Repression

(Reblogged from March 17, 2010)

re·press (ri pres’), v.t. to check or inhibit.

Repression. Its something that liberals like to bring in almost any instance where some kind of sexual activity is being condemned or a call for self-control is being made, usually by the religious right. “Repressing our desires is bad.” “Repressing sexuality is lying about who we are.” “Limiting our sexual expression does more harm than good.”

These are the typical responses. The most recent one I heard was in a comment about on article on pornography that went something like, “repressed societies have more violence.” What I logically assume comes after this is a “so, we shouldn’t dissuade pornographic use or any other type of sexual repression.”

But is repression really as bad as all that? Does it breed violence? Is it a lie about who one is? By no means. I think the word repression has a bad connotation to it. It sounds too much like oppression, a word that people do not like. Rather, judging from the definition of repress at the top, I think a better word choice might be self-control. Either way, there are benefits to this practice.

For one, self-control, is not so much about limiting, but truly respecting and understanding freedom. We are free to do all things. It does not mean, though, that all things are beneficial. We are free to look at pornography all day, everyday. We are free to have contests to see which guy in our group can have sex with the most different women in a single week. We are free to drink as much alcohol as possible, and then free to hop into a car and drive as fast as we can down Main Street. Just because we can do something or want to do something does not mean that we should do something.

And in fact, some behaviors, such as pornography are very addictive, and so, by not exercising self-control, one can come to the point where they could not exercise control even if they wanted to. Indulging is not always good. The sexual revolution has screwed us over so bad. On demand birth control, on demand abortion, the exponential increase of sexual images on television, movies, billboards, magazines, books, and street corners have lead us to believe that we are entitled to sex whenever, with whoever, as long as both parties are willing, and in some cases, the willingness doesn’t have to be a prerequisite. And what have the results of this non-repressive behavior been? Prior to the 1960’s syphilis and gonorrhea were the only two major STDs. Today STDs have rapidly multiplied into HIV, chlamydia, HPV, bacterial vaginosis, genital herpes, PID, trichomoniasis, chancroid, and over 20 others. The effects of these diseases range from discomfort and nasty-looking outbreaks to infertility and death. And all of this in the name of sexual freedom.

Then there is the divorce rate which has skyrocketed since the sexual revolution began. Probably because of the eradication of inhibitions to commit adultery. “What? You should be able to be married to whoever you are in love with. If it’s not your spouse, you should be able to get divorced and marry the one you love.” Maybe. Maybe not. But how has this affected children. Children have had to live in split households, not being able to see what true sacrifice and love means, not seeing people work relationships out. Not having the influence of both a father and mother on them. Maybe you are one of those children. Maybe you turned out “just fine”. But think of how your life might have been different if your parents had worked it out. Suddenly sex isn’t only affecting you. Its affecting families. One’s lack of self-control might destroy their own family, and it might destroy someone else’s. But sexual freedom is most important. I keep forgetting about that.

The point is, our culture has degraded sex into an act where we come together, mutually (usually) derive pleasure from each other, and then leave. We ignore any emotional, physiological, psychological, or moral consequences. Whatever feels good is good. Not feeling good is bad. So feel good! Yet, it clearly has not worked out to make our society better, but has created more brokenness! Part of our human dignity is derived from the fact that we have the freedom to make choices. God was so good in giving us that ability. But all choices are not equal. Some choices diminish that human dignity, and the sexual revolution has made those choices prevalent. Just think about this: we want people to be repressive when it comes to robbing banks, when it comes to bad driving, when it comes to lying, when it comes to violence. Why? Because we sense that an excess of freedom in these areas is not a good thing. Well folks the same is true with sex, only its a lot harder to exercise self-control in this area, for what I think are obvious reasons. It doesn’t mean that we should give up or not try very hard.

Conclusion: We’ve come darn close to having absolute sexual freedom in our nation, and things have gotten worse, none of the promises from it have come to light. So why not see where exercising a little self-control, and respect for human dignity gets us, for say, the next 50 years, giving both “revolutions” and equal amount of time to change society. And let the best man win.

Pax

I Should Be In Bed But…

(Reblogged from March 10, 2010)

…I just had a great three hour long conversation. After staff meetings, our staff sometimes goes to get late night munchies at the dining center. I usually decline because I don’t have too much in common with the clique-ish part of the staff. But I heard that my new floor partner would be there, so I decided to go, but he wasn’t. However, a staff member asked if I wanted to go to Cru on Tuesday’s with him. “Oh no,” I thought, “not this again.” I said that I would talk about it later, and declined his invitation. After the staff crowd dwindled down, he asked if I wanted to talk about it then. I agreed and went on about why I don’t like Cru, agree with Cru, and refuse to go to Cru. Of course, this is all deeply intertwined with my conversion to Catholicism. We stayed in the dining center until the lights were shut off and then moved into our office to continue. We had some heated argument about Purgatory and the Papacy. I should mention here that one staff member is a former Catholic, but so close to returning to practice the faith, and the other is a Presbyterian. I feel that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, I was able to explain well the doctrine of Purgatory to a point where he could understand, if not almost agree with, it. The Papacy was much more difficult, because like many Protestants, corruption of particular Pope’s actions seems to mask the legitimacy and even the need for the office. The idea of power and authority being the cause of that corruption needing to be thrown away creeps in. I may have made a little headway with it, regardless, though, I did not back down, insistent that St. Peter was the first pope, followed by St. Linus, (or was he third?) and so forth.

