In Genesis, God made mankind in the image of Himself, using male and female genders to fully express this image. Man was formed from the ground, so men are predisposed to doing. Woman was formed from Man, not the ground, so she is more predisposed to relationship. The two genders were designed to be good gifts to each other. The man works and provides emotional and physical protection for the woman. The woman “impart[s] life in communion with others.” (163) However, after the Fall, sin caused them to hide from each other in shame, preventing them from fully being good gifts. God then states that the woman will desire her husband, wanting him to satisfy her more than he is able to. The man is assigned to authority over the woman because of her capacity for temptation, but men misuse their role and rule over her.
The wounds that lead to sexual dysfunction often happen while we are children. Children learn about same-gender interactions primarily through the same-gender parent, and vice-versa. If one of those parents is not in the home, or not emotionally engaged, the child usually does not get a successful model. The child can also be affected by how the opposite-gender parent relates to them: a mother who has been hurt by her husband and talks about how bad men are will instill a sense of shame in her son. Vows that the child made to not be like a characteristic of a parent can also influence how they relate to that gender. Divorce really hurts a child because it makes one of the parents absent, hence unable to model effectively, as well as often causing the child to feel abandoned. Also, abuse of any sort severely damages the child.
Men are often wounded by their father failing to connect emotionally. Men tend to fail by being silent and doing what they are good at—relating—which can lead to workaholism. As boys, they may have decided it was not worth the effort to become a man and dropped out of the game. If done at an early age, this can lead to gender disidentification, not coming to terms with the fact that they are male. When done a little later, they may become people-pleasing chameleons, “good boys” who adapt to whatever is expected of them, but never becoming themselves. Opting out even later can lead to trying to become a man through competition, power, or heterosexual prowess, but it is done without a compass and is destructive. Other wounds can come from the shame developed from mothers or wives who put them down. Since the woman is more relationally skilled, men tend to lose verbal matches. The wife of a weak man often tries to mother him, producing shame in him at being weak, leading to a vicious cycle. Other women appear compliant but are actually manipulative, seductive, or passive-aggressive.
Women are often wounded by the men ruling over them, which they are vulnerable to because their sin makes them tend to “bend toward” the man, seeking to get him to satisfy her needs. Men who are out of touch with their hearts tend to abuse the woman, often by demanding perfection of her, even demanding she accept his mistresses because she is not good enough. There may be a cultural value that women are less valuable than men, hence it is acceptable to be ruled over. Men that succumb to pornography or adulterous affairs wound the woman by making her feel insecure and unprotected. Women can also pass down hatred of women to each other, leading to wounds. Additionally, women have more “space” to store hurts than men do, and with a sinful propensity to put their identity in the quality of their relationships, if a woman does not get rid of the hurts through forgiveness, she can become completely overwhelmed.
Instead of taking our pain and brokenness to God, we tend to choose the easy ecstasy of sex instead. One common way is sex outside of a committed relationship for life. This is destructive, because sex bonds for life, but the commitment is not there to sustain the weight of such a bond. Essentially it is mutual masturbation. So the relationship destroys the lives of the participants as the bond is ripped apart when the relationship unravels, as well as damaging any kids involved. Adultery has similar results. Masturbation is not discussed, but presumably Comisky sees it as a form of medicating as well.
Another form of sexual sin is homosexuality. Comisky writes from an authoritative perspective, having himself identified as homosexual as a result of teasing at school, living the lifestyle for a number of years. Homosexuality is disidentifying with your gender, and seeking the strength you perceive as missing from others of your same gender. Men who are insecure as men will seek strength from another man. The homosexual community deals with their shame by trying to get their lifestyle accepted, hence the epithet of “intolerant” against those who refuse to cooperate. There is a pervasive cultural myth that homosexuality is biological, but this is not true; homosexuality is a choice that we make. Homosexuals can, and do, deal with their pain and become functioning heterosexuals. Robert Spitzer (not a Christian) did an extensive study published in 2001 of homosexuals that sought help to change that showed that 66% of gay men and 44% of gay women in his study had become heterosexual with healthy, loving relationships. His study was not reported, however, and he was surprised at the level of professional prejudice that he experienced.
