Tag Archives: Theology of The Body

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Muddy Mercy

Things just got a whole lot messier for the Church. Archbishop Carlo Mario Vigano—the papal ambassador to the US from 2011-2016–alleges that he made Pope Francis aware of Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual abuses in 2013; further, Vigano claims that the Pope failed to discipline McCarrick until five years later (he was forced to resign in June) in part due to their strong political alliance: McCarrick advocated for Francis’ election to the papacy and the pope relied upon him significantly to oversee the American Church. If these allegations are true, Pope Francis should step down immediately. This could be the defining moment for a Church that repents in action.

There’s much I love about Pope Francis, especially his action toward the poor and displaced. But his unclear pastoral directives toward persons facing same-sex attraction have always unsettled me. I perceive him as a man who has been evangelized by winsome practicing homosexuals and won over. His legacy to ‘not judge’ persons with same-sex attraction paired with his counsel ‘to accompany’ them on their journey appears to be to a road going nowhere. Mercy without truth ceases to be mercy at all; it merely confirms people in their fractured, fruitless lives. And it leads to tolerating absolutely vile and inexcusable behavior in leaders. Francis judged McCarrick way too late.

Vigano’s report broke the morning I preached to a beautiful congregation in the San Fernando Valley. Given how the Church of Los Angeles lives in the face of the LBGT+ dragon, I emphasized the Cross: Jesus’ self-giving which commands repentance of any sexual expression that raises itself above His Lordship. Mercy flowed as many came forward to weep before the Crucified, including Kim, a 13-year-old girl wrestling with same-sex attraction who wondered whether or not she was a ‘lesbian.’ We prayed for her as with all others, confident of Jesus’ capacity to reconcile her to His best for her.

That church is a clear and cohesive witness of how mercy and truth meet. In contrast, my Roman Catholic Church is a house divided, if Vigano’s letter has any merit. He points out how homosexuality figures large into the current scandal, as most cases of clerical abuse involve male teens, not tots. Vigano also describes how Pope Francis with McCarrick’s help appointed American bishops with a ‘gay-leaning’ sensibility.

All this in a Church that has at its center a robust, life-giving vision of human sexuality: St. John Paul ll’s ‘Theology of the Body’ and the extraordinary role that Pope played in the Catechism in which he defines chastity as integration—reconciliation to our bodies, our genders, and our freedom when surrendered to Christ to offer ourselves purely and well to one another.

Where chastity is mocked by divided churchmen who lead the sheep in darkness, we must reclaim this dynamic vision of human sexuality and seek to live it with all His strength. We can assume responsibility and act upon what our gracious God has taught us, in spite of dodgy shepherds.

As for the shepherds, may Jesus Himself raise His sword over all priests, bishops, cardinals and popes who desecrate God’s children through abuse, its cover-up, and the promotion of pagan LGBT+ liberties that enslave little ones. I am praying for many to submit to Christ and to resign in the wake of this recent shakedown, including Cardinal Wuerl who allegedly knew of McCarrick’s wickedness for years and did nothing.

Unfaithful shepherds have brought us low. They must go. For too long shepherds have waved the rainbow flag over the sheep rather than teaching them to raise the Cross—Christ Crucified and lifted high–as the only means through which we can be reconciled to God’s good will for our sexuality.

Kim deserves better. I shudder to think of her in the hands of a McCarrick or even the confusing counsel of Pope Francis. She needs pure mercy, free from the muddy waters flowing from the Vatican. So do all the Catholic faithful whose trust has been undermined by secrets and LGBT+ lies.

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The Bad and the Beautiful

‘We don’t want merely to see beauty. We want to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to become a part of it.’ C. S. Lewis

June was a bad month for persons seeking to overcome homosexuality. The once morally sound Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) voted overwhelmingly to change its definition of marriage, Obama polished up his gay-affirming legacy by extending all kinds of ‘gay’ federal rights and an ex-Exodus leader came out with a smooth- as-a-snake testimony of how ‘love means never having to say you’re sorry’ for homosexual practice.

