Jesus and Outcasts

What is the Bible?
Jesus and AIDS
Women Disciples

Picture Credit:
The Driving Out Of The Money Changers From The Temple
By El Greco
The National Gallery, London



Jesus healed the blind man on the Sabbath and broke the laws against working by making clay and by healing.  The rest of John 9 after the first 5 verses is the stormy story of conflict over legalistic religion.  The issues in this story are amazingly contemporary: incurable illness, family rejection, conflicts over religion, fear of authority, ignorant and heartless religious leaders, misplaced judgment, and the determination of Jesus to cut through all of the confusion to accept and encourage the man when he was cast out as a sinner!  Jesus accepts us when religion doesn't.

The parents of the one born blind avoided defending their own child for fear of offending judgmental religious leaders.  Sometimes the greatest pain of AIDS is rejection and abandonment by family and friends.  Religious leaders rebuked the rebel and threw him out.  Jesus searched for the religious reject, found and encouraged him.  Rejected people need someone to care.  All of us need encouragement. 

Jesus did not waste time trying to decide who is to blame for sickness and pain.  Jesus was motivated by compassion and love and calls us to follow him and do the same.  When we help people with AIDS by giving our time, practical care, food, financial help, clothing, shelter, transportation, friendship, love and encouragement, and the simple gift of "being there," we truly are following Jesus.

Jesus cleansed the Temple as a dramatic act of defiance against the abusive and oppressive legalistic religion that left out marginal and undesirable people.  Mark 11:17: "Jesus began to teach and say to them, "Is it not written (Isaiah 56:7), 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations (Greek ethnos), But you have made it a robbers' den."  The word ethnos is the New Testament word for "gentiles." 

The part of the Temple that Jesus cleansed was the part that was set aside for the use of foreigners and non Jews.  It had become a place of commerce and greed.  Jesus attacked the abusive use of religion in the special place that was intended to make faith in God inclusive of all people.  This turned the politically powerful priests against Jesus and led directly to his death.

Throughout the ministry of Jesus, his actions were consistently aimed at including the people that religion had left out.  Jesus included women, children, foreigners, sinners, the "unclean", outcasts, the sick and even outlaws and murderers (thief on the cross) at a time when the basic thrust of  religion was to divide people into "insiders" and "outsiders", the clean and the unclean.  Not much has changed.

Update added on April 26, 2003:

(See all of the other updates on this page for material related to this one.)

When I was a student pastor in Louisville, Kentucky, during my seminary days, a single mother and her two children attended our church.  She talked with me after the service and asked if she could come to our church even though she was divorced.  She had been brought up Catholic and felt that she did not belong in any church.  Of course I welcomed her and her family.

When she attended my inquirers class in preparation for becoming a church member, she followed my suggestion to read through the Gospel of Mark in one sitting.  Later I asked what she learned.  She replied that she learned that Jesus was just like her and got mad just like she did! She added that she always saw Jesus before as a painting or a statue, but now she realized that Jesus was human and was just like her.  I asked her what this said to her, and she replied that it means that Jesus really understands her and can help her.


One of the clearest features of the life and teachings of Jesus is the way that Jesus included people that everybody else left out.  Jesus included criminals (the thief on the cross), the people that were unclean (did not keep all of the cleanliness laws and rituals), and people who were outcast (Samaritans, Gentiles, the poor, the sick, lepers, women, and the list goes on).

Jesus always defined his mission on the basis of who is included, not on who is left out.


All "Christian" churches claim to follow Jesus.  But do they?  The Southern Baptist Convention in 1992 voted to leave out any churches that accept openly gay and lesbian people.  Today's news includes a story in the Charlotte Observer about McGill Southern Baptist church facing expulsion from the Cabarrus Baptist Association for baptizing two gay men!  Read the article in the April 25, 2003 issue of the Charlotte Observer to see the ludicrous arguments some Baptist leaders are making against baptizing GLBT people.  Click here to see the Charlotte Observer article.

The Roman Catholic Pope just a few days ago made a severe ruling that only official priests can serve communion, Catholics can take communion only in a Catholic church, non-Catholics cannot be served communion, and divorced people cannot take communion.  The church that contains half of the "Christians" in the world once again has defined itself by the people it leaves out.

Southern Baptists and Roman Catholics, the two largest religious groups in the United States, have both defined themselves by who they leave out, and therefore they are not "Christian" and do not follow Jesus. 

This raises the urgent question of why so many GLBT people struggle and fight to be accepted into these religious groups, which are not "Christian" and obviously are not following Jesus?  What is to be gained by clamoring to get aboard the sinking ship of confused abusive religion today?


Jesus taught his followers that when people do not accept you, shake the dust off your feet and move on!  "Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet.  Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city."

Notice that the terrible error of Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexuality but was the rejection of people who, like homosexuals, were different and were "strangers".  (See Six Bible Passages.)


Yesterday I read the ( account in the Raleigh, North Carolina News & Observer about Troy Page, who testified at the House committee hearing about legal protection for GLBT people proposed in the North Carolina Legislature.  Since one of my best friends at seminary was Troy Page, I called him.  This was a different Troy Page!

Troy told me more of the details of what happened.  He is an employee at the Administrative Office of the Courts.  At the hearing he learned that 11 of the gay and lesbian employees of the state had declined to testify for fear of losing their jobs, which is exactly the reason that the protection is needed.  Troy sent a note to the moderator offering to testify.  He was called on and said that he "fears that unless state workers win protection against discrimination based on their sexual orientation, one day his homosexuality could cost him his job."  This was a bold move!