Shame causes us hide from our pain, and enables a cycle of medicating (in the context of this book, sexually), leading to more shame. Shame can come from our own sinful actions. It can come from cultural factors, for instance, shame of one’s ethnicity or gender. It can come from abuse, often because sexual abuse feels good at some level, leading the abused child to think that they are a participant in the abuse.
The way that shame usually manifests itself is in a “good, false self,” which is an outward projection of what we wish we were. We show everyone a good picture on the outside, but have disconnected from our pain on the inside. We are essentially deceiving ourselves and leading a double, and ultimately destructive, life. Shame is destroyed by admitting the shame, sin, and wound, and internalizing that, as Christians, we are children of God. We are not accepted based on what we do, but, through Jesus’ death for us, we are accepted simply because we are God’s children.
Healing the pain comes through the Cross. Jesus took our sin on the Cross and he took our shame, by being exposed, naked, on the Cross. Comisky believes that the healing process requires a community of both women and men to support us, but certainly close same-gender friends with whom we can share deeply. We first acknowledge the wound, and let ourselves feel the would deeply. All feeling is to be done with the Resurrection in mind—Jesus did not stay on the Cross, but the work was finished. We forgive those who wounded us, just as Jesus forgive is. Then we let Jesus cleanse us of the sin and shame by putting it on the Cross for him to carry.
Comisky has thoroughly identified the sources of sexual and relational brokenness, but has not been as effective at communicating healing. This is an excellent book to identify one’s dysfunctions, as he talks about every combination of men and women, children and adults, and sexual and relational sin. Readers will come away with an understanding of many of the dynamics in their relationships. However, while he has communicated that healing is possible, even giving examples, the book does not convey the feeling that complete healing is possible. Perhaps this is because the pain is discussed in detail, with some detail to the process of healing, which then ends with the suggestion that they are healed. Perhaps it is because Comisky himself still struggles with homosexual temptations, despite a long and happy marriage. It seems like maybe he understands the temptation as a failing, despite having essentially said the opposite. Or perhaps because his Desert Streams/Living Waters ministry involves leading regular groups in healing, he is simply more often exposed to the pain than the healing.
Comisky also has tendencies to view suffering as beneficial. Nothing he says is strictly incorrect, as God does call us to forgive even when it is painful, and sometimes to stay in painful situations instead of simply bailing on it, and this suffering does strengthen us. However, he comes close to considering suffering as a virtue, which is not helpful. Catholicism has long sought to identify with Christ through suffering like him (since writing the book, Comisky has become Catholic after having identified with the Vineyard movement for many years), but Jesus suffered for a little while, and “for the joy set before him.” Hardly an endorsement of suffering as virtue. Also, if suffering is virtuous, there is less hope for complete healing; why stop the virtue by becoming whole?
Still, Strength in Weakness is excellent for the rawness that Comisky presents pain, and the thoroughness of his discussion of the causes of our brokenness. It is similar to Experiencing Father’s Embrace, but more thorough in the identification of pain. Comisky gives a good framework for healing, and in our North American, individual mindset, his statements about the necessity of community are very valuable. I also like his idea that we are created to be good gifts to the other gender, and that we are really not complete without the experience of the other gender (including friendships, not just marriage). However, complete healing will require a community skilled in and/or books on experiencing God’s presence and healing, outside of this book.
Ch. 1: God’s Image in Humanity
- “... but her heart remained broken in its capacity to trust God and the kindness of his people.” (19) (Elegant description of the problem)
- God’s image in humanity is displayed in male and female.
- Man was formed from the dust of the ground, so Man is predisposed to doing. Woman was formed from Man, so she is more predisposed to relationship.
- Humanity is only fully human in relationship with the other gender (including platonic relationships outside of marriage)
- We are designed to become increasingly good gifts to each other.
