Dignify and Deploy 23: Anchoring Sexuality in the Beauty of Creation
‘Jesus testifies that the mystery of creation becomes the power of the mystery of redemption’ (Theology of the Body 46:5).
John Wimber loved that we anchored our approach to sexual brokenness in wholeness, what God originally intended for us that no sin could destroy. Beneath the abuse or perversion or addiction lay our most authentic selves. Yes, Jesus exposed the lie, as did we in challenging counterfeit ‘selves.’ Deeper still, Jesus revealed and reclaimed the beauty waiting to emerge from the debasement. For this beauty we labored hard, especially in mobilizing Living Waters groups.
Redeeming who man could be for woman and woman for man impassioned Wimber. When Living Waters groups began to flourish at Vineyard Anaheim, he was overseeing over 1,000 Vineyards and engaging with many other churches seeking renewal. John knew the devastating power of broken sexuality. He had lost young churchmen to adultery of all kinds. He saw churches and children abandoned by unfaithful fathers. He needed a vision and tools for sexual restoration.
Wimber knew the work that authentic restoration demanded. More than that, he believed that Jesus was true to His Word. He listened when we amplified Jesus’ words to the Pharisees: ‘Have you not heard that in the beginning the Creator made them male and female…?’ (Matt. 19:4) In bringing us back to Eden (Matt. 19:1-6), Jesus invited us to rediscover our capacity to be faithful.
John stood firm. He chose not to reinforce hearts hardened by adultery and divorce, ‘gay’ liberties, and serial monogamy; he went against the grain of California’s sunny immoralities and believed Jesus’ power to raise up His design in persons willing to obey Him. That‘s why he wanted a Living Waters group in every Vineyard ‘rich’ area. He simply knew that without vision and tools for sexual wholeness, good people would perish.
St. John Paul II would have been proud. In a series of lectures in Rome from ’81-’84, the pope laid out A Theology of the Body. He founded this watershed work on the beauty of creation. Simply put, original dignity trumps our sexual divides. That means our bodies—no matter how sin-broken--can be realigned to realize God’s original purpose for them.
Deeper than bodily shame is the beauty of desire. John Paul writes: ‘It is impossible to understand sinfulness without first appealing to the state of original innocence’ (TOB 4:3). First things first: Jesus grants us a glimpse of this original beauty—my body as an instrument of love capable of dignifying, not defiling, another. We begin ‘in the beginning.’ Original innocence defines us first.
“Thank You Jesus for John Paul’s bold re-envisioning of sexual beauty and for Wimber-like leaders who boldly lead us to realize that beauty, especially when we have lost our way. Grant us courage to hold fast to Your design in a dismal moral landscape. Restore us, that we might shine brightly for others on the Way.
Come Holy Spirit, liberate what is true and beautiful from what debases us. May we not settle but aspire to the dignity of our sexual humanity. May we grow into ‘mature expressions of the gift’ by helping others do the same. Deployed to dignify, we ‘harness the John force.’”