Gay Spiritual Survival Kit is now replaced by my book:
to Recovery from Bible Abuse" is available for $24.95, plus shipping
and handling of $3.50. Send your check or money order, made out
to Chi Rho Press, at P. O. Box 7864, Gaithersburg, MD 20898.
Update for October 1, 2004
you ever feel that you are trapped in a situation, a relationship, a
job, an addiction, financial problems or any other condition that you
cannot control and cannot find a way to escape? A number of gay
men have told me that they feel like a woman trapped in a man's
body. Some of us feel trapped in an unattractive body or
face. Many LGBT people feel trapped in abusive family
relationships or unhappy partnerships. Some of us have felt
trapped in abusive religion and in rejecting judgmental churches.
rejection, frustration and abandonment can create a lot of anger.
Being trapped in your own anger is one of the most destructive forces
that you have to resist and learn to overcome. "Anger Kills" is
the title of the book by Dr. Redford and Virginia Williams. See
link below. See also my studies on anger in Step 4.
freedom eludes you as long as you feel you are trapped in some
significant dimension of your life. This is one of the main
reasons that I realized the value of changing the term from "save" to
"liberate" or "set free" as the goal and method of the Gospel of Jesus
Christ. "Gospel" means "good news," but it never functions as
truly good news unless it sets you free from abusive judgmental
religion and from the most debilitating situations and conditions in
TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT YOURSELF
a list of conditions in your life that make you feel trapped. Ask
yourself honestly why you feel trapped and develop a strategy to find
and exercise your freedom. All addictions, including religion and
codependency, can generate controlling destructive power to trap you
into something that you do not want to be.
from being trapped takes a lot of objective, logical, realistic,
practical thinking. You may need the help of someone else to talk
with, a small dialogue group or a qualified trained therapist in
dealing with whatever has trapped you and limited your life.
HELPLESS AND VULNERABLE
often feel helpless and vulnerable when you are trapped in a situation
or with a person that you cannot understand or change. Trying to
change other people into your idea of what they should be can be a form
of entrapment that you impose on yourself.
relationships can make you feel trapped in your own wasted energy
trying to make your partner into somebody else. You may feel
helpless, but you really do have the ultimate power to overcome
codependent entrapment. You can let go and move on.
You can also overcome abusive judgmental religion and churches. Just walk away. See the two books listed
below on "Leaving the Fold" and other related resources in my website "Resources."
JOYFUL AND TRIUMPHANT
deserves to be miserable and depressed because of trapped situations
that challenge and disrupt your life and your peace of mind. God
created you in God's own image to be in control of your own life and to
have the mind of Jesus that is described at length in Philippians
2. See link below.
mentality is always destructive. When you feel trapped, you
develop a victim self-image, and this is always a further descent into
"entrapment." If you are trapped in a relationship or other
self-destructive situations, it is because you have chosen to be.
Nobody can truly entrap you. You have to do that for yourself.
of the great civil rights campaigns feature the slogan: "FREEDOM
NOW!" You can have freedom now if you really want freedom.
Why do so many of us continue to wallow in unproductive unpleasant
trapped relationships? I truly do not know. But we do it
anyway. Perhaps you have found a creative effective way out of
your own entrapments. If so, please tell me about it.
A DOG IN A TRASH CAN
years ago in the 1970's, I represented the Baptist College of
Charleston every Sunday in church programs around the state of South
Carolina. I often drove across the state on Sunday mornings to be
at a local church to present church career programs and lead morning
worship. On one Sunday, I had driven from Charleston to a church
in the northern part of the state and arrived at the church early for a
men's breakfast. The sun was just coming up. I was the only
person in the church parking lot. I got out of my car and heard a
sound of barking and yelping.
looked around and saw a large 50 gallon drum trash can and saw the head
of a dog jumping up and down in the drum yelping and whining. He
had fallen into the trash can looking for food and could not get back
out. I went over to the can and tipped it over and got out of the
way. The dog leaped from the trap of the trash can and ran off
rejoicing in his new freedom.
was all so simple. The dog was trapped and needed help to
escape. Just a little outside help was enough to tip over the can
and set him free. This incident has stuck with me all these years
as a kind of parable of the mess we often get ourselves into and find
ourselves in a very unpleasant trapped situation. God can and
will set you free if you just invite God to tip over your trash can and
give you the courage and energy to escape.
By the way, why were you in the trash can in the first place?
October 1, 2004
(Just remember that I had to read this update and apply it to myself to help me escape from the trash in my own life
before I ever sent it out to you!)
My new mailing address is:
201 W. Washington St. #805
Greenville, SC 29601
Reply to this e-mail and give me your phone number and a time to call if you want me
to call you or I can give you my phone number so that you can call me.
See Dr. Redford and Virginia Williams: "ANGER KILLS" overview
See: "Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion."
By Marlene Winell, Ph.D., published 1993 by New Harbinger Publications,
Inc., 5674 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, CA. 94609.
See also: http://www.marlenewinell.com/ltf.html
And See: http://www.marlenewinell.com/ltf.htm
See: "Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists." By Edward T. Babinski, published 1995 by Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197.
