Category: Catholic Sexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

About a Wedding…

Much could be said about our 3 day anniversary feast: thoughtful reflection upon each decade of DSM, longstanding co-ministers who overwhelmed Annette and I with poignant and pointed blessing, courageous attendees who refused to allow covid to come between them and their tribe—wow. Our cup runs over.

But these 3 days may best be framed as a wedding, the celebration of Annette and my union and its fruit–our four amazing children who anchored each session/decade with their take on DSM, at once humorous and insightful. I loved how they loved the gathering; as charter DSM members, they share in its essence and have embraced the ministry as part of their legacy and offering to others.

I realized that our family unit points beyond itself to a greater wedding, the wedding feast of the Lamb. Jesus is returning for a spotless bride. Though our family is in no way blemish-free, it possesses an integrity that reveals Jesus’ love for His Church: how He redeems the unchaste and makes them fruitful for Kingdom purposes. DSM/LW is about nothing less. We (all LW workers) exist to prepare for Jesus a people for Himself. As flawed vessels, we depend on Him daily to embody the integration we invite others to discover. Unseen but dynamically present Jesus is our means and our goal—He is preparing us for face-to-face consummation. Forty years and counting, we bear witness of our soon-coming-King for all who have eyes to see, ears to hear.

Abbey Foard and Marco Cassanova led the three days. Fitting. These two are among our most excellent spiritual children and are being prepared to take DSM/LW far beyond Comiskey limits. It is pure gift to love and trust two people deeply and to take time in our vigorous years to impart all we have to them. Both show evidence of Jesus’ leadership. They make our joy full.

On the last night, I shared my love for the whole Church, and more personally, how our marriage has suffered and grown through Catholicism and Annette’s ongoing Evangelicalism. Tough stuff, and prophetic for how DSM/LW functions to serve all Christians who aspire to chastity. That night’s witnesses included the Catholic Bishop of our diocese, the pastor of Redeemer (a robust reformed congregation in KC), my parish priest, Bethel minister Elizabeth Woning who cofounded the Changed Movement, and Anne Paulk of Restored Hope Network.

Jesus is returning for Christians of all stripes who have made themselves ready. Our service is one inspired expression of how He is preparing us for the Wedding above all weddings.

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True Worship 1

We approach our fortieth anniversary bash this week; I am grateful, full of peace and praise for Jesus. In charting the breakthroughs and breakdowns throughout our four decades, I declare assuredly: ‘Lord, You establish peace for us; everything we have accomplished, You have done for us, O God’ (Is. 26:12).

At core He made Himself known to me, handing Himself over to this slave of sin. My eyes opened to behold Jesus-Savior. The knowledge of Him freed me to know myself as a man created for woman. He has empowered me to represent Him (unevenly, but always in earnest!) as a husband and father. For this I rejoice, body, soul and spirit—O God, You are Almighty Mercy, able to deliver Your creation from idolatry and self-delusion, and to free us for fruitfulness!

Pity those who split who God is from who He made them to be! This delusion is growing in the Church today—more than any other trend in our culture, I lament the deception of ‘LGBT+ Christians’ who claim devotion to Jesus while clinging to old identities and affections sourced in the father of lies, not Light. Whether it be the ‘gay’ Christian Revoice movement, Fr. James Martin’s burning ‘bridge’ in the Catholic Church, Wesley Hill’s version of ‘spiritual friendship’, or a host of recent books on the topic (the author of IVP’s SSA and the Church tips his hat toward transformation then stalls as a man mired in his ‘gay’ condition), the body of Christ seems hell-bent on making peace with LGBT+ ‘nature.’ Have we His members, lost sight of our Head who came to redeem our fallen natures? Such blindness is gnostic—splitting our spirits from our bodies and giving disordered desires the upper-hand to determine personhood.

We all need to reread Romans 1:18-32—the most substantial discourse in Scripture on homosexual conduct. St. Paul sources his understanding of sexual disorder on who God is and who humanity is based on ‘nature’, what Dr. Robert Gagnon defines as ‘the material order of things.’ Paul’s greatest theological letter opens by deeming humanity responsible for discerning the true God and for worshipping Him accordingly. Or we can do what Paul describes as the excesses evident in Rome: we deny the One and in darkness lose sight of our own created selves, sexually-speaking. This double-barreled descent into idolatry is at once spiritual —the worship of false gods—and sexual, the worship of the creature in the form of homosexual lust (1:24-27).

Heavy stuff. Could St. Paul be indicting us for how we have split our knowledge of the living God from His intention for our sexual selves? How else might we understand the unravelling of sexual order in our day? Has God handed 21st century citizens over to lustful rebellion, just as He did idolaters in Paul’s day?

Gratefully, St. Paul in Romans does not condemn sexually addictive persons but rather invites Jews first then the rest of us into the saving power of Jesus. The Apostle is clear: the domination of sin and rebellion can only be broken by faith in Jesus Christ. How can we be saved from our native idolatry, be it pious preening or exotic gender-bending? We cry out to Jesus-Savior and we worship Him!

We are back where we started. Jesus who with the Father made us: we worship Him. We return to Him who redeems us: Jesus breaks the hard heart and dissolves its filth. We worship Him and we are sustained. We go forward toward our future: eternal worship of the One. We bust idolatry by worshipping Jesus and allowing Him to restore our true personhood, including our sexual humanity.

For making Yourself known to us, we worship You Jesus. For freeing us to be who You made us to be, we worship You. For forty years of discipling others to worship You in spirit and truth, we give You praise, glory, and honor.

‘I urge you all, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of the world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will’ (Rom. 12:1, 2).