Troy Page, however, seemed to feel that this was the logical and appropriate thing for him to do.  He was already "out" at work and with all of his family and friends.  The closet is always a prison that limits your capacity to be yourself and make a difference for freedom and acceptance for yourself and for others.


Millions of GLBT people remain in the closet and secretly live the lives that the churches they attend condemn and ridicule.  They have not been rejected.  They have rejected themselves.  Come out.  Tell your truth.  If you are rejected for being who you really are as a GLBT person, shake off the dust from your feet and move on.  Start your own spiritual recovery and growth group.

Take seriously the fact that any church that defines itself on the basis of who is left out is not "Christian" and is not worthy of YOU.  Walk away.  Let go and move on.  God is with you whether you ever attend a church or not.


With God's help work out what works for you.  I support and have participated in SoulForce actions in the past and will continue in the future to be part of whatever action is available to me to challenge the genocide of religious groups whose teachings are killing God's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender children!  This many not be the path for you.  But what is your path?  Let it not be the path of retreat from reality and a mild acceptance of ferocious homophobic religious power.

I had almost decided not to comment on the Roman Catholic Pope's recent statements defining his church in terms of who is left out.  Then my conversation yesterday with Troy Page made me realize that all of what I have said in this update needs to be said and said with enthusiasm!


Use my web site and book in whatever way is available to you to begin small group dialogue and study of spiritual recovery and growth.  Yesterday I received e-mail from Kim in Taiwan telling me of her progress in leading group studies of my book, which she is translating into Chinese.  What an exciting and encouraging letter!  Pray for Kim and for the Chinese GLBT people she is reaching in her ministry.

Come out, get involved in the forces of change that are available to you, and let God use you to make the crucial difference for somebody else.  You have a ministry of encouragement and hope waiting for you at every turn in your life.

Read again my material on coming out in Step Nine in my web site and book.


In recent weeks, I have received many new messages about small group home study activities in many parts of the world.  Last Sunday, I received a wonderful encouraging letter from Rev. Rodney Staples, pastor of Aloha Metropolitan Community Church in Maui, asking me to finish and publish my Jesus Bible Studies, which he needs in order to be able to continue the Bible Study programs that he has already been leading for his congregation.

A great deal of my material on Jesus is already in my web site in updates and in the section on "Jesus Bible Studies," but I am aware that there is a great need for systematic Bible study materials on the "Real Jesus" and on why and how we can relate to and follow Jesus today.

This was just the spark that I needed to get me working again on the Jesus Studies.  Adam DeBaugh, my publisher and editor at Chi Rho Press, is eager to get the Jesus Studies going also.  Pray for me as I resume the detailed work of planning and writing the Jesus Bible Studies.

Rembert Truluck
April 26, 2003

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it."  --Yogi

See a great new web site of encouragement:

Update for November 16, 2004

You cannot start over until you let go.  Why is it so hard to let go of people and actions that are destroying you?  I wish I knew!  Letting go is that hardest thing I ever try to do.  I have great difficulty in letting go of people that are bad for me or with whom I let myself become codependent.

I think that if I suddenly faced death, somebody else's life would flash before my eyes!

Why do I do the things that are hurting me?  That's the question that Paul asked himself in Romans 7:15-25 and that the prostitute in "Man of La Mancha," both asked:  "Why do I do the things that I do?  I do not know why I do these things!"  "…to dream the impossible dream. . .to reach the unreachable stars. . .to fight for what's right without question or pause. That is my quest..." (from Man of La Mancha) expresses the hope and dream that all of us share in trying to be and become what God made us to be and to let go and start over every moment of life.

Is letting go and starting over an "impossible dream"?  It has been for me most of the time.  Why?  I either don't know or don't want to know!  My own inner struggle goes on constantly.  What I don't want to do, I do, and what I want to do, I do not do, and like Paul in Romans 7:24, I ask: "O wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from the body of this death!"  These are as strong as any words that Paul used to describe his own "struggle of the soul."


As Kermit said, "It isn't easy being green!"  Being me and your being yourself is never an easy task.  Being true to yourself and being what and who God made you to be is a moment by moment challenge and opportunity.  "To be or not to be" is still the question and always will be.

The choices you make determine how your see yourself.  How you see yourself also determines the choices that you make.  This circular thinking reminds me of the little slogan: "When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!"  I think that comes from my Daffy Duck collection of wisdom and proverbs.


I keep a daily journal account of what I do and what happens to and around me.  Reading back over my journal teaches me a lot about myself and my own decisions.  I keep making the same mistakes over and over!  When the great theologian and editor of "The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible," George A. Buttrick, came to speak at the seminary, he began by saying: "What I want to talk about is what I have learned from my mistakes.  That confession alone was enough to make the students want to listen.

Your personal history is just like any other history: if you do not learn from the history of your own mistakes, you are sure to repeat them. 


All of us are surrounded by needy people.  This is especially true great cities like San Francisco and Oakland.  The city is a magnet for needy people from all over the world.  It is an accepting and tolerant city.  All communities, including yours, have homeless people and needy people who challenge you to follow Jesus in ministry, love and outreach.  I have never fully learned the lessons of two old proverbs:  If you give a needy person enough rope, they will hang themselves-- and you.  If you give a needy person an inch, they will take a mile!

Giving over any control of your life to another person, especially a severely needy person can be a disastrous mistake.  Yet, on the other hand, the call and example of Jesus consists primarily in loving and caring for needy people by identifying with the outcasts and ministering to them with compassion and strength.  This is what Jesus did.  And look what happened to him for doing it!

