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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Judge Not? (Part 2) Limiting Another’s Horizon

God is the only One qualified to determine the eternal fate of His creatures. The fact that we even aspire to His role as Judge reveals an ugly trait in us. It may not always express itself in condemning others to hell; it may well involve lesser expressions of judgment in which we bind others to a lesser image of themselves.

Our own hurtful experiences with loved ones prompt defenses and fears that tempt us to reduce them to our image. That is far removed from the image of his/her Creator; it is the defensive image of our own design. Wounded hearts pronounce final judgments as a way of self-protecting and of getting even. We the created can operate outside the Creator and close the horizon of another.

For example, Annette and I faced much hardship with a gay-identified friend. In frustration and hurt, it was easy to agree with our friend’s own self-sabotaging, self-hateful ways. Our feelings were at once understandable and diabolical. Jesus gave us the chance to repent and forgive him, so that we could become mirrors and providers of his own dignity. God is faithful to help us keep another’s horizon open even when (s)he wants it shut!

The same principle applies as well to what I describe as ‘homosexual fatalism.’ That involves a secular understanding of persons with SSA in which we make them an ‘ethnos’, a people group defined from birth as ‘gay’. That engenders a strange kind of ‘queer’ orthodoxy in which the vulnerable must become baptized and confirmed as forever ‘gay’ if in fact they are to be true to their deepest ‘selves.’ This new sexual orthodoxy is neither scientific nor particularly moral; it is in truth a worldly spirituality.

As a student on the UCLA campus, two groups vied for my attention: the evangelical one and the Gay Student Union. I found the latter particularly compelling, as it is easier to worship the creature whom you can see rather than the Creator whom you cannot. By grace alone, I found the ‘gay’ world to be ultimately a closed horizon, a form of fatalism.

Richard John Neuhaus writes: ‘Fatalism is resigning ourselves to the inevitable; faith is entrusting ourselves to the ONE who is worthy of our trust.’ I am eternally grateful for the gift and community of faith. There I discovered Jesus– my goal and my path—my ‘new horizon and decisive direction’!

Naming one another as gay and reinforcing that identification closes one’s horizon; it is anti-Gospel. St. James invokes the power of the Creator when he entreats his readers to not close that horizon with false declarations about each other. ‘Brothers, do not slander each other…There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?’ (J 4: 11, 12)

Some macho friends at the gym were ranking on an evidently gender-confused man. I could not take it: ‘You know guys, your judgments only add to the pain and confusion of that dude’s life.’ We must live out in all walks of life this profound truth of St. Paul’s: ‘From now on we see no-one from a worldly point-of-view’ (2C 5:16).

We can train ourselves to lay down the false judgments of our modern age and see and name our fellows according to a true anthropology based on the catechism. ‘Every man and woman should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity; that includes gender difference and complementarity…the harmony of society depends on how that complementarity is lived out.’ (CCC2333)

That’s why St. JPll could say decisively in TOB: ‘The dignity of future generations depends on who man will be for woman and who woman will be for man.’ We each have the high call to help confirm the clarity of another’s dignity as either male or female; future generations will thank us for doing so!

Judging others by naming him or her according to an image less than what God intends usurps the role of God Himself. That tendency took on a more familiar form in Jesus’ day through the Pharisees. These Jewish religious leaders spun hundreds of rules from the Mosaic law and wound up entangling others in their web of religious tradition.

Pharisees complement the worldly spirituality of homosexual fatalism. Pope Francis describes them as infected by a ‘spiritual worldliness’: a religiosity based on rigid orthodoxy, pride in that orthodoxy, yet without an inner transformation of heart. With no ‘cor’ (or heart) shift, these ones could impose rules but not inspire redemption. The Pharisees tended to be punctilious, hypocritical, and uncaring toward those they served. Jesus said it best when he described the Pharisees as having exchanged the commands of God for the traditions of men (MK 7:8).

Pharisaic religion in Jesus’ day reduced the horizon of who God was and how He saw His children. Into that mix, Jesus brought a new Kingdom in Word and wonders. He invited the poor into a mercy tender enough to touch their wounds and strong enough to heal those wounds from the hazards of bad religion.

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Advent 4: Salient Joseph

“When Mary was betrothed to Joseph but before they lived together she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said: ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins’…When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him.” (Matt. 1: 18-21, 24)

To be salient means to be as tenderly responsive to others as one is straight and true to them. A salient father tends to inspire the respect of his wife and rears kids who are well-equipped to navigate life’s riptides. He combines authority with nurture in a way that secures and empowers his family in love. Read more »

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Advent 1: Waking The Ache

‘The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.’ (Rom. 13:11)

‘Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come…You must be prepared, for the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him.’ (Matt. 24: 42, 44)

One of my sons recently told me why he stopped smoking marijuana: ‘Pot de-motivated me. I guess I just got sick of living a “checked out” life. It was time to face reality.’ Read more »

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Mercy 6: The Merciful Path

Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert…and a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness.’ (IS 35:6, 8)

A Lonely Walk to the OceanA well-known Christian recently critiqued me on the grounds that ‘Comiskey apparently has no understanding of the variety of sexual pathways’: what she was saying is that I do not validate any sexual ‘route’ other than the goal of  dignifying one’s fellow humanity, with a particular aim to honor the opposite gender.