Ah well. I am learning to hear the bad news while listening more intently than ever to God’s love song. Through the God who took on a body, we can hear and see and taste in our bodies Heaven’s desire for us. It’s true: God Himself wants to unite Himself with us, which corresponds with our deepest desires. More than anything or anyone else, we want Him! And He wants us–the God of beauty wants to abide and dwell and remain with us in profound communion.

Amid the din of fallen humanity, I am learning to listen to the Song of Songs. When I do, beauty overcomes the bad and I am reminded that One greater has overcome the world and its deceit. He will overcome that deceit through persons who have been wooed and won over by Beauty Himself.

Applying deftly JPll’s teaching on ‘The Theology of the Body,’ Christopher West describes the real desire in us that God accesses. That desire is sourced in His design for our bodies, a truth He liberates as we learn to dance in harmony with His great love for us. Finally, that ‘dance’ results in our destiny, which is to join Him eternally when heaven and earth become one at the end of time. For now, we long and listen for Heaven’s song, music that flows from His heart to ours. The key is to learn to sing along, and to invite others into the dance.

We cannot expect broken people who barely can hear His song to line up with Christian morality. Instead, we must teach them God’s song of love to them. Once they hear the music, God will prepare them to take the next steps, to begin to move closer to His design for their lives. That’s how I see ‘Living Waters’: it is a series of dance lessons, well-choreographed, in which we begin to move in accord with our design. But that would mean nothing without beautiful love songs.

The Father urged me to begin to listen and pray for a wonderful gay-identified man at my gym who needs Jesus desperately (but does not yet know that.) While praying, Jesus gave me a picture of him, driven and distracted by the demands of others. Then a light shone on him and compelled him to look up. He was filled with light and his face went from gray to gold. Our glorious God said to him: ‘I want your happiness.’ I recounted my vision and his eyes filled with tears. ‘I did not know God cared about my happiness,’ he replied.

My friend is not yet ready to repent of homosexuality. But he is beginning to hear heaven’s song. Alleluia. Beauty wins.

‘Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers; if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.’ Pope Paul Vl

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Mercy 1: Communion of Saints

‘Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…’ (Heb. 12: 1a) 

mercy 11 by torbahopperMercy flows from the Head through the Body; Jesus shows unfailing love to us through our fellows. Some have long passed but await us in heaven. I draw encouragement daily from these saints, amazing men and women whose radical commitment to Cross and Church (the only way they endured the Church’s ambivalence to them was through the Cross!) blazed a trail for me.

How much more do I draw mercy from the saints still on earth who stand with DSM/LW? True friends emerge from the fight. The world and worldly church do everything in their power to discredit our efforts; blinded to their need for mercy, they make miserable those who see sin’s misery in sexual and relational brokenness. In the fire, God is forging alliances. Out of the bitterness of Christians for whom ‘love means never having to say you are sorry’, we at DSM/LW are experiencing sweet fellowship with likeminded saints.

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We share a commitment to the flourishing of God’s image in humanity, as well as a realistic view of how deeply we languish. Deeper still we agree on the power of Jesus and His Church to set us free to be good offerings for one another.

Take our alliance with Restored Hope Network and its Executive Director, Anne Paulk. Anne is a merciful fighter. Unstopped by a lesbian history and the loss of a traditional marriage due to a spouse’s homosexuality, she has forged a network that unifies and equips ministries like DSM/LW to offer transformation to the broken. She prays like a boxer, and leads like a classy, merciful woman. We are proud to support her and pray for all the ministries of RHN during this fast.

Christopher West introduced me to John Paul ll’s Theology of the Body (TOB), a book that centered me in life-transforming Catholic truth. West is among the foremost mouthpieces of TOB and beyond. He combines Catholic reverence with candor and innovation. He is a treasure to the whole church: to know him is to know Jesus better in the ache of one’s humanity. We are privileged to pray for his Cor Project during this fast.

Father John Harvey started Courage the year I started DSM. His forged a path for Catholics with SSA to lead chaste lives touched me deeply then and now. (In the last year of his life, 2010, I sought him for wise counsel.) A priest of extraordinary integrity, Fr. Paul Check, now leads Courage with vision and deep heart for men and women wanting Jesus more than their ‘gay lives.’ We shall also lift up Encourage, their support system for persons being converted through learning to love a family member with SSA. What a privilege to stand with and pray for this most timely ministry in the Catholic Church.

Lastly, we prayerfully uphold the legacy of Leanne Payne, seminal influence upon me and all of DSM/LW. We do so by supporting Gino Vaccaro, leader of Ministries of Pastoral Care (MPC), which seeks to distill the essence of Payne’s work and make it available to hurting ones in a profound and tender Way. Gino has loved me well and deeply; he recently challenged me in some areas with a kindness that broke me for the best. He embodies a kind of mercy that transforms lives. Praying for him and MPC is to pray for Jesus to multiply His ministry of healing.

We at DSM/LW are surrounded by mercy due to these merciful saints. Please join us in the next 20 days, starting now, to pray that our unified efforts would release drafts of mercy to a hurting Church and world.

‘…let us throw off everything that hinders us, and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.’ (Heb. 12:1b)

Day 1, Wednesday November 6th, 2013

Desert Stream/Living Waters: National Living Waters Leadership Training, November 16-22. Please pray that many would come and be encouraged to lead new groups throughout the US!

Restored Hope Network: aboutHope, Arkansas, Jan and Ted Schneider Directors. Specialty: ministering to grieving parents.
New Creation Ministries, Fresno, CA. Russell Willingham, Director. Specialty: overcoming sexual addiction.

Courage: All men and women with same-sex attraction (SSA) may receive the grace to discover and commit to a life of chastity in body and soul.

Cor Project: Spiritual protection for Christopher and Wendy West and all staff, associates and their families.

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Twenty Days For Mercy

‘O blood and water that flows from the heart of the Savior as a fount of mercy for us, [we] trust in You!’ St. Faustina

MASTER mercy 15 chriscrussell copyWhen the towers fall and our foundations are being destroyed, what can the faithful do? We can prayerfully cry out for mercy. The Lord of mercy will respond by gently ushering His broken, disoriented creation into His rest.

Today we highlight the importance of gender clarity and sexual chastity to a world shrouded in darkness. We at Desert Stream/Living Waters endure only because our feet are solidly planted on the Rock of Christ Jesus and His Church. There a river of mercy flows for all weary ones who struggle deeply with identity and desire but who have come to experience the folly of worldly answers. Surrender to Jesus alone corresponds with their deepest ache for love. What a privilege to do our part in ushering many onto that Rock, where mercy never fails!

We are heading into the joy of Christmas. In preparation for His birth, might you join us in ‘Twenty Days for Mercy’? Through prayer and fasting, we shall implore the Child-King to release those blinded by other masters. From November 6th to the 25th, we shall pray both for the sexually broken and for the Church, that she might reflect His mercy well. Truly the sexually broken are ‘harassed and rendered helpless’ by worldly powers (Matt. 9: 33-35); only mercy can bring them Home.

I shall write a brief daily devotional that will be posted on my blog and sent to you twice weekly. Most importantly, alongside of prayer for our Living Waters leaders, we are partnering with several excellent, like-minded ministries for whom we shall pray daily with specific requests: Courage, the COR Project, Ministries of Pastoral Care (MPC), and the Restored Hope Network (RHN).

Headed by Anne Paulk, RHN is a dynamic network that unites groups around the USA to offer hope and transformation for persons impacted by SSA and other sexual issues. The COR (Latin for ‘heart’) Project, led by Christopher West, heralds the life-transforming work of Theology of the Body, authored by John Paul ll. MPC, formerly Leanne Payne’s pastoral healing course, has a new leader, Gino Vaccaro, who has done a fine job re-launching Payne’s essential teachings through MPC.

Lastly, we will lift up the Courage and Encourage Apostolate, the only officially recognized arm of ministry to those impacted by SSA in the Roman Catholic Church. What a privilege to partner with leader Father Paul Check in supporting this vital global effort.

Daily we at DSM/LW will be lifting up these requests at 3pm in our offices, CST. Join us if you can or pray when it works for you! In the next three weeks leading up to Nov. 6th, Ann Armstrong (our beloved intercessor at DSM/LW) will write more on how we all can prepare to pray and fast effectively for our time together.

Please plan to pray with us. God acts when the faithful cry out for mercy!

Visit andrewcomiskey.com/mercy for daily updates during the fast.

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