See also: http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/controversial_book.html
of these books are filled with helpful information and practical
suggestions that give help to individuals who feel trapped in abusive
Update added July 17, 2001:
"LIVING IN THE LOVE OF GOD"
every day, I receive letters from people who describe to me their years
of self-hate and self-rejection that made their lives miserable because
they had been misled by false abusive religion. Their joy and
inner peace from learning to live in the love of God is wonderful to
hear. Suicidal thinking and behavior are over. Depression
and fear of impending doom are gone. New life and a profound
positive new self-image have emerged.
Today, I received an encouraging letter of thanks for my book that included the following: "I now know that God does not condemn me for wanting to follow my
natural instincts that are to me as deeply-seated as my desire to take my next breath."
wish I could convey in this e-mail the weight that your book has taken
off from me and allowed me to finally see myself as a whole person, not
just physically and mentally, as my past two mentors have helped me and
to whom I owe a great dept of thanks, but now I see myself spiritually
as you have shown me a path to complete the other important side of
myself. Friends and family I have spoken to recently have
indicated how different I seem even in telephone conversations with
them. I think I'm an example of what LGBT people everywhere are
crying out to hear. Again, thank you!"
TAKE A FRESH LOOK AT WHO YOU REALLY ARE
in the love of God brings a complete realignment of all of your
thinking and feeling about yourself and others. When religion
becomes a barrier to experiencing and enjoying a full and meaningful
life, something is terribly wrong with religion. Religion that
hides the loving face of God from view behind legalistic judgmental
homophobia and misinformation cries out to be challenged and corrected
with the truth and love that God demonstrates in everything that God
You are not a mistake.
You are made "in the image of God and after God's likeness." That
means that you are already living in God's love until somebody talks
you out of it! We all make mistakes, but that does not mean that
you are a mistake. God's love as revealed in the life and
ministry of Jesus is unconditional and inclusive. Nobody is left
out. The people who feel left out are the ones who have been
convinced by religion that they don't belong and don't matter.
power of negative abusive religion is awesome. It only takes a
little bit of abusive religion to turn teen-ages against themselves for
a lifetime of self-hate and despair. My pastor preached on
"Freedom in Christ" yesterday, and as usual, he brought a great sermon
that made me think and feel better about myself. I was reminded
that the traditional rituals of MCC could be powerful experiences of
renewal and encouragement when they are clearly expressions of the love
of God for all of us.
ATTITUDE MAKES THE DIFFERENCE
neighbor complained to me recently that a difficult situation had "made
his life miserable." I did not try to reply at the time, but I
thought about it later and realized that nothing that happens to us
makes us miserable. Our attitude about what happens, however, can
drive us beyond miserable! If we look for somebody to blame for
every unpleasant thing that comes into our lives and we allow negative
attitudes to dominate our thinking, we will create misery and defeat as
Living in the
love of God changes your perspective and attitude about everything.
are the greatest advantages that you enjoy by living in the love of
God? One advantage is that you never have to question your own
value and your right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness." Because God loves you, you can love and accept
yourself and be free to accept and affirm other people also.
in the love of God casts out fear and insecurity about what might
happen next in your life. My most helpful text is still
Philippians 4:6-7: "Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God; and
the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (All of Philippians
chapter 4 is worth memorizing and using "when the roof caves in and
life seems to fall apart at the seams.")
in the love of God empowers you to calm down and be objective,
realistic and logical about what is happening all around you.
Knowing that God is truly with you in all things gives you what it
takes to "keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and
blaming it on you!"
Update added July 22, 2001:
I watched another showing of "Gandhi" on television. If you have
not seen this great 1982 movie telling of the story of Mahatma Gandhi
or if you have not seen it lately, rent it and learn from it.
Learn the story of this truly great man who literally changed the world
and continues to change the world by his teachings and his example.
I watched the story unfold, I realized that the main thing Gandhi did
was simply to be himself. He identified with his people. He
acted in practical ways to demonstrate his simple trust in God and his
commitment to non-violent civil disobedience. The most memorable
scenes in the movie show Gandhi simply being Gandhi. He made his
own clothes, lived in poverty, walked wherever he went, and led his
people out of the British Empire.
basic principle of Gandhi's approach to dealing with abuse and
oppression was to pull back from all participation in oppressive
institutions. Gandhi clearly explained what he was doing and
why. His actions matched his words. He did not attack the
oppressors, he simply refused to cooperate with them and give any
legitimacy to their authority and power. Gandhi never
wavered. He was consistent. He was beaten, spent time in
jail, and was finally murdered by one of his own followers. But
he changed the world.
WHAT CAN WE DO NOW?
years many fine leaders, writers, activists and organizations have
pointed out the abusive destructive control of religions over GLBT
people. Yet religious institutions continue to misrepresent the
Bible, the Gospel, Jesus, God and human nature in ways that produce
injury and death to our people. Religious institutions and
churches have a strangle hold on the minds of multitudes of people, who
have been conditioned to accept the authority of religion and its
abuses as the "will of God."
labor unions want to protest unfair and unjust business policies, they
go on strike. They simply quit cooperating and supporting the
businesses until they change. Why can't LGBT people do this
regarding the abusive homophobic churches? Do we dare simply to
walk away and declare our own independence from abusive religion?
