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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Rousing a Captive Culture

A well-known Christian leader, hammered by the sexual immorality of his family members, just announced his shift on embracing the homosexual practice of a particular loved one. He is on the brink of accepting ‘gay marriage.’

‘How can I not?’ he reasoned, as he listed the divorces, affairs, co-habitation and children born out-of-wedlock in his family.

We are inundated daily with the breakdown of holy boundaries in heterosexual relating. A new poll reveals that 61% of US singles have sex on their first date; not surprisingly, for the first time in US history, more than half of births to American women under 30 now occur outside of marriage.

The devolving of heterosexual morality in our culture is the single biggest reason why ‘gay marriage’ is gaining ground. We have so bashed heterosexual marriage as the sole framework for sexual love that we are too weak and dazed to protest activists who want to alter its DNA further.

That is precisely why a gay New York Times columnist defended ‘gay marriage’ against the critique that it would destabilize the American family. Pointing to Newt Gingrich’s rather tragic resume of mistresses and marriages, he claimed that heterosexuals have botched it pretty badly, and ‘no-one is trying to heal them…’

Wrong. We are. Most of our dear friends pursuing sexual wholeness in Living Waters are good old traditional sinners. We realized long ago that the fracturing of gender and boundaries at the core of homosexuality is a direct result of heterosexual fragmentation. First things first. The main and plain of heterosexual immorality must be the starting point of our repentance and healing.

Like Nehemiah, we confess ‘that our gates have been burned with fire’–the fire of heterosexual lust–‘and we are in disgrace.’ (Nehemiah 1:17) My son Sam shares candidly of the pornographic fog and multiple partnerships that drive many of his peers. Even Christian friends are tempted to go with the polluted tide. For a shameless generation, we must pray for a godly shame, for ‘we have no shame at all; we do not even know how to blush.’ (Jeremiah 6:15)

Would you please join DSM this Lent for a 40-day fast focused on praying for loved ones who will perish without Mercy?

If you want a complete copy of the 40-Days of Mercy Devotional—Lent 2012, please email me at acomiskey@desertstream.org and request either a pdf or a paper copy (USA only). For the latter, please include your complete address.

And on every Wednesday throughout Lent, beginning on Feb. 29th, I will post a new prayer/teaching on how we can best understand and pray for the Roman Catholic Church as she faces discipline for her sexual abuses. I want us to be a small part of her solution, and forego the temptation merely to rant at her failures. Let us prayerfully, in truth, pray for her recovery in this Lenten season.

The New Normal?

I met a young man recently; upon disclosing that I was a Christian, he shot back that he too was Christian, gay, and proudly pointed out to me his new, week-old boyfriend. He showed little interest when I admitted my familiarity with same-sex attraction and asked if we might discuss other ways of dealing with such desire.

He made his case boldly–I am gay, I am good, I am normal.

Rosie O’Donnell said it incredulously in a recent interview: ‘Can you believe in the 21st century we are still questioning whether homosexuality is normal?’

To be ‘normal’ is precisely what drives ‘gay marriage’. It is not because gays want monogamous bliss, or even particular rights; they want to cure the incurable—to demonstrate to themselves and to the culture around them that they are ‘normal’, just regular folks.

Redefining marriage cannot resolve the conflict at the center of same-sex attraction. The law of our bodies, the deeply encoded keys of our sexuality, is written on our hearts. (Romans 2:15) No matter how conflicted we are in our own gender, or toward the opposite gender, no matter how seductive a certain same-sex friendship becomes, our hearts won’t lie to us.

Conscience demands to be heard: eroticizing another member of the same gender provokes normal anxiety, normal guilt, and normal dissonance.

Fueled by such anxiety, guilt, and conflict, the human heart tries to regain balance. How? By convincing everyone else: ‘I really am normal, my same-sex squeeze is a good thing.’

Busziszewski writes: ‘Unable to make the truth go away, we use every means we can to pretend that we are really being good.’ (The Truth We Cannot Not Know)

It does not work. ‘Gay marriage’ is a really bad solution to a profound need of the human heart—the quest for security and significance in relationships when ‘normal’ heterosexual channels seem undesirable. Such ones, like my friend who blasted me with his ‘normal’, deserve patient and loving care. They need Mercy.

