Tag Archives: LGBT

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Wisdom

‘Preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you…’ (PR 3: 21, 22)

Like you, I watch helplessly as divided men and women leave faith and family for another partnership, be it a younger lover, the actualizing of an ‘LGBT’ self, or just a ‘fresh’ start. Adultery takes on many forms in our world today. Especially painful is the mangling of many by the one who buys the lie that happiness lies in the illicit orgasm, the romantic rush, creaturely comforts that bypass the Creator. Solomon warns those who conceive adultery: ‘At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent.’ (PR 4:11)

How relevant is the wisdom of Proverbs for our consumer-driven culture! The wise declare: ‘Yes I have hardships and disappointment, yet my happiness rests in the One who orders all things and makes a way for me in all my conflicts.’ Wisdom guides that life and safeguards all who surround it by what Joseph Pieper describes as ‘the perfected ability to make right decisions.’ (His definition of prudence, which I am describing here as wisdom, is laid out excellently in The Four Cardinal Virtues, Notre Dame Press.) On wisdom hinges all other virtues. How else can you understand ‘this root and guide of all good action’?

I rejoice in a host of husbands who have betrayed their wives (with porn and both genders) then repented and worked hard to restore family life. From them I have learned wisdom. Why? Wisdom guided their steps; they were willing to be trained by her, and their recovery highlights several facets of Pieper’s wisdom.

First, wisdom is rooted in the truth; truth is her standard, and wisdom insists that one love the truth and effort to actualize it. Wisdom is based both on an ideal—God only honors sexual love in marriage and my wife deserves that–but also on a real struggle to stay true to that ideal—I must work hard and find roots in a recovery community in order to win back her trust. Wisdom aligns with Reality. One aligns with the truth of God’s will and works hard to live out that truth.

Secondly, wisdom insists on an ‘energetic promptness’, an ability to swiftly decide for the good. That means clearing out any delusion related to ‘managing’ one’s own sin. Wisdom’s clear-sightedness frees him to refuse nostalgic rubbish. He remembers things as they were—demonic entrapments that destroyed life rather than enhanced it; he runs to the fountain of life to partake of the One whose friends hold him to his best. One friend said: ‘I recall daily the devastation of my wife and marriage but also the refuge of our love today. We’ve worked too hard to give that up for anything.’

Thirdly, wisdom is all about foresight, ‘a sure instinct for the future.’ My friends are preparing for a long life with good women and kids and grandkids. ‘I am making truthful decisions today for tomorrow’ is their credo. These former fools repented unto Almighty Mercy and became wise. Wisdom makes whole divided lives, and sets in motion a righteous future for thousands of others.

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Exuberant Joe

My good friend and colleague Dr. Joseph Nicolosi passed away yesterday from an unexpected, swift illness. I am in shock. He is the man who gave men like me courage to name the wounds related to our early gender identity, get on a healing track, and proceed onto all we were created for. As a devout Catholic, he held fast to our fruitfulness and eschewed the false solutions offered by the LGBT community; as an astute clinician, he persevered to ensure that the healing arts and sciences still applied to persons with same-sex attraction who knew that they were stuck and needed to get on with life.

He did it all with panache. He was a force of nature—youthful at 70-years-old, mouthy, colorful, an unflagging provocateur of truth. He never lost focus. The last time I saw him was a year ago at his home in Thousand Oaks home with wife Linda; he exuberantly rehearsed a new paper he was presenting at NARTH, which he co-founded and designed as the only enduring network offering clinical care for persons with unwanted SSA.

The sheer volume of his output in papers, books, and presentations around the globe is staggering and can be summed up in these words: humanity is created to realize its heterosexual potential and homosexual behavior is a symptomatic attempt to repair early wounds that left the boy alienated from that potential–the innate masculinity that he has failed to claim. Sound psychotherapy is thus one means through which we can welcome the confirmation that eluded us in our wounds and recover our dignity as men from the illusion of seeking ‘completion’ in homoeroticism. I would urge you all to secure any of his books or articles. My personal favorite: Shame and Attachment Loss, IVP.

Joe got it right. He never apologized for the light he shone. In 1980, he founded the Thomas Aquinas Counseling Center in Los Angeles the same year Desert Stream began in LA. He provided for me and my colleagues studying psychology a reasonable, clear direction amid irrational forces. Ever exuberant, he seemed to enjoy the challenges he faced. He was born to burn calories caused by his contention that humanity has a direction born of God, a track no activist can alter.

God made Joe fit for the fight and he did so brightly and boldly in the face of adversity. Some did not know what to do with him. We did know. We loved him. His gift freed us to embrace life. Exuberantly.

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Enkindling Hope Andrew Comiskey

Enkindling Hope

‘A person’s resurrection is no personal privilege for himself alone. It contains within itself hope for all, hope for everything.’ Dorothy Soelle

Like you, I tend to fear what may come out of my mouth in ‘polite’ society. A fire burns in me constantly that longs to enkindle the hope of transformation for anyone serious about Jesus Christ. Good news yes, and scandalous too.

While at a well-heeled Christmas party with new neighbors last week, the subject of a particular Catholic theologian—Richard Rohr– came up. Rohr lost my respect a while back when he shifted his anthropology and began to recognize the ‘LGBT’ set as an ethnic group in need of rights rather than repentance unto the transforming love of Christ Jesus.

This theologian has now unwittingly blocked the way for men and women to open themselves to the new life Jesus has for them. Instead, his worldly thinking limits them to sexualizing their own gender, a direction that forever frustrates God’s will for their good lives.

