Rousing Her Radiance: Day 33
Contending for Transformation
‘Jesus is a foe of any kind of fatalistic mindset that reduces His creation to something less than what He intended for it. He opens the door to a new horizon and frees us to resume that journey with Him to realize that intention.’- Living Waters Guidebook
I’m glad I didn’t settle on ‘gay’ as my destiny. I’m glad Christians around me knew better. I’m glad the Church knows better. Never content to just help us conquer selfishness, the Church frees us to become gift. For others. For another.
Without minimizing the depths of our divides, John Paul II writes convincingly of one orientation we share that God designed and redeems: ‘the deep orientation to personally dignify what is intrinsic to his masculinity and her femininity’ (Theology of the Body 131:4).
What does that mean? Simply put, no amount of sin or disorder frees us from the responsibility of owning our true orientation: the gift we are in our bodily humanity to dignify the opposite sex. Imago Dei 101: marriage doesn’t validate that dignity. Jesus already validated our sexuality by making us in His image. And He came to redeem that dignity from every claim the world, flesh, and devil has on it.
It’s weird. We the Church, repository of truth, claim Jesus breaks the power of sin and death then raises us up as new creations. Why then do we mince and stammer around homosexuality, wring our hands, and insist that ‘cross’ is impervious to change? Why do we cede same-sex attraction as the one disorder Jesus can’t transform?
Not sure. But I am sure He loves to regenerate our powers of life and love so that babies are born—‘He makes a way in the wilderness and releases rivers in the desert’ (Is. 43:19 and theme verse of our ministry). As I reflect on the joys of my life, I see faces: my wife and children, and now their children. Only possible through Jesus and Church: He the ‘way-maker,’ She the mediator.
To be sure, we have a hand in this; we need to want our sexuality transformed. And we must love a person, not a mere good idea or ‘cover’ for our shameful inner life. Dignifying another is about reaching to know her whole broken self, even as one offers his broken wholeness.
We can cultivate magnanimity, the human aspiration to great things. That means I want to discover who she is in the passion and discipline of self-giving. Annette and I rediscovered something of Eden. Still do. She’s the one I want. Church gave us sacred support to work out our lives together and to live in the searchlight of another’s wisdom and need.
Church freed us from the denial of difficulty that tempts us to hide and deny frustrations from each other. Josef Pieper writes well of humble disclosure as the antidote to presumption, what Augustine describes as ‘a self-deceptive security that has no existence in reality.’ It helped to be in league with other men who encouraged me to own my ‘little cross.’ At the same time, I realized my weakness differed little from the faults they brought into marriage. I just had to own mine, without dramatics.
Church, let’s help our fellows aspire to great things. We can do this without presumption. Deeper than our disorder is the truth of our origins and our redemption. Yes, we live east of Eden now. Yes, we struggle. And we can live fruitful chaste lives that dignify others and glorify God.
‘Jesus, sorry that we have given same-sex attraction such inordinate authority. Reduce it to size: one disorder among many that You died for, breaking its grip over our lives. Teach us how to aspire to more. Fixing our eyes on You, we rejoice in who we are becoming.’
‘Father, we thank You for Jesus who established the Church on a Rock against which hell will not prevail (Matt 16:18). We pray for every Christian leader to build on Her firm foundation of sexual clarity and integrity. Father, unmask the deceiver and divider of Christians and unite us in one Spirit. As weak members of Christ, we ask for truth to guide our pursuit of sexual wholeness, for grace to sustain it, and for spiritual power to transform us. May we reflect the chaste radiance of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18) as we “shine like stars in the universe, holding out the word of life” (Phil. 2:15-16) to a lost and hurting world.’