They don’t need ‘marriage.’ All people in the land possess a heart encoded by the Creator and Redeemer of all. I don’t care if many don’t believe in Him. His ways are true for all, whether or not we acknowledge them or Him.

And we all have a responsibility to an upcoming generation who are sexually broken, fractured in their capacity to live out what is true. I don’t want a false solution on the books: the lie that ‘gay marriage’ is a just and true solution for ‘gay’ folks. It resolves nothing.

Instead it celebrates a deception, and seals that lie upon two people. That lie will be lifted up for an upcoming generation to behold, sheep without a shepherd, who will take their cues from the culture: ‘That’s my conflict of desire, and that’s how I want to resolve it.’

In response to the federal court striking down Prop. 8, a CA teen boy who grew up with two moms said: ‘With this ruling, in the eyes of my government, my family is finally normal.’

We all want normal. But ‘gay marriage’ can never normalize homosexual practice. Our hearts bear witness to the truth: two brides and two grooms is broken, a fracturing of reality.  May we respond to the cries of our own conscience and stand for marriage. We fight in peace; the Creator and Redeemer of all bearing witness in our depths.

Falling Mercies

You could say that the way to Vineyard Anaheim had been paved in righteousness—we had been cast out of our home church for doing what was right, and God promoted us. Noble.

How ignoble to discover a darker strain of sin in our own ranks. The hardship we endured in the first desert was a mere test run for the Sahara of our own making. Mercy met us facedown, seconds from death as a ministry.

It seems that a longstanding staff person from Desert Stream had sexually abused at least one teenager who had sought help from us. (I will spare you the details; needless to say, its revelation shattered us.)

Before we as a ministry even knew what had actually happened, one relative of the boy, savvy in the ways of insurance, insisted on a face-to-face meeting with Jonathan Hunter and I. He wrote down an astronomical figure that he insisted we pay out to him, or else. He threatened to take the case to the press and a flamboyant celebrity lawyer in LA. (He assumed that our large and prominent new home–Vineyard Anaheim—had millions for such settlements).

I remember looking at the 7 digit figure then at Jonathan in the unfounded hope that we were mere players in a nightmare. There was no waking up. We were living the dream.

And so we did for the next 3 years—a scourging of our entire ministry through police interrogations, the naked bulb of insurance agents and their lawyers, and Vineyard elders who for good reason wanted to know what was really going on in Desert Stream Ministries.

We the righteous became the scum of the earth—not only the defender of victims, but the predators.

More deeply, we as a ministry were torn in two. The man who had abused was intrinsic to our operation—his influence pervaded DSM. In waking up to the depth of his brokenness and capacity for deception, we were torn in two. His wife had been Annette’s lifelong best friend. Torn in two. Faith in my capacity to discern another’s readiness for ministry: torn in two. Our faith that we as a ministry could endure anything: torn in two.

News of our tragedy, now official on police and court records, attracted our accusers like vultures: ‘Do they change homosexuals or create them?’

We were torn in two. For good reason. We as a ministry had committed the sin of Achan (Joshua 7). In the name of DSM, one man had taken what was holy—a vulnerable life—and had partaken of him hideously. He then hid the evidence.

God’s anger burned at us in the same way that God’s anger burned at the whole nation of Israel for the sin of one man (Achan). He did what our staffer did–he stole Israel’s treasure then lied about it. The blood was on the hands of DSM.

Achan’s sin made us ‘liable to destruction.’ (Joshua 7: 12) As the Israelite’s did, we removed the violator from our midst and got low. We cried out for mercy. We fell face down, over and over and over. We gave Desert Stream back to God.

We knew that if He wanted us to live, we would live. Or He might gently withhold His hand and we would die. He gives, He takes: bless His Name.

At the end of 3 years, the case was settled. Our insurance covered most of the costs. Our groups were reinstated at the Vineyard, with new boundaries and requirements intact. Not one story was printed about the tragedy. God spared us. His mercy leveled and sustained DSM.

‘He who falls on this Rock will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.’ (Matt. 21:44)

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight that what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

Mercy Street

Although most of the healing and care-giving we did was behind closed doors, the waters levels rose and poured out onto the streets.