In a flash, I thought of all the young women and men with same-sex attraction whose aspiration to walk in chastity is hindered by churchmen like Rohr who have become worldly in their thinking. The path of a generation needs to be cleared! We remove the weeds through the fire of truth, spoken in love. When well-aimed and timed, such fire enkindles hope for a life that surpasses ‘gay love.’

Fire burned in me. Amid the tinkling of wine glasses and well-tailored holiday wear, I knew that I had to basically undress and tell the whole truth of what Jesus can do for persons like me. I gently broke into the conversation and said that while I appreciated much of Rohr’s work, ‘I fear he is blocking the way for a generation to know the truth that can set them free.’

The woman, a college professor, interrupted me with some bogus worldly wisdom—‘Since the beginning of time, there has been the same % of gays everywhere on the planet…’ I quietly refuted her (such data does not exist) then redirected the conversation back to the truth of the Gospel—‘Jesus opens a door that cannot be shut for persons who knock for a way out of homosexuality and this is how He did so for me…’ Because my tone was respectful and my content deeply personal, she listened and left with ‘I see this now in a whole new light.’

That light is nothing less than the Gospel, which will remain hidden toward persons who will perish (2Cor. 4:3) unless people like you and me enkindle hope with the truth Jesus has entrusted to us.

Theologian Karl Barth says it best: ‘Something often flames up in our soul that we would like to call out to all people—a question, a complaint, a word of defiance, a rejoicing, a stark truth—something of a sort that a person cannot keep to himself once it is there…It saddens us to see people coming and going, all in so much dullness and error when we have something to tell them that would help them…Our talk is such a wooden, dead talk. Fire will not break out in it, but can only smolder in our words…Whatever does not grow out of God produces smoke, not fire. But that which is born of God overcomes the world (1JN 5:4). We need only to speak with our fellows on the basis of faith. As long as our words do not arise out of faith in God’s power, we will remain mute. Only faith can speak. But faith can speak! Our ears must be opened then our mouths.’

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Cultivating Gay Christians

I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ amid the afflicting power of homosexual attraction and conduct. In those years, shame veiled such struggles. I was fortunate to find Christian guides who helped me to discover Jesus as the basis for a new and true humanity.

Today, we arise out of shame and into the evolving community known as LGBTQ. Such a community may appear to afford some a kind of corporate identity and defense against a heterosexist world. What it actually does is bar Christians from the grace (and clarity of identity) that could be theirs.

Sadly, many of our best Christian institutions, Fuller Seminary and Wheaton College among them, now sponsor LGBTQ groups. Bowing to the pressure of insistent ‘gay’ alums, these institutions have broken ties with Scripture and Church tradition in regards to human sexuality.

(Please note that such groups do not represent the majority of those schools’ faculty and students. The craftiness of an aggressive few finds access through naïve, weary administrators. Please pray for opportunities to engage constructively with those powers-that-be. Badly conceived precedents can end!)

I know from my solid Fuller education that there is no biblical theological base for ‘self-identified’ LGBTQ members. In his Doctrine of Creation (CD lll), Karl Barth upholds the “radical duality of male and female as the root of all other fellowship…The command of God shows humanity irrefutably that man can only be genuinely human with woman, and woman with man.”

Fuller Professor Emeritus Dr. Ray Anderson furthers this thought: “To deny the fundamental distinction of sexual orientation with regards to one’s own identity as male or female is to conceal the imago dei itself.” (On Being Human)

In other words, every human being is under the divine command to work out his or her salvation as male and female in relation to each other. Any community that seeks to define itself outside that duality defies a genuine theological anthropology. Such ‘humanity’ is self-prescribed rather than defined by the Creator. In Barth’s words, “a flight from one’s gender is a flight from God.”

The LGBTQ ‘self’ is a recently devised social construct. Speaking of the ‘gay self’ in particular, Dr. Mark A. Yarhouse makes the distinction between homosexual attractions and identity. He writes: “A gay identity reflects a modern sociocultural movement that has formed an identity around experiences of same-sex attraction. It is not merely a synonym for SSA… Rather, ‘I am gay’ is a self-defining attribution that reflects this socio-cultural movement.” (Round Peg, Square Hole)

‘Gay’ identification is only one way in which a person with SSA seeks to resolve his/her sexuality. It is a willful, moral decision that serves to deepen and strengthen one’s homosexual desires. Is that among the goals of these institutions—to cultivate gay Christians?

That is expressly what LGBTQ groups do. Curious, vulnerable Christians gather with self-identified ‘gays’ and other sexual ‘minorities.’ Unlike groups I led at Fuller, these groups do not encourage the seeker to repent unto healing but rather to embrace and integrate his/her skewed sexual identity.

I have only compassion for Christians with SSA. But I resist absolutely the push to gather on the basis of the ‘gay self’ in order to further orient one’s life around a disordered set of desires. Resolving these desires could be undertaken instead by committed Christians who rightfully invite any person with LGBTQ leanings into a community seeking redemption.

That is the ministry of Jesus Christ, “to open for us the hermeneutical horizon for authentic personhood”; in the words of Ray Anderson, “we go to Jesus to learn about Adam.” And we go to church to discover this Jesus who reconciles us to the Father’s best for our lives. Anderson again: “The church must know the difference between order and disorder and be wise enough to contextualize disorder with grace and truth.”

Christian LGBTQ groups cannot be considered ordered, grace-filled, or truthful. May the Church arise into the real community of transformation for the broken who turn to Jesus. May those institutions that profess to build the Church turn from any group that cultivates ‘gay’ Christians.

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