Seven C’s: A List of Helps for Struggling Loved Ones

Dear Friends,

This month we have a special article for you from a long-time friend in ministry. Andrew Comiskey (M.Div.) has worked extensively with the healing of the sexually and relationally broken. He is the Founding Director of Desert Stream/Living Waters Ministries, a multifaceted outreach to the broken. Andrew’s ministry grows both out of his own commitment to overcome homosexuality and his experience as a husband to Annette, father of four children and grandfather to five grandkids. He is author of Pursuing Sexual Wholeness (Creation House), Strength in Weakness (InterVarsity Press), Naked Surrender: Coming Home To Our True Sexuality (InterVarsity Press) and the Living Waters healing program. Andrew seeks to equip the Church to be whole and holy, a bride ready to receive Jesus. Andrew serves at St. Thomas More Parish in Kansas City, Missouri. After over four decades of ministry, Andrew still loves receiving and extending mercy to sexual sinners like himself.

Conversion:

The realization that a loved one has assumed a false identity invites you to go deeper in Jesus; it may well become more about your conversion than his or hers. Perhaps it challenges your current ‘standing’ in Christ. All you may be able to do is fall face down and grieve over your sins and the sins woven deeply into our culture. The two are related. You are woven into the fabric of an idolatrous culture; He invites you to repent unto Himself as the way ahead for your integrity of faith and humanity.

Compunction:

This involves the uneasiness or anxiety you may feel for wronging others or causing them pain. It may have to do with brokenness before God for failing to be true to your faith in a culture that now celebrates over 50 gender ‘identities.’ Have you been complicit in allowing friends and/or children to grow distant as you proceeded on with your own life? You may also need to grieve how you have not stood for truth in the public square: contraception, no-fault divorce, rampant porn use, ‘gay marriage’ are all predecessors to today’s gender meltdown.

Compassion:

Jesus hears your cries for mercy. He never fails in His love for you and always responds with deep compassion when you cry out to Him with a broken and contrite spirit. All He is after is your heart. He wants to give you His heart, His compassion, and is intent on using everything, including a loved one’s delusion, to bring you into Reality. Compassion is His way of doing so. He wants to make you compassionate like He is.

Clarity:

With tear-washed eyes, you can behold with clarity your beloved confused one. You possess true vision: he or she possesses a gender of God’s design that the Creator always upholds. So can you. Your sight summons what is mighty in him and lovely in her whether or not they believe it or even want it. Given the lousy self-definitions one can adopt in our day, you can hold fast to the fact that in Christ, according to one’s baptism and confirmation, our beloved one is either a son or a daughter of the Heavenly Father and need not be tossed around by lies (Gal. 4:3-7).

Constancy:

In prayer and in care, keep knocking and seeking the Lord to make known to the beloved His tender, almighty love; at the same time, choose to keep the door open to the beloved. You can seek to be a point of loving continuity in his or her life, the welcome of a home on earth for this weary wanderer. You can set good boundaries when necessary but always with a prayerful, caring spirit that wants only the best for your loved one.

Communication:

Prayerful ones who speak more to God than to the beloved are primed to be led by the Spirit when it comes to what and how much to say. Each confused soul is different but most can be irrationally defensive when it comes to considering his or her delusion. So you can walk and talk in the Spirit concerning the beloved; trust God for brief moments of clarity where compassion and truth meet and you are able to convey your heart’s desire for his or her best.

Consider:

The patience of God towards you in all your wanderings and pride and bad relationships and bad religion, how He simply loved you and waited until you were ready to hear Him (1 Tim 1:15-16). When you broke and bowed down and cried out for mercy, He gave Himself to you freely and fully. He had mercy on you. Wait in patient expectation that He will lead your loved one to repentance and the gift of His almighty mercy.

Originally published as a blog post on DesertStream.org on September 13, 2021. Reprinted with Permission.

Elijah Company

Elijah Company is a prayer and support group for parents and friends that have loved ones who identify as LGBTQ.

Why is it called Elijah Company?

The name come from the last verses of the last chapter of the Old Testament. Malachi 4:5-6a says, “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.” We hope to see the spirit of Elijah be present through this group. One of the greatest horrors parents can face is watching their child wander from the Truth. Yet in the midst of heartache and what feels like devastating loss on many levels, there is hope. As hearts are healed, transformed, and turned towards our children, we wait in expectancy for the Holy Spirit to also turn the children’s hearts back towards their parents and—most importantly—back to their Heavenly Father. This is not limited to parents, however. As we are bonded together as one family through the blood of Christ, we can join hearts in praying for the return of all God’s sons and daughters.

If you come to Elijah Company, what could you expect to find?