- Sex seals us to the other person for life. (For this to work, there must be commitment beforehand)
Ch. 2: Facing the Broken Image
- After sin, Adam and Eve covered their nakedness from each other; they were self-conscious in their identity and unsure that the other would accept them. They also hid from God.
- Curse on the Woman:
- “you will desire their husband,” wanting him to satisfy more than he is able to.
- “he will rule over you” because of Eve’s capacity for deception, Adam needs to exercise authority over Eve. But he misuses it.
- Curse on the Man:
- He has to rule over the woman (he didn’t exercise his role during the temptation).
- Adam gets his identity from working the ground, but the ground is cursed, and he is therefore cursed with painful toil.
- Power plays:
- Men out of touch with their hearts abuse their authority over the women.
- Some women accept it because they think they are inferior.
- Some women are falsely compliant, and manipulate, seduce, and passive-aggress.
- Some women determine not to be subject to the man and take the leadership.
- Weak men accept the woman’s leadership and do not lead themselves. Sometimes this is because the man has done something really bad, like adultery, and his shame keeps him submitted to the woman.
- Sex without commitment...
- ...destroys lives (children in a divorce)
- ...is really mutual-masturbation. You aren’t connecting, and you don’t even have to be vulnerable.
- ...in the 1960s led to a huge increase in divorces and men and women not trusting each other. This made people question whether male-female sexuality was really normal, leading to an acceptance of homosexuality. The next progression is for gender-switching to become accepted.
Ch. 3: Strength to Love Well
- Because of the hurt that we feel from the other gender, we often relate with a sword, but healing and restoration comes when we relate with the Cross.
- A husband confessed to his wife that he struggled with Internet porn. He felt his shame lifting. But his wife, who had no idea before, struggled with hurt and couldn’t get over it. “A wise caregiver in the group pointed out the problem. ‘Mike, your confession was the beginning of resurrection. The death of sin began to lift off of you. But for you, Katie, that was the beginning of a crucifixion—dying to who you thought Mike was.’ A light dawned for both. Each could see that the other had to carry the cross in the crisis, but in different ways.” (49)
- One aspects of the Cross is humbling ourselves and asking forgiveness. Another is asking Christ to intervene with his love when we are incapable of it (for example, during a heated argument).
- Through the Cross we are a new creation; our identity is not defined by our past, but by what Jesus says about us.
- “My reference point in the beginning [of my Christian walk] was as a homosexual man—what I thought of as my ‘gay self.’ God challenged that identity through his Word and his community. Though I had to contend with a network of harmful thoughts and desires, Jesus did not want that network to define me. He wanted to be my reference point.” (58)
- You cannot answer the question “who am I?” by looking at yourself, you must look at Jesus, and in so doing, you will find yourself.
- (The author’s homosexuality stemmed from gender insecurity)
- Karl Barth says that men and women are unsettled by the fact that they are so different from each other; is the other really human? But yes, we are both made in the image of God.
- We cannot simply solve our problem just with ourselves and Jesus; God intended our gender to interact with the other one.
Ch. 4: Strength to Leave Shame Behind
- There are two kinds of shame:
- Healthy shame: we feel a disconnect from God because of our sin and it alerts us that something is wrong so we can go to God and receive his forgiveness.
- Unhealthy shame: we feel like we are unworthy of love and honor. This kind of shame causes us to turn on ourselves, and it separates us from life.
- “... nakedness without shame affirms what it means to be male and female as well as the freedom to be a gift to one’s gender opposite. Karl Barth described that shameless nakedness between man and woman occurring when each ‘recognises the other’s distinctive nature’ as well as their independence.” (71)
- My mother discovered some pornography I bought and confronted me about
it. Huge sense of shame. “She did not scorn me but rather
pointed out the dehumanizing nature of the material and its ill effect
on my humanity. The shame of exposure hurt, but it ultimately
bolstered my self-respect.” (73)
- We can have cultural shame if our race or culture is perceived to be second-class. Luida Johnson says “the greatest need [among the African American community] is not for sexual or even relational brokenness; it is for her people to embrace their ethnicity without shame, to turn from hating themselves because of their skin color.” (76)
- There is gender shame if your gender (usually female) is perceived as inferior.
