Tag Archives: Same-Sex Attraction

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Joyful Rescue

By Marco Casanova, Asst. Director of DSM/LW

Jesus, through His Church, rescues the joy of my salvation.

The mission of Jesus, at its very core, is to offer Himself as our saving remedy. He’s what “salvation” is all about. Jesus Himself descends to the root of our existence, and heals us.

I needed salvation.

I didn’t choose to have same-sex attraction. I didn’t want it. There have been seasons of self-hatred because of it. If it were up to me, I’d choose a different story. Yet it’s precisely there that I needed Jesus, there that I met Him, and there that I continue to meet Him.

Same-sex attraction engendered a deep, ruminating sadness in me. It tried to determine my destiny, but I wanted more. Trusting Jesus, I called on Him.

I planted the Cross in the ground of my same-sex attraction. Instead of a deepening chasm of sadness, it became the base of His Cross. The Cross took root. I needed Jesus to be enthroned there. I needed Him to remain there. I desired Him to dwell there.

That was just the beginning for me. It’s essential: finding a place in my subjective, broken experience for the Cross. If I hadn’t identified that space, I wouldn’t need a Savior. Jesus is no hobby. I need Him.

After fixing the Cross in the place I abhorred most, the Savior sought to rescue a deeper joy. He wanted to rain on my parade of “worldly sorrow”, crucifying it.

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death” (2 Cor 7:10).

Catholic thinkers through the ages have developed a theology of human behavior called “moral theology.” Josef Pieper, an expert on the great , is a gift in this area. Pieper writes about “acedia,” a vice against hope. Synonymous with sloth, acedia is “worldly sorrow.” When I initially thought of sloth, I listed many ways to combat my millennial laziness. Pieper and Aquinas take it to another level.

Aquinas says that acedia is a sin against “sabbath rest.” To kill this vice against hope is not about doing, but about being. “Genuine rest and leisure are possible only under the precondition that man accepts his own true meaning” (Pieper). If humanity has no peace with who he is created to be, he is unable to rest. Or, maybe he’d rather stay in his unrest? Boom. Worldly sorrow tries again to determine his destiny.

Pieper goes on to say that acedia, in its final form, is a hatred of the divine good. It has “a monstrous result that, upon reflection, man expressly wishes that God had not ennobled him but had ‘left him in peace.’”

God created me, a man, for purposes above and beyond my low-ceiling expectations. What does worldly sorrow sound like? “Lord, I’d rather stay in my porn addiction. Leave me alone.” “Lord, I’d rather live a life of unfettered homosexual pleasure. Leave me be.” “Lord, I didn’t ask for this, and I could care less about your ‘plans and purposes’ for my life. I give up.”

This worldly sadness is subtle but grows in strength. It hates the light.

Why, in this ruminating state, was I so sad, asking God to leave me alone? I lacked hope in the God who raises the dead. I lacked hope that God created me for joy, not sadness. Why couldn’t I be reconciled to the good of my body? Why couldn’t God create a way for me to be known in my deepest wound? Why couldn’t God fulfill my desire for a bride and family?

The Cross is a doorway, leading me to the Church. As I placed that Cross in the ground I most hated, Jesus opened me to His friends. The Cross was no “joy-killer.” It was an invitation to a feast. This feast gives me hope.

Coaxed by the saints and Church teaching, I discovered the good of my body. Her Sacraments allow me to access Jesus’ forgiving, Sacred Heart. Her saints remind me that resistance to worldly sorrow is the path to victory. I am not alone; He gives me friends with whom to feast. And I seek a particular woman with whom to create family. Jesus, lead on!

Jesus, through the Church, rescues my joy. Over and over. Worldly sorrow still knows my name, but I choose to resist. God made me for so much more; therefore, I place my hope in Him.