You would find other parents who love and care with you about your son or daughter. You would find other parents who are further ahead of you in the journey of walking with a loved one who identifies as LGBTQ. You would find other parents growing in their own faith as they move along on this journey. You would find other parents who are learning what it means to walk in truth and love. You would find parents wrestling with situations and attitudes and searching for God’s answer. You would be learning that mercy triumphs over judgment.

What are some of the things we do in our time together each week?

Our time together is rich! We are family to each other. We listen to each other and are able to empathize. We point each other to the scriptures that sustain us, encourage us, and give us hope. And we pray for ourselves to become more like Jesus to our sons and daughters, not compromising the truth, but extending mercy.

We love the Lord. He is our Rock. We pray for our children and those impacted by sexual sin to be released and set free. We are the watchmen on the wall waiting for them to come home to the Father.

If you want to join us, we’d love to have you! To find out more, send an email to jmersberger@outpostministries.org

I’m Invited to a Same-Sex Wedding. Yes or No?

Same-Sex WeddingLet each be fully persuaded in his own mind. —Romans 13:5

There’s an ongoing buzz in the Christian community over whether or not believers should attend same-sex weddings. As buzz goes, this one’s awfully relevant, as more of us are facing this dilemma. Do I accept the invitation, even though I don’t believe in same sex marriage, or decline and risk alienating someone I deeply love?

As the old song goes, “Everybody’s talkin’.” Stephen Arterburn of New Life Ministries blogged at the Huffington Post that Jesus would definitely say yes to such an event, so we should go and do likewise. John Shore over at Crosswalk.com seems to agree, comparing refusal to attend a gay wedding to the sin of having a Pharisee’s attitude. Free Bible Study Lessons.com likewise says that we should accept the invitation, unless one or both of the partners getting married claims to be a Christian, in which case we should decline, while Candice Watters at Boundless.org gives the whole thing a thumbs down, claiming it’s unloving to condone what God condemns. Got Questions.org takes the same position as Watters: yes on loving gay friends and family; no on going to their weddings.

To cut to the chase, let me say that’s my position as well. A few years ago I wrote an article for The Christian Research Journal titled “Should Christians Attend Same-Sex Weddings?” (Click here to order the issue.) In this two-part piece, Rev. Michael F. Ross, an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church of America, took the “pro” position, arguing that he would attend a gay wedding provided both parties knew where he stood Biblically on homosexuality, as a show of love and respect. For my part, I voted “con,” contending that attendance at a wedding is a conscious and intentional act of celebration, not just a show of support, and therefore not a legitimate option unless you believe the wedding itself is a good thing. The article showed, along with those mentioned above, that even conservative believers are divided on this question. So I’d like to take some space today to better explain where I stand, and why.

Let’s do so by looking at the issue through the eyes of those getting married, then through the eyes of the believer, then the eyes of God, whose perspective trumps all else.

TRY TO SEE IT THEIR WAY

One of my favorite lines from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” In other words, a person can joke about something he’s never experienced, showing a huge lack of respect or empathy. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to make light of someone else’s feelings, whether I agree with them or not, and that’s doubly true if I have to make decisions they might find to be hurtful. And clearly, the decision not to attend a loved one’s wedding qualifies as one of those tough ones.

Try looking at it from the couple’s perspective. They’re no doubt in a relationship that’s very serious, very committed. Before deciding on marriage, they’ve thought the issue through, considered the way they feel about each other, weighed the nature and value of their relationship, and decided to form a union they hope will last a lifetime.

Yes, by Biblical standards, they’re wrong; the wedding itself is a ceremony solemnizing something that in God’s sight cannot be called a marriage. But to the couple involved (and to your loved one in particular, be that loved one a child, sibling, cousin or even parent) it’s dead serious, a joyful milestone they’re anticipating and wanting to share with the people they love the most.

They probably know you are a Bible-believing Christian who doesn’t condone homosexuality. But they’re also hoping you’ll put that aside for the sake of sharing their joy, supporting them in love, and being there for them because of who they are to you, despite what you believe. For them, this is a life changing event, one of their most significant moments, and having you there would mean so much.

A “Sorry, Cannot Attend” RSVP will almost certainly be hurtful, possibly devastating, and may in fact sound a death knell to your relationship with this person. Don’t underestimate that when considering how you’re going to respond.

SO WHY NOT ‘YES’?

Let’s look first at the believer’s relationship to either non-believers or to believers involved in ongoing, deliberate, significant sin.

