(LifeSiteNews) — The Church is still reeling from the mid-December hit that was Fiducia Supplicans. The recent open letter I signed with other journalists and scholars asking bishops and cardinals to petition for its reversal, as well as the conversations had in LifeSite’s Faith & Reason podcast, are proof of this.
However, Kim Zember, a revert to the Catholic faith from a homosexual lifestyle and author of the book Restless Heart: My Struggle with Life & Sexuality, joins me on this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show to offer an interesting take on the declaration that may have set the Church on a path toward schism.
We begin the program discussing Zember’s reversion to the Catholic faith. While she was raised Catholic and knew about God, she tells me she wouldn’t say she knew Him “in heart.” Growing up, she recalls being more comfortable gravitating toward girls than boys, though as she grew older she saw that there could be an issue since she did not experience attraction to boys. She recognized that what she experienced could be homosexuality in high school.
“I was trying to figure it out, honestly, on my own,” she recounts. “I didn’t go to people because I thought, ‘Okay, if I open up with this, I’m going to either be put in a little box by kind of the Church at large of like, “Oh my gosh, she’s homosexual. And that’s wrong. It’s a sin.”’ And I knew that, but I didn’t know how I’d kind of be taken in or perceived. And I didn’t open up to my family because it was scary. I’m like, ‘I just won’t act on it, and I don’t even have to talk about it.’”
“There was already shame before I even acted on it,” she continues. “So I did not want this to come out.” Zember tells me that it was not until her senior year in high school that she acted out her homosexual inclination. She “took inventory” of everything around her, seeing that her best friend was pregnant and that her peers were at parties getting drunk or high. Looking at God like a policeman, Zember thought that kissing a girl would be like driving at a slower pace than everyone else on the roadway to avoid getting a ticket. Even though she recognized that the thought was not of God, she kissed a girl anyway, which changed her life.
After the incident, Zember spoke with a Catholic counselor, a priest, and a Protestant minister, all of whom told her that she was loved by God. The issue for her, however, was not that she doubted that God loved her, but why God would “create” her with homosexual inclinations.
Describing the talk she had with the priest, she says he told her that so long as she was in a monogamous relationship, God would celebrate it. “And I just remember in my spirit thinking, ‘This is not true,’” Zember. She told the priest she was going to be sexually “intimate” with the other person, asking how that would be good, but the priest did not change his tune.
After the counseling she received, Zember says that even though she knew what they told her was not true, she wanted it to be and acted as though it was. She lived a homosexual lifestyle for a decade, until finally in October 2014 she admitted that she was “horrible at playing God,” and asked God to show her that He was better at being God than she was, and offered her life to Christ.
“I’m telling you, every single moment since then, He has shown and proven Himself, though He wouldn’t even have to,” Zember explains. “He is so, incredible is not even the right word, but to show Himself faithful, true, good at being God, good at being Lord over my life. He’s been tender and kind and patient when I haven’t been.” To Zember, God revealed Himself to her, and she realized that the only love she ever needed in her life was Him.
When our conversation turns to Fiducia Supplicans, Zember says that to suggest that one can bless anything that Jesus Himself would not bless is “of grave concern” to her. However, she reads the declaration not as a permission to give same-sex blessings, but that a blessing can be given to anyone who asks. The problem with the contrary interpretations, however, means that there is a need for clarity.
“The fact that there’s some priests and some leaders saying, ‘Oh, praise God, now we can start blessing homosexual unions.’ I’m like, ‘I didn’t read that at all,’” she explains. “And then we have some priests say, ‘Oh, thank God, we can administer blessing to people.’ I’m like, ‘Okay, that I read.’”
“Some of my concern is that we’re reading this document through a foggy lens,” Zember tells me. “We’re reading it through the lens in which we want to see it. And that is concerning to me when a document comes out, that it can lead one way or another.” While she does not want to say that the document will definitely lead to the blessing of same-sex unions being accepted by the Church, a proposition she says is presumptuous, she says we live in a time in which “we need to look at words.”
We should not jump to conclusions, she maintains, because they will lead to assumptions about leadership, and though she thinks we can have these assumptions, they need to be offered up to the Lord, as well as prayers for the Church in this time, before offering the proverbial “I told you so.”
While Zember says that we do need to be aware, she also says that “we need to be prayerful, we need to be fasting, we need to be asking questions. But I just think we need to be very careful with preconceived notions. Check our own lens. Lord, cleanse my eyes, my heart, my mind. Let me read this document as it is, not as I want it to be, or think it is, or assume it to be.” Zember’s thought on a hermeneutic for the declaration in light of Pope Francis’ relationships with Fr. James Martin and Sr. Jeannine Grammick is similar – to read the declaration in light of them seems to make an assumption.
The real question for Zember is how much we are praying. Scripture, she points out, says that the battle we face is not of flesh and blood but of principalities and powers. While we ought to speak up, our attitude regarding men like Francis and Martin should be God’s attitude toward them, not our own. “God desires repentance, conversion for all of us,” she says. “And so to me, I’m just sometimes a little concerned that our heart posture might be a pinch off, ‘Just get this person out! Get him out!’”
She also says that her pain as a revert from the homosexual lifestyle is more acute than those who were never involved. “I wonder if our hearts grieve or if we’re just so angry and I pray, I pray that our hearts are grieved because then we move from a place of righteous anger, not self-righteous anger, but righteous anger and compassion,” she tells me. “I’m scared for us as a Church and myself when I move into something apart from compassion.”
Later in the show, we discuss the political issue of same-sex “marriage,” and how the Church should best approach it.
In Zember’s opinion, what is needed is a spiritual reawakening from the Holy Ghost. The question of same-sex “marriage” is really one of whether we want a country under God or ourselves.
“It sits with the question: Well who is God to you? And do you want Him to be God, or do you want to be God?” Zember says. “I think what we’re seeing is in many cases, we want to be God because we’ve forgot, or maybe we never even knew how good He is, because I think if we knew how good God was, we’d want Him to be Lord not only over our own lives, but over our culture, our nation, our education system, over everything.”
She also discusses the homosexual lifestyle in this context. True love, for Zember, is Christ hanging on the Cross, giving His Life for us, even if we don’t deserve it. Touching upon the difference between the Church and the LGBT movement, she says that we need to say we should come as we are, as the LGBT movement does, but that we should promise a transformation in Christ, because that is what He wants to do – transform us into Him.
For more from my conversation with Kim Zember, tune in to this episode of The John-Henry Westen Show.
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