TACTICS OF LETTING GO
go means exactly what it says. It means not attending church, not
giving money, not supporting or participating in any way in abusive
religious structures and institutions. It does not mean to
disappear or to give up. It means writing a letter to your pastor
and to your church. Declare your truth about yourself.
Declare your self-acceptance as created in the image of God. Come
out about how the church has hurt you. Explain how you cannot any
longer be part of the deceptions and demeaning destructive teachings
and policies of the church. Spell it out in detail in your own
15 to 30 percent of the membership of the average church is LGBT
(remember that includes bisexuals), and along with our supportive
parents, families and friends we can make an extraordinary impact by
staying away. Mel White pointed out that if all of the gay
organists quit church, there would be a great silence in the churches.
LGBT people have long ago abandoned the churches, but just dropping out
makes little difference to self-righteous religious institutions.
Starting our own churches has helped, but when we repeat the same
legalistic judgmental attitudes and controlling lifestyle of
traditional churches, our gain has been minimal.
CHILDREN IN CHURCH
came into the world to be his true self and calls you to be and
celebrate yourself with confidence, self-respect, faith in God and
compassion towards all people. Jesus held a little child in his
arms and told the disciples that unless they humbled themselves and
became like this little child they could not be part of God's
work. Children begin by enjoying being themselves.
work hard to prevent children from being themselves and enjoying who
they are. Hard wooden pews are torture for little children.
If they sit with their backs against the pew, they can't bend their
legs. If they sit where they can bend their legs, they can't lean
against the back of the pew. They are expected to remain still
and quiet in an awkward position for over an hour, which is never ever
forced on them anywhere else! Then they are told that God won't
love them if they cut up in church.
are conditioned from a very early age to assume that doing what God
requires will make you miserable. Jesus, however, devoted his
life and teachings to convince people to love and accept themselves as
God's beloved children no matter what religion might tell them.
Jesus accepted himself, but his enemies did not accept him or
themselves. The religious leaders that killed Jesus lived in a
world of careful classifications of people as clean and unclean, law
keepers and lawbreakers, sinners and righteous. Religious
institutions traditionally identify themselves as much by the people
they exclude as by the people they accept.
ALTERNATIVES TO ABUSIVE RELIGION
go is the prelude to moving on. Letting go is not an end in
itself. Letting go sets you free to discover and develop the
spiritual environment that really fits you and equips you to become
your best possible self. Small groups meeting in homes or any
convenient place can provide the setting for study, sharing, prayer,
growth and dialogue without any institutional structures or
controls. Jesus taught in the setting of small group
dialogue. Jesus also established a pattern of one-on-one dialogue
as basic to all effective ministries.
and maintaining churches, cathedrals, massive complex institutional
structures, and tons of supportive literature and instructions
obviously are not necessary and probably are a great hindrance to
following Jesus. The churches historically have declared
themselves to be the keepers of the faith and to have the authority to
speak for God and decide all spiritual issues. The fact that
there are hundreds of different church denominations that disagree with
each other on every possible issue does not seem to diminish their
religious passion to control people in the name of God. If this
seems to be ludicrous, it's because it is.
to begin? Jesus began by accepting himself as a human being in
the image of God with a mission on earth to help others to do the
same. Trying to skip that first step has doomed religion to the
internal struggle mode that is always self-destructive and abusive.
are important. You have equal value to God with every other human
being who ever lived. God has made you like you are. You
are not only important; you are unique. Nobody else ever has been
exactly like you. Accept and celebrate your identity. Some
call it pride. Some call it sinful. What you call your
identity is really up to you. Nobody else can enter into your
mind and tell you how to think and feel about yourself. That's
your job. Nobody can take it from you or do it for you.
When God created you, God gave you the capacity to be self-aware and to
be a self-respecting responsible individual.
you do with your freedom is up to you. Before you can act on your
freedom, you let go of inappropriate abusive controls in your life
whatever form they might take. God will help you to let go and
also will empower and guide you to move on. God did it for Jesus,
and Jesus promised that God would do the same for you.
See "WALK AWAY" web site
See Chi Rho Press for my book and for information about how
you can become part of the Chi Rho Press publication family. and click on "Products" and "Gay & Christian".
Click here for Chi Rho Press Newsletter information and to subscribe.
Click here for Soulforce.
draws on the principles of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. in
challenging and confronting abusive religion.
Update added July 10, 2001:
"FAITH BASED DECEPTION"
anti-gay political industrial religious complex is gaining strength and
abusive power through secret political deals that are just now being
revealed between the President and the homophobic policies of the
Salvation Army. This development is a threat to personal freedom
far beyond these current events.
President of the United States has violated his oath of office to
defend and protect the Constitution of the United States, which clearly
mandates an absolute separation of church and state. In boldly
proposing private school vouchers for students to attend religious
schools at public expense and in the so-called "faith based initiative"
to give public money to blatantly homophobic religious institutions for
their social services (and accompanying evangelism), the President
seems to have abandoned the Constitution of the United States in order
to support the conservative religious/political forces that paid his
way into the White House. (See Salvation Army article link below.)
THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG
most recent developments in the anti-gay public policies of the United
States are just the tip of the iceberg that threatens our safety and
our very existence as GLBT people. Public opinion is being shaped
against us as never before in the 32 years since Stonewall.
Political compromise is the method of government in the United
States. The diversity of our population demands the necessary
give-and-take of carefully devised legislation that protects minorities
as well as letting the majority rule.
elements of personal protection and freedom, however, are not subject
to compromise. Our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness is not negotiable. The rights of all citizens are
compromised when the rights of any citizens are denied.
we appear to be making progress in greater public attention to same-sex
households and in domestic partner benefits offered by many businesses,
governments and institutions, the unseen shift of governmental mood
against us is building steadily behind the scenes.
JESUS AND POLITICAL POWER
faced the awesome power of entrenched political control in the person
of Pontius Pilate, the ruler who reminded Jesus that he had the
authority to release or crucify Jesus. The response of Jesus was
to answer Pilate: "You would have no authority over me unless it had
been given you from above; for this reason the one who delivered me up
to you has the greater sin." As a result of this Pilate made
efforts to release Jesus, but the leaders cried out saying, "If you
release this man, you are no friend of Caesar; every one who makes
himself out to be a king speaks against Caesar." (John 19:11-12)
Pilate heard this clear claim from the leaders who could bring him down
from his power (and did so a few years later), he "delivered Jesus up
to them to be crucified." Paying political debts can be terribly
WORLD VIEWS IN COLLISION
are engaged in a great struggle for the minds of the people of this
country and throughout the world. We have been caught up in the
ideological warfare that has created far greater divisions and more
destructive differences than in the past. Part of the reason for
this increased intensity of conflict over ideas and beliefs is the
presence of the Internet and the availability of conflicting claims to
truth in over 100 million web sites on the world-wide-web.
communication in many forms has heightened the conflicts among
competing views of truth and freedom. I recently received from a
friend a copy of the updated version of the book on "The Fundamentalist
Takeover in the Southern Baptist Convention: A Brief History" by Rob
James and Gary Leazer with James Shoopman. This 1999 book is
published by Impact Media, Timisoara, Romania, and is hard to
find. You can guess why the book is available only from
Romania! Please tell me if you know a good source for this
book. (See link below on SBC Takeover.)
very valuable source that is more available is the 6 hour PBS series of
videos: "With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right,"
available from PBS. (Click on PBS
and go to shop and to books and enter the title.) I have seen
some of this series and recently ordered the entire set. This
carefully done documentary leaves no doubt as to the nature and power
of the unrelenting progress of the determined religious forces that are
attempting to take over every facet of life in the United States.
ABUSIVE RELIGION NEVER GIVES UP
history of the human race is also the history of abusive destructive
religions. The entire life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth took
place in the midst of powerful abusive destructive religious forces
that were constantly on a collision course with the love and truth that
Jesus represented and demonstrated. The human drive to control
and subdue other humans is an unrelenting feature of the human
landscape that defies the mind of God and claims absolute power
whenever ignorance and weakness let it win.
in the face of convincing information that demolishes the false claims
of abusive religion, the leaders of religion persist in their struggle
for power and acceptance with the same misinformation that has enslaved
the minds of millions throughout history. Nobody yet has been
able to defeat the forces of religious ignorance and ambition.
Limited here, they spring out there. Never is there a lack of an
audience for religious fakery and deceit.
WHAT HAS LIBERATED YOU?
has liberated you from the control of sick abusive religion? How
did you escape? Can you find a way to share that victory with
others? These are crucial questions for our survival. We
are moving towards the precipice that hangs over our oblivion.
Where is the detour onto a healthier road?
The resources that I mentioned above do not offer an answer. They simply explain factually and eloquently the religious
trap in which we are caught.
first step in overcoming the takeover forces of abusive religion is to
do your homework and become informed about what is really
happening. Sources for this step are plentiful. Soulforce
under the leadership of Mel White, Gary Nixon, Jimmy Creech, Laura
Montgomery Rutt, and others has done a great deal of research related
to understanding and confronting the onslaught of religious oppression
and abuse in our society.
next step is to assimilate and understand what you know and discover
what path of truth and activism is appropriate for you. You are
an individual created in the image of God and possessed with incredible
abilities to think for yourself and to hear and follow the mind of God
by whatever path best fits you. The only step that you want to
avoid is the step backwards into despair and hopelessness. We are
not losing because others are winning. We only lose when we quit
"Let go and move on"
See the details of the Salvation Army's Anti-Gay Partners by John Aravosis.