Trying to help severely needy people requires the four great principles of successful living: be logical, objective, realistic and practical.  Most religions have difficulty following these principles.  Jesus always followed them and calls you and me to do the same.  The Spirit of Jesus still teaches us to "be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves." (See Mathew 10:16.  See all of Matthew 10:1-30 as the clear teaching of Jesus regarding your mission in the world.  See links below.)


You are your own best teacher.  Learn from your mistakes.  You can also be your own worst enemy if you do not learn from your mistakes.  A mature faith knows the difference between being available and being used.  You and I are to grow up to maturity.  Read all of Ephesians 4:1-32.  (See links below)

Paul's final word in Ephesians 4:32 is "Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."  Making another person inappropriately dependent upon you is not kind and disturbs the "vital balance" of your life and theirs.

Rembert Truluck
November 16, 2004

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and book ministry to me at
201 W. Washington St. #805
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Or to Chi Rho Press online at their website
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See details in my
"Appeal for Help" update:

See instructions for ordering my book from Chi Rho Press:
Special thanks to Adam DeBaugh, Director of Chi Rho Press, for his wonderful support of my ministry and for his dedication to the ministry of healing through my book and others.  Adam is working on a Spanish translation of my book.

You can see the progress of translating my book into Chinese at the website of Tongshin Church (in Chinese and English)/

Matthew 10:7-31

Ephesians 4:11-15

Ephesians 4:15-25

Ephesians 4:22-32

This update added on July 22, 2002:

My friend Rev. Carolyn Mobley visited with me this past Thursday to Saturday before she joined the rest of the faculty of the Metropolitan Community Church orientation program for new MCC clergy being held at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley.  Carolyn and I had the opportunity to talk at length about how we can more adequately communicate the Spirit of Jesus in our rapidly changing world.

While we were discussing the fact that Jesus came to simplify and make spirituality available even to a little child and to marginalized and despised people, we talked about how Jesus often changed everything by a simple event that demonstrated how to God every person has equal value.  Jesus changed how an outcast woman saw herself and her world and how everyone else saw her and how we now see Jesus with the simple request: "Give me a drink of water."  From that startling and unexpected request, the woman at the well went on to become the first missionary to the Samaritans and the point of reference for all truly Jesus based psychotherapy.


We discussed how the baptism of Jesus was not what John the Baptist expected.  When Jesus came to John and asked to be baptized, John objected and replied that Jesus should baptize him!  Jesus said no.  Jesus was not identifying with baptism or with John but with the sinners and outcasts who came to John to be baptized.  Jesus did not reject John and even praised him as a truly great man, but Jesus went on to say that the least in the realm of God is greater than John.  That has always puzzled me.

The clue to what the baptism of Jesus really means is in the fact that Jesus identified with the people, not with the prophet or with the ritual.  Jesus joined with and identified with the multitudes of people from every walk of life who were strangers, sick people, unclean people, rejected and outcast people, feeble and confused people, and with the people who were hurting and wounded by the false abusive religion that John came to challenge.

When Jesus was baptized, the "voice from heaven" announced: "You are my beloved son and in you I am well pleased."  At the same time, the Spirit of God came upon Jesus.  Events and statements related to this dramatic event are given in all four Gospels and in the Book of Acts.  What is the real significance of this famous "voice from heaven"?

I suddenly realized that the identity of Jesus as the child of God doing what is pleasing to God is directly related to the decision of Jesus to identify with "sinners" and the motley multitude of spiritual seekers who came to John.  To identify with people who suffer and who are rejected and despised by abusive religion is to follow Jesus and to identify with and be filled with the Spirit of Jesus.

You demonstrate that you are a "child of God" like Jesus when you identify with the wounded, oppressed, abused and outcast people in your world.


Jesus did not just tolerate the abused rejected people in his world.  He identified with them and had compassion for them as he felt their pain and entered into their sorrows.  To follow Jesus always goes far beyond tolerance.  To follow Jesus is to identify with the people who most need help and who are most despised and rejected by contemporary society.

Jesus talked with and ate meals with the unacceptable religious outcasts with whom he completely identified all the way through his life as told in the Gospels.  From baptism to crucifixion, Jesus identified with the unclean and despised rejects of his world.  On the cross, Jesus identified with a confessed murderer and invited him to be with him in "paradise."

Why did Jesus have only 12 disciples?  He could have had thousands!  Why did Jesus give only one "new commandment" to love one another just as Jesus loves you?  He could have given volumes of new rules and regulations!  Why did Jesus promise to be where two or three gather in his name?  He could have encouraged vast gatherings of thousands of people!  Why did Jesus hold up a little child as the ideal of spiritual power?  He could have pointed to the great prophets and spiritual giants of the past!  Jesus was a minimalist.  Jesus focused on one person at a time.  Jesus identified with individuals.  Jesus kept it simple, because God is for everybody, not just the educated and brilliant.  God is for dummies too.

To transform the call of Jesus into vast empires of millions of people or churches or just one local church is to miss the point and miss the plan and to miss God and the presence of God where it counts most: in yourself and in the person next to you now.


Traditional religion has developed incredibly intricate separating walls to keep people apart.  Vestments, church architecture, religious art, doctrines, rituals, liturgy, religious titles and rank along with a thousand religious habits create difficulties for the followers of Jesus in their attempt to identify with and accept even themselves, much less each other!

When Jesus is presented to us as totally different and distant from us, we abandon the true biblical perspective that makes it clear that Jesus is with and within us in every practical way.  How can you identify with Jesus unless you also can identify with other people and with yourself?  Whenever religion creates barriers and separating walls between people, it creates walls that separate us from the real Jesus of the Gospels and Pentecost, where the Spirit of God came upon all people.  Read Acts chapter two and notice the constant use of "all" and "every" in the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit upon all people.