Living Waters

Reach

‘Remember not the former things…behold the new!’ (Isaiah 43:18)

Living Waters is a long narrow cross-walk that always opens to Life. To be sure, it can hurt to face the uneven, perilous ground on which we were at once victim and perpetrator, oblivious to both! Eyes open now, we flinch at the poor choices we can still make in light of the Risen Christ. Growing up is hard, and dodging His call to follow onto solid ground offsets the weight of decisive obedience. Yet here lies our cure, our happiness: surrendering to the luminous Christ, His wounds yet visible, who alone has power to transform weakness into creative communion.

That’s why the transformation of persons with same-sex attraction will always remain the prophetic core of Living Waters. Only a third of our people struggle in that way, but those who discover Jesus in the depth of historic yearning for same-gender completion become the strongest, most sensitive lovers of the other sex. As such, we harmonize with Leanne Payne: ‘The healing of the “homosexual” is the healing of all persons.’

Case in point—after a passionate, liberating day at the cross in Manila where we faced the dishonor we incurred and extended to our ‘better’ half, I felt that we needed to celebrate the fruit of our suffering—the evidence of how Jesus trains the faithful to reach beyond personal healing into interpersonal gift-giving. His passion reclaims and realigns our passions!

That night, I asked two Asian couples (Filipino and Chinese) to share candidly of how Jesus through Living Waters communities in their lands helped forge family life out of what the world (and worldly church) would define as pretty raw material. Gratefully, Jesus has overcome the world.

As a young teen, Jerry received hope from his pastor that someday he would thrive as a husband and father. Sexual abuse, same-sex attraction and a promiscuous young adult life that resulted in an HIV diagnosis shattered the prophecy. In his late thirties, Jerry staggered into a Living Waters group to make peace with God. Sue—a leader on the team–did not like men as a rule due to historic wounds but she liked Jerry and somehow knew this was her guy.

After the group ended, Jerry and Sue began to date and he grew rather quickly in love with her; he began to fight for her honor. He won her over and after good counsel they married and immediately became pregnant. Sue released an egg from a medically-pronounced dead ovary, and the child (and mother) remains HIV-free. They can hardly wait for a second child.

Ben met Sara, a native Chinese woman intent on overcoming despair over the failure of men in her life, at the first Living Waters group in their big city. He had just arrived from America to fulfill an early call to serve China. Overwhelmed by the challenges of language, culture and tent-making, Ben barely remembers meeting Sara at that group. His first couple years were a dark night of just getting by, with intermittent return to porn use and lots of self-pity. By God’s grace, he rallied and forged a healing community to support his recovery, which had started years earlier in a Living Waters group in California. He began to pray: ‘Lord, I need a beautiful, smart, empathic wife if I am going to make it here.’ (I love the fact that Ben knew his SSA deterred not from the gift he was and needed to offer!)

He re-met Sara at a party and knew she was the answer to his prayer. They discovered a common language and commitment to wholeness; they soon married and now can attest to how much richer and expansive their lives are together. ‘We can simply give that much more to others.’ They are expecting their first child in a few months.

Jesus reclaims our pretty good broken lives and refines them in the fire of love. He asks us to reach beyond what we’ve known in order to discover the fullness of His will for our humanity. That always involves knowing the gift we are and giving it away.

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

At Risk

‘If our Gospel is hid, it is hid toward those who are perishing’ (2 Cor. 4:3).

An outraged congregant railed at Pastor Patrick on the eve of our Gender Matters conference at his church: ‘This isn’t one of those “pray away the gay” groups, is it?’ Unflinchingly, the good pastor responded: ‘Yes, our church believes in the power of prayer for all broken persons seeking Jesus.’

Worldly Christians—more influenced by snide soundbites from the Internet than by the Kingdom of God—now contribute to the din of unbelief and popular ‘born- that-way-can’t change-anyway prejudice that surround persons with gender identity problems.

In failing to extend God’s Kingdom to those at risk, worldly Christians risk the loss of that Kingdom. Their light dims, the snap of their salt dulls.

Hopefully, the overreach in the California legislature of AB 2943 gives all Christians the chance to wake up and forego this compromised, guilt-by-assimilation mindset toward persons with same-sex attraction and gender dysphoria. Together, let us burn off lies by reigniting these three truths:

First, persons most at risk in their gender identities need the Kingdom of God more than state-mandated identity formation, e.g. you must embrace your ‘gay’ or ‘trans’ self. Only the Father through the Son and by His Spirit can confirm true identity. This is the business of the Church and the cure for the fractured heart.

