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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Obama’s Confusing Legacy

‘The rights of black people are gay rights and the rights of gay people are black rights.’ Kevin Jennings

Living in a city built on a fault-line of segregation where the majority of African-Americans flounder in poverty and poor schools, I cheer former president Obama for provoking all ethnic minorities to break down barriers and become who they can be for the good of others.

What galls me is how he mistook ‘gender-identity’ variations for ethnicity in his 8-year-pledge to expand human rights. Yesterday, I drove up to a Starbuck’s window and faced a woman employing every hormonal and cosmetic means possible to erase her womanhood; she had entered into the dehumanizing zone of becoming gender-free. Her broad face, reddened with testosterone and a pale beard, was shocking to anyone encountering her and cruel to this woman who needs help to unpack her gender rejection, not a license to destroy herself.

Obama gave her that license. His administration placed gender identity delusions on par with ethnic civil rights. One of his final acts as president was to commute the sentence of transgender prisoner Chelsea Manning. That says first, in contrast to the best clinical evidence available, Obama has done more than any other leader on earth to perpetuate the lie that fragile souls who seek refuge in the fantasy of becoming someone other than who they are should be granted government advocacy to realize their ‘dream.’ In truth, Obama made this part of the American dream, a waking nightmare for all who surround this person’s tragic choice to worsen his or her fate. Through his Abortion and Transgender Services Mandate (ACTS, 2016), Obama made every gender-rejecting figment of the American imagination ground for government-funded sex changes.

Secondly, Obama stumped over and over to ensure that ‘gender identity’ freedom was placed on every list that included racial equality. He lumped a profound identity disorder with persons who have been stripped of every vestige of human dignity due to skin color. Obviously, this further slaps the face of persons who have suffered for centuries under the oppressive hand of the majority. Obama failed to distinguish between the intrinsic dignity God grants those who represent Him in a host of ethnicities, and those tempted to chase illusions in an effort to heal the rift in their gendered selves. For the gender confused, peace comes only from reconciliation to who one is before God as either male or female. While Obama summoned greatness from the ethnically oppressed, he further oppressed the gender fractured by offering dead-end solutions to their suffering.

‘There is an ecology to man. Man too has a nature that he must respect and that he cannot manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled.’ Pope Francis

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ignite the torch joy of love

Ignite the Torch

‘The Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children by restoring their hope like a torch carried among the people to enlighten those who have lost their way in the midst of a storm.’ Joy of Love, Pope Francis

While Pope Francis magnificently honors marriage in his recent exhortation, he falters in fueling the torch necessary to enlighten persons lost in the storm surrounding homosexuality. Yes, he exposes the lie of constructing one’s own gender ‘self’. But he falls fall short of illuminating Christ Crucified and Raised as the fire that can consume the disordered heart and win it over to holy love.

Pope Francis does not connect the dots. On the one hand he alludes to misbegotten cultural shifts like ‘gay marriage’ and the folly of being tossed about by self-serving, shortsighted desires. He highlights the Gospel passages in which sexual sinners are admonished by Jesus ‘to live more worthy lives’ as His love awakens ‘consciousness of sin.’ Yet his pastoral directives for enlightening persons lost in the gender storm are bland and dim; Francis invokes accompaniment and the law of gradualism and other references to walking with persons in pain. All good—but none adequate to awaken the soul in darkness to the saving light of Jesus.

I longed to hear Francis refer to repentance and sexual sin in the same sentence. He hesitates here. Inspired by the Spirit and commensurate with the damage done, the urgent call for repentance seems in line with Francis’ consistent regard for ‘the immense psychological burden’ that unfaithful adults impose upon children. We serve justice to kids by returning to the Father and casting off destructive identities and relationships. By aspiring to be faithful ‘gender’ witnesses, we the repentant do our part to meet the identity needs of children.

For this, we the Church need to declare the clear and compassionate call for all to turn to Jesus amid confused identities. Repentance is the base on which our eyes are opened and we can begin to make wise choices. Yes we slowly progress in our moral formation, and yes such formation is founded on the Word who exposes our chains and offers Himself as the key.

I now live in a Catholic world where the slight majority uphold gay unions, are intolerant (often cruel) to persons who lovingly refuse to bless ‘gay unions’, and whose clergy men tend to invoke a repentance-free mercy for persons with SSA. Where is the Church who blazes like a torch in order to enlighten her members? Where are the merciful lights to guide lost loved ones home? May God fan into flame a host of blazing lights to light the way in the storm that Francis describes but inadequately guides us through in this turbulent hour.