Religion has characteristically set boundaries around God.  God is here; so keep out!  God is holy and altogether "other," and you are not permitted to walk on the "holy ground" where God is.  Jesus shattered all such notions by demonstrating that God is present in all people and in all places.  There is no place or person where God is not.  Jesus lived, walked, ate, laughed, wept, and identified with every person his life touched.  To Jesus, every individual included the presence of God and the Spirit of God.  Every person is "holy ground" and should not be stepped on or abused in any way!

You and every person you meet are created in the image of God and have been given the Spirit of Jesus without your having to do anything to earn or deserve it.

Everything from God is gift.  The claims of churches and religious wizards that you have to do it their way or burn in hell are absurd and are a direct rejection and denial of the inclusive Jesus who identified with the most outcast and anti-religious people of his own world.  With whom do you identify: the priests or the sinners, the pastors or the prisoners, the "saved" or the "lost", the righteous or the unrighteous, the fools or the scholars, the children or the rulers?  Jesus identifies with them all!  And Jesus identifies with you.  Aren't you glad that you were not left out!  Why do you insist on leaving out anyone?


Paul spelled out what it means to have the mind of Jesus.  Read Philippians 2 now and remember where your point of view about God and other people originates if you follow Jesus.  Jesus never identified with religion or with religious leaders.  Jesus identified with little children, social rejects and outcasts.  Jesus identified with "the least of these" and called all people to follow him.

Simply follow Jesus.  You don't have to understand it all or figure out all of it or organize it into dogma or build buildings and institutions to insure its progress and perfection.  All you are called to do is to follow Jesus and identify with the people in your world in the same way and for the same purpose that Jesus did.

What could possibly be gained by making something so simple and direct into a complicated system of doctrines, requirements, legalistic demands, political and ecclesiastical structures, and the monumental mess of modern religion?  Nothing!  How can the headlong plunge of contemporary religion into oblivion be diverted and returned to Jesus?

Jesus changed his world by identifying with powerless unacceptable people who had no status in the world and who were oppressed and abused by the very religion that claimed to love and save them.  You can stop, turn around, and start over.  You have everything to loose and everything to gain.

To let go of a false Jesus is gain in itself and sets the stage for you to move on into the light of love and truth that already surrounds you.  Every person your life touches is a messenger from God and a ray of hope.  Listen, look, care, be open, learn, and rejoice in hope that new life and spiritual power are already within you and working through you.

Rembert Truluck
July 22, 2002

Update added January 27, 2002:

Today is Sunday, January 27, and the last Sunday in the first month of 2002.  Sunday is a good time to think about Jesus.  Sunday, the first day of the week, has been recognized as a special day of remembering Jesus on the day of resurrection from the very earliest information that we have about the followers of Jesus.


No other historical person has been as misrepresented, misunderstood and misused, as has Jesus of Nazareth.  The future of Christianity depends on a radical restoration of the Jesus of the Gospels.  Traditional images of the pitiful weak victim Jesus writhing in agony on a cross must be challenged and replaced by the realism of the strong, assertive, successful, positive, inclusive, brilliant teacher Jesus in the Four Gospels.  You cannot follow the pitiful victim Jesus.  You can follow the real human Jesus.

Why does all of this matter?  The only invitation of Jesus was: "Follow me." Knowing what that means is essential to any realistic future for you and me as Christians.  We are not called to follow an institution, a set of rules, an ideal, a dream or a pathway to freedom.  We are called to follow a person, and that person is the man Jesus, who is carefully and fully described in the Gospels.


All of the printed and traditional information about Jesus come from extremely prejudiced sources.  Church teachers and leaders have worked hard to shape and interpret the sources in order to present Jesus as the possession of the church and the source of all of the abusive teachings, fund raising, and other manipulative practices of the "Christian" religion.  The Church has reduced the personality and life of Jesus into doctrines and demands that obscure and smother the real human Jesus of the Gospels.

What is the remedy?  Simple!  Go back to an objective, logical, realistic, practical fresh reading and study of the Four Gospels and pay attention to the humanity of Jesus as a pattern for living in the will and power of God.  Jesus did not say, "Follow me" while hanging on the cross!  Jesus said, "Follow me" while he walked among the people in love, compassion, outreach, healing and full acceptance for everybody.


In the Gospels, Jesus is seen primarily as a loving, brilliant, effective teacher.  Jesus always confounded his enemies with his logic and realistic answers.  Jesus demonstrated the authority of a well-informed and compassionate teacher who listened to people and always fit his teachings to the individual.

The idea that following Jesus means denying and rejecting your own humanity and your real self as God has created you is probably the ultimate heresy that has destroyed the truth of Jesus in the historic churches for centuries.  Nobody wants to follow a teacher who is a pitiful helpless victim of circumstances and who has been humiliated and rejected as the abomination of God!  Get real!  If you ever make a difference in this world, as a follower of Jesus it will be because you have decided to follow the real human Jesus and not the simpering suffering victim pictured in religious crucifixes, art and architecture.


What is your mental image of Jesus?  What do you see in your mind's eye when you think of Jesus?  Do you see a strong assertive brilliant well-informed person who moves with great confidence among the people and listens and lifts up and encourages everybody he meets?  Or do you see only the agonized painful face of a victim of religious and political violence dying a wretched death nailed to a wooden cross?


