teacher, preacher, writer and pastor at Metropolitan Community Churches
in Atlanta, San Francisco, and Nashville, TN., 1988-1996, and author of
Invitation To Freedom, a guide to Personal Evangelism in the Gay Community, 1993, and Steps To Recovery From Bible
Abuse, 1997, published by Chi Rho Press
Truluck is a native of Clinton, South Carolina, and was ordained as a
Baptist minister in 1953 at the age of 19 when he became pastor of
Beaverdam Baptist Church of Laurens, SC, while a student at Furman
University in Greenville, SC, where he graduated with a BA in History
and English in 1956. Seminary education at the Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, included two Master's degrees
in 1959 and 1962 and Doctorate in 1968 as well as Clinical Pastoral
Education at Central State Hospital in Anchorage, KY.
Truluck served as pastor of Baptist churches in Danville and
Louisville, Kentucky, and in Norfolk, Virginia; at South Main Street
Baptist Church in Greenwood, South Carolina; and at First Baptist
Church, Columbus, Mississippi. He was a Baptist Sunday School
Board writer for Adult Sunday School lessons and taught college
extension courses in religion in Virginia and in South Carolina.
In 1973, Dr. Truluck became Director of Recruitment and Placement in
Church Careers and Professor of Religion at the Baptist College of
Charleston, SC, where he remained until March, 1981, when he was outed
as gay, resigned and move to Atlanta, where he became involved in the
Metropolitan Community Church and began the research, ministry and
teaching that has led to this web site and to his forthcoming book:
Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse.
All Bible translations and paraphrases are by Dr. Truluck and are based on the original languages and patterned
after the New American Standard Version of the Bible.
SEE NEW SPECIAL OFFER OF STUDY MATERIALS FOR GAYS AND LESBIANS.
TRULUCK is available to speak at churches and other groups. He
has conducted Bible conferences, spiritual renewals, church revivals
and workshops in hundreds of churches, conferences and other meetings
as a Southern Baptist pastor, evangelist, teacher, and college
professor from 1952 to 1981 and in MCC since 1981.
To E-mail Dr. Truluck, click
firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 201 W. Washington St. #805; Greenville, SC 29601 (telephone # 864-370-1469), for information about this ministry.
"My Story" is taken from the Introduction to
Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse.
My book and web site, "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse,"
are based on what I have experienced and learned from many
sources. I grew up in a Southern Baptist home and church in South
Carolina, a small town with cotton mills and a Presbyterian
college. My parents taught me by example the family values of
love, respect for all people, kindness, generosity, truth telling,
fairness, self respect, loyalty and faith in God. "Finish what
you start, always do your best work whether you feel like it or not,
and take pride in your work" were the main features of the "work ethic"
I learned as a child. I learned early that hate is not a family
value! These family values continue to guide my life now.
about the time I started to public school, I began to realize that I
was attracted to other boys sexually and was not attracted to
girls. This awareness grew stronger into high school and until I
was 18 years old and graduated in 1952. Of course, I dated girls,
pretended to be interested in them, and kept my homosexuality to myself
except for the occasional sexual experiences that I had with other
the summer of 1952, I experienced God's call to the ministry and
dedicated my life to serving Jesus Christ in whatever God led me to
do. In 1956, I graduated from Furman University in Greenville, S.
C. While attending college, I serve for over three years as
pastor of Beaverdam Baptist Church, a small rural church in Laurens
County, SC. There I began a lifelong emphasis on personal and
small group evangelism and on Bible preaching. I was ordained by
my home church when I was 19 years old.
I went to Furman University, I had pre-enrolled to major in Art, then,
after I decided to go into the ministry, I changed to a major in
History and minor in English, which was the recommendation at the time
for preparation for seminary. I also took a lot of religion
courses with some really outstanding professors. Sometimes I
wonder how different my life would have been if I had stayed with Art
and become a flaming artist, cartoonist, or designer as I had intended
instead of becoming a Southern Baptist preacher!
entered The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.,
where I earned a Bachelor of Divinity degree (now M.Div) in 1959 and a
Master of Theology degree in 1962. I returned to the seminary
after several years as pastor of Ingleside Baptist Church in Norfolk,
VA, and earned the Doctor of Sacred Theology degree in 1968.
Serving as student pastor of several churches in Kentucky and South
Carolina during my seminary days, I learned about the destructive power
of sick religion as well as the great power and love of Christ to
change people into God's children.
doctoral dissertation was on "SMALL GROUP EVANGELISM IN THE LOCAL
CHURCH" and helped to prepare me for work in my churches, teaching at
the college, and now in writing this book. My graduate studies
and field experiences focused on group dynamics and the design and
function of small groups for spiritual growth in and outside of
churches. I prepared material, promoted, taught and facilitated
hundreds of small groups for inquirers, new members, Bible students and
others throughout my years as a pastor and as a professor at Baptist
College and more recently in First MCC Atlanta, Golden Gate MCC San
Francisco, MCC Nashville, and in dozens of other MCC churches and
the years from 1952 to 1968, I wrestled quietly with my own homosexual
orientation without any counseling or helpful reading material.