- There is sexual shame in communities where sexual sin is perceived as worse than other sins.
- People who have been deeply rejected feel shame. This is especially true for people who were abandoned by their mother/father, or their parents did not give them a sense of being wanted.
- Being abuse often translates into the shame of being dishonorable. Abused women often tolerate severe abuse because they feel that they are not deserving of honor.
- Sometimes shame manifests as a contempt of others, as a self-protection method.
- The most common manifestation of shame is the good, false self. “The sources of shame empowering the good, false self are twofold. One source is the early experience of shame. The other source is a person’s besetting weakness in adulthood, whether that is a same-sex tendency or some other inclination toward brokenness or disorder. These two sources of shame merge and together fuel the formation of the good, false self.” (82) The good, false self is often compliant and perfect. “The perfect self emerges as an image to guard oneself against the exposure of weakness. The greatest fear of the good, false self is this: ‘If you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me.’” (82) “... Stephen Pattison said, ‘In their concern for extrinsic recognition and approval, they may also be the kind of people who are “concerned to show others, self, and God that [they are the] good, kind, caring—and even heroic—[people that their] religion celebrates.“‘" (83)
- This split does not free the person to admit their sin. It is a deception. “If one’s value seems to be bound up in ‘goodness,’ then anything that belies the good-boy or good-girl image must be buried and denied.” (83)
- It causes a double life, and can lead to the person doing a lot of harm to people.
- The Cross cures shame, because Jesus was naked and exposed so that we do not have to be.
- We are cleansed from shame by the Cross, by hearing from the Father that we are his son or daughter, and through an affirming community.
Ch. 5: Strength to Overcome Sin
- Being secure in our identity as God’s sons and daughters enables us to confess sin. And confessing sin breaks the power of shame. “Sin can be erased only through its exposure.” (94)
- Confession requires community. But, “The final break-through to fellowship does not occur, because though they have fellowship with one another as believers and as devout people, they do not have fellowship as the undevout, as sinners. The pious fellowship permits no one to be a sinner. So everybody must conceal his sin from himself and from the fellowship. We dare not be sinners. Many Christians are unthinkably horrified when a real sinner is suddenly discovered among the righteous. So we remain alone with our sin, living in lies and hypocrisy. The fact is that we are sinners.” (96, quoting Bonhoeffer)
- Confession in community causes us to die to our false self; we crucify the “social saint.”
- Confession also causes us to die to the sin; we come to God naked and in need of his provision, and he gives us new life.
- Jesus gave believers the power to bind sin and loose forgiveness: if we say someone is forgiven, they are forgiven. So part of forgiveness is finding a “priest” (usually a friend for non-Catholics), who hears the confession of the specific sin, places that sin on the Cross, and pronounces forgiveness over the person.
- An actual Cross, and the use of water to symbolize the washing away of the sin can be helpful.
- It will probably be necessary to confess the same sin over and over to the same person on your journey to becoming whole.
- How we often sin sexually:
- Woman are more relational, so often yearn for the man, and try to fill their needs with him. This also tends to lead the woman to accepting a man’s dishonoring demands.
- The man tends to try to satisfy himself with the woman, not wanting to give love and leadership, and takes the easy route by treating the woman as existing for him.
- Modern women have overreacted and try to live out not needing the man.
- Men can also be not mature, which leads the woman to end up mothering the man, since she is better relationally. She disrespects him and he has self-contempt. She tries to fix the problem with more mothering.
- Sexual sin is essentially narcissism, as we focus on satisfying ourselves. Instead of bringing our aloneness to God, we try to satisfy them with the cheap fix of sexual sin.