The stories of the death and resurrection of Jesus are the concluding message in the Gospels.  These "Passion Narratives" are important.  The Gospel of John, for instance, gives 10 chapters to the life and teachings of Jesus and 11 chapters to the final week of the life of Jesus.  In all four Gospels, however, the meaning of the death and resurrection of Jesus depends on knowing the normal human life and personality of Jesus that gives us a realistic basis for following Jesus ourselves.  We are not called to die for the sins of the world.  Jesus already did that.

We are called, however, to follow the human Jesus in listening to others, having compassion and feeling the pain of others, reaching out to lift up and heal others, and accept and include the most rejected and outcast of all people, just as Jesus did.


Be your own teacher.  Plan an assignment for yourself to read through one of the Gospels each week until you finish all four.  I often suggest that you take about two hours and sit quietly and read all the way through the Gospel of Mark in one sitting.  Things about Jesus you never noticed before will impress you.

Let the real human Jesus sink fully into your mind.  Notice how you can do the things that Jesus did if you really want to.  You can listen to people and take them seriously whether you agree with them or not.  You can give your own personal answers when they might be helpful.  You can pray, take time for yourself to rest, accept and affirm hurting and troubled people, recognize and affirm your own humanity and dependence on God, and keep going when you are tempted to quit, just as Jesus did.

You can take the initiative to reach out to others without waiting from them to come to you, just as Jesus did.  Jesus never said that you could "walk on water," but Jesus clearly said that you are called to love one another just as Jesus has loved you (John 13:34-35).

At his temptations in the wilderness, Jesus refused to compromise his humanity by performing magic and turning stones into bread and refused to deny his humanity by leaping from the pinnacle of the Temple and "tempt" God to save him.  Jesus gave great emphasis to his own humanity and his identification with all people when he was baptized and when he ate with "sinners" and "unclean" outcast people.


Other religious leaders had performed miracles, healed people and taught people how to live.  Jesus, however, was new and different in demonstrating and teaching that God really does love and accept all people equally.  Jesus made it clear that all people have equally value to God.  Jesus never left anybody out because of who they were, their race, religion, lifestyle or anything else.  "Whosoever" was willing to follow Jesus was welcome.

Everything that Jesus did was new and inclusive.  In feeding the 5,000, which is recorded in all four Gospels, Jesus performed an extraordinary new inclusive act.  He invited people of many races, religions, and social classes, both "clean" and "unclean," to sit ("recline") together in one place and eat a meal.  This had never before been done.  Religion had always divided people into the accepted and the rejected.  Eating together was the great dividing line between people in the ancient world.


Last night, Amir and I met with Rev. Carolyn Mobley in San Francisco for a brief visit.  Carolyn was here for a special leadership conference led by my friend Justin Tanis in preparation for leading training programs in the new organization of UFMCC this summer.  Amir is Filipino, Carolyn is African American, and I am European American.  We had tea and raisins as we talked.  I just realized this morning how that event reflected what Jesus did in eating with people and teaching others to do the same as an expression of our love and acceptance for each other.

This also made me think of the great importance of lunch counter demonstrations in the Civil Rights movement under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As you read through the Gospels, make note of the things that Jesus did on a regular basis that you can do also.  You can do a lot more of the things that Jesus did than you might think.  You can listen and ask questions.  You can face and deal constructively with your own anger, as Jesus did in Mark 3:1-7 (See Step 4).  You can identify with people in need and reach out to lift them up.  You can accept and encourage troubled people.  You can begin by following Jesus in accepting yourself as having equal value before God with every other person and having the powerful guiding Spirit of God within you.


Even with all of the problems of translations, revisions and editing, and historical development of the gospel material, the Four Gospels remain your best resource for restructuring for yourself a viable and relevant image of the real Jesus.  Jesus was human and so are you.  Look within your own mind and image of yourself.  You will find clues to what Jesus was like also.

Resurrecting Jesus from centuries of church mistakes and misinformed entombment of Jesus in medieval concepts and misunderstandings is possible!  Work on it.  You can figure it out for yourself.  The only view of Jesus that will change your life is the view of Jesus that you work out for yourself.

If you discover something that you want to share with me, please send e-mail and tell me.

Rembert Truluck



 "Traditional Family Values" has become a powerful political slogan and an anti gay weapon that cannot be ignored.  Did Jesus talk about family values?  How can Jesus lead us into a Christian gay and lesbian understanding of family values?   Jesus expressed great respect for family values.  Luke 2:39-52 tells how Jesus as a child respected his parents and remained subject to them.  Even then, however, Jesus recognized that God was a higher authority in his life.

Jesus revealed to his parents that he was different and that he had a special mission in life that they did not understand.  When his parents found Jesus in the Temple, they were surprised and said exactly what a lot of parents say to gay children when they come out to them: "How could you do this to us! We have been looking for you sorrowing (lit. "in great pain")."  Jesus did not apologize to his parents for "coming out" and acting on who he really was.  He simply said that he had to be his true self and left it at that.  His mother was loving and accepting even when she did not understand.  We need more mothers like Mary!

Jesus rebuked his mother for telling him what to do and then did it anyway in John 2:3-11. Later, Jesus provided for his mother by telling his beloved disciple to take care of her.  Yet Jesus also taught that following him was more important than usual family obligations in Matthew 8:21-22: "Another of the disciples said to Jesus, Sovereign, let me first go and bury my father.  But Jesus said to him, Follow me; and let the dead bury the dead."

JESUS CHALLENGED ALL TRADITIONS.  Parents selected children's mates.  Women were property and had no freedom in choosing their partners.  Jesus elevated women from property to persons to partners in ministry and respected and honored little children, all of which was new.  Jesus set into motion many freedoms we assume today.


