Tag Archives: Marriage

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Wedding Prep

Last week I discovered some unexpected momentum for our prayer/fasting time. While wondering how I might keep a prayerful focus amid our intensive Living Waters Training week, which ended just in time for my youngest son Sam’s wedding, a team member (thanks Tom Wright!) prophesied: ‘Everything about this training and wedding weekend will remind you of God’s faithfulness to Sam.’

In reflection, prophesy fulfilled. God gave all for my son Sam and gained him. In the process, Annette and I gained Chelsea, an extraordinary daughter-in-law.

While teaching at the onset of training on ‘The Fighting Father’, I recalled how God’s Spirit quickened Annette and I to fight for Sam’s dignity. He strayed far from the Father’s house; I remembered that afternoon on a freezing January morning when I realized how lost Sam was. Somehow God’s grief over the darkness in his life overtook me. I pulled into a nearby Catholic parish, knelt at a pew and prayed out in deep, tearful groans for an hour or so. Annette and I kept praying similarly for Sam throughout the winter.

The following year, Sam came into the light through some tough love on our part and an amazing group of young adults he connected with early on in his repentance. Like any addictive soul, Sam had setbacks en route to holiness and needed to learn the value of living in the light, no matter how painful it is to confess sins to one’s faith community. As I taught on confession at the training, I recalled Sam’s halting willingness to come clean and so break the chains of habitual sin.

Jesse, one of Sam’s amazing Christian friends, shared at the rehearsal dinner of a season when Sam refused to connect with him. Jesse had a dream in which he was trying to speak to Sam but Sam could not hear him, as if he were deaf. Jesse kept trying to connect with Sam unsuccessfully until out-of-the-blue Sam called Jesse, confessed his sins, and enlisted his help in overcoming the sin through their fellowship. Through the prayers of the saints, God quickened Sam to enlist the help of a community. It takes a village to overcome life-defining habits.

Sam kept growing in love with Jesus and soon met his beautiful wife-to-be, Chelsea. Now strengthened in fellowship by a host of great guys, Sam was ready to love a real, dimensional woman. He needed to learn to love a woman in the whole of her being, not just because she’s ‘hot’ but because she is worthy of love. Period. As I taught on true masculinity at the training, I recalled how Sam’s training in faithful fellowship had resulted in his treating Chelsea with dignity. That he does: he helps secure her in love, and she in turn blesses him with honor.

Sam’s strength and Chelsea’s beauty were on vivid display the whole wedding weekend. Radiant in love, they also displayed an ease and familiarity with each other that bodes well for the long haul. They are Christ followers who have committed themselves with eyes wide open to say ‘yes’ to each other daily, in feast and famine.

Everyone who shared in their wedding was somehow brought closer to Jesus. Maybe St. Paul was right when he compared marriage to the wedding of Christ and Church. Sam and Chelsea’s unity ushered us into intimacy with Almighty Beauty Himself.

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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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Truth Ascending

‘When He comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you into all truth.’ (John 16: 13)

 

weddingringsGod has a lot of nerve. He comes and He goes with only the promise of an unseen Spirit to remind us of His truth (John 16). I know, the Holy Spirit is awesome but we are weak and fickle creatures more inclined to spiritual dullness than acuity.

Yet Jesus trusts us with His truth; His ascent to the Father declares: ‘Listen to Me, My Spirit is speaking and you can hear Him; submit to His lead and I will guide you; as My Spirit advocates for your dignity, advocate for the dignity of others.’ What a God! What trust He places in our responsiveness to Him and His truth!

Like you, I look upon many indignities in our world today, especially those concerning the dull and irrational misinterpretation of homosexuality. That has resulted in ‘gay marriage’ victories from New Zealand to France, and in several states in the USA.

Amid the deadening clamor to redefine marriage, the voices of the faithful can also be heard. Are we listening? I have been amazed in the last several weeks as I have heard those who listen to the Spirit and who declare His beauty in marriage.

The Church of England recently defied its Prime Minister’s drive to legislate ‘gay marriage’ by insisting: ‘Marriage is a gift from God, not a right granted by the state or a cultural construct…It is an expression of the human nature which God has willed for us and which we share.’