The present great wealth of books and articles on homosexuality did not
yet exist. Rev. Troy Perry began the first lesbian/gay church,
Metropolitan Community Church, in Los Angeles in October of 1968.
I did not know about MCC until 1981.
1959, I married and began to build a home and family, just as I was
expected to do as a Southern Baptist minister. We had three
beautiful children, and everything seemed "normal," but I was gay and
frustrated and in secret pain that I could not discuss with
anybody. I went to three different psychiatrists for help,
including Dr. Corbett Thigpen, who wrote "THE THREE FACES OF EVE," but
they told me that psychiatry cannot change sexual orientation.
Dr. Thigpen also told me that I am obsessive/compulsive, and they
cannot do anything to change that either! He added, however, that
this is not necessarily bad and that most people who accomplish a lot
served as pastor of South Main Street Baptist Church in Greenwood, S.
C., from 1968 to 1973 and of First Baptist Church of Columbus, Miss.,
for part of 1973. Later in 1973, I joined the faculty of The
Baptist College of Charleston, S. C., where I was professor of religion
and developed a program of recruitment, church placement and field
supervision of ministry students until 1981. I visited over 700
South Carolina Baptist churches to lead revivals, Bible studies,
pastors conferences and programs on church careers. For
several years I also wrote adult Sunday School quarterlies for
the Southern Baptist Convention.
evangelism was an important emphasis in all of my ministry.
Hundreds of young people in the churches and at the college learned to
share their faith in Christ and went with me to churches and schools to
tell about their personal experiences with Christ and to tell how they
had witnessed to friends, classmates, family members. I learned
that the greatest influence on students is other students.
MY SEXUAL ORIENTATION ENDED MY MINISTRY
March 3, 1981, the President of the college asked me to resign because
the trustees had been informed that I was gay. I was outed by a
long time friend and companion who was gay and a Christian and who said
that God told him to do it. The college trustees had a secret
meeting where no written record was kept. Even the college
President was left out of the meeting and was informed by telephone to
"secure my resignation immediately." I resigned "for personal
reasons." No written record was kept of any of this. Later,
I was pressured by state Baptist leaders to resign my Baptist
ordination to "protect my family from harassment." On March 5,
1981, I took my 7 year old daughter to her second grade school, told
her good bye as usual and said I would see her later. I did not
see her again for 5 years. I moved to Atlanta to live with
my sister, look for work and start over.
ACCEPTANCE AND SUPPORT FROM MY PARENTS
parents have been very supportive of my ministry in gay churches and as
a gay activist and writer. My father died at the age of 87 in
October, 1997. My mother is 87 and lives in a retirement center
in Laurens, SC.
I moved to Atlanta to live with my sister in March, 1981, my parents
came to see me and brought some of my things to me. I had moved
to Atlanta in my car and left almost all of my clothes and other
possessions in Charleston, SC. My dad asked me if I could get
some medical help in overcoming my homosexuality. I began to tell
him that I had talked with three different psychiatrists about it and
that there was no medical treatment to change a person from gay to
I began to tell him the details, my dad said that my mother needed to
hear this also; so she came in and we sat at my sister's dining room
table and for about 3 hours I told them the real "story of my life" as
a gay person. After that, we never really talked in detail about
it again. My mother's response after we finished talking was to
say that she thought I was gay all along. She had noticed long
ago how much more upset I was when one of my male friends could not
come for a visit than I was when a female date did not work out!
the time that we had that talk, my parents were as supportive, loving,
and accepting of me as they could possibly be. I dedicated my
first book, "Invitation to Freedom", to them. My parents came to
hear me preach and teach when I was pastor of Golden Gate MCC in San
Francisco. They have taken a strong stand for accepting gay
people in my home church of First Baptist Church in Clinton, SC.
I have talked about this in some of my "updates" about my web site,
which are listed in Resources and References.
I left the college, I had taught over 5,000 students in my religion
classes and had seen hundreds of young people go into church related
careers. The sudden and total end to my ministry, family, career,
and income on March 3, 1981, sent me into shock that lasted about seven
years. Soon after I moved to Atlanta, I began to drink and became
alcoholic. My recovery from alcoholism began when I went with a
friend to a gay Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, admitted that I was an
alcoholic and needed help, took a white chip, and began the long road
to recovery, sobriety, and health. I thank God for teaching me to
live "one day at a time."
Atlanta in 1981, I joined the Metropolitan Community Church and found
acceptance and encouragement as an openly gay Christian. Not
until February of 1988, however, was I ready to resume church
ministry. With the encouragement of Carolyn Mobley, Jimmy Brock,
Chuck Larsen, Reid Christensen, John Hose, Jay Neely, Troy Perry and
others, I gradually resumed preaching and teaching. The studies
in this book grew out of my personal experiences, counseling, Bible
research, preaching and teaching at First MCC Atlanta, Golden Gate MCC
San Francisco, MCC Nashville and in many other MCC congregations for
workshops and revivals from 1988 to the present.
