November 19, 2014: A Chaste Messy Bride
‘Instead of a Church which clings to its own securities, I want one that is bruised and hurting because it has been out on the streets…’ Pope Francis (EG 49)
How do we as the Church fulfill Jesus’ call to love sin-broken people in a way that frees them to let go of that sin? The Gospel witness is evident: in the face of Pharisaic scrutiny, His passion for the unclean makes them pure. His Presence delivers the Magdalene of her demons, draws the prostitute who weeps in remorse at His feet, and commands the adulterer to ‘sin no more’ after her accusers have dropped their stones.
Jesus plows a furrow line straight down the radical middle. Between bad religion and sins of the flesh, His Almighty mercy liberates repentance—the sinner’s obedience to the demands of the Kingdom.
Moral Conservatives tend to err on the side of self-preservation: we are saving our good traditions for a generation-to-come. Or maybe for ourselves. We fear the Church’s conversion to a gender-scary culture. And frightening it is: justice is now defined as redefining marriage and recreating ourselves in the gender that today feels right to us.
Amid such idolatry of ‘self’, we wax fearful and alert the faithful to the doom-and-gloom at hand. Unwittingly, we hide our Gospel from the perishing. The very generation that needs a life-preserver finds the ark closed. All they hear is the demonically-amplified: ‘Christians hate LGBTUVWXYZ…’
Arguably, the liberal arm of the Church has already been converted. For them, love means ‘never having to say you are sorry’ for leaving one’s spouse of decades for a ‘gay’ lover, for cutting off one’s breasts or penis in search of the ‘true’ self, or for a host of heterosexual misdemeanors (cohabitation, porn, fornicating, affairs.) Justice is about inclusion, not the Cross that cost Him everything and that demands we pick up ours and follow Him, a trek made possible only with empty hands.
Liberals become unclean to welcome the unclean. Conservatives strive for purity and alienate the impure. How about becoming like Jesus, utterly pure through His mercy and utterly broken for the broken, so much so that we make a place in our hearts and in our churches for them?
That will require two things: first, a fearless belief in the power of Jesus to convert the morally lost through His Spirit and love. That means we trust that their misdirected spirits will not overpower the Church but in time will surrender to Holy Love.
Secondly, that surrender will require of us trust and time and more mercy than we have. It will require our surrender to Jesus and His Love. It will require that we the chaste get dirty. It takes more love to bear with an impure person in the truth of chastity than it does to relent to their futile self-definitions and relationships.
We need contexts in the Church where the sexually broken can work out their questions and challenges with persons who get their struggles and who have power in the Spirit through their own clear spirits to bring clarity. Courage groups, Living Waters, and other thoughtful small groups are now essential to the church or diocese wanting to help sexual sinners.
Bishop, pastor, and laity must labor together with and for real sinners. We must become a chaste and messy Bride in order to please the Bridegroom.
‘Jesus took sexual sin very seriously. He regarded sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage as capable of jeopardizing one’s entrance into the Kingdom of God…What distinguished Jesus was His incredibly generous spirit toward those who had lived in gross disobedience for years. He expended enormous efforts and exhibited great compassion in His search for the lost.
Jesus’ ministry proves that the Church can practice radical love without sacrificing God’s demand for righteous conduct…When either love or righteousness is sacrificed, the Church proclaims a truncated Gospel.’ Dr. Robert Gagnon
Please join us as we pray for:
Georgia, Bev Gammalo – Coordinator: For strength and vision for Bev, for existing groups and to see new groups established.
Aguas Vivas: Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Miguel & Elisabeth – Coordinators: Direction for timing and team for future groups as they finish second ContraCorriente pilot with church leaders.
Restored Hope Network: For Anne Paulk, as Executive Director, protection and provision for her and her three sons and extended family.
“Courage for Pastor Phil Strout (National Director Vineyard USA), that he would ensure that the Church becomes a clear fountain of transformation for persons with same-sex attraction!”