Courage and Consent
‘The sick soul fears more than anything else the demands made on one who is well.’ Joseph Pieper
Just before leaving for France last week, disgruntled gays in the USA filed a round of new lawsuits against those they had enlisted to help them change their homosexuality. Eyes rolled around our nation as the popular media framed such ‘conversion therapy’ as foolish and dangerous.
While addressing both Protestant and Catholic groups in France, I was warned twice not to mention ‘healing’ and ‘homosexuality’ in the same sentence as that is now illegal in France. Impassioned ‘gay marriage’ debates raged on every TV screen as France prepares to decide in February whether gays will share every marriage and family privilege with husband and wife.
I was tempted to take a step backward, to heed the intimidation and soft-pedal the Word of my testimony and the hundreds of others in France who represent Living Waters. (France is the strongest international expression of our ministry.)
Then I remembered: this is Advent. We prepare for Jesus by beholding Mary’s courageous consent to the angel who asked her to be overwhelmed by the Word and to bear its fruit in her body. Small trembling Mary became great through granite faith. She had no worldly insignificance. All she had was her ‘yes’ to God. She embodied the word of Isaiah to the quaking King Ahaz: ‘If you do not stand firm in faith, you will not stand at all.’ (Is. 7:9)
I heeded Isaiah’s call and Mary’s example and told the whole truth of how Jesus heals the homosexual throughout France. For such a time as this.
Mary’s obedience became our deliverance. So we the delivered have a simple annunciation to which we must respond. Now! Will we heed the new life growing within us and proclaim the truth of what He has done in us? Or will silence be our safety? Will we be merely content to tend our vegetable garden and neglect the sweep of land dying in the shadow of delusion?
Joseph Pieper speaks of magnanimity as the virtue by which we champion the greatest possibility of human potential. In this hour, what could be greater than the Church’s boast that Jesus makes virile the perverse man, the defended woman fertile? Or will we ‘prefer to be less great in order to avoid the obligation of greatness’?
I leave you with this excerpt from Denise Levertov’s ‘Annunciation’:
‘We are told of Mary’s meek obedience. No one mentions courage.
The engendering Spirit did not enter her without consent.
She was free to accept or to refuse, choice integral to humanness.
Aren’t there annunciations of one sort or another in most lives?
undertake great destinies, enact them in sullen pride, uncomprehending.
These moments when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman, are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair and with relief.
Ordinary live continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.’