OPPRESSION IS A CRAZY MAKING PLACE TO LIVE
self esteem among lesbian and gay Christians was the main issue that
motivated my Bible studies at the beginning. Later Bible studies
were developed to deal with many other pressures, problems, and issues
faced by homosexuals in an environment of homophobic hate, religious
oppression, abusive use of the Bible against gays, and the persistent
problem of homophobia within the gay community. During my years
of recovery and up to the present, I have experienced in myself and in
many other people around me the prevailing self destructive feelings
and actions that try to control us.
live in the midst of church and community alienation and suffer from
chronic internalized and horizontal homophobia. The gay/lesbian
world, including MCC, as I have experienced it is a social and
spiritual war zone. All traditional churches carry the self
destructive virus of legalism and judgmental religion. I have no
intention, however, of attacking or fighting churches or
individuals. People and churches are not the enemy. The
enemy is Satan (meaning "the adversary" in both Hebrew and
Greek). The enemy is not people. The enemy is within
ourselves in the form of idolatry, ignorance, fear, hate, anger,
discord, disputes, greed, and the other works of the flesh ("human
works") in Galatians 5:19-21. The answer is the "more excellent
way" of following only Jesus. The fruit of the spirit in
Galatians 5:22-23 is a description of the character of Jesus in the
Gospels: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
several years, I have seen my calling to be to help gay and lesbian
people feel good about themselves and stop hurting themselves and each
other. The only lasting solution that I have found is for
individuals to invite Jesus into their lives and give up all other
controls. Let go of everything else and follow Jesus. This
was the first and the last message of Jesus in the Gospels. I
have seen many people do this and experience the new life Jesus
gives. MCC members and friends have contributed greatly to these
EVANGELISM AND BIBLE STUDY
am convinced that Christ centered personal evangelism along with
disciplined Christ centered Bible study are the keys to success for
Christian gays and lesbians in carrying out the call of Jesus to make
disciples of all people. This book is an attempt to speak to our
need for an approach to spiritual growth and personal evangelism that
is sensitive to lesbians, gays and bisexuals.
means that we have to give careful attention not only to what we say
but also to how we are heard when we talk about God's love in Christ
for all people. This means taking a fresh look at how to
translate many Bible words and ideas. It means taking seriously
and listening to where people really are in their ideas and
experiences. It means being far more flexible in "becoming all
things to all people" than we probably were taught to be in our past
religious traditions. I am convinced that reaching wounded and
oppressed people with the gospel requires an accepting, non judgmental
and non threatening attitude that reflects the attitude of Jesus.
MANY PROBLEMS AT ONCE
do not have the luxury of dealing with one problem at a time.
Whenever we speak up for Jesus Christ in the homosexual environment, we
are surrounded by a jungle of issues related to judgmental religion,
AIDS, parents and family issues, Bible abuse against us, politics, self
esteem, and many, many more. Our mission is not hopeless.
Jesus promised to give us the words when we appear before governors and
kings, and I assume that includes queens, and verily even vicious
queens! We also have each other. I thank God for what I
learned through being in MCC. This book would not have happened
have the choice of selecting the people we want to be close to us and
to influence our lives. Now is the time to get negative people
out of your life so that you can go on to experience and enjoy the full
and meaningful life and hope of glory that God has prepared for you now
and in the world to come. Part of the joy of God in our lives is
sharing our freedom, joy, love and hope with others.
judgmental religion, however, is a deadly disease that spreads rapidly
among religious people and that cripples and kills the spirit.
Legalism is the enemy of the good news of Jesus Christ. Read
Galatians to see how Paul saw Law as the opposite of Gospel.
Legalism is demonic. Legalism killed Jesus and will kill you if
you don't resist it. The only cure for legalism is the new life
and freedom that come into your life when you invite Jesus to take
two years and three months as Senior Pastor of MCC Nashville taught me
many hard lessons about religious abuse and the desperate need of gay
and lesbian people to know and experience Jesus Christ. In Christ
we can be set free and recover from Bible abuse, fear of religion, fear
of sex and internalized homophobia. Legalism and homophobia are
social and religious diseases that have reached epidemic
proportions. Legalism is "antichrist." I don't know how to
work it out, but I am sure that Legalism can somehow be shown to equal
experiences in Nashville taught me the liberating power of Jesus over
legalism and sick religion. I learned how people grow spiritually
and help each other in small group study and dialogue that is truly
centered in Christ. For over two years I led a regular Wednesday
spiritual support and Bible study group in my home. The sessions
began at 7 PM and lasted for about an hour of study and formal
discussion. Most of the study material is included in this
book. Then a lot of the real healing, learning and growing took
place as we ate together and the people had opportunity to share
personally and informally with one other.
attempt was made to control or guide this sharing time following the
study. The Spirit of Christ seemed to be most active in
liberating and healing ministry during these times when we shared in
the "miracle of dialogue." People usually stayed until about 9:30
or 10:00 and some seemed to stay for ever! We finally had to set
a time limit that would give formal closure to the sessions.
varied, but the average was between 20 and 30. The last group
that I led before leaving Nashville was attended by 31 people, who did
not know at the time that I was planning to resign. Actually, I
learned that groups of 10 to 15 people experience more dialogue and
more healthy group dynamics than larger numbers, but we were reluctant
to turn anyone away and could not find a convenient way to create more
groups. Since I left the church, the Wednesday group has
continued and other groups are being formed.
of the most rewarding features of the Wednesday group was that people
would come seeking support and help and soon be giving support and help
to others. Many people in the group personally shared Christ with
their friends, brought friends to the sessions, and helped them become
involved in the church. One man who came regularly to the group
used the brochure to help his partner pray to receive Christ.