Eventually the conversation took the route of talking about what God has done in our lives, and that was a much more pleasant conversation. To hear the stories of the Spirit working in them and to share the stories, especially of this summer, when the weird priestly stuff was happening, was great. The best news of all, though, is that this Catholic guy admitted that he is so close to being ok with Catholicism. I told him that it was reading the Catechism that helped me understand the theology. I warned him, though, that it is very convincing, and it could be “dangerous” to read it, that if he picked up and read it, he will likely be left with no excuse to reject Catholicism.  When we departed like 20 minutes ago after about three hours of discussion, he said he would have a hard time sleeping with so much to think about now.

He is so close. So very very close. Please, please pray for him. Call him Fargo’s Prodigal Son, God will know who you are talking about. Pray to God, ask Mary, ask Joseph, ask every Saint you know to pray for him today, tomorrow and the day after. Surely if the choirs of Heaven pray for this man, that last step he needs to talk will be given him by God!

Sometimes these late night talks are the best evangelization we can have.

Christian Lifestyle

(Reblogged from May 5, 2009)

The Christian lifestyle.

What does the term “Christian lifestyle” mean?

Can you be Christian and not live the Christian lifestyle?

Can you not be Christian (in this instance meaning, rejection of Christianity) and still have salvation?

Can you have salvation without living the Christian lifestyle?

When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going

(Reblogged from April 24, 2009)

MY LORD GOD,
I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Amen!

[Thomas Merton]

The Good News is So Good Because the Bad News is So Bad

(Reblogged from February 5, 2009)

I used much of my time after class today to reflect upon project, the months leading up to it, and the months since getting back. And maybe you get tired of reading about summer project all the time, but it seems like I forget so easily and quickly the lessons I learned, and lose focus on what project was really about. I was reading back through some journal entries from the first few weeks that I got back from project. At the time I had listed all of this stuff that I was struggling with and all of the amazing things God had given to me, the blessings that were from him. The blessings were good, but they were even better because of how undeserved they were.

Dan Allan (our summer project director) often quoted Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord,” because it was our project verse. In conjunction with it he would often say that the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was so good because the bad news was so bad. In other words it is hard to understand the context and magnitude of God’s love if we do not understand the magnitude of God’s wrath and that we are the direct objects of that wrath. Heaven would mean nothing to us if there were no hell that we were all destined for without intervention by God. Lately my life is all about me, what I want, what I think that I deserve. You know what I deserve? Hell, a terrible and eternal punishment for my sin. It’s what I deserve. That is bad news, really bad news. But God has given me eternal life which compared to eternal burning is such good news.

It’s a lesson that obviously has not quite penetrated my heart, but one of these days it will, and I hope it will for you too.

I will be all-in

(Reblogged from January 4, 2009)

TCX 2008. I wasn’t honestly expecting much out of it. I completely wanted to just see my friends from summer project and I wanted to spend time with my friends from North Dakota. And I wanted to just pray and study the Bible on my own during the weekend to think about and praise and worship God for all that he is working in my life. I didn’t really think that a Crusade event, which I have been rather unsatisfied with lately would be able to speak to my Catholic-thinking mind. But…I was wrong. Speaker after speaker breathed God’s word to life for me. I saw that being a disciple is being more than a follower, but becoming like the one we follow. To be a disciple of Christ means to be like him, to have my life look like his. I learned about how very real the Holy Trinity is, how awesome God is in that trinity. I saw that God has eternally existed as One God, yet by his very nature is a community, and not a community divided, but a community that is in unison with each other. Isn’t that what the Church of Christ is supposed to be? I saw in Revelation 4 the holiness of God. I saw creatures called seraphim, created to worship and praise God in holy perfection, holy creations that were still ashamed to stand before the holiness of God. God is holy and he is wrathful and a force to be fearful of. I am so so so lucky that he loves me and it is best that I do not lose sight of his holiness and that I stop treating him as a good luck charm, but surrender to his will and follow his directions verbatim. Lastly I learned what it means to be all in for God. I see the saints that have gone before, sacrificing their wants and desires and their safety to follow God, no matter what the present circumstances were, no matter what their pasts looked like. I saw men and women risk it all for the promise of God. Today they stand with God and are a cloud of witnesses cheering me on to sacrifice it all, to be all-in for Jesus Christ. If I am not all-in I am not living for the reason God created me and I would be better off non-existent. No matter how hard it is to be all-in, I have to do it. I have to live for Christ and nothing else. I need to throw off the things that are hindering, whether they are sinful in and of themselves.