- “Often the most wounded ones are those who have been passed over by someone else who has chosen an illicit lover. ... But we [the wounded ones] must do our part. We must uphold the truth that each of us remains a good gift to others. In spite of the damage done, we can stand with our Creator and trusted others in believing that the damage need not have the defining word on our sexuality. We begin by confessing the sin of our disavowal of the gift.” (109)
Ch. 6: Wounds that Heal
- This chapter is about sin done against us.
- On the Cross, God shares our pain.
- We need to identify our pain. Often we are aware of the forgiveness that is necessary, but not the pain underneath it. At the Cross, we grieve our pain.
- Paul is clear that suffering is to be expected; in fact, it is a requirement of being a child of God (Rom 8:17). However, Jesus experiences our sufferings with us, and brings healing.
- Jesus was pained by his closest friends not being able to stay awake and pray with him. Then he was abandoned on the Cross by his Father, who had always been there, when he needed Him the most. The Father was pained by having to abandon his son. Comisky seems to suggest that the upcoming abandonment was somewhat hidden for Jesus, making it that much worse.
- Story of Julie, whose husband abandoned her for another woman, leaving her unable to pay the bills and with hurting children (not to mention herself). She brought her pain to four close friends, and over the course of two years she and her children slowly received healing.
- Three points in looking at our wounds: we all receive brokenness from our family; “we choose the broad path of destruction for ourselves, though our wounding may contribute to our bad choices” (126); our personalities are largely fixed and influence how we perceive and relate to the world.
- Children model their gender after their same-sex parent. Some possible problems are:
- they don’t have a same-sex parent, so no modelling. They may be able to find a model outside the family, but some children find this easier than others. This relationship may be broken because of abuse, neglect, illness, death, divorce.
- the child may put up a defensive wall, usually without realizing it, which blocks people who want or can give love.
- if the child vows against the same-sex parent (a more powerful version of their gender) they often develop problems with gender security. This may express itself in homosexuality or in needed heterosexuality.
- “I felt many things toward my father, including contempt. But close to that contempt was the self-hatred I felt toward my own manhood. As I was at odds with my father’s masculinity, so I was also at odds with my own.” (129) [The author lived the homosexual lifestyle for a while.] (This was healed in a dream where I saw torsos my father and I carved out of the same block of stone, attached to the block at the bottom, united to each other via the stone base (not sexually), both looking manly, indicating that I was truly my father’s child, but seeing only the goodness.)
- Children learn to relate to the opposite gender through the opposite-gender parent.
- A father who cherishes his wife and daughter will likely have a child who can’t understand why other girls try to get men’s attention through revealing clothes (for instance).
- A mother who is overly strong and cuts down her husband will likely have a son who is afraid of relating to strong women and is not sure he has what it takes for a woman. In fact, the son may not relate to women at all.
- Any abuse, especially sexual, deeply wounds a child.
- Steps to healing:
- Acknowledge the wound.
- Find safe people who can help carry our load.
- We must feel freely, but in light of Jesus’ resurrection.
- Take authority over the worldly sorrow that Paul says leads to death.
- We must forgive those who wronged us to gain the resurrection life.
- There is hope: my wife received healing from her sexual abuse at age four, and both she and Julie have compassion that heals many.
Ch. 7: Men at the Cross
- Men try to be powerful through stoic silence and self-reliance, aggression, one-upsmanship, or conquering. Real power comes from being weak and letting God be strong in us.
- When men become whole, they become trustworthy, which invites the woman in their lives to come and be healed.
- Because men’s strength is to produce, we tend to look to work to fulfill us. The ground, our work, is cursed, so this creates a cycle of striving.
- Our families should be the first people to benefit from what God is doing in us. If there is not truth at home, there will not be truth in our ministry.
