Tag Archives: Homosexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
Prodigal Pope

Prodigal Pope Embraces the Family (and this family man)

Francis’ long awaited report on marriage and family is good news, a hearty hug of a document that encompasses the best of what marital love can be.

I consumed the 256 page exhortation—Love in the Family—as a hungry man. Pressures on my own marriage and family life had been mounting in the days leading up its release; I needed release from my clouded capacity to be a ‘good-enough’ gift for wife and kids. Like a father embracing his confused son who knew only to turn in the general direction of home, Pope Francis met me; his intention to reclaim and renew the value of marriage nourished me like an empanada thick with meat and vegetables. ‘He set me at His banqueting table, and His banner over me is love’ (S of S 2:4) conveys well the impact of Pope Francis’ fatherly, at times folksy exhortation to this prodigal.

With characteristic tenderness, Francis champions marriage and family as the basic cell endowed with power to transform the world; at the same time, he realizes the anxieties and tensions faced by the modern family. He cites the impact of today’s extreme individualism, consumerism, social networking, and just plain narcissism that renders people immature and unable to see the ‘other’ beyond one’s own effort to find a ‘self’.

Drawing significantly on the ‘imago dei’ (humanity made in God’s image as male and female, Gen. 1: 26, 27) as parsed by his predecessors St. John Paul ll and Pope Emeritus Benedict, Francis summons our capacity as gendered, passionate people to be good gifts to another over the course of a lifespan, a commitment he claims can grow more beautiful over the course of a hard knock life. He melds expertly the ideological with the practical. An extended meditation on the ‘love’ chapter (1Cor. 13) goes hand-in-hand with tough words on why marriage must be ‘open to life’ then tempers the call to fruitfulness with wisdom about family planning, marital communication, and humane parenting. Uncle Francis indeed.

Most interesting to me are his limited references to homosexuality in the document. As you know, I had the privilege addressing some ‘Family Synod’ delegates in Rome last September as to convey an orthodox, merciful approach to persons with SSA. Those synod members wrote reports for Francis from which he created ‘Love in the Family.’

Francis deflates any hope that he has joined the rainbow bandwagon. Twice he states emphatically that ‘there is no ground for considering homosexual unions even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’ And he extols every child’s need for both a mother and father in order to mature into wholeness. He decries modern gender theory on the grounds that ‘it promotes a personal identity and emotional intimacy that is radically separate from the biological difference between male and female.’

Pope Francis upholds the most vulnerable—children–who before God deserve the most strenuous efforts of both a mother and a father to succeed at marriage.

At the same time, Francis cites the very real difference between biological gender and how we develop a gender identity. He is nuanced and graceful with this distinction, which leaves room for women to lead and for men to dance. Yes we need to make peace with the gender of our birth in submission to our Creator, says Francis, and yes, we must respect diverse expressions of male and female identity. Alleluia. What a pope.

In regards to persons with SSA, Pope Francis directs us back to the wellspring of life, the nuclear family. He instructs family members to love us well so that ‘we might understand and carry out God’s will for our lives.’

I would have appreciated a little more input on pastoral care of persons with SSA (grounds for next blog, perhaps.) Perhaps that is beside the point, or at least a secondary one. Love in the Family reminds me that I am more than a person seeking freedom from disordered desire. I am a husband and a father who possesses the freedom to love well and so leave a legacy of truth and mercy for persons I love most. Thank you, Pope Francis.

Download PDF
family synod

The Bad, the Good, the Urgent: An initial take on the Synod of Family Report

Rome’s synopsis of its synod on ‘family life’ includes 3 paragraphs (out of 58) on homosexuality which could be a cause for alarm. The bishops appear to grant ‘homosexuals’ a kind of ethnic status—homosexuals are treated as a people group whose ‘sexual orientation’ we are ‘to accept and value.’ (50) Further, ‘it must be noted’ that the supportive components of homosexual unions are to be treated as ‘precious’. (52)

This troubles me for many reasons, not the least of which is the faulty anthropology on which the bishops base their views. Persons with same-sex attraction are not an ethnicity but a diverse group of persons made in His image as male and female whose desires are disordered; ‘gay’ feelings cannot achieve the end for which God intends human sexuality.

Basing identities and relationships on homosexual desires is uninspired, at least. Of all communities, the Church can and must know better in order to love better. Relatedly, I weary of Churchman who split homosexual desires from action—ascribing nobility to homosexual desire while slapping hands for ‘acting out.’ Perhaps Jesus is a little more holistic in His approach.

And this is where the good of the document comes in. Early on in the document, we get the best of Pope Francis (and of Christian redemption) when he speaks of our decisive need to fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him upon new paths, into new possibilities. Jesus reveals both the order of creation and redemption (12, 13), a direction profoundly relevant for persons riding the wave of the ‘gay everything’ 21st century.

I long to see that theme of redemption developed for persons with same-sex attraction. Let us as Christians embody His merciful gaze, so tender and burning with love toward ‘homosexuals’ that they are invited to cast off their old selves and follow Him into newness of life. Sadly, the small part of this document that applies to homosexuality fails to point in this direction at all. It affirms the status quo but not the call to genuine conversion. In that way, paragraphs 50-52 cannot be deemed genuinely Christian.

Over the last 30 years, I have witnessed nearly every mainline Protestant denomination lose its salt due to a failure to recognize and minister effectively to the sexually broken, especially persons with same-sex attraction. I trust that my Church will not do the same. Please join us in our 40-days of prayer for the whole Church, starting tomorrow. The Synod has given us much to pray about.

Download PDF

The Joyful, Fiery Gospel

‘God infuses the soul and sets it on fire with the Spirit of Love.’ St. John of the Cross

My heart burns with hope. After a week enkindled with story after story of God’s healing love in the lives of persons wounded by homosexuality, I am a believer: the fiery love of Jesus overturns the claims  of those who insist that ‘homosexuals cannot change.’ The Gospel truth is vastly superior. Jesus sets persons captivated by same-gender longing free: free from the shaming events and beliefs that inspired the inclinations, free from the sensational habits that enslave one to lust, free from the Pharisee and free from the secular bully who wants to impose chronic homosexuality as one’s destiny.

Our third Restored Hope Network in Portland OR started on the Feast of the Sacred Heart: the devotion to Jesus’ fiery, merciful heart that inspired St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy (a much-loved devotion at Desert Stream Ministries.) Among persons emerging out of same-sex attraction who testified of steady, inspired progress in chastity and gender complementarity, I witnessed over and over the power of Jesus’ sacred heart: the fiery love that surpasses all other loves, an intimacy so profound and deeply personal that one is provoked by Love Himself to surrender all and begin again with Christ Himself as one’s guide. Is this not the fruit of the joyful Gospel that Pope Francis, quoting Benedict, extolled when he described that Gospel ‘not as an ethic or lofty idea but…a Person’, who offers our wounded lives ‘an open horizon and decisive direction?’

As I listened to dozens of persons gathered from around our country and beyond, I witnessed this flame of Love that in truth had opened their horizons and granted them a clear direction. That is nothing less than a series of diverse encounters with the One who makes all things new! This reflection on the Sacred Heart offers us a glimpse of what happens in the hearts of men and women, singed by homosexuality, who discover the greater passion of God’s all-consuming love for them.

‘What strike me most in contemplating the Sacred Heart of Jesus are the flames which consume and surround it. These mysterious flames cannot be contained even in that burning Heart; they escape through the wound, pass around the Cross and among the thorns, penetrating it completely. In a word, it is a burning heart, an inflamed heart. And what is this sacred fire that consumes the Heart of Jesus? IT IS THE FIERY LOVE HE HAS FOR US. “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.” (LK 12:49)’ Father Martin Berlioux

I witnessed the kindling of that fire during our week together. A huge log was thrown into the fire by the premier (at our conference) of a new feature film expertly directed by my friend David Kyle Foster. Entitled ‘Such Were Some of You,’ the film features a dozen stories of men and women whose gay destiny was consumed by the fire of divine love. I recall Christie, a brilliant gender-confused women whose rowing coach at Stanford invited her into Christ and a whole new life, Jim who at 10 began imitating porn films with his elementary school buddies and whose life was changed by a friend imploring him to enter into her community of faith where Jesus was transforming lives, Maite whose Catholic upbringing was undermined by sex-play with an older girl that led to everything but Jesus. Desperate, she attended a Spirit-filled Catholic meeting that was the beginning of a whole new life.

I write this for my fellow Catholics in particular: if we want the Sacred Heart of Jesus to blaze and light up the darkened lives of those we love most, then we must mobilize our communities to provide living, breathing, winsome onramps for those stumbling around in our confusing, demonizing landscape. ‘Such Were Some of You’ features more evangelicals than Catholics because frankly, evangelicals have done a better job than Catholics in providing life-transforming communities for young people turning from homosexual sin. Let’s catch up! We have a profound inheritance in our moral understanding and most importantly, in our reliance upon the One who makes all things new through His Body, broken and offered to us.

Let us renew our efforts to create space in our parishes for healing community: places of actual encounter between His sacred heart and the broken hearts of persons becoming conformed to an image other than Christ. Your children and theirs will thank you for such an effort. Take heart. His sacred heart is ablaze and effectual in love to transform persons with SSA.

‘How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts.’ Pope Francis (EG 261)

Click here to purchase ‘Such Were Some of You’ from Pure Passion.

Download PDF

Downward Ascent 4: Ruining Our Appetites

‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right, for they shall be filled.’ (Matt. 5:6)

Jesus wrecks our appetites. Sexy idols compete in vain with the One who offers Himself to us constantly; He becomes the meal, living bread and drink endowed with power to secure our deepest desires. I spoke with a young Hungarian man the other day who proudly declared his openness to many gods and lovers in contrast to the ‘rigid’ Catholic family he left behind. ‘But don’t you miss the One who abides with You through the Eucharist?’ Caught off guard, he nodded slightly, as if remembering a hundred such meals.

Fast food beckons to us constantly. For this we are right to feel poverty and grief. Some of us feel tempted. How blessed we are to know not only the right ethic but also the proper end of all of our hungers: Jesus Himself. To the hungry He calls out constantly: ‘The other gods cannot satisfy you; they commit not to your nourishment but to your destruction. Come to Me with your hungers: eat ME!’

Jesus has unique authority to become the ground of our righteousness. The Father ‘made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to become sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.’ (2C 5:21) Marvel above all marvels: God has made the way for us to become righteous in the whole sense of the word. He assumes our poisons and becomes the antidote for our warped appetites.

We can unite with the Source as the renewed source of our desires. Founded in Him, seeking only Him as our righteousness, we begin the awesome, arduous task of aligning our emotions and affections to His will. We can say with the Psalmist: ‘All my longings lie open before You; all my fountains [desires, longings] are sourced in You!’ We dare not separate our sexual passions from His refining fire. God present to us in Eucharist, Spirit, Word and holy friendship gifts us with the freedom and restraint to love what He loves.

A good pastor friend recounted a conversation with a congregant who had recently embraced his homosexuality and new lover. ‘Do you love Jesus more as a result?’ Deceived but not a liar, the duped man could not answer ‘yes.’

God-with-us becomes our righteousness. We hunger for Him before all others. That is why we fast. On one hand He is very near; on the other, far away and ours only in faith. So we choose to give up this or that in order to declare: ‘You, only You, have won my heart.’ Fasting rids us of many ‘foods’ that dull us—calories, booze, media, virtual distractions, benign ‘fillers.’ Before the One who is our righteousness, we dare to feel our emptiness. He takes us back to our beginning—Himself. We wait and long for and welcome the One who sustains our lives and who will guide us to a glorious end–Himself.

‘Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire but You. My heart and my flesh may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ (PS 73: 25, 26)

‘Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you will go hungry.’ (LK 6: 25)

Prayer for Thursday, March 20th: ‘Father, we welcome the truth of our hunger and thirst. By Your grace, gather up and unite our desires with You the Source of every good thing. Show us what we can lay down in these days of Lent in order to feel the ache that only You can fill.’

Prayer for Friday, March 21st: ‘Father, show us how Your Son is in truth our Bread. Sensitize us to the Word and Your abiding Spirit. Grant us patience to wait before You and apprehend Your whispers.’

Prayer for Saturday, March 22nd: ‘Father, as we wait before You, call to mind and heart those ones we love who have yet to yield their hungers to You. Might You alert them to the vanity of life apart from living in faithful awareness of You? And in faithful obedience, might Your Spirit quicken us to love them more effectually?’

Prayer for Sunday, March 23rd: ‘Father as we come to Your Table this day, help us to savor Your real Presence in the Eucharist. Enliven this most precious gift in us. Show us once more how You Jesus have reclaimed us as Your dwelling place. Thank You for offering Yourself afresh as our Source; thank You for becoming our righteousness.’

Download PDF
Lent Downward Ascent 1: Blessed Poverty Andrew Comiskey

Downward Ascent 1: Blessed Poverty

‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matt. 5:3)

Poverty can incline us to riches beyond ourselves. When directing us to God as our wealth, poverty achieves holy ends; it renders us blessed citizens of a whole new world.