The word "forsake" used by Jesus to tell his followers that they should forsake everything else in order to be his disciples is the same word used for forsaking father and mother in order for the human partners to "become one" in marriage.  In Matthew 19:29, Jesus set loyalty to him in contrast to traditional family values:

"Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or wife or children or farms for
my name's sake, shall receive many times as much,
and shall inherit eternal life."

Same sex committed couples who are bound to each other by their love can joyfully look to Jesus for guidance and strength for living.  Their love for each other, their service to Christ in their personal lives and their ministry of acceptance and encouragement to others can help everyone redefine family values more in keeping with the example and teachings of Jesus.  Gay couples can challenge the rest of the world to put Jesus at the center of marriage instead of focusing on law, custom, procreation and social pressure.


Everything that Jesus did was new.  His new understanding of family was revolutionary.  The traditional family ties of the time of Jesus were challenged and replaced by ties to Jesus and to doing the will of God.

When the mother and brothers of Jesus came to get Jesus, the crowd told Jesus that his mother and brothers were looking for him.  Jesus answered by asking, "Who are my mother and my brothers?"  And looking about on those who were sitting around him Jesus said, "Look!  Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:31-35)

You do not choose your biological family.  Jesus sets you free to chose who will be closest to you and who will most influence your life.  What kind of choices have you made in selecting people to be in your life?  Your freedom in Christ includes your freedom to decide who your circle of closest friends will be.  Freedom to chose your "family" implies your obligation to chose wisely.  You can destroy your freedom by making bad choices.  Have you ever done that?

Jesus carefully selected his closest friends.  God will help you do the same.


Jesus gave a "new" commandment that his followers should love one another just as Jesus loved them.  The only way that you can follow that commandment is to have Jesus in your heart and mind.  Whenever the Spirit of Jesus comes into your life, the first evidence is your love for people.  "The fruit of the Spirit is love." (Gal. 5:22).

Loving one another includes loving your biological family also. Jesus did not reject traditional family values of his time.  He went beyond them to define all values in relation to himself.  Jesus calls you to a radical letting go of everything in order to follow only Jesus.  The bottom line in everything for Jesus was, "FOLLOW ME."

Have you experienced Jesus in your life?

Showing how ignorant and prejudiced the radical homophobic fundamentalists are about family values is not enough.  We agree that "hate is not a family value."   Jesus invites us to define everything in the light of God's inclusive and accepting love demonstrated for all people in the life and work of Jesus. The first step in your successful challenge to the Traditional Family Values Coalition is to connect with Jesus in whatever way best fits you and to follow Jesus.

The Following Update was added December 3, 1998


Many advocates for fairness and respect for homosexuals responded to the murder of Matthew Shepard by pointing out the role of homophobic religious rhetoric and the anti-gay "ex-gay" ads last summer in creating and sustaining the attitudes of fear and hate that resulted in what happened to Matthew.  The reaction of many homophobic fundamentalist religious leaders was to deny any blame and to accuse the gay community of trying to use Matthew's death to advance the "gay agenda". 

Somehow the churches never seem to realize that in condemning gay and lesbian people for using the murder of Matthew as a basis for pointing out the need of all homosexuals for acceptance and protection, the churches are condemning themselves.  Churches for centuries have used the murder of Jesus of Nazareth as a basis for claiming unearned spiritual authority over millions of people and using vivid imaginary pictures of the torture and suffering of Jesus to extract financial support for massive building programs and for religious, political, and financial empires.

What has the church done with its great wealth?  Recently the Mormon Church gave over a million dollars of their wealth to fight against the recognition of gay and lesbian loving committed relationships in Alaska and Hawaii.  D. James Kennedy and other leaders of the great spiritual ignorance movement raised and spent a fortune to advertise the misguided "toxic" religion of the "ex-gay" movement. 

The churches, however, could be solving the needs of the poor and homeless to demonstrate their sincerity in following Jesus, who said, "Inasmuch as you have done it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you have done it to me."  Soren Kierkegaard asked over 150 years ago: Is it really the same thing when Jesus said "Sell what you have and give  to the poor" and when the priest says "Sell what you have and give it to me"?

We would have a solution to the plight of the homeless in every city in America if the churches would open their doors to the homeless to provide a place to sleep in the unused space that every church has every night of every week in every city.  Jesus made it perfectly clear that the most important thing in God's eyes is people, not things!  Why have not the churches already provided space for the homeless?  If they did, the "homeless problem" would be over.

Why is Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco the rare church that actually ministers to human needs at every level?  Where are the hundreds of other churches?  When Rev. Cecil Williams became pastor of Glide, the church had 300 members in a very depressed area of the city. It is still at the same location but with a rapidly growing membership approaching 10,000  and a practical ministry of love and compassion to hungry and homeless people. Glide is also a church that openly accepts and sustains gay and lesbian people as God's children, celebrates their committed relationships, and encourages their spiritual growth and active leadership in the church.

Why is Glide Memorial Church the rare exception rather than an example of what all churches are doing?

What will it take for the churches of all traditions to recognize their own hypocrisy and blatant denial of the clear example of Jesus' unconditional and inclusive love and to repent and turn from their anti-Jesus judgmental legalism and let God's healing love save them from self destruction?

You and I can be part of the new beginning of Christianity in the coming century if we simply let the Spirit of Jesus enter and guide and empower us to "follow Jesus".  Let Jesus love you and love the people around you through you.  Try giving yourself away.  Jesus did, and it worked for him.

