‘The friend who attends the Bridegroom waits and listens for Him, and is full of joy when he hears the Bridegroom’s voice.’ (JN 3:29)
On what seemed like the darkest, coldest day of the year, I took down our nativity scene. I approached the task with some heaviness, having just read of two new ‘groundbreaking’ TV shows. Primetime on ABC’s Family Channel, the first features two married lesbians who ‘spoon’ in bed together while discussing how to raise their five kids. The second new show features a gay ex-con who raps: ‘Redemption, the game is mine, gunnin’ for a guy with a tight behind.’ (Ouch)
Approaching the crèche, I fought back a melancholy as familiar as the figurines themselves. Wrapping each one slowly I paused when I came to the Christ-child. The Spirit of that Child provoked me: ‘My unfurling has just begun!’ I recalled Hopkins’ line: ‘Now burn, newborn to the world…’
My challenge: would I rent the veil of nostalgia and perversion in order to reflect that glorious light? Joy began to rise within me. Christmas had only begun. The real joy of life lies not in staving off the darkness with sentiment but in making known the One who frees us from our chains. He did so for me; He will do so through me as I reflect His light and burn with divine love.
Soon after I flew to London. There I had the privilege of making known His transforming power to a people living in the shadow of death. A courageous band of Christians is protesting efforts of the government to vilify caregivers offering hope and help to persons seeking to overcome same-sex attraction.
I witnessed an outrageous smear campaign at work: powerful, savvy activists have hamstrung politicians throughout the land. One such politician addressed our conference; he had just introduced a bill to their parliament to ban anyone helping persons seeking to overcome homosexuality. His appeal was an empty, illogical string of politically correct fables. Though he knew little to nothing about therapy or gender disorders, he did know something about the gay lobby that monitors such politicians and can make or break one’s reelection. So he railed on about the need to outlaw ‘aggressive, gay conversion therapists.’
In my 35 years of experience, I have never met any therapist identified as a ‘gay conversionist’, nor any who aggressively sought out clients in order to ‘convert’ their sexuality. Who I discovered at the conference were British therapists who had lost hard-won credentials due to helping clients who wanted to reduce unwanted same-sex attraction. I also discovered that a Christian counseling association in England had just agreed to no longer assist such clients due to the controversy surrounding ‘change and homosexuality.’
Just before my turn to speak, Jesus reminded me of all the ways He had met me: the trusted pastors, clinicians and friends who helped awaken and integrate my masculinity. Each face represented Jesus. Joy and gratitude filled my heart and I was able to proclaim the whole message of His healing love. Joyful hope broke the grip of confusion and fear seeking to deaden us. ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (JN 1:5).’
The hope for persons with same-gender attraction is nothing less than the hope of Jesus Christ Incarnate, Crucified and Raised. He is our Creator; He is our Redeemer. Amid the battle to preserve our freedom to walk in a manner worthy of beautiful Jesus, we have an Advocate. He came to give us back our beauty. He comes continuously through joyful declaration of His unfailing love.
‘Jesus took our humanity, just as it is, with all its wretchedness and ugliness, and gives it back to us just as His humanity is transfigured by the beauty of His living, filled full of His joy.’ Caryll Houselander