Chronology of the Southern Baptist Convention Takeover
Update added July 19, 2001:
"RELIGOUS HATE CRIMES"
following statement was issued recently by the anti-gay right wing
religious organization called "Focus on the Family" in an article with
the title of "How Hate-Crime Laws Harm Religious Freedom and Lead to
"First, the passage of hate-crime laws that include "sexual
orientation" will be used to chill free speech and to harm religious
leaders. If a member of a congregation were charged with a hate crime,
his pastor could be prosecuted for "conspiracy" or subjected to civil
lawsuits if the pastor preached against homosexuality. The mere
prospect of defending this kind of lawsuit is enough to intimidate a
pastor, chilling his right to free speech. Certainly, those who
advocate violence should be held accountable, but ministers should not
have to live in fear of preaching non-violent opposition." (See link to
this entire absurd article below)
SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY PREACHER
non-violent is preaching? I have seen many Southern Baptist
preachers, especially "evangelists," become red in the face, tremble
with rage, stomp around on the rostrum, bang their fists on the pulpit
and scream angrily at their frightened listeners. One of these
evangelists was famous for ending his performance (usually about two
hours in length) by taking a bright railroad lantern into the aisle and
swinging it around yelling, "Stop! Stop! You're going to hell!"
Needless to say these acts of oratorical violence were effective in
gathering multitudes into bogus religious experiences that were called
I was a student at Furman University, I heard this particular
evangelist named Percy in a Greenville County rural Independent Baptist
Church in the pine trees one hot summer night. Percy was a huge
man with white hair. He always wore a black double-breasted suit
and had a voice like thunder. All of the windows were open.
As the preacher incited his audience to increasingly extravagant
emotional excesses, he pounded away at the pulpit and the audience with
the legalistic judgmental bastardization of Christianity that was
popular and unquestioned at the time. Many people cheered,
laughed, ran up and down the aisles, ran outside and shouted as they
ran around the church building and in and out among the pine trees.
was an incredible spectacle. It was not unique. I saw this
kind of performance in many Baptist churches while I was continuing my
education and visiting all kinds of evangelistic meetings with some of
my fellow students. It was part of my education. It still
goes on throughout the South and in many other sections of the country.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM TO TERRORIZE
young gay boy trembling in fear in his seat at that church, wedged
between his large big-hair mother and his even larger redneck father,
who had no fear of the preacher's message of doom. They were
immune to the message and the preaching violence. They had been
"born again" and were "safe in the arms of Jesus." The young gay
boy, however, heard the shouted angry denunciation of people who were
different, homosexual, damned for all eternity by an angry God, and
learned at that moment to hate, reject and ultimately destroy his own
religious violence to goad young people into suicide is just as violent
as any other "hate crime" imaginable. Hate crimes against
homosexuals are not limited to physical violence and death.
Discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, medical
services, and many other things that the average person takes for
granted, are also "hate crimes." Constitutional guarantees and a
multitude of laws that protect minorities from discrimination are
routinely ignored in regard to same-sex couples and LGBT
individuals. These are hate crimes too.
REFINED SPIRITUAL VIOLENCE
violence has become more subtle and indirect than the preacher with the
railroad train warning lantern shouting fear and anger at scared people
in the pews, but the violence is just as real and even more destructive
today. Major religious denominations are engaged in unending
debates about homosexuals and the Bible and are passing polite
carefully worded policies that clearly define LGBT people as different
and special and needing extraordinary attention to their
"condition". All of this might sound like progress, but the
subtle implication in ALL of it is that Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Trans
people need special consideration and help because they are terminally
different from everybody else.
all of this, the religious establishment in the churches fails to
address their own basic errors and misinformation about God, humanity,
Jesus, and what the Gospel is really all about. The Gospel is not
about sin; it is about love. It is not about condemnation; it is
about acceptance. It is not about how to exercise spiritual
violence against the unruly; it is about how to know and express the
unconditional inclusive love of God to all people in all things.
Why did the churches jump the track in the so-called "Great Awakening"
in the early years of this nation, when the most popular and
universally accepted portrait of God was presented by the Rev. Dr.
Jonathan Edwards in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God!"?
important is why the churches have continued into the twenty-first
century chugging blindly along in the mud and bushes instead of turning
back to the path of faith once delivered to the saints and clearly set
forth in the Good News of Jesus Christ at the beginning.
homophobic enemies charge us with wanting special rights. This is
a gross misrepresentation of reality. We simply want relief from
special abuse and discrimination inflicted upon us by religion and
society because of our sexual orientation. The issue is never
"special rights." It is always "special harassment and
abuse." Only religion could get it all backwards and not even
realize how stupid it is!
if all religions opened all church levels of leadership to homosexuals,
welcomed and even paid us to come to church and help to lead it, and
performed same-sex weddings upon demand, nothing would really change
unless the churches face and change their morbid abuse of power at
every level of their legalistic judgmental distortions of
Christianity. Joining some churches is like joining a mutual
spiritual suicide pact. Who would want to!
THE ABSURDITY OF DISCRIMINATION
government nor religion is yet ready to include all people in the civil
and personal rights protection guaranteed to everybody. The fact
that there is still a debate about including GLBT people in all civil
rights legislation (as recommended in 1973 by the American Psychiatric
Association, Psychology Association, Medical Association and Bar
Association) is itself absurd. To hesitate to include everybody
on the basis of sexual orientation in all civil rights rules and
opportunities is itself a "hate crime"!
GLBT people from everybody else for any reason whatever is a "hate
crime." Never! Never! Never! willingly accept yourself as
different from everybody else because of your sexual orientation.
Don't contribute to violence by classifying yourself as
"different." You are a child of the Almighty Creator God of all
of the universe, all time, all space and all things.
are far more like everybody else than you are different. No
variations in our humanity can be allowed to isolate and reject any of
us from being accepted and treated with the respect due to every
individual on this planet.