Second, persons most at risk in their gender identities are helped far more than they are hurt by the Church. In the same breath that we acknowledge our failures, we declare it libelous to frame faith communities as rife with fraudulent ‘conversionists’ who impose impossible burdens on the vulnerable. I work with hundreds of churches in California where I witness humble groups who welcome all persons who know they need the Savior. California is especially adept at providing multiple onramps for seekers to receive blessing, belonging and transformation through Jesus represented well in His yielded members.

Third, persons most at risk in their gender identities are not well-served by the lie that drives AB 2943, namely, that persons who seek change in their desires will hurt themselves because change is impossible. That is patently untrue: not just questionable science but fraudulent science. In ‘Ex-Gays?’ (IVP, 2007), the impressive book that details the best ‘longitudinal study on religiously mediated change in sexual orientation’, Drs. Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse make clear that people can and do experience change in their sexual desires and identity, and that seeking such change does not incur harm. Check it out.

The bias against change for an ‘at risk’ people now drives the psychological community which fuels the LGBT+ political caucus that leads the California legislature by the nose. Persons most at risk lose options that could set them free.

Christians, wake up. Arise out of your risky state–your agreement with popular lies. Burn again with the truth, endowed with power, to secure at risk persons in holy love.

Frank, Thanks

Last Saturday in San Rafael CA, I was privileged to be among those who memorialized Frank Worthen, father of ministries like Desert Stream.

“Frank possessed a profoundly Christian heart—as the Hebrews understood ‘heart.’ His good mind could apprehend the meaning of things, and his love laid hold of what is best and true about God’s creation. Frank fused wisdom and compassion; he gave us a glimpse of Jesus’ heart.

Frank loved California; he honored her history–some of it Christian (Mission San Rafael!), and all of it about people leaving their old lives and taking up a new vision or job or self. While others waited for California to quake and fall into the sea, he cherished CA, and believed that Jesus could shine through created things like the Palace of Fine Arts. To Frank, beauty conveyed an aspect of Jesus’ truth. So Frank’s heart never closed to San Francisco. He still believed for her.

Frank loved people, especially people with gender identity issues. Yes the Bay Area led the world in misinterpreting same-sex attraction and in creating over 50 ungodly gender selves, and yes, Frank always held out hope in the Bay Area for the real self in every LGBT-whatever pilgrim. Frank knew only Jesus could summon that self from the slumber of sin.

You see, Jesus did that for him, thoroughly. Jesus woke him up from his sleep unto death. Jesus made him alive through this Church of the Open Door, one of the brave churches that sprouted up along the CA coast like wildflowers in the ‘Jesus-people’ revival. Jesus made Frank new, and his youthful vision for how Jesus can make anyone new never dimmed. It grew more clear and merciful over time. He gathered a remnant from around the world, grateful faces that enhanced his vision; and his sight was refined by the rebellious majority who tried to gouge his eyes out, including former spiritual sons and daughters.

Jesus gave Frank a share in His heart. He faced resistance peacefully, aware that he battled for souls. God gave him spiritual sight about this battle. While Exodus was dying and Frank and Stephen Black and Anne Paulk started Restored Hope Network, Frank prayed to Jesus for direction and received an awesome vision of St. Michael the archangel –warrior prince of the heavenly host—who upon a huge steed plunged a lance through the devil in the form of a dragon.

Rev.12: 1-12 shows us what Frank saw: St. Michael leading the host of heaven to combat a furious Satan intent on destroying Mary, Jesus and all who would be saved by Him. This vision of a violent unseen battle being waged for souls reveals Frank’s mission. It highlights the enemy who employs gender identity confusion to divide and disrupt the saints, the tyrant who vents his rage by scrambling the Church’s witness of Jesus’ love for persons enslaved to lies about their gender.