She believes that the host of sexual inclinations native to fallen humanity require validation of a variety of paths on which to urge our fellows to become the best GLBTQ….person (s)he can be. (The morphing of the acronym speaks for itself.)

I am only grateful for the mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ, who showed me the one path one which to become a whole man. To be sure, I have been fraught with a variety of impulses that sought to throw me off the path: to go backwards, sideways, to stall or to steer others off course with my lustful inclinations.

Blessed be Jesus, full of grace and truth, who enabled me to integrate the virtues of chastity and complementarity. Jesus’ way is paved with both: the hard-won gift of self-control by which a man motivated by SSA learned to dignify his brothers by not reducing them to objects of lust, and the progressive opening of my eyes and heart to the beauty of woman. Today my orientation is for woman, and in particular one: my beloved wife Annette.

I may at times feel otherwise. Thanks be to God who set me on His course and by grace keeps me on it. That includes but is by no means limited to sexual fidelity. My orientation means being for her in sun and storm, in ecstasy and indifference.

Jesus is merciful: He gently uncovers the path He has placed in every heart. He awakens us to the gift we are in our gender humanity; our freedom hinges upon discovering the path to chastity and complementarity, and proceeding on it.

‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ (Jer. 6: 16) 

Prayer Points for November 11th:

  • Desert Stream/Living Waters:  Northeast: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, David and Ellen Cressman, Regional Coordinators. Please pray for new life and new groups in the Northeast region.
  • Restored Hope Network: Outpost Ministries, Minneapolis, MN. Nate Oyloe, Director. Specialty: worship ministry, youth, Living Waters, men, women and families. Desert Stream Ministries, Kansas City, MO. Andrew Comiskey, Director. Specialty: excellent resources used world-wide, especially the Living Waters program for healing of sexual and relational issues through drawing near to Christ. Prophetic intercession ministry.
  • Courage: Please pray for an end to abortion, pro-gay legislation and the culture of death.
  • Ministries of Pastoral Care: Please pray for humility, focus and grace to practice God’s Presence in each moment of our days.
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Power to Change

‘I believe, help my unbelief!’ (Mark 9: 24)

breakin freePentecost is all about the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is about the power to change. I need to change: I needed it 35 years ago in the grip of homosexual addiction and I need it now as I consider the pervasive anti-change mindset of our culture toward persons with same-sex attraction.

A malaise broods over the earth today, scrambling moral reality to the degree that even good Christians cede ethnic status to ‘gays’ and laugh like the world at anyone’s effort to change his/her homosexuality. The salt has lost its savor, the Gospel its power, as the church limply lays hands on seriously confused people and confirms them as ‘gay.’

I want to change minds and hearts with the truth that Jesus Christ came to set captives free from homosexuality. Do you too? For that we need nothing less than the power that catapulted Jesus from the tomb. We stand today in direct opposition to the culture; like the earliest receivers of Pentecostal power, ‘we must obey God, not men’ (Acts 5: 29) as we ‘tell the full message of this new life’ (Acts 5:20).

For that is precisely what Christ redeems us for—a new life full of creative possibilities. He breaks the stronghold of any bond that disrupts His fruitful Life as the source of ours. United with Him, we can no longer sustain the gaze of a mere creature in whom we seek completion. We refuse to make a friend something (s)he cannot be before the Consummate Friend. Freed for dependency on Him alone, we rise out of childish ways and become genuinely creative, our whole beings inclined toward the Kingdom of His design.

Last weekend, my wife and I and our eldest son and wife visited an art museum framed by a lush canyon. Much of the art celebrated the beauty of man for woman, woman for man; the flowering grounds encircling the gallery testified also of the glory of God in creation.

At the center was the love shared by Annette and I. Together we have probed what it means to be human. On that weekend, as in the last 35 years, we offered ourselves yet again to this ‘other’ through whom we have most come to know who God is and who we are made in His image.

The Spirit of creation is the Holy Spirit. Filled with the light of life, we testify of the truth: God transforms us according to His image and likeness. Though not easy (and great relationships never are), the Spirit of Pentecost moves mightily to expand the vision and range of God’s human creation.

‘Abraham did not waver through unbelief…being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.’ (Romans 4: 20, 21)

 

 

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