Tag Archives: Pastoral Care

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture
contending-for-the-bride

Contending for the Bride

‘Zeal for His House has Consumed Me.’ (JN 2:17)

In order ‘to contend for the faith entrusted to all the saints’ (Jude 3), we must follow Jesus into the House of His Father and purge ourselves of what divides us. Yes, we must come into the light of fellowship and enlist the help of others, and yes, no-one can cast out our personal temple robbers but us. Our decision to refuse every altar but Christ Crucified is nothing short of a miracle of God’s mercy—His fiery kindness (mirrored in His members) persuading us that holy Presence beats the unstable presence of other lovers any day.

Then we are ready to give all for the saving of many lives—contending for the Gospel and its power to transform broken lives through the Church. We fight against every stronghold of thought that dulls and blurs the goal of purity and wholeness (aka chastity). We contend against the sick mercy of ‘gay Christianity’ and against the sick truth of pounding vulnerable ones with scripture and church teaching without lending a hand to help them overcome real conflicts. (Spoiler alert: this takes time, sometimes a lifetime…) Troubling too are evangelical churches so intent on reaching the LGBTQ+ community that they naively adopt non-biblical language and ethics and become converted by good ‘gay’ people.

We roll up our sleeves and fight for:

1. The lifting up of the One Cross in order to redeem the two natures—male and female. Under Christ, no LGBTQ+ community can stand. We unite under one gracious hope—Christ Crucified—and one goal, the encounter between the blood and water, and our gendered selves. Only Almighty Mercy can dissolve the catastrophic impact of sin upon what it means to be male and female, created in His image. We must keep the message simple and clear—the Cross invites every person to enter that healing flood, and we in the Church must be constant in extending that invitation.
2. We preach the full range of sins against chastity, beginning with common ‘heterosexual’ ones we often wink at—misogyny, misandry, porn and romantic addictions, divorce, abuse, weird sexual legalism (everything but intercourse), etc. After that, it’s water off a duck’s back to preach repentance to the more obviously confused—‘Come into the water with us; we won’t throw stones but we will take your sins seriously, even as we have taken ours seriously and are doing the hard work to get free.’
3. We provide real outlets where people can get free. I am troubled by communities which preach the truth beautifully but provide little if any in-depth pastoral care for sinners who need it. We must recognize the healing army that is there (and refer!) while adding to its ranks by getting free ourselves. Then, as our gift to the Church, we accompany real sinners who desire freedom: real repentance unto the real Jesus who shows us the Father and His all-surpassing power to restore what is broken.
4. Under the one Cross, we fight for the truth of every person’s gendered dignity, regardless of their confusing starting points. We summon it, we contend for it as part of what it means to be an ambassador of the Gospel. In the same way that we lovingly silence the Pharisee, so we refuse the false ethnos of the LGBTQ+ community. Under the one Cross, we recognize two natures–male and female–, and one goal, that estranged children of God encounter the Father and become beloved sons and daughters, empowered to resume the journey to wholeness.

On this Sure Foundation, a Fountain

Report on Family Synod

Last month I addressed a group of Catholic leaders in Rome on the transforming power of Jesus’ love, through His Church, for persons with same-sex attraction. That was on the eve of the Family Synod, a group of 270 bishops from around the world who deliberated for three weeks on a host of family issues with an eye toward pastoral care. I’ve only read excerpts of their final report so I offer you this limited reflection.

Drawing upon Scripture and Church tradition, this concise report will be a helpful document for the Church as she rises up to fulfill a range of responsibilities for the families of the world. No small world, no easy tasks. I am grateful for the clout wielded by bishops from Asia (our beloved Filipinos), South America (blessed Cordoba), and namely Africa, whose Cardinal Sarah opened our one-day event in Rome and whose leadership there mobilized many bishops to refuse the liberalizing tendency of some western bishops. The poor cannot afford to wage ‘gay marriage’ wars or worry about gender reassignment costs; they bring us back to first things–helping a man and woman make it work it for the kids they create.

Alleluia. I joined the Roman Catholic Church because she remains the sole, coherent global institution that upholds the beauty of man and woman as God’s image on earth, and marriage as earth’s immovable foundation that must be restored and strengthened for the good of everyone on the planet.

On that basis, the synod report offered only one paragraph (#76) on persons with same-sex attraction. While reiterating the fundamental principle of respect for persons bearing that burden, with special sensitivity to the needs of family surrounding the struggler, the report stated that ‘there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.’ The Church is the Rock. She is immovable in her anthropology and commitment to real marriage.

But her foundations require a fountain, an evident gusher of mercy for persons ravaged by the idolatries of our day. Will we as the Church be Jesus for the Samaritans around us who will keep drinking from polluted wells until we make ‘living water’ real to them? Our truth is sure. Let mercy arise for the lost and least.

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