Tag Archives: Marriage and Family

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.

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Retrieving the Family from Synod’s ‘Gay Follies’

How is it that a fraction of the population manages to steal the beauty of family? According to media reports, one would think that the Synod on Family was little more than a battle for ‘gay rights’ in the Roman Catholic Church. Issues surrounding ‘gay-identified’ persons seemed to prevail, even though in its final report the synod rescinded its previous controversial references to homosexuality. In the end, only 2 of 62 paragraphs pertain to ‘pastoral care of persons with a homosexual orientation.’

The rest of the document is a marvel of Catholic truths and concerns for the whole family: sweeping topics like ‘the exaggerated individualism that perverts family ties’ (5) and how only ‘full commitment to Christian marriage can be an antidote to such individualism’(9), ‘children as the real victims of family snags’ (8) and potential victims of ‘the marketing of the body through Internet porn’ (10), how ‘a crisis of faith has led to our current crisis of marriage and family’ (32) and how we need testimonies in our parishes of seasoned families (39) who exhibit ‘an openness to life’ (57) and ‘how the indissolubility of marriage is a gift, not a yoke.’ (14)

Through the document runs a river of mercy, and an appeal to come alongside of persons who have fallen short of God’s best in any of these ways (and more), that they may be turn back to Jesus and be embraced by His Church.

Then why have we reduced the synod to a ‘gay’ culture war? Nothing new under the sun. For the last 40 years now, congresses of every mainline Protestant denomination in the USA have been divided and disempowered by ‘gay rights’ concerns. Eventually, persons of common sense who realize that Jesus loves persons with SSA so much that He calls them to more than the ‘gay’ status quo get tired and relent to the drive of activists who insist on ‘gay’ everything.

Every denomination who has relented in that way has essentially lost the power of the Gospel to define sexual purity and order and to transform persons who are impure and disordered. Sounds like we have a common enemy who will do anything to distract us from what really matters, and to divide us on what does not.

We all agree that there are really wonderful people with same-sex attraction. And we are fools to give them ‘sacred status’ as if they did not have to repent like the rest of us and get on with the business of picking up their crosses and following Jesus. Chastity is a common good and Christian goal that applies to all persons.

Please pray with us at Desert Stream Ministries as we continue our 40-days of prayer for the Church at large. Pray that the enemy will be overcome as the Church centers on redeeming the family and not appeasing the ‘gay agenda.’ Pray that this Synod and its report will bear fruit as it is deliberated upon in preparation for the larger and more conclusive gathering on the family to be held in Philadelphia, October of 2015.

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