Dignify and Deploy 24: Liberating Sexuality through Almighty Mercy
‘The concrete challenge of love can’t be separated from Him; it is always in Him.’ Karol Wojtyla
Along with several others, John Wimber invited me to headline a healing conference with him at Vineyard Anaheim in 1992. Promotion extraordinaire. Each day for a couple months I rose a couple hours earlier to prepare the talk of all talks. It was good, it was long, it was the essence of what I had learned.
Over 4000 people gathered that week (the response was so strong that they scheduled a second conference for the next week!); the night before my shining hour Jesus quietly asked me to lay down my plans in the spirit of Wimber’s: ‘I‘ve seen your ministry, now let Me show you Mine.’
‘Tell them about My merciful love for you that healed your sin-weary soul and satisfied your desires with good things through Annette.’ Check. I strung a few key memories about His saving love in my life on the first few verses of Psalm 103. ‘Tell them how I did it.’ All that came to mind was the sinful woman in Luke 7:36-50 who fell at Jesus’ feet and worshipped Him while the Pharisee looked on aghast. I thought of how Jesus only gave me favor in exchange for all my sins, so that I, like that woman, could worship Him heartily, gratefully, breaking the back of lust and shame and bad religion.
It took all of 20 minutes to jot down these ‘leads.’ The next day I took my half-page scrawl and told the simple story of Jesus’ mercy in my life. It took all of 25 minutes. When I stepped out to pray for 4000 people (gulp), the Spirit of Divine Mercy roared into that sanctuary like I have never heard before and haven’t since; for the next 30 minutes Holy Spirit hovered then descended like heavy rain in the desert. Without coming forward, Jesus’ members responded with melodious (really!) cries of repentance and deliverance, then an extended joyful song in the Spirit--thanksgiving to the One who saves us from the grip of our most shameful inclinations. Jesus showed us His ministry. Mercy heals divided hearts.
St. John Paul II understood the depths of divided sexuality (adultery hidden in every human heart—Matt. 5:27, 28), and its proliferation in the sexual revolution. He observed that this new ‘freedom,’ often a reaction to religious legalism, resulted in new indignities--enslaving others through uncommitted, unloving acts. He cast a better vision in Theology of the Body. Jesus embodies authentic, dignifying love in which love for God and neighbor trumps lust. We can embody the same, and Divine Mercy is the key. The transformation merciful Jesus offers us frees us ‘to realize and express the value of the body and of sex according to the Creator’s original plan’ (TOB 45:3).
John Paul turned Jesus’ exposition of our adulterous hearts into hope for redemption. He lit up for us the stern and splendid path toward integrating human sexuality as an expression of human dignity.
His reasoning in TOB is astute and hopeful for the weakest of us: Jesus fulfills His law of love in our depths. Deeper than disordered desires is the unifying love of Jesus. Now lust hasn’t the final word. Jesus does. And where His Spirit is, liberty abounds. As I recall the joyful noise from ‘Healing 92’, He frees us to cast off our various adulteries like grave clothes and clothe ourselves in His righteousness.
"Thank You God for radical love that breaks the power of lust. May we catch the wave of Your Spirit who redeems us. Thank You for the confirming, burning Mercy that rouses us until we are won by Love. Fulfill Your Law of Love in us.
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.’”