"the Elephant Man," who was quite different from everybody else,
exclaimed in his frustration: "I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!" You are not
an animal to be tamed and abused or killed and eaten, not even by
homophobic religious cannibals! You are a human being in the
image of God. Accept yourself as you are and expect others to do
the same. Don't waver or doubt or give up. We are right and
our enemies are wrong.
God is with you, for God made you like you are.
God so loved everybody that God gave Jesus to you, that whosoever
believes (follows or identifies with) Jesus should not give up (throw
your life away: "perish" means "to utterly destroy, completely destroy,
kill") but have a full and meaningful life now and for ever. For
God did not send Jesus to judge (condemn) you (the world "cosmos"), but
that you through Jesus should be set free (saved means "liberated").
(My paraphrase of John 3:16-17)
See: ARTICLE BY FOCUS ON THE FAMILY
thanks to Paula Brown, Features Editor of the "Gayly Oklahoman" for
regularly printing full page copies of my updates, the most recent one
on "Faith Based Deception" on page 9 of the July 15, 2001 issue.
Contact the Gayly Oklahoman.
Update added July 5, 2001:
(I began writing this update the day before I received the news of a
teenager's death at a "tough love" boot camp in Arizona from Lawrence Reh of
"First Light". Click here to see the story.)
love" has been applied to the unfortunate brutal rejection of LGBT
children by their homophobic legalistic parents. But what really
is "tough love"? The definition of "tough" in Webster's is: "capable of enduring strain, hardship, or severe labor" and "to bear
love actually is your capacity to continue loving no matter what others
might do. It is the love of Jesus, who loved his friends "to the
uttermost" (unto the "end": "telos," "to reach the goal") in John
13:1. Tough love "never gives up" (l Corinthians 13:8).
Remember that you need love most when you are the least lovable.
that encourages parents to reject and abandon their gay children is out
of touch with reality and with the Spirit of Jesus. My friend in
Tennessee grew up in an abusive home in which his father, who had
recently become a Baptist, knocked him to the floor and beat him
unmercifully with a stick calling him homophobic names and threatening
to kill him. This was a turning point in his life. He was
so angry that he told his father if he ever hit him again he would kill
that incident, my friend left home and began a long, long road to
self-acceptance and recovery from abusive destructive religion that led
through severe depression, suicide attempts, and hospitalization.
Finally, he found MCC Nashville and a new beginning of self-esteem and
hope. Read his story.
TOUGH LOVE INCLUDES YOURSELF
the practice of tough love with your own love for and acceptance of
yourself. Tough love is not abusive or destructive. Tough
love develops with steady practice, just as tough muscles do.
Tough love recognizes and respects limitations and boundaries, both
your own and those of others.
love liberates you from codependent relationships in which you try to
control others and let others control you. Tough love is not
control. It is letting go and letting others be themselves.
It is letting your own feelings and ideas have your acceptance and
realistic evaluation. Tough love means resisting letting others
decide who you are. Thinking for yourself requires your own tough
love for yourself. Tough love liberates you from the fear of
loving or being loved.
self-love means defending yourself from all direct and indirect
assaults from abusive religions and people. When you really love
and accept yourself, you can resist becoming a victim. You also
can resist making others feel guilty and victimized.
PARENTS NEED TOUGH LOVE
need to learn to love and accept themselves to prepare them to love and
accept their children, and each other. Tough parental love is exercised
in the parent's self discipline first and in teaching their children
how to love and accept themselves rather than in punishment and
abuse. It is easy to get angry and lash out at another person who
has displeased or disappointed you. It takes tough love to go on
loving when that love is misunderstood or rejected.
pattern of the love of Jesus for others is most instructive and is
normative for anyone who follows Jesus. The love of Jesus for
others was often tested. His mother and family misunderstood
him. His closest followers also misunderstood him and tried to
deflect him from his own truth. They also abandoned him, and one
denied him and another betrayed him. He continued loving them and
never gave up.
can you love God, whom you have not seen, when you don't love yourself,
created in the image of God, and others who have equal value to you as
God's beloved children? (See all of 1 John 4:1-21). The
love of God that is poured out within us by the Holy Spirit is very
tough love (Romans 5:5). It is the kind of love that kept Jesus
going through all of the foolishness of others and all of the abusive
religion that was dumped on him by the authorities.
is not love that alters when alteration finds." Jesus called his
followers to love one another as he loved them (John 13:34-35).
That kind of love cannot be learned or studied in books. It comes
only as a gift through the Spirit of Jesus within you. That is
why it is called a "new" commandment. God both demands and gives
perfect "tough" love to keep you going along the path that Jesus has
demonstrated for you.