Later I celebrated their holy union, and when I left Nashville, they
both were leaders in the church and regularly shared their faith in
Christ with their friends.
February 1, 1996, I resigned my MCC clergy credentials, resigned as
Senior Pastor of MCC Nashville, and moved to Clinton, South Carolina,
to take care of my parents. My mother was 84 and my daddy was
85. Mother was recovering from eye surgery and is practically
blind. Daddy was in need of constant custodial care because of
"senile dementia" (the doctor's term) and could not be left
alone. My dad died in October, 1997.
the book and web site, I hope to share with you what I have learned
from my mistakes, from other people, from my own Bible study and
personal experiences and from my time spent in the trenches of
spiritual warfare against "principalities and powers and the rulers of
darkness." My battle scars have been inflicted more by myself and
by my friends than by outsiders. I have been deceived, betrayed,
abandoned and demonized by people I love. The enemy truly is
within. Only Jesus can save us from ourselves! I pray for
you that as you read and discuss this material, the Spirit of Christ
will create in you a deeper understanding of your own experience with
God in Christ and will clarify for you your own personal mission and
ministry to change the world.
THE JOY OF SHARING CHRIST
brochure, "THE BIBLE AS YOUR FRIEND: A Guide for Lesbians and Gays,"
began as a Bible study at First MCC Atlanta in 1988. It developed
through many sessions, feed back, and revisions. In 1990 in San
Francisco, Don Eastman suggested that this study on "How to become a
Christian" would be published by UFMCC. It was published in 1991
and has sold about 6,000 copies each year since.
sent copies of the brochure to a lot of people, including my ex-lover,
Dan, who had constantly encouraged me in the Bible studies and was on
the Board of Directors of First MCC Atlanta. Dan gave a copy of
it to his new friend, David, who was not yet a Christian and had just
begun to attend MCC with Dan. My thought at the time was that it
would be great if my ex-lover could use my brochure to help his new
lover receive Christ into his life.
became a Christian, joined First MCC and became an active member.
In January, 1993, Dan and David were on the NBC television special on
gays and lesbians hosted by Maria Shriver, who interviewed them in
their home in Atlanta. Maria observed that they were active in
church. David said, "Yes, we believe that God brought us
together!" The next scene showed Dan and David taking holy
communion with their pastor, Rev. Reid Christensen, at First MCC
Atlanta. When I saw this on national television, I was
overwhelmed. I still am! Dan and David celebrated their
holy union a few months later. With God, all things are possible!
have only one decision to make. Are you willing to do the will of
God? Once you make the decision to let go of everything else and
follow Jesus, God will make the rest of the decisions for you!
recent ministry has consisted of writing another book and several
articles and brochures and publishing my web site on "Steps to Recovery
from Bible Abuse" at http://www.otkenyer.hu/truluck/
on the Internet and answering e-mail responses from the web site.
I also have continued to write articles for the local gay paper in San
Francisco, and for the on-line magazine, "Whosoever."
am an active member of New Life Metropolitan Community Church in
Berkeley, CA, where I have led workshops and Bible studies and
preached. I continue to led church workshops and other
conferences as I am invited to do so.
Rembert Truluck December, 1998
PO Box 24062
Oakland, CA 94623
"SINGING IN THE RAIN"
Update for December 39, 2001
MOVING IN THE RAIN
week, I am moving to my own new apartment in Oakland. It is a
dark and stormy week. I am moving in the rain. Moving is
always a challenge to one's sanity! Or so it seems to me.
Moving is always a lot of work and brings both visions of new
beginnings and sadness about leaving familiar spaces.
to a new home is a challenging expression of letting go and moving
on. It is exciting and expensive. It is opening new doors
and closing old ones. It is a new beginning and also an
ending. Moving to a new place is an event that hangs suspended in
the past, present and future all at once. Moving is building a
wall. Moving is also about tearing down a wall.
"Singing in the Rain"
is the title of Lesson 34, page 290, in my book. It guides you
through issues related to GLBT pride under pressure. Based on
Philippians 4:1-23, the lesson talks about the power of positive
thinking, self-esteem, and overcoming abuse and stress. (Click
here to see Philippians 4:1-23.)
HAPPINESS IS A STATE OF MIND
wrote Philippians from prison. He was cut off from his friends
and was lonely and depressed when he received a gift from his friends
in Philippi. The letter to the Philippians is a "thank you" note
that includes the most powerful and soaring discussion of rejoicing and
being happy under pressure anywhere in the Bible. Read the entire
epistle (only 4 chapters) and gather up your courage to be happy no
matter what others may do and no matter what may be happening to you at
is always everywhere equally present. We call that the
"omnipresence" of God. So God is with you now and with me in all
things. Once we turn our lives over to God, nothing happens by
chance. God is also eternal and omnipotent. God does not
make mistakes. We do, however, make mistakes, especially when we
resist God's clear invitation to "let go and move on."
HAPPINESS IS TRAVELING LIGHT
of the most difficult parts of moving is packing up to move so much
stuff. Stuff demands care and feeding like an always-hungry
pet. I am addicted to books. I have always accumulated
books, files, and cabinets full of manuscripts and notes. However
you name it, the accumulation and transportation of stuff is a reminder
of our mortality and our need to prove our value at the expense of our
instructed his followers to travel light. They were to take no
extra clothes or anything that would impede their rapid movement to
carry the good news to as many people as possible. (See Matthew 10:9-20)
I am moving only a block away from where I already lived. So it
is easy to prolong the move and make it a little like taking all day to
have a tooth extracted.
What have you given up lately to make it easier for you
to travel light and move on?
CLINGING TO THE PAST IS DEADLY
physically comfortable can dull your mind and distract you from your
real mission in life. One thing that I hope will happen as a
result of my moving again into my own space is that my writing will be
accelerated and I can soon finish my books on "Jesus" and a guidebook
on "Small Groups for Spiritual Recovery."
place where I have lived for the past two years, sharing space with my
best friend at his condo, has been clean, safe and comfortable.
Perhaps too comfortable! Now, the time has come to let go and
move on into a new phase in my life that I firmly believe God has
means meeting new people. It also means taking a good look at
what is important in life and asking a lot of "why" questions.
does God want me to do?" is the uppermost question in my mind. I
already know that God does not want me to become overly attached to
things or to people. I never merely get "attached," I become
"addicted" to anything or anybody that is important to me!
LEARNING FROM THE PAST IS VITAL
time a major change takes place in your life, you have the opportunity
to take a good look at yourself and decide who you are and where you
are headed. You don't just learn from your mistakes, you also
learn from what has worked for you and from the success you have
already had. Avoid the mistakes and build on the success.
Throw away whatever is useless or hinders your self-esteem and your
freedom to be yourself.
you move on, don't just move; determine clear goals that you want to
reach and take practical steps to reach them. Nobody else can do
your thinking and deciding for you. Take the time to learn
accurate information about what you want to do and make clear positive
realistic decisions that you can control and that won't control you.
CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN
things, like the rain today, are completely out of my control. I
can, however, control my own emotions and my own attitude about what is
happening. I can anticipate problems and deal with them logically
and objectively. I can look for opportunities that I may not have
expected and can count on God doing things for me that I cannot do for
serenity prayer is always timely: "God grant me the serenity to accept
the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and
wisdom to know the difference."
Update for Sunday, May 20, 2001
is a brief report on my visit with my sister to see our mother on
Mother's Day weekend 2001 in Laurens, SC. We had a wonderful
visit. We went to a nearby town and saw some of my relatives that
I had not seen before, but with whom my mother grew up and went to
school. We drove to places that my mother likes to visit and ate
out at the local small town places that she enjoys, including a really
great local S. C. barbecue place, and we went shopping. Mostly we
talked and talked and talked.
sister bought a bathing suit for my mother to wear at the beach for her
ninetieth birthday celebration on August 11, 2001. She looks
great in her new bathing suit! We enjoyed seeing many of my
mother's friends at the retirement center. A lot of them are
older than Mother.
went to the Sunday worship together. They are merciful on the
endurance limitations of the residents and have only a 30-minute
service! The chaplain, Rev. Russell Dean, our former pastor for
25 years in Clinton, talked about mothers and told very interesting
personal experiences. Russell and his wife Helen have been good
friends to me and to my family for many years. They get my
updates and have my book and are supportive of my ministry.
THANKS FOR FAMILY
Russell called on me to pray, I offered thanks for the many ministries
of the Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center where my mother
lives. The center is a family for many elderly people who are
separated from their families and are building a new home and family in
a new place. It is a very challenging lifestyle with many changes
and adjustments for every resident.
thought about how much the retirement center is like the Metropolitan
Community Churches that provide a family and a spiritual home for many
GLBT people who are separated from their families, not by age but by
homophobia and rejection because of their sexuality.
of us need a sense of "family" where we are safe and where we are
comfortable being ourselves. Finding, building and maintaining
"family" in our rapidly changing and often hostile world is a challenge
that faces all of us. For many of us, our LGBT family has shrunk
to one or two people or to a very small circle of trusted friends.
of my friends have given up on the gay community because of so many
disappointments and failed relationships. Others continue to
struggle to find companionship and some sense of family in one group
after another. Most of the e-mail that I receive in response to
my web site is from people who are struggling with family rejection and
are searching for acceptance and a home where they are safe and
accepted and can feel good about themselves.
MY MOTHER'S MINISTRY
after she moved to the retirement center in the summer of 1996, my
mother began to look for the ministry that God wanted her to have in
her new home and family. It soon became evident to her that
everybody else needed encouragement and someone to care about them,
just as she did. She began to make a special effort to welcome
new residents and to try to help others become adjusted to their new
place and new people. This also lifted her own spirits and made
her a lot happier as time went on.
that Mother has been at the center for 5 years this summer, she has a
regular ministry of visiting other residents and especially going to
spend time with many of her friends who are now in the Infirmary
because of falls, illness, or declining abilities. Mother has
great difficulty hearing and is legally blind. I am very proud of
her courage and persistence as well as her practical help to others and
her support, acceptance and encouragement to me in my web site,
Internet and book ministry.
