Tag Archives: Moral

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
chastity and mercy 5 river here

Chastity and Mercy 5: River Here

God calls each of us to be a river of life for others. Chastity liberates that flow; sourced in Christ and no longer sidelined by fear and lust, we grow into channels of pure, creative energy. The river’s end? To build up Christ’s body, one member to another.

It is radically simple, as anyone who attends a Living Waters-like group can attest. We gather in order to overcome sins against chastity then discover that the light of Love is routing dark motives and acts. Forgiven by Jesus, He then asks us to be His rays of light for others. What guides us is the other’s good; grace welling up from Truth frees us to deny ourselves for what is best for another. Then, as the Spirit guides and empowers, we summon that good in our brother or sister.

This is the training ground for true friendship.  ‘The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship’ (#2347) exudes the catechism, and such life-giving friendship is the basis for all other relationships. We must grasp this: chaste friendship, governed by robust self-giving aimed at the other’s good—is the foundation of all other loves. That applies to singles who would love not to be, for marrieds (yes, chastity applies as much to the sexually active as to the abstinent) and to persons who became celibate in response to God’s invitation to devoted partnership (#2349).

In each of these states of life, God calls us to rejoice in our sexual longings and with inspired self-control to become a gift that enhances the gift of another. Our greatest temptation may not be surging waters of desire that drown another but rather a neurotic fear of doing so that keeps us isolated. In the words of Aquinas, ‘asexuality’, more than temperate desire, ‘is the moral defect.’ The exuberant chaste soul feels many things but chooses the one thing—another’s good.

We can witness the other virtues at work in chaste friendship. Pieper highlights prudence—the mature ability to make right decisions–as essential to friends who seek to see the truth and act clearly on it. In other words, a wise friend, governed by love and a truthful vision of the other, will help him or her make true decisions. These may well be in service of clarifying who (s)he is as gender ‘gift’ and in helping him or her offer it without compromise. Prudent friendship seems an important antidote to the ‘spiritual friendship’ group who lose the truth each time they reinforce the ‘gay self’ as intrinsic to the friend at hand.

Temperance obviously comes to play in chaste friendship. That can apply as much to moderating positive desire as it does negative feelings. For example, one may be tempted to disdain a friend due to character defects. Self-control helps one to not reject but rather to wisely engage the friend for the sake of self-awareness and growth in holiness. And if non-marital friendship should awaken sexual desire then self-control helps one elevate that desire to holy love, which insists on the other’s good. Wise and good boundaries protect friendship (and the dignity of the friend and his/her loved ones) from one’s still-being-integrated desires. Friendship can still thrive as we become chaste, each of us a work-in-progress.

For this we need fortitude. How essential this virtue in forming good friendships! We who have experienced rejection and fear and sexual confusion in friendship need the will and Spirit to persevere. Pieper writes beautifully: ‘Because man is vulnerable, he can be brave.’ Every Christian is vulnerable to one’s gift being rejected. For this we can choose to put ‘on Christ’ and unite our losses to Himself, confident that He who created us is ever-beautifying the gift we are. We can hold fast to that truth, especially when fallen creatures inform us otherwise.

Let’s not allow anyone to block the stream flowing from the Source through these pretty good vessels. He made us to engender life in others. Where we are, the river is.

‘Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers and sisters, love one another deeply from the heart’ (1P 1:22).

‘Father, thank You for releasing “streams of living water within us” (John 7:38) in order to make us sources of Your gift of life. May our friendships reflect this gift-giving. Grant us the prudence, the temperance and the fortitude to build fruitful friendships. Build up Your body as we Your people build up one another.’

Resurrection: The Wrong Side of History?

‘I could strengthen you with talk, or shake my head with silent lips.’ (Jb 16:5)

I spoke to him plainly of the dangers of ‘gay marriage,’ and the power of Jesus and His church to raise the ‘homosexual’ to wholeness. The earnest bishop implored me: ‘But we don’t want to be on the wrong side of history!’

I understand his dilemma. Last night while channel surfing for 15 minutes, I witnessed two same-gendered couples smooching to celebrate ‘gay marriage’ victories in PA and OR, a piece on skater Johnny Weir who alongside his male partner wore a full face of make-up and bouffant hair, followed by the ‘testimony’ of a former Navy SEAL who was in the process of undergoing a sex-change.

The wrong seems right. To some, we are finally coming to our senses concerning ‘gender diversity.’ In truth, we are witnessing a mix of moral blindness and personal brokenness that scrambles humanity’s most basic foundation: what it means to be male and female. I say ‘moral’ because the decisions we make concerning what we do with our tendencies (be they to merge with a same-gender friend, to look like the opposite-sex, or to cut off one’s genitals in an effort ‘to become’ the other gender) involves choices as to what is right and wrong.

We take these cues substantially from what our culture says it right and wrong. The new normal, gender-wise? Anything goes. In the name of justice, invoking racial equality, western culture has nearly deconstructed gender identity and rendered its formation null and void, with the added warning that if you disagree with another’s gender choices you are a ‘hater.’

My kids know better. You know why? They were raised among dozens of men and women whom Jesus raised from the dead of homosexual and transgender decisions, including their father. Of course they can discern like any honest person that a Navy SEAL in drag needs healing, not more hormones, and that the last thing Johnny Weir needs is more camera-time. Beyond that, my kids know that persons who are inclined toward their own gender or toward identifying with the other gender need the God who stoops down to meet us in our gender. The Resurrected God gives us what we need; He frees us to resume the journey toward realizing what it means to be made in His image, male and female.

His Resurrection changes the conversation from dead-end decisions to hope. When Jesus rose from the dead, He redefined hope and history itself. The Jewish religious leaders and Roman political leaders converged on the ‘right’ side of history; they seemed to create a formidable block to the future influence of this ‘Jesus.’ Yet death could not hold Him, any more than the gay or transgender ‘self’ needs to define persons who welcome Him into their gender conflicts. His legacy emerged from the tomb, as will ours.

What we need today are bold witnesses of persons raised from the dead of such conflicts. How else will we counter witnesses to the contrary? If there ever was a time for us who have received healing in our gender identities to say so, it is now. Our silence is deadly to a generation which no longer believes that Resurrection applies to gender distortions.

We of the Resurrection may have to endure more scorn than we might like for such a witness–for upholding life-giving choices for the gender broken. At least we will be in good company. True Christians usually seem to be on the ‘wrong’ side of history. And to suffer for it. How precious this opportunity to declare what is right and to endure the opposition of mere men. The living God is on our side!

‘Take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.’ (Deut. 4:9)


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