ANGER IS NOT LOVE
love is the kind of love that keeps on loving no matter what might
happen. Anger is an emotional and often a physical loss of
control. Anger is not love. Anger and hate by adults
against children or against anyone is a blatant denial of the Spirit of
Jesus. To call the use of pain and abuse against children or
anyone else the will of God demonstrates the kind of religious
stupidity and hypocrisy that is undermining the stability of our
culture and destroying the churches.
kills. Love gives life. We could hardly face a more severe
distortion of the message of Jesus that the evil that has been created
in the name of "tough love." Children who are punished and
physically damaged because they are different are not being trained or
educated. They are being abused and destroyed by misinformed
ignorant people who are themselves the ones who need discipline and
radical attitude adjustments.
the torture and destruction of "different" people like Matthew Shepherd
and the 14-year-old boy in the Arizona article come to light and sound
the alarm against "faith based" anger and hate in our world. All
too soon, however, the clamor dies down and the multitude of unseen
acts of horror by the strong against the weak go on unnoticed. (See Step 4 on "Anger".)
KEEP THE LIGHTS ON
bright light of truth about what is really happening to LGBT youth is
one of our best hopes for change. If you are being abused and
suffer pain and despair because of your sexual orientation or if you
know of others who are, turn on the lights and tell the truth.
The current development of "tough love" as a means of demeaning and
destroying homosexuals is not love. It is a blatant denial of
reality and a harsh reminder of the inhumanity of people who are out of
touch with God and in denial about their own basic humanity.
People don't value others when they have not learned to value
Jesus, love is not soft and sentimental. Love is the "greatest
thing in the world." Love is the reason for the life and ministry
of Jesus (John 3:16). Love according to Jesus is strong, durable,
tough and an extension of the mind and creative power of God working
through you and me. "Now abide faith, hope, and love, these
three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13).
Click here to see article about President Jimmy Carter at Cooperative
Baptist Fellowship Convention.
Update added for Independence Day, 200l:
Read the original 1776 Declaration of Independence Here.
"ENJOY YOUR FREEDOM"
hold these truths to be self evident, that every person has equal value
before God and is endowed by God with the unalienable rights of life,
liberty and the pursuit of happiness. How much do you enjoy your
independence? As you look at your own life during this week of
celebrating Independence Day, how free are you? What most
threatens your enjoyment of your freedom?
1776, the freedom of individual people in the colonies was threatened
by a foreign power that sought to maintain inappropriate abusive
control over them. Under the leadership of General George
Washington, the people fought back against oppression and won.
This historic victory of a small army of freedom fighters against the
largest empire in the world led directly to the freedoms of our world
of 2001 that we enjoy today. The aim of the American Revolution
was to grant "liberty and justice for all."
developing and maintaining personal freedom has not been easy, as the
history of our own country and our personal lives has demonstrated over
freedom is limited by misinformation. Perhaps the greatest threat
to independence in individual thought and actions is the culture of
misinformation that prevails in many areas of our life today.
Sources of misinformation are vast and deeply entrenched in our
environment. Advertising, television preachers, politicians, and
an endless flood of misinformation overwhelm us all day long.
lot of the misinformation that confuses our freedom comes from our own
parents and families. Children are given misinformation that
boggles the mind before they are able to make their own decisions about
who they are.
also undercuts our freedom to think for ourselves and to act
independently for our own well being. The thing that we are
taught most to fear is ourselves! Our desires to be free and
independent are attacked and thwarted by the methods of child rearing
that prevail in most of our culture. Many children are convinced
very early in life that they are unimportant, insignificant, stupid and
powerless. We have been taught to fear our own desires, failures,
and people who are different, the government, police, certain animals,
and most of all the eternal hell where we will burn forever for our
It is not
surprising that the accumulated fears that parents, our culture, and
especially abusive religions dump upon us bring pain and disappointment
into the lives of multitudes of people.
you realize that you have been intentionally misled about who you are
and about the truth of God's unconditional inclusive love that is
already yours, you understandably become angry, which can quickly
develop into depression and despair.
depression, despair and death can result from the misinformation and
fear that accumulate and build up to take control of our imagination,
our actions and our relationships. When an individual is led into
one disaster after another because of misinformation and fear grows
into a life strangling force within, it is not surprising that true
personal freedom becomes only a vague remote ideal that is never
realized or even clearly imagined.
my partner and I were developing my web site in July of 1997, we
decided to put the famous painting of the "Boy beside the Sea" on the
home page. This picture has become the best known and most often
used of any image in the GLBT culture. I suggested that we add
the caption under the picture that: "GLBT people are not depressed
because of being gay but because of the way that religion has abused
and rejected them." My partner said, "We don't need the
caption. The picture itself says it." He was right.
look at yourself in a mirror and remember your own personal history or
look at the LGBT community of people around you and especially at those
whom you know or have known personally and you will gaze upon faces
that reflect the results of misinformation and fear. As I recall
my own personal history, I am reminded of the excruciating spiritual
violence and the incredible toll of pain, loss and despair that
misinformation, anger, depression and fear have brought into my life
and into the lives of people whom I love the most.
COOPERATIVE BAPTIST FELLOWSHIP
week, the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Group, that has split
with the Southern Baptist Convention over all of their demeaning and
regressive policies except for their homophobic anti-gay actions,
affirmed again their own homophobia and demonstrated their continuing
commitment to fear, misinformation and injustice.