That vision of St. Michael also points to Frank’s witness of transformation for persons with SSA. Rev. 12: 11 declares that the dragon is overcome by the ‘blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.’ Jesus entrusted this simple revolutionary plan to Frank. Others were called to do so in that same season; only Frank endured the necessary testing, took up the sword in the Spirit of St. Michael, and plunged it in the enemy’s side by declaring that the problem of homosexuality was no match for the saving love of Jesus.

God calls us to continue that battle—to push back the devourer by declaring the sufficiency of Jesus’ blood through the word of our testimonies. We are wise to honor the one who came before us. We express thanks by continuing the fight.

I close today by drawing a parallel between Frank and another angel, the angel Gabriel who announced to Mary that God had chosen to dwell with man through her womb, a plan unlike any other, which required her consent. Today, Sat. March 25, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates this feast of the Annunciation. I want to honor Frank for the Mary-like role he played in saying ‘yes’ to Gabriel and to God. Against all odds. He endured shame for the joy set before Him. As Mary became the human hinge for our salvation, we honor Frank today as the flesh and blood guy who first declared for us freedom from SSA, freedom for a life full of Jesus. Frank said ‘yes’, and that has made all the difference.”

Faith

We are healed and we will be healed by faith in Jesus. So will our loved ones. To stop trusting Jesus for His full and perfect will for everyone we love (including ourselves) negates the power of what He won for us at Calvary. ‘By His wounds we are healed’ (IS. 53:5; 1P2:24). Period.

Like every virtue, faith is both a gift of grace and an arduous goal. For persons coming out of disordered identities and desire, it is easy to trust Jesus when we experience ourselves as solid expressions of our gender, our ‘sap’ flowing in creative directions. It’s quite another to trust Him for healing when we burn with lust and self-hatred. How much more difficult is faith in God for the parent whose adult-child announces the ‘gay’ wedding or gender reassignment? ‘Faith, the evidence of things not seen,’ (Heb. 11:1) indeed!

It helps to anchor our faith in Gospel accounts of healing; over and over again, Jesus honors the faith of afflicted ones (morally, physically, emotionally) by restoring them completely (Matt. 9:22, 15:28; MK 5:34; LK 17:19; 18:42, etc.). Today, we tend to use Gospel healing accounts as metaphors for healing, as if Jesus’ touch is a spiritual abstraction. That becomes an excuse for unbelief. I love the theology of Dr. George Eldon Ladd (The Presence of the Future, Eerdmans) who majored on healing and deliverance as evidence of God’s Kingdom come in Jesus, a key that John Wimber utilized unlike any other leader as he led the Vineyard movement (of which I was privileged to be a part for twenty years.)

Wimber knew that God’s Kingdom reign was heavenly, the ‘not yet’ of our pilgrim journey, but that Jesus brought heaven-to-earth ‘now’; Christ demonstrated tomorrow’s blessing today through signs and wonders. That means we as Christ’s followers, endowed with the Spirit’s power, can heal others this side of heaven. That requires faith in the unseen reality of Jesus who restores the afflicted through His faithful ones (JN 14:12). That drives our work at Desert Stream, and defines us as a Kingdom people who cry out constantly: ‘Come Holy Spirit, and do what only You can do for hurting ones, starting with us, the staff!’

The fact that we as a team (who have been praying and healing for decades) still cry out indicates that we live between two ages—‘the now and the not yet.’ We trust God to establish His rule and reign in our midst but know also that we are en route to full Kingdom reign.

I can recall multiple healings that Jesus has done at the core of my gendered and sexual self, each one a marvel of grace tied directly to sources of same-sex attraction. But I still must pick up my little cross daily, which means remembering who I am as a son of the Father, rebuking the devourer, and making good moral choices that ensure the health of family and friends.

Sometimes that cross is easy and light, at other times, a weight that can be carried only with the help of others. I can bear the moral effort required by faith because God has opened the eyes of my heart (Eph. 1:18). That is the gift of faith; I see and trust Jesus. I want no other Kingdom but His, and He grants me glimpses of this Kingdom as we walk together toward what I cannot see in full.

1 2 3 9
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: