Tag Archives: Homosexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Satisfying Jesus

‘After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life and be satisfied.’ (IS 53:11)

God surrenders to man’s sin and death in order to vanquish his sin and death. Forever. Today and for as long as we live on earth, Jesus desires that our lives declare that truth. He is reunited with the Father! He lives to intercede for us! He pours out His Spirit upon us continuously, and provokes us with the fruit of His suffering–the expansive, generous, inclusive union He now shares with His Father: Raised Son and Proud Papa! We are invited into His reunion—Jesus our brother, God our Father, the Spirit uniting us and making us fully alive. He did not suffer in vain. He is satisfied to the extent that our lives declare this union of Life!

My friend Jonathan Hunter gets this. Raised from the dead of homosexual sin, drug addiction, and the HIV virus (before effective treatment existed), Hunter discovered how Jesus gives us a new lease on life, regardless of one’s ‘prognosis.’ He grew up with a familiar mindset of darkness and impending dread. In Christ, Jonathan discovered that this ‘spirit of death’ need not master him anymore. The Risen Christ is the ultimate grave robber! Jesus has broken death’s grip on Jonathan and all who wrestle with despair. Forever. ‘By His death, Jesus destroyed him who holds the power of death—the devil—and freed those who all their lives were held in slavery by fear of death’ (Heb. 2: 14, 15).

While we were in transit at the Geneva Airport, Jonathan received a vision of Jesus routing Satan by storming the gates of hell and bringing with Him a host of people who had been trapped by death in underground caverns. Liberated, these former captives lived to declare the power of what He won for them! Hunter understands better than anyone that Jesus stormed the gates of hell in order to get us out of there. Is this what Matthew meant when he wrote that at Jesus’ death ‘the tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people were raised to life…after the resurrection, they appeared to many people’(Matt. 27:52, 53)?

Jesus appears today through an empowered, radiant people free from the spirit of death. My friend Daniel Delgado lived under death’s shadow through a mentally ill, suicidal mother; he escaped into homosexual and transgender fantasy. While identifying as a woman and participating in drag shows, he witnessed a culture of death as friends died young, tragically. That spirit of death hunted down Daniel but Jesus’ Spirit was stronger. Jesus met him through engaging Christians who helped rescue Daniel from an early eternal death.

Today Daniel lives to make Jesus known. He recently had the privilege of ministering to a teenager intent on becoming a woman and unraveling in every way. Daniel emboldened him with the truth of how Jesus saved him—granting him union with the Father and the gift of his own identity as a son. He asked the young man if he wanted that love and that freedom. In light of Love, the young man saw his deception and cried out for mercy. Jesus gave it. He did not suffer in vain. He lives, and is satisfied by us who live to declare eternal Life.

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Weekend in Warsaw

I usually hate to travel during this desert season but I could not resist the temptation to invite myself to the first assembly of 100 Living Waters members and leaders from four robust groups around Poland.

Under the strong leadership of Father Joseph and a national team of clergyman and lay persons, the Poles have taken up this work with an unprecedented focus and strategy. Joseph and tribe translated Living Waters, secured the theological blessing of the Polish bishops for the guidebook, mobilized male and female lay leaders to coordinate the groups, and enlisted Catholic priests—all admitted wounded healers— to work with them from the start. That means these healing groups will have the advocacy of the Church and Her sacramental worship.

Polish St. Faustina and St. John Paul ll must have smiled as I engaged with sinners of many kinds whom Jesus is transforming to take their places as part of His healing army. These sinner/saints embrace strugglers who often have given up on the Church until Jesus encounters them and urges them homeward.

My friend Jacek left the Church to pursue homosexuality and at the nadir of his sensational misery met Jesus in a ‘gay’ bar where Christ audibly asked him: ‘Do you want to belong to Me or not?’ He did, and began his re-engagement with Christ through the Living Waters community. After a history of sexual abuse, many male lovers, and a psychotic break, Karin could not overcome her depression until a friend invited her to the Living Waters pilot group in her city. She found the Man of her dreams who is freeing her from the darkness.

Part of my goal was to instruct all 100 to effectively share how Jesus through His community is satisfying their desires with good things. God confirmed our efforts at our Sunday Mass which featured St. John’s account of the Samaritan woman (JN 4). Jesus encountered one far from God and brought her near to Him through the water that cleanses and the blood that gives new life (‘living water’).

He did so by kindly revealing her false lovers. Jesus loved her thoroughly: exposing her poisoned well in order to satisfy her fully with Himself. Her response was to declare to all who would listen that this Man highlighted her shame in order to surpass it with His glorious love. So we departed Warsaw that weekend, refreshed in the mercy that empowers us to well up like a fountain for all who thirst.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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