Cooperative Baptist Fellowship ended its annual meeting Saturday by
turning back a motion to change its policy regarding the financing or
hiring of gays and lesbians. The policy approved by the
fellowship's Coordinating Council last year does not allow the
fellowship to hire gays or lesbians or send them as missionaries.
It also prohibits giving money to organizations that affirm
homosexuality. A motion to suspend the policy and study it for a
year was rejected 701 to 502."
vote may seem one sided, but if only 100 people get accurate convincing
information about LGBT people, the result next time could be
different. For 502 Baptists to vote for GLBT acceptance and
affirmation is a great leap of spiritual progress!
seminary classmate and friend Dr. Mahan Siler has worked tirelessly and
effectively in both the Alliance of Baptists (which already is
accepting and affirming of LGBT people) and in the Cooperative Baptist
Fellowship to give accurate convincing information and to lead the way
in fairness and spiritual truth. Dr. Siler, as Pastor of Pullen
Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, performed the first public
same-sex holy union in a Southern Baptist Church in 1992.
Siler is not gay. He is an amazing hero in our struggle for
freedom and self-esteem in our community. He has paid a great
price in time and energy, careful research and writing, emotional
commitment, and untiring practical actions to challenge the
misinformation and fear about GLBT people in the Baptist world.
Because of the life and ministry of Dr. Mahan Siler, many Southern
Baptist LGBT people have learned to accept and affirm themselves and
enter fully into the freedom and life that the true gospel of Jesus
DON'T ABANDON JESUS
abandon Jesus simply because the churches have misrepresented him and
his message. Discover the real Jesus in your own
self-acceptance. Jesus has been given many titles and
descriptions and has been pictured in every kind of artistic expression
imaginable. All of the descriptions, titles, music and pictures
are inadequate and keep the real Jesus at a distance. When you
accept yourself just as you are in the image of God and truly human,
you are accepting Jesus.
is not a remote ancient figure that you need a PhD in ancient history
or theology to know and experience. Jesus is part of who you are
already. In a profound real sense, Jesus is you.
my continuing study of the Four Gospels to write my forthcoming book on
JESUS, discovering for the first time how truly human Jesus is pictured
to be in the core material of the Gospels constantly amazes me.
Paul gives a clear faith based picture of the humanity of Jesus in
Philippians 2:1-16. Stop and read it now.
THE HUMANITY OF JESUS
The heart of Paul's vision of Jesus is given in 2:5-11:
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Who, although he existed in the form (image) of God,
Did not grasp after equality with God (as Adam did),
But emptied himself, taking the form of a slave and
Being made in human likeness, being found in human appearance,
Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
Even death on a cross.
Therefore also God highly exalted Jesus and bestowed on him
The name, which is above every name,
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
Of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth,
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Sovereign,
To the glory of God the Mother and Father."
this brief passage, Paul shows how Jesus in his humanity, humility and
obedience fulfilled what Adam (humanity) refused to do by disobedience
and by grasping after equality with God in taking the forbidden fruit
(which he was convinced would make him like God knowing (controlling)
good and evil). Adam and Eve were driven from God's presence for
trying to play God. Jesus by accepting and celebrating his
humanity was highly exalted and given the name that Adam had lost.
was intended to rule the earth and subdue it and replenish it.
That mission was lost through disobedience. Adam was intended to
be ruler, but the name "Adam" is Hebrew for "dirt." Jesus
regained the name of "ruler" that Adam (humanity) has lost. Jesus
did this by being the truly human being God intended each individual to
manner of speaking is highly poetic and figurative as is the story in
Genesis. Study the incredible parallels and contrasts between
Adam and Jesus in Genesis 1 and 2.)
your true humanity and your capacity for spiritual connection with God
because you are created in the image of God is the giant step into
freedom that abusive religion often convinces you is impossible.
FOLLOWING JESUS INTO FREEDOM
began and continued his life and ministry by accepting and affirming
himself as God's child in God's image and by accepting and affirming
and celebrating his humanity as an example for you and me.
Following Jesus begins with self-acceptance. Building a full and
meaningful life that enjoys personal freedom and fellowship with God
and that equips you to realize your own full potential as a human being
begins with the necessary first step of self-acceptance.
negative forces of abusive religion, codependency, misinformation,
spiritual violence, fear and despair attempt to distract us from our
journey into freedom. Jesus usually spelled out the things that
had to be abandoned in order to follow him. Often these obstacles
to following Jesus were religious or cultural customs and traditions.
ACCEPTING AND AFFIRMING YOUR HUMANITY
can you accept and affirm the humanity of Jesus as the realistic true
guide for your life into freedom if you cannot accept and affirm your
own humanity as God's gift to you? To distort the image of Jesus
into superstition and magic where a crucifix protects you from vampires
and bread and wine are magically transformed into the body and blood of
Jesus destroys the realistic humanity of Jesus in the Gospels and
changes the simple invitation of Jesus to "follow me" into a mixture of
religious misinformation, ancient errors and mistakes, and contemporary
over is never easy, but to follow Jesus in any honest personal way that
leads to real freedom demands a radical letting go and moving on.
What are you willing to release from your life in order truly to be
free? What will you cling to until your last breath? Is
that the first thing that you need to forsake in order to follow
Jesus? Only you know and only you can decide.
July 4, 2001