Regarding non-believers, there’s nothing in Scripture indicating we shouldn’t have relationships with them. Jesus associated freely and notoriously with people of all sorts—notorious sinners like prostitutes and tax collectors included—showing no compunction about enjoying their company and being among them. (See for example Matthew 9:9-12; Matthew 11:19; Mark 2:16-17; Luke 15: 1-2; Luke 19:7.)

The question, then, is not whether we should have good relations with gay or lesbian family members. We can, should, and probably will. What’s at issue here is attendance at a wedding ceremony, ostensibly approved of and rejoiced over by those who come to it. Attendance means, to my thinking, more than loving support for the person(s) involved. It also means an offer of approval and blessing.

There’s the catch, and it’s not minor. Celebrating a loved one’s sin is a serious matter, no matter how deep the love or how important the loved one. To attend a wedding is to offer explicit support for the event itself, and that would constitute violation of Paul’s clear instructions to the Ephesians to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11), and his advice to Timothy to “neither be partakers of other men’s sins.” (1 Timothy 5:22)

Paul’s choice of wording here is not accidental. A “partaker,” according to the Strong’s translation of the Greek term involved, is “one who shares, partners, or comes into association with another’s activities.” And that makes attending a wedding you don’t really believe in very problematic indeed.

The question, then, boils down to this: Can I attend a homosexual wedding without making a clear statement of support, not only for the people involved, but for their union itself? Does my attendance constitute friendship and love only, or does it not also testify to approval and outright celebration?

I’d say it expresses approval, not just love. That’s what I believe attendance at a wedding always does, making it impossible for me to in good conscience show up.

For most other events involving a homosexual family member, showing up is an option. If there’s a party my family member comes to, my attendance is a statement of my love for him and others, not one of approval for this one part of his life. If we get together under virtually any other circumstances, I see no conflict with scripture or conscience. But to attend his ceremony would be to say, by my very presence, “I bless and support not only these people, but this event.” And that’s just too much.

It would also be too much if a Christian friend of mine asked me to attend his wedding if he united with a non-believer, in clear violation of 2 Corinthians 6:14. To be there would be tantamount to saying “I bless this” when, in fact, I couldn’t. Nor could I show up for the wedding of a Christian friend who dumped his wife for totally unscriptural reasons, then latched onto a younger model. Because an event is involved at which attendance equals approval. I see no way around this. If a thing is wrong, no matter how deeply bonded I am to the person involved, then while I’m allowed to love and interact with him, I cannot participate in anything expressing approval or support of the wrongdoing itself.

Some have raised the question of attending a wedding for two people who lived together prior to marrying, but that’s not a good comparison to make, since the wedding would be a correction, not a continuation, of the problem.

Others have suggested that if we attend non-believer’s weddings we’re condoning something that’s not Christ-centered, so why not attend a gay wedding as well?

Because the thing itself—a marriage between man and woman—is still inherently good, and worth celebrating. After all, I would gladly attend the commencement ceremony of a non-Christian college graduate because, even if he’s not living a Christ-centered life, his achievement is a good thing in and of itself. The same cannot be said for a marriage which is, in form and practice, clearly outside God’s will. So as hard as it may be to refuse, I still believe it reasonable to simply say, “I would never ask you to do something you don’t believe in, nor would I make that a litmus test of your love for me. So please don’t make this a litmus test of my love for you, either. We have a relationship; let’s keep it and respect our differences.”

BUT WHERE’S THE LOVE?

Despite all this some Christians feel it’s better to attend and maintain the bond, than to refuse coming and jeopardize a family relationship. I’m sympathetic to that viewpoint. If there’s any way to avoid a breach in the family, without violating our own conscience, then I’m all for it.

But in this case I just don’t see any wiggle room. Jesus’ own reference to marriage was unequivocal: “Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female? For this cause man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Matthew 19:4)

The standard is clear: He who made them from the beginning created the martial bond to be independent, permanent and heterosexual. Removing the complimentary nature of it makes it something else—a committed relationship, perhaps, and one in which both parties love each other deeply. But not, per Biblical standards, a marriage. I simply can’t shake the conviction that attendance at a ceremony attempting to revise this standard is complicity in the revision itself, qualifying for the warning God issued through Jeremiah: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

That’s why I could not attend a same-sex wedding. If I were invited, I would probably say, feeling both sadness and conviction:

I would never ask you to do something which would violate your conscience. Please don’t ask me to violate mine. We have differences, but I hope and pray those differences won’t come between us as people, and that we can both respect each other enough to allow each other’s need to follow our conscience and principles.

So for what it’s worth, that’s where I’ve landed and, as Paul recommended in the verse from Romans quoted above, I’m fully persuaded, so that’s where I’ll stay.

This article was originally posted at joedallas.com and was reposted by permission. Copyright by Joe Dallas.

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