Rembert Truluck
"Sell what you have and give it to the poor." --Jesus
"Sell what you have and give it to the building fund." --Satan

This material added December 14, 2000:

Socrates changed the world forever simply by sharing his ideas and questions in dialogue with a small group of people.  One of his students was Plato, who also changed the world in the same way.  Plato went a step further and wrote his ideas down.  Then Aristotle organized everything and elaborated on Plato and Socrates.  Small group dialogue has laid the foundation for most of the great positive changes that have moved the human race forward.

"Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.  Indeed, that is all that ever has." (Margaret Mead)


How objective, open minded and realistic are you now?  Do you really listen to others and try to encourage them to think and share with you?  If you do, you are becoming prepared to attract others into a small group for mutual learning, growing, healing and recovery.

The world often has been changed by a small group of dedicated people.  One man gathered friends and associates together to help him discover new and better ways of doing things.  The group tried over 2,000 materials to make one invention, but all failed.  One of the associates said, we have failed 2,000 times.  The leader said, "No.  We have not failed.  We have succeeded in learning 2,000 things that don't work!"  They continued to explore and ask questions until they discovered a working electric light bulb.  Thomas A. Edison changed the world by first learning to ask questions, share dialogue with others, work tirelessly and never give up.


One of the most important decisions you can make is to decide not to be a victim.  GLBT people are not the only ones who are tempted to get depressed and accept negative attitudes about themselves from other people.  Refuse to be a victim.  Have you ever wanted to be accepted by someone so much that you let that person run all over you and treat you like dirt?  I have.  It is hard to admit that you have been victimized and used by somebody that you love and that you thought loved you.  Why do you think so many people remain in abusive demeaning relationships?

Staying in the closet is to accept yourself as a victim.  Resist the temptation to let other people decide who you are and control your life.  Freedom to accept yourself and to affirm yourself is freedom from being a victim.  A dialogue and study group can help you to escape from victim mentality and break the self-imposed chains of codependency and low self-esteem.

You have to feel good about yourself before you can change anybody else.  The more you grow in self-acceptance and confidence, the better equipped you are to change the world.


You begin changing the world by helping other people in your life accept and affirm themselves.  Jesus accepted and affirmed the woman at the well (John 4) by asking her to do something for him: give him a drink of water.  Sometimes simple things can help another person feel good and gain self-respect and confidence.  You know how bad it feels to be put down by someone.  Work hard not to put down other people around you.  Instead, lift up others so that they can see themselves in a different light and feel good about themselves.

If you have never read it or have forgotten it, spend time learning from Dale Carnegie "How to Win Friends and influence People".  Or take a trip on "The Road Less Traveled" with M. Scott Peck, M.D.  Your first step in changing the world is changing how you see yourself.  Then share with others and learn from them in life-giving dialogue.  It's worth the trouble.

My partner and I recently watched some of the great 1977 film classic about "Jesus of Nazareth" by Franco Zeffirelli.  The entire film is six hours long.  I was very impressed again by the relationship of Jesus with the disciples and the setting of small group interaction that formed the environment for the life and teachings of the one person who probably has most changed the world.  Jesus wrote nothing, organized no institutions and built no buildings.  Yet through the method of small group learning and dialogue Jesus changed people who continue to change the world today.


Big religion often protects and defends the past long after the past has become a source of prejudice and a distortion of the present.  Jesus constantly confronted entrenched abusive religion and exposed its damage to people and its distraction from God.  Jesus did not just point out the flaws in current religion, however, he offered a better way: himself.  Jesus changed the world by first accepting and being himself.  When Jesus says, "Follow me," he is inviting you first of all to accept and be yourself just as he did.

To follow Jesus is to become fully human by accepting yourself and other people around you.  Jesus listened to people; so can you.  Jesus felt the pain of others; so can you.  Jesus saw the potential for good in every person; and so can you.  Jesus set an example for you when he took care of himself by pacing himself with exercise, rest, food, sleep and a fully balanced life.  Following Jesus does not mean becoming a religious nuisance to others.  It means taking yourself and others seriously as children of God and taking time to be available and show compassion in practical help.

Religion draws a line and forbids you to cross it.  Jesus teaches you to think for yourself, respect yourself and draw your own lines that fit you.

What is the role of love in how you are changing yourself and changing your world?  In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul describes spiritual gifts and the kind of small groups that develop in the Spirit of Jesus.  Then he concludes by saying, "Earnestly desire the greater spiritual gifts, but I show a still more excellent way." Then follows the great declaration of the meaning of love in 1 Corinthians 13.  Stop now and read these two chapters and ask how they can help you to find better ways to change your world.

Rembert Truluck

(My web site and book are given not to think for you but to equip and encourage you to think for yourself.  My book is intended as a Guide for small groups and individual study.  Invest in other people by giving them my book and using it to start your own small group revolution to change the world.)

Special thanks to Lawrence A. Reh of "First Light" for telling us about the following web sites by the American Psychology Association that give current medical and scientific information about Gay, Lesbian Bisexual issues such as "ex-gay reparative therapy".  Take the time to look at these sites and become better informed with the facts.

APA Information

APA "Just the Facts"

APA "Guidelines for Psychotherapy"


Rembert Truluck.  Update for October 28, 1999

Mel White and the GLBT Christians who traveled to Lynchburg to demonstrate their love and faith accomplished their mission.  They went, they listened, and they told personal stories of their experiences with God. Special thanks to Steve Schalchlin, Lawrence Reh, and other friends who have written and shared their experiences in Lynchburg with the rest of us. The response of Jerry Falwell and his associates was not all that we had hoped might happen, but their response was itself very important and revealing.