‘For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent; for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, until her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.’ (IS 62:1)

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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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Turn and Burn Andrew Comiskey

Turn and Burn

‘John was a lamp that burned and gave light.’ (JN 6:35)

I could hardly believe my ears. Surrounded by a host of earnest men, most cradle Catholics, the priest raged like a street fighter as he implored us to turn from what sickened, divided and ultimately would kill us. ‘Repent unto the love of Jesus! The love that woos you will only make you new if you turn from your sin!’

Pow. Right between the eyes. The priest mediated the spirit of John the Baptist unlike any other, fittingly so for the second week of Advent. The Sunday’s Gospel (LK 3: 1-6) declares John preaching ‘a baptism of repentance’, and implores us to ‘make a way’ for Jesus in our lives through turning from everything that hinders love. We know that holy love liberates our repentance. But the Baptist refuses to let us off the hook. We must level our mountains—the craggy defenses and soaring self-justifications—in order to break ground for His entry into our lives.

Incited by the sentimentality that surrounds ‘homosexuals’ in the Church today (victims in need of coddling, not the call to repent unto chastity like everyone else), I began to burn within as I recalled God’s dignifying call for my repentance. I realized I had a choice: turn from my ‘gay’ self and behaviors and live, or die in my sin. It was simple, stunning, and cost me everything. It set me free to follow Jesus.

Like Jeremiah (20:9), my stomach smoking, I declared to my brothers around that table the truth of my ‘gay ‘ past and gratitude for the Baptist’s call to repentance. ‘God in His mercy gave me a choice: He respected me enough to give me the freedom to surrender to Him the whole complicated mess of my sexuality. And He gives you the same gift to turn from whatever seeks mastery over you. You just have to act on it. No-one can do it for you.’

Admittedly, repentance isn’t the only factor in our restoration as persons. But no restoration can occur without it. Through His beloved forerunner John, Jesus reminds us this Advent to turn and so burn with the fire of divine love.

This Tuesday the 8th, Pope Francis initiates his Jubilee Year of Mercy. Would you pray with me throughout this important year for him? Following the Synod on the Family, the Pope is now weighing its report and sometime in 2016 will give his pastoral suggestions on a host of issues, including the pastoral care of persons with SSA. He has been ambiguous in the call for ‘homosexuals’ to repent, and he faces resistance for making such a politically incorrect call.

Perhaps Pope Francis can draw courage from John the Baptist who commanded repentance so clearly that Herod killed him for it (John challenged his sexually immoral relationship with Herodias and was beheaded; Matt. 14:1-12.) Pray for Pope Francis’ clarity, that he not bypass the clear command of repentance unto Jesus and the goal of chastity for all persons, including persons with SSA. To do so is a failure of mercy. We cannot have Jesus without His Baptist. We must turn in order to burn with holy love.

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Return to the Father: 40-Days of Prayer/Fasting for Lost Loved Ones

‘The mercy of God is not an abstract idea but a concrete reality through which He reveals His love as that of a mother or father, moved to the very depths out of love for their child.’ Pope Francis, The Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy

The dark powers that drive our ‘gay marriage’ culture have effectively skewed the meaning of justice, compassion and human dignity. More personally, we witness our loved ones caught in the undertow of these dark waters. Many of you now face painful relationships with persons you love due to a clash of moral values.

Good friends, sons and daughters, spouses, parents, entire faith communities are now ‘out and proud’; we grieve over an alien spirit that has overtaken them. We whose brokenness led us to cleave to Christ know that only He can liberate the conflicted heart.

But what can we do? We cannot make another’s moral or spiritual choice. But we can pray! Join us at Desert Stream Ministries for 40 days from Oct. 14-Nov. 22 as we cry out for mercy on behalf of lost loved ones. Just as nothing pierces our hearts more than their distress, nothing pierces God’s heart more. He longs for their return to His loving care more than we do.

Please download the PDF we are including in this entry. There is a small devotional for each of the 40 days; using this prayer guide, we on the DSM/LW staff will be praying in person every day at 3pm cst for a host of friends on the en route to Jesus and His Church. Would you join us? Just plug in the handful of friends you are most concerned about, and we will fight together for their wholeness in Christ.

As we deepen in prayer, we begin to see how He is converting us through others’ distress. Our sometimes shrill self-righteousness is giving way to a humble brokenness that invites mercy.

We would ask as you pray with us that you give up something of value during these days. As you go without, we ask that God would grant you the freedom to linger a bit in His presence. Let whatever ‘hunger’ you experience be a reminder of the greater need someone else has for your merciful prayers.

Click here to download the 40 Day Devotional PDF.

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