I have some hard decisions before me in the next few weeks. I have to begin sharing my decision to become Catholic with my friends. How can I keep such a big spiritual decision silent and secret in my heart? In this day and age, the popular thing for new believers to do is to join whatever protestant or evangelical or whosy whatsit church is down the street from them. Rarely do you see new believers joining the Catholic Church (at least from my point of view) because of faith in Christ. Yet, here I am, at the threshold of that door. I have to start telling people, not being ashamed or afraid for what they will say to me. I also have to make some important decisions having to do with a particular friend and my inability to separate certain feelings from that friendship, making it one of those hindrances in my walk, that isn’t sin, but definitely isn’t helping me. And I need to figure out just how I am to reach my family with the gospel without turning them away like I have been lately. None of these things are easy, but like Matt Mikalatos said at TCX, if the God of the Universe had to endure hard hard stuff, why shouldn’t we expect to endure hard things as well?

Jesus, I am ready to be all-in for you.

Day in Tijuana

(Reblogged from June 3, 2008)

The Lord is really working in my heart and I am finding it harder and harder to justify some of my actions. Half of us went to Tiajuana, Mexico today to help out at an orphanage. I have never been to Mexico and so the culture shock was off the scales. I wasn’t expecting the barrage of vendors harassing me to get me into their shops. I was afraid the whole time that I was going to get pickpocketed as well. But the orphanage was the best part of the day. We got to play with the kids and present a vacation Bible school where they learned about Daniel. The director of the orphanage told us about the kids. Many of them came from single mothers engaged in prostitution, many had been raped, many have seen their own family members murdered, many have been rented out in the sex industry for drugs, many of them have to survive by stealing, and many of them have lived on the streets for a long time.

These children were precious and I commend the efforts of the orphanage in raising these children to be raised up as children of God. When it was time to leave I did not want to leave behind the little kid I was playing with. His name was Alberto and he was 10 years old. We couldn’t really communicate beyond that, but we just rode our bikes together in the courtyard for awhile. I wanted to take him with me when I left, but obviously I couldn’t.

When we got back tonight, I sat on the beach after dark and thought about how awful Tiajuana gets at night and I thought about those children who are NOT in the orphanage right now and the things that are happening to them, things that as a grown man I could not handle physically or emotionally. And I think about the darkness that is clouding over that city and I actually started to cry a little bit thinking about them. God is definitely laying it on my heart to be more conscious of the needs and desperations of others and to focus less and less on myself. I am going to be praying for those children everyday and I hope that you will join me.

Let Us Not Forget Who He Is

(Reblogged from March 7, 2008)

Let us not forget who God is.

God is the Creator.

God is all powerful. He created EVERYTHING from NOTHING.

He is transcendent of time.

All things are under His control.

He is a jealous God, jealous of the things that take our focus off of Him.

He is full of wrath and we are the objects of that wrath.

He is like a lion.

He is also like a lamb.

He is full of love.

He is patient.

He is kind.

He is full of mercy.

More importantly He is full of grace.

He is forgiving.

He is faithful.

He is good.

He is Holy.

He is the King of the Universe.

He is Sovereign.

Let us not forget, though, that while God is loving and merciful, He is not a teddy bear, waiting on us and giving us all the candy in the candy store. He is still Holy, and it is a wonder that He would even care about us. His power is so much more than we could ever imagine. I am reading Mere Christianity right now and there is a section where C.S. Lewis talks about the goodness of God:

The Moral Law does not give us any grounds for
thinking that God is ‘good’ in the sense of being indulgent, or soft, or
sympathetic. There is nothing indulgent about the Moral Law. It is as hard as
nails. It tells you to do the straight thing and it does not seem to care how
painful, dangerous, or difficult it is to do. If God is like the Moral Law, then
He is not soft….Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness
would be fun. They need to think again. They are still only playing with
religion. Goodness is either the great safety or the great danger – according to
the way you react to it. And we have reacted the wrong way.

Just remember not to tame the untamable God.

Sacraments of Initiation and My SSA Cross

Have a blessed Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul!