- “Weak men become powerful through relationships. We discover early on that we cannot make it on our own. ... To be whole as men, we need the powerful affirmation of other men. This will precede our capacity to fulfill God’s call on our lives to love and honor women.” (144)
- “God called Adam to ‘rule over’ the woman as a consequence for her disobedience (Gen 3:16), yet in spite of that call, men ever since have usually lost verbal battles with women. This may be in part a cultural variable or even a biological one, but it began with the Fall. Even under the best of circumstances, in paradise, the man failed to speak into the darkness of Eve’s temptation and sin.” (145)
- Many men have either not have a father in the lives, or the father is the silent type and unable to meaningfully engage with their children. We may want to find a perfect father, but it will not happen; we must look to God for that perfect father.
- “Men express their aloneness and silence differently. Some of
this depends on personality and on the timing and degree of wounding in
relation to their fathers. Some get off the track toward mature
manhood earlier than others. This inevitably involves a lack of
strong male presence. But it also involves the complex mechanisms
of the young heart. We distance ourselves; we drop out of
the game when we perceive that the journey toward manhood is too tough
Those who drop out in early childhood may be more vulnerable to deeper problems in their sexual identities, like homosexuality. Same-sex yearnings in a man signal his disidentification with his own masculinity. So he identifies that strength in another and yearns for it sexually. ... Others cross the bridge toward identification with the masculine but do so weakly. As children they make peace with being boys but have yet to emerge into mature and defined manhood. Often these become ‘good boys,’ compliant creatures who change colors according to the context, becoming what others expect of them. These chameleons can be defined by the following characteristics: people pleasing, fear of rejection, a fear of being wrong, a tendency toward keeping all options open and not having clearly formulated beliefs. ... Still other men embrace aspects of masculinity—heterosexual prowess, the drive toward competition and power—but do so without a compass or center. Fatherless in their own right, they have managed to identify with the masculine but now compensate for their emptiness by asserting themselves destructively.” (147-8)
- As sons of God, He wants us to be relationally oriented first and achievement oriented second. (149)
- We need relationship with brothers to express our aloneness and pain. We need brothers who can honor us and tell us the strength and goodness they see in us. We need brothers who empower us.
- A hurt wife can easily put down men, which causes her son to feel bad about being a male.
- We need to take the risk and offer our masculinity as a gift to bless and empower women.
Ch. 8: Women at the Cross
- “While men seek to master realities outside of themselves through the works of their hands, women excel in imparting life in communion with others.” (163)
- Women’s strength is in relating to others.
- Women derive identity from their relationships and the quality of them.
- “‘A woman’s dignity is closely connected with the love which she receives by the very reason of her femininity; it is likewise connected with the love which she gives in return.’” (165, quoting John Paul II)
- Sin tends to cause the woman to place her identity too much in her human relationships, and it causes the abuse of her womanhood by men.
- Sin causes the woman to tend to “bend” towards the man, relying on him too much for her identity; the man becomes her idol. This bending allows the man to hurt and dishonor her, because she accepts his actions.
- Women have a larger “space” than men in which they can store hurts. Without forgiveness cleaning them out, the woman can be crushed by them all.
- Women need to take their hurts to Christ. They need to take their insecurity to Christ (not the man).
- Sexual abuse, whether traditional abuse, emotional abuse (such as being demanding, or insisting that his wife accept his mistresses because she is not good enough), or simply not keeping his promises to cherish, protect, and remain faithful (including via pornography), hurts the woman’s sense of security. Women can only thrive in a secure environment.
- Misogyny (hatred of women) is passed woman to woman as well as man to woman. Sometimes it is the woman that are the fiercest.
- Misogyny is healed at the cross.
- “... with the tears must also come the clear word of recognition—'This happened to me and it was profoundly dishonoring.’ Then, with its confession, Jesus can bear the unbearable weight of the particular strain of misogyny.” (171)
- Women must forgive themselves of any self-hatred; she needs to identify any misogyny in herself.
- Women may also hate men (misandry) as a result, often in the form of contempt of men. Women need to forgive the men who have hurt her, otherwise healing cannot come.