Jerry Falwell said that much of his extreme anti-gay rhetoric was developed by his advertising agency in his promotional and financial campaigns.  This is shocking to me.  If Jesus had hired the political/religious consultant firm of Caiaphas, Judas, and Associates to design his ministry, the Gospels would have been completely different, and, in fact, we probably would never have heard of them.

The extreme importance of our mission of information and truth about the Bible and homosexuality as set forth in my web site and book on "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" was obvious from much of the response to Mel White and those who shared in his mission of outreach, love, and truth.


My own conclusion at this point in my studies and ministry is that the Gospels clearly demonstrate two consistent facts about Jesus.  The first is that Jesus was always creative, new, and different.  Jesus was revolutionary and challenged all of the ancient traditions and "made all things new".  The main teachings and actions of Jesus in the Gospels are presented as something new that had never happened before in the forms and with the effects manifested in Jesus.  The second is that Jesus was always consistently inclusive and accepting of all people, which itself was also brand new and unexpected.  Looking for these two features of "new" and "inclusive" has led me to appreciate the underlying meaning of a lot of the stories about Jesus that did not seem clear before.


All four Gospels tell the story of the feeding of the multitude (Matt. 14:13-21; Mark 6:32-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-13), giving basically the same account in each Gospel.  This the only miracle in Jesus' ministry that is included in all four Gospels.  Many scholars have debated the question of how the food was multiplied and whether or not everyone shared what they had when the young boy shared his food.  This preoccupation with how the food was multiplied misses the two obvious features of this story that tells about a brand new and extraordinarily inclusive event.

Others before Jesus had provided unexpected food in the wilderness.  Moses provided the manna, and Elijah and Elisha miraculously fed the hungry. What was new about Jesus feeding the multitude?  We miss the impact of the story if we neglect the details. 

Several years ago I was preparing a study of this event as recorded in The Gospel of John and was struck by the statement that these things took place near Tiberias.  I visited Tiberias in 1958 on a study trip with Dr. William Morton of Southern Baptist Seminary.  Tiberias was the capitol of the Roman Province of Galilee, but since it was built on a site that contained tombs, the Jews would not live in the city.  I had never put these things together before.  The multitude that Jesus faced on that day was a mixed multitude of people from many races, religions, cultural traditions, beliefs, and situations in life. 

The crowd included Jews, Gentiles, Samaritans, Romans, lepers, cripples, children, men, women, outcasts, "sinners," the "unclean", soldiers, Pharisees, priests, and a cross section of humanity.  Jesus told them to recline on the grass.  The term "recline" was used in describing the Last Supper and was the posture that one assumed when dining in the home of a friend.  To "recline" was to become vulnerable to an enemy.  The rigidly observed custom at the time was that you did not eat with anyone of a different rank, race, religion, or other social or cultural distinction from yourself. 

Many examples of this custom are found throughout the Bible. See Galatians 2:11-21, where Paul condemned Peter, "for prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing those of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy."

Jesus challenged the legally enforced separation of people from one another and invited the whole multitude to share food with him.  He blessed the food and gave it to the disciples to distribute.  The recovery of 12 baskets full of food is highly symbolic in saying that the multitude is the new people of God, the new 12 tribes of Israel, based not on law or race but based upon Jesus and the one whom Jesus represents.  Nobody was left out.  All were filled.  Jesus represented both God and all humanity, as he did in his baptism, his life, and his death and resurrection.

Look in the Gospels for what is truly new and radically inclusive.  The truth about Jesus is not hard to find in the Gospels.  The truth is everywhere.  Don't be distracted by traditional interpretations that ignore what is truly new and what clearly teaches and demonstrates the unconditional inclusive love of God for all.  To follow Jesus is to celebrate human diversity.

Jesus was condemned for "eating with sinners" and for associating with outcast and "unclean" people.  Whatever Paul might have said about problems related to issues that divided early believers in certain often uncertain situations in 1 Corinthians and elsewhere, nothing Paul had to say can negate the clear teachings and actions of Jesus that all people have equal value before God and the obvious fact that Jesus demonstrated his acceptance and identification of himself with all people by eating with them and inviting them to share a meal together.

It all depends on whether we follow Jesus or somebody else.

The use of out-of-context selected Bible verses to avoid "eating with sinners" as a sign of rejection and judgment against homosexuals is just like the selected use of a few incorrectly translated and misunderstood verses to condemn and reject homosexuals in the first place.

Never underestimate the destructive power of ignorance.  Misinformation about the Bible and the true meaning of following Jesus is of incredible and inexcusable danger to GLBT believers.  A recent news item pointed out that 28 gay men have been murdered since the vicious killing of Matthew Shepard a year ago. 

This information is sobering in itself, however, it is pale when you realize that in the past year, thousands of GLBT people have committed suicide because of the relentless religious, family, and social pressure against them.  Many thousands more have given up on life and engaged in self-destructive attitudes and actions that have effectively destroyed their self-esteem and their will to live.  "The truth will set you free," but the truth has to be seen as true. 

Repeated errors in biblical interpretation and religious teachings about homosexuals and homosexuality along with a blatant denial of the clear findings of the medical and psychiatric professions about homosexuality has poisoned the air that millions of people are forced to breathe in their churches.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.  You can give bigots the truth, but you can't make them think.

We have no choice but to keep praying, keep sharing our personal testimony, keep loving, keep dialogue going, and keep following Jesus in all things.

Thank you, Mel and Gary.

You and all of our "Soulforce" friends who went with you have our love and appreciation.

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