Flatirons, the largest congregation in Colorado, defied its ‘hipster’ status by declaring unashamedly ‘God defines marriage, and no human institution can change that; we can only choose whether we want to acknowledge it or not.’

Kansas Archbishop Joseph Naumann spoke beautifully for his state and God’s heart when he said last week: ‘Cultures and societies place themselves at risk when they no longer recognize the importance of marriage as an enduring, committed relationship between one man and one woman…this is primarily about the well-being of children’ who result from such a relationship.

Catholic Bishops throughout the USA are united in their stand for marriage as an expression of the dignity of all persons, especially children who have no voice. The bishops declare together: ‘Redefining marriage says…what adults want trumps what a child deserves and has a right to.’

Jesus ascended and left us His Spirit. In spite of the dreadful drive to disintegrate marriage, let us advocate for what He advocates for in us: our dignity, our creativity, our capacity to make and keep promises of love that dignify all involved, especially children.

Please join us as we join prayerfully with the Catholic Bishops on behalf of marriage, June 21st to July 4th. For more info, visit www.Fortnight4Freedom.org

“He ascended on high and took prisoners captive; He gave gifts to men. What does ‘He ascended’ mean, except that He also descended into the lower regions of the earth? One who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” (Eph. 4: 8-10)

 

 

 

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Courage of Our Convictions

‘Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shone like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.’ (PS 37: 5, 6) 

DOMA-courtHow could a nation captivated by ‘The Bible’ miniseries be taken captive by ‘gay marriage’?

Last week’s Time Magazine featured photos of sexy lip-locked gay couples under the heading: ‘How Gay Marriage Won.’ The popular media prophesies an utterly gay-friendly America; in the words of Time, we are ‘eyewitnesses of history’, the successful homosexualization of our culture with ‘gay marriage’ as its seal.

Still, most of us flinched when subjected to Time’s provocative gay photos. Deep in our hearts, we know that something is wrong with 2 men or 2 women trying to become one. It has nothing to do with hate or bigotry; it is the only honest response to the law of God written in our hearts (Rom. 2:15). Our discord with ‘gay marriage’ is anchored in moral conviction.

In spite of what celebrities or the APA or liberal politicians say, no matter how much we love gay friends or family members, we cannot in good conscience confirm homosexual identity and practice, let alone a ‘gay marriage’, as something inspired by God.

We Americans face a rift in our thinking. On the one hand, we want people to be free and to do what they choose. On the other hand, we devotedly follow a depiction of the Bible on TV and claim that God is the most important relationship in our lives. Consider this: though the vast majority of those under 30 in the USA favor ‘gay marriage’, 50 % of them are unsure if homosexuality is morally right! Why would anyone advocate for two gay pesons mocking holy marriage if (s)he seriously doubted the moral decision to assume gay identity and practice in the first place?

We do not think through our morality. If we did, we would take a stand for marriage and endure the scorn of peers. At least we could live with our consciences. Instead we refuse to think at all and cop out with a cheap ‘everyone deserves happiness….’

Stay true to your convictions. Trust the law written on your heart. God placed it there. Don’t allow popular opinion or the gay people you love to alter the truth that something is wrong with homosexuality. Period. Real love holds fast to the truth and refuses to be swayed by sentimentality.

Trust the truth that Jesus has power to transform the lives of those with same-sex attraction. I am only grateful for amazing Christians who did not agree with my gay self but kept praying for more in my life. How cruel to merely agree with another’s confusion on the basis of ‘love.’ How loving to advocate for the Father’s will for His children.

Pray for the true definition of marriage in the USA. Contrary to Time’s sweeping assessment of the ‘gay marriage’ victory, the Supreme Court still has over two months to decide on the two cases. DOMA appears doomed, and yet the Prop. 8 case could go in several directions. The Supreme Court seems unready to strike down the 31 states which currently have true marriage definitions. Pray that state rights will be upheld over the charge that not allowing ‘gay marriage’ is unconstitutional for any state.

Keep flinching. Rebuke the propaganda machine that tries to shame you for disagreeing with homosexual identity and practice. While fighting for marital and moral integrity, do not lose your own. Stay pure in heart and generous in love. Rejoice when you are persecuted for righteousness. Woe to us when all speak well of us (Lk 6:26).