Have you had the opportunity to help someone else find acceptance and family? Have you found home and family for yourself?
VICTIMS OF MISINFORMATION
Update added 11/22/99
reported on the appearance of Rev. Mel White as the main speaker at the
session on "The Church as an Agent of Social Change" at the National
Gay and Lesbian Task Force Conference in Oakland last Friday, Nov.
12. White urged participants to understand that anti-gay
religious leaders are "victims of misinformation and it's our task to
bring them to the truth in love relentlessly" and "that our only task
is to reconcile." The full article can be seen on the PlanetOut web
conviction and sentencing of Rev. Jimmy Creech yesterday points up the
desperate need for churches to find deliverance from the disastrous
evil plague of misinformation about homosexuality and the Bible that
threatens their very survival as credible spiritual institutions.
MY OWN PILGRIMAGE OUT OF MISINFORMATION
teachers from 1956 to 1968 at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
in Louisville taught me to be objective, do thorough research in the
primary sources, learn and use the original Hebrew and Greek, challenge
errors (even the ones in the encyclopedias and dictionaries), be
relentless in searching for the truth, and to keep the life and love of
Jesus Christ always as the underlying basis for all forms of
ministry. Some of my teachers were famous. Most of them
wrote books and textbooks on the subjects that they taught, like Wayne
E. Oates, who wrote 57 books.
who greatly influenced my understanding and use of the Bible included
Dr. Wayne E. Oates (see my update below for Nov. 5, 1999), Dr. Dale
Moody, Dr. William E. Hull, Dr. Clyde T. Francisco, Dr. J. J. Owens and
Dr. Jerry Vardaman (both of whom I served as a graduate student
assistant), Dr. Morris Ashcraft, Dr. Eric Rust, Dr. W. W. Adams, Dr.
Frank Stagg, Dr. Ray Summers, Dr. Penrose St. Amant and others in other
areas of seminary education. These professors wrote basic books
in their fields that are still used as textbooks in theological schools
around the world.
William Hull was my teacher and mentor through many seminary Bible
courses, seminars, special research, and work on my doctoral
dissertation. He was on my doctoral committee and administered my
preliminary exams, for which he also helped me to prepare. After
I received my doctorate, Dr. Hull recommended me to the Southern
Baptist Sunday School Board as a writer of adult Sunday School lessons,
which I enjoyed doing for about six years under the supervision of
Editor John Steen.
WEB SITE and my BOOK are the direct result of following the methods of
Bible research, discipline, study, interpretation, and application that
I learned from these great teachers. I hope and pray that my book
is a tribute to their investment in my life and ministry. I
realize that they would not agree with all of my conclusions, but they
know that I am following their principles and methods. They would
realize also that my being gay and a gay spiritual activist has given
me a point of view that notices details and issues that others may have
AT BAPTIST COLLEGE, I had the privilege of inviting Dr. Oates, Dr.
Moody, and Dr. Hull to come to the college to deliver special lecture
series. All of them helped us to be a better college. I was
especially impressed in the way that Dr. Dale Moody handled his
discussions with the students. We had one large meeting of all of
the religion majors and other interested students, faculty and local
pastors with Dr. Moody to discuss with him his work on the Broadman
Bible Commentary as the author of the Commentary on the Book of
Moody opened the meeting by admitting that he wrote the commentary on
Romans and said that what he wanted to discuss was what he now
disagreed with in his own commentary! He said that further
research and some recent archaeological discoveries had made him change
his mind about when and where the book of Romans was written.
Moody was like that. He was constantly on a crusade to discover
the truth wherever it might lead. He often challenged his own
earlier writings and confronted Southern Baptists about a lot of
issues. After the new administration took over the school a few
years ago, Dr. Moody was made to retire and leave the seminary.
Dr. Moody, like Dr. Oates and Dr. Clyde Francisco, died before his work
of my professors in any area of study put a premium on ignorance.
Misinformation was the very opposite of what theological education was
all about. We learned the facts, the details, the basic
information that would prepare us to think for ourselves and to "work
out what works for us" as our lives and ministries unfolded in the
midst of a rapidly changing world.
would welcome the opportunity to defend my web site and book before the
came doctoral committee that I faced in 1967 to defend my dissertation
on "Small Group Evangelism in the Local Church." In fact, a lot
of the methodology and information in that doctoral thesis are also
found in my web site and book on "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse."
A "GAY BIBLE"
book will be the closest thing that we have so far to a "Gay
Bible." The main articles and every one of the 52 lessons are
based on familiar biblical material and consist of Bible studies that
are developed and applied to issues faced by GLBT people and by non-gay
people in and outside of the churches today. Only four lessons
out of 52 are specifically about the "six clobber passages" used
against homosexuals. Most of the lessons are based on material
about Jesus in the Four Gospels and bring out practical encouragement
and help to anybody who is wrestling with personal spiritual issues in
the face of misunderstanding and religious oppression.
