Tag Archives: Gay

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

(Not) Seeing, (Un)believing

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…

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Rethink Change

Rethinking Change

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.

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redeeming_the_past

Redeeming the Past

By Brian Barlow

On a recent trip to San Diego, I was given an unexpected gift for my birthday. My bride Nichole had been planning this trip for several weeks. We dropped the boys off at grandparents and arrived at our new waterfront hotel in downtown San Diego.

San Diego held for me many memories from my sexually disoriented past. We walked the streets together and I saw familiar sites which evoked that past. I found my heart growing heavier as the night progressed. Once seated for dinner at a Mexican restaurant, I began to share with Nichole my regrets over unhappy relationships with guys I had met in San Diego years earlier.

I hadn’t expected our trip to produce raw and melancholy emotions about my past. Thank God our marriage is secure enough for us to bear each other burdens related to past sins and hurts. Still, it was awkward, especially when the host greeted us and engaged in conversation. His ‘gay’ persona left me sober. It wasn’t offensive or flagrant, just familiar. I pondered and quietly asked the Lord: ‘What is this? Am I feeling regret? Am I digressing? If so, how can I stay present? You have transformed my life by giving me a wife and family, a gift I once thought impossible when I wandered these familiar streets alone many years ago…’

Then the Holy Spirit whispered: ‘I have come to redeem that past.’ I sighed then realized that was a moment when the “there and then” could be healed in the “here and now.” But how? I felt grief and shame over the life I once lived. I regretted how I hurt good people. Then I felt the Lord redirect my thoughts back to our host: ‘He is a man in the “here and now” whom you can choose to love rightly, a man created to reflect My image. He needs to know I AM his Fighting Father still fighting for his life.’

When our meal was finished the host returned to the table. In that moment, the Lord prompted me to ask a question: ‘What’s your name? How are you?’ “Nicholas” seemed perplexed and gave a simple response to which I asked again: ‘Is there anything you would like us to pray about for you? Anything in your life that you need? Financial? Life in general?’

His face sobered and he responded, ‘I really want to keep this job! I just started two weeks ago and I really like it.’ He responded in earnest this time I asked if we could pray; Nichole and I each held a hand. In the moments that followed the man seemed renewed. Though we can never know the sum of this man’s life, three people entered into a holy moment of healing in that restaurant. We who each reflect the image of God portrayed the glory of God together.

We are created by the Father who made us to live in right relationship with others. Throughout the years that original portrait might be misused, discarded, stolen and hidden for fear of being reclaimed by the rightful owner. Sound familiar? Life can mare and disfigure our portrait to the point of becoming unrecognizable. It would take the “Artist Himself” to reclaim and restore the image to its original state.

That is what the three of us shared together in a Mexican restaurant. By reaching through the pleasantries and calling him by name, we gave Nicholas a moment to pause and be known. Even more so, he was reminded that he has a Heavenly Father who sees him and who has not forgotten him. As Nichole and I prayed over Nicholas, we experienced the Living God embrace us. ‘Thank you, what a gift!’ responded Nicholas. ‘Can I give you a hug?’ He then reached for Nichole. Joy replaced heaviness.

Brian Barlow is our amazing regional coordinator for Southern CA. Come and hear Nichole and Brian at our daylong conference in Pasadena CA on August 20th. Sign up now!

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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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Birth Pains

‘This child will be a stumbling block, causing some to fall and others to rise in Israel; He will be a sign that divides and reveals the hearts of many. Your heart, Mary, will be pierced as well.’ (LK 2:34, 35)

Simeon prophesies the piercings incited by the Prince of peace. Perhaps this is why the day after Christmas we celebrate the Church’s first martyr, St. Stephen; having barely mediated upon Jesus’ birth, we honor the cruel death of one who embodied Christ by forgiving his murderers as they pelted him with stones (Acts 7).

What further unites this birth and death is the angelic countenance shared by Stephen in his witness (Act 6:15) unto death and Jesus in His birth. The crib points always to the Cross, Jesus’ and our little ones, His Presence our radiant hope amid suffering endured for and through Him.

A particular suffering increasing among faithful families at Christmas is the ‘coming out’ of members who now insist upon their ‘gay’ self or marriage (or some gender-bending variant). That is often the ‘gift’ these ones offer their bewildered loved ones on holidays. A friend described the devastation wrought by a lame relative who now insists that he is a woman; he showed up for Christmas dinner in drag and disoriented all present, especially his 90-year-old grandmother. Another friend shared with me mournfully how his entire family-of-origin refused to speak to him (let alone gather with him) at Christmas due to his refusal to attend his mother’s ‘gay’ wedding. Yet another, a father of four children just discovered he is sharing his wife this Christmas with another woman, a relationship she has no intention of giving up.

I have only mercy for persons in sexual conflict, and believe that all must exercise free will in regards to what they do with those conflicts; that, however, does not make every choice good. I have mercy mixed with holy fear for persons who resolve their conflicts by asserting an identity, and exercising versions of friendship and marriage that defies the Creator and Redeemer of all.

However, my greatest ache lies for the family members who are given a brittle ‘embrace me or else’ verdict by loved ones who come under a dispensation distinct from Christian orthodoxy. These families are being asked to exchange their views on creation, redemption, and love for alien beliefs. Justice for all? ‘Coming out’ may be better described as a profoundly selfish act.

Christian love means we agree with what is honorable, and have the courage to disagree with poor decisions our loved ones make while mercifully bearing with them. Many of my friends are not even free to bear with their members, having been written off as intolerant, haters, etc. They are experiencing a new kind of stoning, a fulfillment of Jesus’ words when He said: ‘From now on, there will be five in one family divided against each other…father against son and son against father, mother against daughter…’ (LK 12:52, 53)

Jesus is willing to breaks hearts in order to heal them; He may even divide the faithful from members who are offended by Him. May we welcome His peace in our pierced hearts.

T.S. Eliot writes in the last stanza of ‘Journey of the Magi’:

Were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

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