‘The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the design of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord endure forever, the design of His heart for all generations.’  (PS 33: 10, 11)

 

 

 

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Six of 7 Prayers for Marriage: Just Love

love marriage ringIt is now popular to label anyone a ‘hater’ who upholds marriage and refuses to remove its centerpiece: gender complementarity. On the other hand, those for ‘gay marriage’ are applauded as loving and just. I contend that love is far more stern and splendid than conceding to another’s demands. What is harder: to give people what they want or what they need?

True marriage bears witness to all people, including to persons with same-sex attraction, of something deeper and more beautiful than two people sharing lives. It reveals a quality of sacrifice and mutual submission not unlike Jesus’ love for us.

Early on in my journey out of homosexuality, still confused as to my sexual future, I caught glimpses of my parents’ love for each other. However imperfect, they always conveyed respect to each other; I noticed the very specific ways they understood and bolstered each other in their respective weaknesses. These weaknesses grew as they aged but so did their patience and care for each other. My father died with dignity due to the love of his still devoted bride.

My parents’ marriage had a converting impact upon my spirituality and my broken sexuality. It revealed the limits of same-gender pursuits; it opened a window to what I could aspire to as a man created to be in right relationship with woman. What people do not realize is that every human being is created to realize the gift of his/her otherness in relation to the opposite gender.

There are many ways in which we can get stalled or sidetracked in that realization. But that does not change the truth of God’s design and destiny for human sexuality.

When the state upholds true marriage and refuses its redefinition, it points confused citizens like me in the right direction. The state helps clarify the goal of our sexual humanity. It directs us by properly defining reality. The state misdirects us by misnaming reality.

We are thus wise to halt the efforts of gay couples to normalize their unions through ‘marriage.’ In truth, no heart open to the Creator can wholly rest with these ‘normalizing’ efforts. That unrest can work two ways. It can prompt us to go against the grain of our culture and uphold the original meaning of marriage. Or that unrest can fuel the activism driving ‘gay marriage.’ What one cannot resolve internally, (s)he directs outward in efforts to convince the world that ‘we really are normal.’  

But ‘gay marriage laws’ cannot calm the moral unrest underlying two men or women trying to become one. Such laws ‘whitewash’ something that God cannot bless. ‘Gay marriage’ is alien to Him and His design for all of humanity.  

On behalf of the moral and sexual integrity of all persons with same-sex attraction, we act in love when we uphold marriage as one man committed to one woman for the sake of kids they create. It sets a boundary that distinguishes one type of union from another; it clarifies an essential difference between heterosexual commitment and same-gender friendship. In this hour when our nation lurches along the broad path to ‘gay marriage’, we do well to take the narrow way, the way of love, by insisting on true marriage.

Most importantly, we who are married must make every effort to love well our friends with same-gender attraction. We must extend the gift of our communion, just as I benefitted from my parents’ marriage.

Annette and I marvel at a beloved couple. Both spouses have struggled with the husband’s same-gender attraction; they have succeeded at loving each other faithfully and well. You can imagine their grief, concern, and finally their understanding at the ‘coming out’ of their son. Now they love him well. Though they disagree with his choices and self-definition, they manage to treat him with sensitivity, compassion and respect. (CCC #2237)

This couple seeks prayerfully to give their son what he needs, which is their love. They cannot give him what he wants—full acceptance of his homosexual practice.   They have not changed the truth of God’s will to ‘manage’ their disagreement with him; instead they embody the truth by loving him honestly. Their marriage is a living witness of how God created humanity and how He redeems us. It is a bright light to their child and to all of God’s children.

 

Please pray with us this Holy Week as the Supreme Court hears both cases concerning ‘gay marriage’ on Tuesday the 26th and Wednesday the 27th.


 

‘Father, we lift up marriage before you in this hour. We do so for all loved ones with same-sex attraction. For their clarity as Your children, we ask for the Supreme Court to uphold the true definition of marriage. In particular, we pray for plaintiffs opposing marriage, Paul Katami and Kristin Perry, both self-affirmed homosexuals. Would You manifest Your goodness in their lives? Might You give them what they need—a revelation of Your saving love, and not what they want– ‘gay marriage’?  We love You Father and ask for Your advocacy on behalf of marriage in this crucial hour for our nation.’     

 

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