A Spiritual "ATOMIC BOMB"
book on recovery from Bible abuse will be like an information atomic
bomb that could help end the war. It can end the internal warfare
that many homosexuals fight every day because of the conflict between
their own misinformation about God and the Bible and the reality of
their sexuality in their daily life. Truth can set liberate you
and give you inner peace. My web site has already done that for
thousands of people. The information in "Steps to Recovery from
Bible Abuse" can also go a long way toward correcting the
misinformation that victimizes non-gay church leaders and members as
well as GLBT people everywhere in our culture.
A RETURN TO THE METHODS OF JESUS
book offers a path of individual and small group study and growth that
will require time and commitment. There is no "quick fix" for the
sick religion that has permeated our culture. Victims of
misinformation have to give the time it takes to learn new material,
grow, share with others, recover, and heal. That is why the
format of the book is that of an ongoing plan of daily and weekly study
and learning. I am asking you to change the way you see reality,
God, yourself, and other people. This is simply to ask you to
hear and follow Jesus as the Spirit of Jesus leads you to a new way of
helped people one at a time. Small groups outdoors or in homes
were the teaching, healing and life-changing format followed by
Jesus. Has the church as a big business and as a complex
political organization with the power to try and sentence clergy who
don't conform really come up with an improvement on the methods of
Jesus? Where and in what way has the church jumped the track that
Jesus started to follow? How can we get back to the real purpose
of the Four Gospels and back to the real Jesus who started what we call
do we get back to the real Jesus, who declared that the greatest
disciple is the one who is slave to the others and that the highest
level of discipleship is to become like a little child? Do you
realize that there is no basis at all for the concept of "clergy" in
the Four Gospels? If you don't have clergy, then you don't create
a double standard for clergy and non-clergy and you don't have to hold
trials to expel clergy for doing the wrong thing. Jesus gave the
same invitation to all: "Follow me."
Jesus ever gather the multitude together and say: "Verily, verily I say
unto you, some of you will be clergy and most of you will be lay
people, and it will probably take you about 2,000 years to figure out
exactly what that means." Of course not! The idea is alien
to the Spirit and purpose of Jesus. "Clergy" is as hard to find
in the teachings of Jesus as the ever-popular text where Jesus said,
"Sell what you have and give it to the building fund."
Shelby Spong said: "The Church Must Change or Die." Can the
churches ever live again? Probably not in their present forms.
RETURN TO JESUS OR DIE
word "turn" or "return" is both the Hebrew and the Greek word that is
translated "repent" throughout the Bible. To turn or return to
Jesus is to repent, and without repentance, there is no hope.
said that his followers must abandon everything and follow him: "Sell
what you have, give to the poor, and follow me." What do the
people of God need to give up and let go of in order to follow Jesus
now? Churches? Bible abuse? Money? Secular
power? Denominational headquarters? Legalistic
doctrines? Business methods? Religion? What do we
keep and what do we discard? Are we so committed to "the way
things have always been done" that we cannot really believe that we
have to let go of any of it in order to follow Jesus?
don't have to answer these questions for the Methodists, Catholics,
Baptists, Muslims, Pentecostals, Buddhists, or any other "group."
You only have to answer them for yourself. What YOU decide makes
the difference for you. You like the "woman at the well" or
Andrew finding his own brother and bringing him to Jesus can be the
beginning of something new and wonderfully true simply by your being
who you really are honestly and without fear. Victims of
misinformation, ignorance, and the violent abuse of the truth can
"forsake everything and follow Jesus." It sounds too simple to
work. But it does work. And nothing else ever has.
"No one can lay a foundation
other than the one which is laid, which is Christ Jesus." 1 Corinthians.3:11.
TRIBUTE TO A COMPASSIONATE MAN
Update for November 5, 1999
Wayne E. Oates died on October 21, 1999. Dr. Oates was a
long-time friend of mine, my mentor in my doctoral work at seminary,
and a great teacher, minister and writer. Dr. Oates wrote 57
books. He had severe back pain as a result of several back
operations. He told us that he could not sleep very long because
of the pain and would get out of bed by 5 AM every day and write on his
books. Dr. Oates was a devoted Christian, a brilliant scholar, a
powerful preacher, an effective teacher, and a truly compassionate man.
I think of Wayne Oates, I think of compassion. He was
compassionate toward me and personally helped me to make it through the
doctoral program. Dr. Oates taught me the meaning of dialogue and
how to listen. He demonstrated and taught me what I know about
group dynamics and supervised my project on "Milieu Therapy" during my
clinical pastoral training at the Kentucky Central State Mental
Hospital. When Wayne Oates became the director of graduate
studies at the seminary, he established rules for regular consultations
by students with their advisors so that students would not work for
months and even years and still not graduate.
Oates gave me a lot of practical advice. Perhaps the most
important was how to learn enough about the works of an important
author to pass the "preliminary exams" that I had to take to move on to
my doctoral dissertation. Dr. Oates said that one could learn
what an author thinks is important by reading the first and last
chapters of his/her book, scan the rest, and look at the Index.
He added that if you can find a journal article by the author, read it,
because the author probably says all that is unique to him/her in the
article. I did as he said, and it saved me a lot of time and
helped me to graduate!
Oates was a pioneer in supervised field education for ministerial
students. He began clinical pastoral training programs for
Baptist ministers. When he retired from the seminary, Dr. Oates
became Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the
University of Louisville Medical School and continued active in many
forms of ministry, including the "Wayne E. Oates Institute" and his web
site, until his death at the age of 82. Dr. Oates was a devoted
husband and father. His memory will live forever in the life and
work of his students.
Oates demonstrated the true meaning of "compassion" in that he
genuinely felt the pain of others and responded to human need not only
with love and care but also with information and practical help.
When I taught at the Baptist College of Charleston, I used many of Dr.
Oates' books on pastoral care and counseling as textbooks. Two
books, "Where to Go for Help" and "When Religion Gets Sick," were
helpful to me personally and in creating my web site and book on "Steps
to Recovery from Bible Abuse."
I was preparing to teach a course in pastoral counseling at Baptist
College, I called Dr. Oates and asked him how much of what we know
today about effective counseling and psychotherapy was demonstrated by
Jesus in his meeting with the "woman at the well" in John 4. His
immediate reply was, "All of it!" Dr. Oates taught me to find the
truth and practical help that are available to us from Jesus in the
thank God that Wayne Oates was a great influence on my life and
learning. He demonstrated the very highest qualities of Christian
love, objective scholarship, disciplined writing, and effective
teaching. I pray that God will raise up another prophet like
Wayne Oates to give new positive direction to Southern Baptist
Education for Ministry.
(See Wayne E. Oates Institute on line)
Update for December 20, 2002
mother now is totally blind. This happened about two months ago
as her sight gradually declined into no sight at all. The
adjustments that she has made to this turn of events are truly
remarkable. My mother is 91 years old, very strong and in her
right mind. She is as clear thinking and as determined in spirit
as she ever was. I am proud of her.
greatest adjustment that she has had to make is letting other people do
things for her that she always did for herself. Other people on
the staff of the retirement center now wash her clothes for her, bring
her food tray to her in the dining room, and administer her medications
to her. Her seeing friends read her letters to her, help guide
her to visit other residents and show her the love and support that she
has demonstrated to others during the six years that she has been a
resident at Martha Franks Baptist Retirement Center in Laurens, SC.
thank God for what I am learning from my mother. I thank God for
the people around her who are demonstrating the love and compassion
that God has already poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who
has been given to us.
WHAT I HAVE LEARNED
enjoyed a visit with my mother during the first weekend of
December. My children, Russell and Susan, came with their
partners to join our visit on Saturday. We talked, laughed,
caught up on our news, and went out to eat together. Mother had a
good time, and we had a good time with her. She laughed and
talked and was happy, but she never saw what we look like now.
learned again from my mother that you never give up no matter what
happens. I learned again that faith in God's presence in your
life really does make a difference. I learned that no matter how
difficult life gets, you can handle it if you try.
my mother finally realized that she would not see again, she at first
was depressed and sad. I was worried about her. In a few
days, however, she regained her positive and pleasant outlook on life,
and I learned from her once again that you can't keep a good woman (or
man) down! Perhaps one reason that God keeps my mother living is
to teach me and others some things that we need to know.
talk with my mother on the phone almost every day. I always learn
things that I need to know in these phone visits. I have often
called my mother to ask her how long and at what temperature to cook a
roast or ham. She always knows!
mother was my first teacher. She later worked in the Kindergarten
that I attended and was my first teacher in Sunday school. I did
not just learn information; I learned how to enjoy being myself and how
to accept myself as a person of value and potential. My mother
believed in me; so I believed in myself.
kind of teacher are you becoming for the people around you? If
your life touches others, you are a teacher, whether you realize it or
not �whether you want to be or not. Is your teaching positive or
negative? Do you help other people feel good about
themselves? Do you share with others the good things that God is
doing in your life? What are you teaching others by the way you
handle adversity in your life?
Bunyan was an early Baptist leader in England. He was imprisoned
for preaching and teaching without church approval. When John
Bunyan went to prison, he wrote that he was not so concerned for
himself, but he was concerned for his little blind son who might not do
so well without him to be with him! John Bunyan then wrote one of
the greatest of all Christian devotional classics: "Pilgrim's
Progress." Find a copy and read it.
mother and I talked about how others had handled blindness. We
discussed the marvelous life of Fanny Crosby, the gospel song writer
who was blinded at the age of four when a doctor put the wrong drops in
her eyes. Fanny Crosby wrote more hymns in evangelical hymnbooks
than any other person. Her life was active and productive.
She wrote hundreds of hymns, including my favorite: "Rescue the
Perishing" after she had visited a rescue mission. Verse three:
"Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter, feelings lie buried
that grace can restore. Touched by a loving heart, wakened by
kindness; cords that are broken will vibrate once more!" Praise
God for these inspired words and for Fanny Crosby!
John Milton was blind.
Sight is optional. Faith, hope and love are not.
sister, Jackque, just sent my mother a flower for Christmas. She
sent a narcissus plant. Mother cannot see it, but she can enjoy
the sweet smell of this special flower! The card said: "To give
you a sweet smell for Christmas."
As usual, my mother placed the plant outside her door so that other residents can enjoy it also.
my mother is blind, I have begun to record spoken versions of my
updates to send to her on tape. I am also beginning to record my
book on tape.
Kitties (4/1/03) Boris (white face) and Ivan (Gray):