Today is my feast day, as St. Paul is my confirmation saint. His feast days are always a reminder to me of my conversion and entrance into the Church. I am reminded of the gift of my Baptism and the promises I made: to reject Satan and to reject sin. These were promises I made freely. As I reflect upon my Baptism today with St. Paul, I am challenged. I am challenged because some days every fiber of my being strains against Christ, and desires to choose sin. Sometimes that desire wins. The challenge, though, is to be a man of my word, regardless of how badly I sometimes would rather to have not made the promise to live the life Christ requires of me. I want to be a man of my word.

There is another challenge, though, accepting my failures to follow through with my baptismal promises. Yes, I have failed greatly, especially in the area of chastity and the unique challenges that being gay brings to living that virtue. Like all sinners, it can be hard to move on from the things we have done wrong, despite being mercifully forgiven by God. Some of it is based on fear, a fear that my past indiscretions will come back to bite me. Part of it is shame, knowing that I have broken my promises before, and allowing that to taint my future sanctification, allowing it to make me feel like I will never be good enough, no matter how chastely I live in the future. But God has forgiven my past. He has forgotten it. He has placed my sins at the bottom of the sea. He will never throw them in my face. I have to challenge myself to accept my failures, learn from them and work to become the man I was created to be.

The last challenge, though, is how to be a man of my word. As St. Paul says, we do not do the things we want to do, but find ourselves doing the things we do not want to do. How true. It seems that no matter how badly I desire to be saintly, I find myself continually entering into sinful actions. The answer is not easy, but it, too, is something I am reminded of today: Confirmation. On the same day I was baptized, I was also confirmed. That is, I was sealed fully with the Holy Spirit and have at my disposal all the gifts of the Spirit, every grace I need to be a saint, to fulfill my promises to God, to reject Satan and to reject sin, and by doing so, choosing God and his way. It takes a great deal of patience to do so, though. It takes perseverance and awareness. I have to be aware of those times that precede a backslide into sin, and persevere through those moments, calling on the Spirit to empower me. It takes willpower, most of all. God can, and does, fill me with his graces, but I must cooperate. He can, but does not, force me to do good. I must freely choose him over myself. 

So many of my fellow LGBT brothers and sisters have been baptized and confirmed, many of them being Catholic. Whether they know it or believe it or not, these graces are at their disposal. They may not want to use them, but how their lives would be transformed if they did. We should never cease praying for them. And we should never cease trying to be holy, allowing God to use us as examples, so that seeing our good works, they might glorify the Lord.

* * *

Well folks, this post concludes LGBT Pride Month. I regret having not written as often during this month as I have the last few years. If you want to read more, take a look at the archives for June 2014 and 2015. This post also ushers summer break from blogging. New content will begin publishing Labor Day weekend. Until then, I’ll be publishing archived posts twice a week. If there are topics you would like me to write about this fall, let me know. You guys are all awesome and I’ll be praying for you this summer!

May Jesus, Mary, and Joseph keep you! Sts. Peter and Paul, pray for us.

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More Francis Vagueries

I love the Pope, but at what point do these off the cuff remarks become detrimental to the life of holiness demanded by Christ? At what point do they do more harm than good, leading the lost to believe falsehoods?

If you own a Facebook account you probably saw a trending topic about Pope Francis saying that the Church must apologize to gays for marginalizing them. Anyone who reads the article will see that he restates portions of Catholic teaching on the subject regarding non-discrimination, and that he even re-used his who am I to judge quote from a few years back. But missing is a catchesis on human sexuality, even a small one. And all those who hate the Church have already mis-interpreted his statement as one might expect. Here is a “rad” example:

His statements reinforce this secular delusion that the Church lives in the dark ages. It reinforces this bizarre notion that pervades our culture that discrimination and disagreement are synonyms, that love cannot possibly be practiced by someone who thinks you make wrong choices. The statement lends credence to what the culture wants, for the Church to capitulate on the truth. The culture believes that the Church is moving in that direction because these statements are so vague that anyone can interpret them how they want.

But the Church is not going to change her doctrines. Her existence and purpose is not to conform to the world but transform the world to God. Her power extends only to preserve truth, she has no right or ability to change or invent new truths. But the world doesn’t understand that, and statements like this only strengthen them in their error. Individual Christians (as the Pope stated) are responsible to apologize for the ways in which they have failed to live the Gospel, but this is in no way the Church’s fault, and should not be construed as such. However the misconstruing was more than evident all over the internet today.

Believe me, very few will benefit from this statement. How many do you think will leave the sinful (and danegerous) lifestyle behind from this statement, to be reconciled to God? Zero. How many lukewarm Catholics will stop practicing the Faith because the statement will lead them to believe the Church is admitting being wrong on this topic? More than zero. How many will be angry when the Church inevitably sticks to the truth and does not alter her teachings, flaring their anti-Catholic attitudes to new zeniths?

I love our Pope. His heart is generous and humble, but for the love of God, please stop making it harder for my LGBT brothers and sisters to come repentant to the merciful arms of Jesus.

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