- Once it has been identified, renounce the misogyny; reject it. Accepting misogyny allows the demonic to empower it.
- Also, not everything is misogyny; it might just be a difference of opinion (e.g. the issue of women in leadership)
- Jesus always loved and empowered women. (And, in fact, the women were more faithful to him than the men. The men deserted him at the cross, but the women stayed.)
Ch. 9: Homosexuality and the Cross
- “But that healing [of homosexuality, but of inner healing in general] is contingent upon relying upon the One again and again. He provides the strength to live in freedom with each new experience of weakness. Without doubt, he is able to restore the homosexually vulnerable in an instant, and I believe he sometimes does so. Interestingly, though, God rarely calls these exceptional ones to proclaim and impart freedom to others. Such healing ministry is typically entrusted to those whose healing occurs gradually.” (181)
- Robert Spitzer, a non-Christian, who led the campaign of the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality as a psychological disorder in 1972. More recently the APA decided that any therapy to help gays change is unhealthy and ethically wrong. In 2001, Spitzer published a many-year study in which he interviewed and followed up with 200 homosexuals. 66% of the men and 44% of the women were in sustained, loving, heterosexual relationships. The APA said the study was not relevant, the study was not covered in the media. “[Spitzer] claimed that he had never experienced that kind of professional prejudice at any other time in his career.” (183)
- The goal of active gays is to have full acceptance, and any challenge is considered intolerance. “The gay activist cannot frame his or her homosexuality as anything related to weakness, let alone brokenness. That would imply a need for healing. Instead she or he must assert the intrinsic wholeness of homosexuality. To reveal any crack in the gay armor would be to admit one’s need to be saved.” (186)
- Comisky describes identification with the “gay self” as spiritual deception and darkness.
- The world accepts homosexuality and much of the church is confused at best. “Deceptive signposts in the world and in the church obscure the clear path of redemption for the same-sex struggler. In so doing, these false guides contribute to the spiritual warfare that harasses young men and women in their sexual vulnerabilities. The ‘gay self’ looms as a tempting and powerful solution to the struggle at hand. That’s why homosexual strugglers must establish roots in a healing community.” (187) The community is essential for their healing.
- “Jesus asks the homosexually vulnerable, ‘Will you follow me or the worldly, demonic forces vying for your soul?’ Precisely because of the power of those forces, Jesus appeals to the will. True conversion always involves such an appeal. Until the Lord has our wills, we are not truly converted.” (188)
- “Jesus always gives us the choice to fall forward. In our weakness we can fall backward into sin or forward into him.” (189)
- A homosexual struggler said, “If I die to 99% of my old ways and passions, eventually that 1% will cost me my life—the real life God intends for all his children. God will resurrect a new man or woman only after there has been this death. Many people want to just bleed, enough to be incapacitated, but not enough to die. The cross bids you to die.” (190)
- We need to die to two things, after which resurrection brings new life:
- to die to the desire to lead a pain-free life. We choose to face the pain and invite Christ (and others) to meet us in the pain and the shame.
- to die to making others our saviors. No person is going to give us the relationship we want, be the father or mother, or take away the loneliness.
- Andrew Beel (Anglican in Australia) saw a vision of ragged soldiers following Jesus, impressive for no other reason than they moved completely in step with him in obedience and complete reliance. Their glory was so bright that the enemy could not see to target them, and were ever Jesus led they were victorious.
Ch. 10: The Church at the Cross
- “Indeed the weak posses a unique authority to serve the body. Perhaps it is because they know who their source of strength is.” (197)
- Two tasks for Christian leaders:
- identify the muddy bride and wash her. She is us.
- Leaders can easily make their heart on-way: flowing out, but nothing flows in. Leaders need peers who can heal and clean each other.
- persevere and suffer with the bride.
- “Holy suffering is a mark of spiritual maturity.” (203) I’m not totally sure what he means, but it seems like it is forgiving when people wrong you and staying in a church where people are hostile to your ministry if God is calling you to that.