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Sacred Heart, Living Stream

I write this on the Feast Day of Jesus’ Sacred Heart: His generous love for each human being revealed in His pierced heart pouring out all we need to be free. Jesus’ Sacred Heart distills the meaning of mercy—so deep yet so simple that a child could behold His lovely face and wounded heart and know somehow that every tear can find its end in His embrace.

You are reading this on the third day of our Living Waters Training here in Kansas City. We are doing it: 60 brave souls turned off their computers and re-entered the land of the living. We gather through and for His Sacred Heart; we position ourselves before His river of Divine Mercy and welcome the flood that cleanses and the healing Presence that restores us as we offer His gifts to one another.

I can say without exaggeration that His Sacred Heart is our focus. The Church rightly identifies Jesus’ heart as the ‘chief sign and symbol of that love with which the Divine Redeemer loves all human beings without exception’ (CCC #478). O, how He loves us. We position our divided, parched hearts before His, pulsating with mercy for us. The Blood speaks a better Word and silences the din that might otherwise drown out His still small voice of Love. Speak Lord, Your servants are listening! Neither virus nor riot, war nor rumors of war, bad court rulings nor yellow journalists, will separate us from Love.

Real life has stripped us of self-reliance. We flee into the folds of His Sacred Heart, pierced for us: You Jesus, assuming our suffering and imparting the consolation only You can give. Divine Mercy is like a magnet that compels us to name every sin, every wound, every hardening part of us that needs to be made tender and new in His healing flood.

Our aim is not small. If we can discover afresh the Love that changes everything, then we can give that love away. We can heal others. As wounded healers, we serve the broken ever mindful of our weaknesses. Yes, He contains and sustains us, and He does so in the full light of what is still being healed. We dare not venture out from His heart. Only in union with Him do we offer others the mercy that frees every heart inclined toward His.

Jesus’ Sacred Heart is always inclined toward ours. That is our hope, the Source of ‘Living Waters’. Please pray for us! May His heart enlarge ours and release through us a river of mercy that will change the world, one grateful sinner at a time.

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Holy Resistance 2

By Marco Casanova

“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18).

Usually trademarked by LGBT parading throughout the globe, June makes for an interesting month. The shameless gender bending movements have a way of releasing a seductive cloud over cities. We must fight for those who still “limp between two opinions” (1 Kings 18:21). May we be “unashamed of the gospel” (Rom 1:16) that calls us out of sexy idolatry into the reality of Jesus.

As a dude who’s struggled with homo-erotic compromises, this month can be a battle. I’m proud of the ground taken in my fight for chastity, and humbled that the power of Jesus made such a campaign possible. Yet recently I was cautioned that the idols had not forgotten my name. Even though “they have mouths, but cannot speak” (Ps 115:5), idols have a way of igniting a seductive fire. Its secondary smoke impacts me.

What do we do when we feel a subtle seduction? Rouse yourself to stand. Look to the witnesses who have gone before us: St. Charles Lwanga, a young adult who stood for Jesus in the lure of royal “gay” seduction; Sts. Peter and Paul, chosen apostles, who stood for the “foolish” Crucified One as the pagan world belittled their convictions. These men are no dusty museum pieces of trite devotion. They’re Body members who fight for us when we start feeling the resistance.

How did they do it? Their Friend set His heart towards them:

“I do not ask for perfection from those whom I have chosen to be My friends; I ask only that they give Me their imperfection and the burden of their sins, and allow Me to do for them what, of themselves, they are incapable of doing… ‘Without Me, you can do nothing’…Why is this word of Mine so often forgotten? It is a word of immense power for the healing and liberation of souls because, understood rightly, it obliges them to run to Me in every necessity of body, mind, or spirit, and to allow Me to be their Savior, their Physician, and their God.” (In Sinu Jesu)

This Church of ours was made to march; Jesus promises that hellish resistance will not stand a chance. Fortified by Him and His friends, we stand firm.

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Grounded 9

‘The dignity of every woman is the responsibility of every man.’
St. John Paul 11, Theology of the Body

The test of my love lies in marriage; it is revealed in the eyes and heart of a person, a woman, my bride.

I will not be judged on my ministry gifts; these I exercise freely and receive some reward from others who value a snapshot, a post card, an edited glimpse of me.

Annette witnesses the whole broken image, or rather a series of images—the unrated miniseries without end. God keep her.

Marriage casts a searchlight that reveals the delightful, dirty dance—how we bless and bedevil each other with our love, or lack thereof—the hopes and fears of all these years, 39 and counting for this marriage. Sure, there are gaps, every marriage has them, but also treasures hidden from others that confirm two persons’ best selves and establish home on earth.

I love what for me is the apex of Theology of the Body: John Paul exhorts marrieds to not reduce sexuality to orgasm but rather to recognize and savor the extraordinary sexual essence of her womanhood, his manhood—the person behind the passion. A whole-enough marriage summons that essence and gifts each party with the other.

The other day, after two virus-inspired travel-free months, enjoying very much the rhythm of Annette and my uninterrupted life together, I noticed something: Annette’s peace. She looked lovely, at ease, a little playful. She was grounded because her husband was. I fell in love again.

Truth is, we married, committed to a long stint in grad school and baby-making, then I took off on a runway and never looked back. (I’ve accrued nearly 3 million miles with one airline.) Racing around the world may be good for the Kingdom but hell on a marriage. Annette learned how to partner with me from a distance. Costly. Our syncopated rhythm has not served her well. Her reward is heavenly, mine purgatorial. Who said life was fair? Mercy trumps justice!

Normal anxieties aside, she is more beautiful when her man is around. You could say the pandemic invited Annette to breathe. I savor the gift.

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