underestimated the number of gender disoriented folks? No. We just popularized them, made it crazy cool to ‘gender bend’ and barely formed kids begin to entertain the possibilities. Every ‘gay marriage’, every ‘trans’ testimony, every divorce pollutes the air and the water our kids depend on and makes them that much more susceptible to immorality. That is the nature of injustice. Founded on lies, it spreads its deception naturally, deeply. Pray mercy on our children. We have sown to a violent wind and we now reap destruction.
‘For rebellion is like the sin of witchcraft, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.’ (1S 15:23)
Emptied and wearied by well-doing, I subjected myself to fools—fantasies that rushed into my void like sewage. I was as wanted and exciting as were those around me. I wanted my dream to come true.
Barely able to choose otherwise, I did. By grace alone (and a friend’s help), I made my way to Mass in a strange town and locked eyes with the Crucified over the altar. Bearing my little cross, I embraced Jesus and hid myself in His wounded side. When the priest read the Gospel—John the Baptist who upon seeing Jesus for the first time declared ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (JN 1:29)—this sinner heard those words for the first time. I saw the Savior.
Though disordered in heart, my gaze was clear upon the One who could order my affections and deliver me from demons. I was the worldly one whose sin needed to be taken away. I marveled at a truth I had never recognized: God became the lamb! Prior to Jesus, men used lambs to atone for sin but now Almighty God is the sacrifice. I passed through His purity into the bloody mess He became and emerged white as snow. Wow. For a few shining moments, heaven descended to this vessel, removing rot and imparting life.
I endured a silly homily about how we are all now like ‘little lambs’ and wolfed down the holy meal. I rejoiced: ‘Jesus just saved me! Again! He alone is the Lamb and I will follow Him wherever He goes. Where He is, I am free.’ Sobered and grateful, I became aware of the parish newsletter which featured a ‘gay’-identified couple extolling how welcoming this church was to them.
What? In the place of the great exchange—the very site where the Lamb removes sin and reorders hearts? Celebrating ‘gay’ love before the Crucified struck me as congruent as a cigarette girl hawking her wares in a lung cancer clinic.
The difference? Jesus gave up His breath to restore ours. The Lamb offers more than chemo—He gives us a whole new life, His very being transfused into ours with an offering of water, blood and Spirit (1 JN 5: 7, 8). How weak and short-sighted of the Church to place blinders on its members as to divert their gaze from the Lamb to sexually immoral bonds. Lord, have mercy. Jesus does have mercy, for all who have eyes to see. Behold the Lamb who takes away all our sin…
Today’s freedom to be whatever one thinks (s)he is, gender-wise, sheds new light on the question of homosexuality and change. If Kevin can wear a dress, use a woman’s restroom, and legally damage another for not referring to him as Karen, then a Christian’s commitment to leave behind an identity based on his or her same-sex attraction while aspiring to love a member of the opposite gender seems positively sane. Or at least possible, and at best worthy of the respect we accord all manner of gender-bending.
It also sheds light on the authority of the mind and will in determining the self we want to be. And perhaps should cause us to question the assumption that some people are just immutably, unquestionably ‘gay’.
A writer for the New York Times says it best: ‘When Everyone Can Be Queer, Is Anyone?’ (Jenna Worthen, NYT Magazine, July 12, 2016). She marvels: ‘The speed with which modern society has adapted to accommodate the world’s vast spectrum of gender and sexual identities may be the most important cultural metamorphosis of our time. Facebook, which can be seen as a kind of social census, now offers nearly 60 different gender options…Plainly we are in the midst of a profoundly exhilarating revolution.’
This translates into college students having to account for their evolving gender status. Each year, a friend’s daughter at a large state university has to declare her gender status afresh. After all, who she was as a freshman, he/zee/undecided may not be as a sophomore.
Dr. Lisa Diamond has turned homosexual research on its ear by charting the ‘sexual fluidity’ of a group of 16-23 year-old-women over the course of a decade; she found that about a third of these ‘lesbian-identified’ women changed their identity status several times over that time, and preferred to think of themselves as open to both genders.
We dignify that freedom but may well demonize one who refuses to construct a ‘gay self’ and chooses instead to love an opposite sex partner. I recall Oprah Winfrey’s horrified look when someone on her show testified to no longer being ‘gay’, now happily married. ‘But you were born that way!’ she insisted. At a recent large Catholic gathering, a ‘gay-identified’ hipster dissed my claim to change with a ‘we know that does not happen, right?’
Jenna Worthen would disagree, citing ‘old notions of static sexual identities’ as ‘austere and reductive.’ Maybe ‘Born that Way’ is another ceiling we need to shatter in order to grant all persons the freedom to live out what makes them thrive. Lady Gaga, watch out.