The mercy could not be limited to the church; as Ezekiel prophesied (Ez. 47), the temple waters rose from our church, the Vineyard Westside and flowed eastward onto Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood, the center of the gay scene in LA.

Charlie’s house, where our first group met for a couple of years, was right off the Blvd. It was thus an easy point of departure for evangelism. My main comrade in such ‘water-bearing’ was Jim, a group member who had been the manager of Studio One—the most upscale gay bar on the Boulevard.

Jesus had captured Jim’s heart; having lost his job, he wanted only to spend his time helping others discover the power of mercy over idolatry. What a friend we had found in Jesus; what a gift to now partner together to bring Jesus to the Samaritans on the street who had ears to hear.

To be honest, most did not. The streets were full of people who had come from conservative parts of the country to cast off restraint in this pagan wonderland. They were there to worship sexy idols or to be the object of that worship themselves.

Hearts darkened by sin usually do not respond kindly to reminders of the religion they left behind.

Jim and I got used to hostile responses. The sleek and the strong tended to have their reward on the Blvd, so we would look for those on the outside, peering in but not finding a place there.

One young man had ears to hear. He had run away from the Midwest a year before, and was soon addicted to drugs and the prostitution his habit demanded. He was used up–genuinely hungry and thirsty. As we told him of the real drink and real meal Jesus had shown us in our brokenness, he wept.

He prayed to receive the God he remembered as a child but needed to know now—the God who rescues us from the mess we made as adults, far from home.

After an hour or so of praying and talking, we felt at a loss. Where then? The streets would soon swallow up the victory our new friend was seeking in Christ. I remembered a Christian half-way house for runaways somewhere off Hollywood Blvd.; we thus walked a few blocks in search of it.

We found it, and our friend was readily admitted. At midnight! He continued there until he was strong enough to take another step in his recovery elsewhere.

God reminded Jim and me that He had rescued us for a reason—to participate in the rescue of other lives, and to help set their feet on solid ground.

‘And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness. The unclean will not journey on it…But only the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads.’ (Is. 35:8-10)

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

Rebuilding Boundaries, Restoring Trust

A good marriage is supreme among human relationships; a troubled marriage wrecks havoc. The most basic and powerful building block on earth cuts both ways. One cannot taste the glory of marriage without also risking its shame.

For example, Annette and I work together, engage constantly on domestic matters throughout the day, and sleep together at night. When rightfully submitted to one another, we both experience a grace and peace that pervades our efforts. But when at odds for whatever reason, the day goes dismal as does the sleepless night.

If a whole trustworthy marriage is an inspired remedy for the chaos and unpredictability each face daily in a fallen world, then how painful is a marriage that has become a source of that chaos and unpredictability?

Such is the case when vows of faithfulness are broken. Marital wholeness depends upon trust. That trust is shattered when one partner goes outside the lines. Period. Quite apart from the reasons one violates or the precise nature of the violation, adultery tears the fabric of the one-flesh union.

One of my best friends committed multiple acts of homosexual adultery as a married man. He had a beautiful wife, one child, and another on the way. Before he brought his violations into the light, he had already cast a shadow of perversion upon the family. Bringing the sin into the light simply confirmed to his wife the sinister disconnect she had been living with.

Breaking the boundaries of marriage breaks the marriage. It looses an evil that has power to undermine the well-being of all involved. For my friend and family, the pain and shame unleashed was almost intolerable. But ‘just as there is a momentum to evil, there is also a momentum to repentance’.

My friend and his family took a slow turn in the right direction. He fell face down, took full responsibility, and initiated a long term plan of recovery for himself within his community. That invited his wife to make a decision as to whether or not she would submit to the healing she needed.

Both sought and received the grace they needed to rebuild boundaries. And trust. Today they manifest a marriage that gives life to all around them, especially their four children.

Marriage is resilient, more subject to our repentance more than to our failures. Gratefully.

Honor marriage for the good of all. Vote Yes on Proposition 8.

“O lord, let our repentance prevail over our evil. As You are light, expose our darkness; give courage to those damaged to turn to You as the Restorer of our marriages.”


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