In contrast to Luke, who begins his version of the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ with ‘blessed are the poor’ (LK 6:20), Matthew expands that phrase to ‘poor in spirit.’ I am grateful; it challenges a privileged white dude like me to consider poverty beyond socio-economic woes. ‘Poor in spirit’ can point to moral destitution: the homelessness that no amount of money can hide or cure.

‘Poverty of spirit’ means that when we look inside of us we recognize sin’s poverty; it also applies to looking around us for answers and coming up empty.

As a young man, I tried to secure love through male lovers. One night I met someone who followed me home from a bar; we lost each other in traffic. As I waited on my street corner, now desperate for this strange new flesh, I instantly realized my poverty. To quote James Joyce, ‘I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity’—one made foolish by seeking cover in a collapsed tent.

A morally poor man seeking riches from other poor men: no wonder persons with same-sex attraction are deep, broken ground for the seed of Jesus!

Perhaps that helps you imagine the poverty I experienced last June when Exodus died, the largest network in the world that unified ministries providing the riches of Jesus for the homosexually poor. One week later, the Federal Supreme Court advocated for ‘gay marriage’ by cancelling out Prop. 8 (CA citizens’ amendment for marriage) and DOMA (federal law protecting marriage). Moral destitution from the top down! That poverty impacts us all, and tempts persons with SSA and their loved ones to believe that little if any protection exists for those seeking the narrow way.

Today the real poverty of homosexuality masks itself as a kind of wealth—a boast, a right, a celebration of new civil liberties. The morally homeless have found a home with secular powerbrokers of all types: political, academic, in popular arts. But no amount of human advocacy can remove our shameful nakedness.

This Lent, I urge you to go with me to the source of our poverty: the sin and disorder that impacts us all, beginning with our first family. Lent insists that we go back to the secrets and lies between Adam and Eve. In regards to the drive for ‘gay’ justice, we must be clear that its virulence mutated from heterosexual idolatry.

Mistrust of the opposite gender, misogyny, misandry, contraception, fornication, adultery, divorce, endemic porn addiction, and sacrificing our kids in the fire of lust and abortion provide the toxic ground on which ‘homosexuals’ seek justice. Guilty of normal perversions, we are too cynical and preoccupied to counter ‘gay’ power with any moral authority.

Only One can make us rich in love, clear in truth. But He insists that we admit the sinful part we have played in the moral eclipse at hand. Lent grants us 40 days to reflect on our moral poverty. Here we must descend into painful reckoning: moral poverty hurts! Yet Scripture assures us that we who face poverty within and without can find the One who wants to be the treasure of our hearts. Rather than being reminded of our aloneness, we find that He is knitting us together with like-minded ones. Through Christ, we poor ones descend then arise into a glorious Kingdom.

Prayer for Ash Wednesday, March 5th: ‘Father, we are like the Laodiceans: wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. Open our eyes to see our poverty of spirit; cover our shameful nakedness. (Rev. 3:17, 18) This Lent, grant us special grace to seek You, the source of our riches, even as we are reminded of how much we need You. Thank you for all the ways You make Your Presence known to us. You have not left us as poor orphans. You advocate for us in our poverty and make us rich.’ AMEN

Prayer for Thursday, March 6th: ‘Father, open our eyes to the folly of ‘gay marriage’ and the efforts of many, including Federal District Attorney Eric Holder, to encourage states around the country to honor ‘gay marriages’ illegally. Rouse us to recognize real marriage and our real moral poverty.’ AMEN

Prayer for Friday, March 7th: ‘Father rouse Your Church, including our own communities, to stand for the whole truth of our moral poverty and the riches that only Jesus can provide us. Make us sober in this reckoning, yet expectant of His almighty intention to bless us with His riches.’ AMEN

Prayer for Saturday, March 8th: ‘Father, open our eyes to those persons for whom looking at their poverty is too much, too overwhelming. Grant us compassion for them; show us small ways we can make known Your rich love to them as the antidote to their suffering.’ AMEN

Prayer for Sunday, March 9th: ‘Father, as we come to Your table at our churches this day, open our eyes to Your Son who stooped down to make us great. Help us to linger before Him, that we might muse on the mystery of the One who became poor in order to make us rich. (2Cor 7:9)’ AMEN

Download PDF
1 2 3 9
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: