others to accept and feel good about themselves. Develop and
share with others your new joy and freedom. Grow through daily
study and meditation.
Matthew 10:8, 19-20; 28:19-20: "Heal
the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons: freely
you received, freely give... When they deliver you up, do not become
anxious about how or what you will speak; for it shall be given you in
that hour what you are to speak; for it is not you who speak, but the
Spirit of God who speaks in you... Make disciples of all people... I am
with you always, even to the end of the age."
other people about your own experience of finding freedom from abusive
religion and your joy and happiness in feeling good about yourself will
help you to grow stronger in your own faith. As you encourage
other people, you also will be encouraged to continue to grow, heal,
learn, and recover.
Further discussion of Step 12 can be found in my book Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse in the following Lessons:
Click here to see recent update on "Accept Yourself".
(Click on Bible references to see them.)
No. 45. "GOOD NEWS FOR OUTCASTS"
Mark 4:35-41; 5:1-20
No. 46. "AS YOU GO, MAKE DISCIPLES"
Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 2:8-22
No. 47. "THE BIBLE AS A WEAPON FOR FREEDOM"
Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8; Jeremiah 31:31-34;
No. 48. "FREE AT LAST"
On to "Give Yourself Time to Grow"
"A LITTLE CHILD WILL LEAD"
date for August 22, 2004
RELATIONSHIPS AS WARFARE
disciples of Jesus spent a lot of their time together struggling for
power and authority in the group and arguing about their relationships
to each other and to Jesus. Jesus responded calling for a small
child and saying: "Unless you are converted ("turn around") and become
like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever
then of you humbles yourself as this child, then you are the greatest
in the kingdom of heaven; and whoever receives one such child in my
name receives me." (Matthew 19:1-11)
always develops into a struggle for power and control. Most of
the warfare that is destroying lives every day is based in
religion. The growing warfare in the United States between GLBT
people who seek the civil right for same-sex marriage are being drawn
into a growing battle with religious and political powers that are
willing to offer no compromise. Severe battle lines are being
people tend to wound other people. Destructive dynamics of
oppression have been documented to show that when minorities get rid of
oppression they often become the oppressors themselves against their
own friends, relatives and partners. My e-mail and the great
flood of e-mail that I read from many different lists is dominated by
the painful stories of GLBT people who have been despised, rejected,
abused and beaten down emotionally and socially into very painful
self-rejection and self-destructive actions, feelings and relationships.
In San Francisco, the "Gay Capital of the Universe," it is
appropriate that this large banner hangs in one of the downtown BART stations: "I LOVE YOU! YOU ARE PERFECT! NOW CHANGE!" I think that banner was meant for me. (See update below on Changing Other People.).
close personal relationship that I have tried to develop with someone
else has always evolved into an unpleasant ongoing struggle about who
is in charge and what each of us can and cannot do. Why can't I
grow up into the love that Jesus has given to all of us? I really
do not know. Rodney King, one of the mot famous victims of abuse,
asked the world: "Why can't we just get along?"
BECOMING A CHILD
a child in your self-esteem and in your humility in relating to others
takes a lot of effort. Even the best of children will fight over
the toys. When you are attracted to someone else and really love
that person and you move in together, why do you and I spend so much
time and effort trying to change each other into someone and something
can readily see the negative results of the homophobic pressures that
our society, culture, religion, politics and families exercise against
us at every turn. Recognizing these pressures and these
destructive forces can move you into a simple effective experience of
recovery and spiritual growth that guards you from becoming impatient
and destructive towards yourself and others.
That is a lot easier said than done, isn't it?
ASTOUNDING NEW DEVELOPMENT
week, Vice President Dick Cheney came out in a statement of support for
same-sex relationships and added that his daughter is gay and in a
relationship with another woman. This is incredible in view of
the fact that Cheney's daughter Mary and her partner were not invited
to the Inauguration ceremony for Bush and Cheney.
Cheney was in the audience that the Vice President told of his belief
that people should be allowed to enter into any relationship that they
want. Cheney also is opposed to changing the United States
Constitution over this issue. Cheney's daughter is demonstrating
that "a little child will lead them" in a powerful practical way.
Bush administration and anti-gay religious organizations quickly
repeated opposition to same-sex relationships, but it's too late.
The horse is already out of the barn and the gate cannot be
closed. (See the details of the Yahoo! article
I would love to see the expression on the President's face when he was
told about Dick Cheney's statements. He might have looked stunned
even longer than the 7 minutes that he remained frozen in place when he
was told about the terrorism of 9/11.
Many LGBT citizens
have held strongly negative opinions about the Vice President. In
one brief statement, Dick Cheney has become a new person seen in a new
light that really throws the fat into the fire for the homophobic
establishment in religion and politics. Who knows? Dick
Cheney may be gay himself. (J. Edgar Hoover was!) When Dick
Cheney "came out" in support of his little girl and in support of
same-sex relationships and voiced his opposition to a federal anti-gay
marriage amendment, he risked his own political career (and "infuriated
the Archbishop" –a line out of "Amadeus").
Cheney had to think about this for a long time before he acted, just as
you have had to do. Cheney has revealed his truth to the world,
and the reaction will say a lot about where this highly charged
political war is headed in November. This also will encourage you and
me and help us to be more direct and clear in our own coming out.
who have children or friends who are openly gay are far more supportive
of same-sex couples and civil rights for homosexuals than the general
population. PFLAG is a powerful force in the world for respect
and human rights for GLBT people. Parents and Friends of lesbians
and Gays exists because parents and others have let "a little child"
lead them when that little child grew up and simply said: I am gay."
Read again my material on "How Jesus Came Out"
at the Temple in Jerusalem when he was only 12 years old. Jesus
simply told his parents the truth of who he was. Parents were
anxiously looking for Jesus and told him that that he had caused them a
lot of pain. The reply of Jesus that he had to be doing what God
sent him to do was a wonderful "coming out" demonstration that informs
and encourages all of us. (LUKE 2:39-52)
it about time for you to face and accept your own personal truth and
come out to family and friends so that you can make a difference for
201 W. Washington St. #805
Greenville, SC 29601
If you have a copy of my book, read again the lessons in STEP 9. If you want a copy of my book, please contact Chi Rho Press at:
Update for March 16, 2003
KEEP SEARCHING FOR YOUR OWN TRUTH.
truth is not "out there somewhere". Your truth is already within
you and available to you if you can resist the distractions and false
leads that religion and culture throw across your path. Most of
the people who contact me in letters and e-mail are still searching for
their own truth. The search itself is discovery. The
decision to keep searching and not settle for something that does not
really fit you is itself a giant leap into your truth.
I just now received the web site link and details about "THE
BIG, BIG TABLE"
conference in Columbus, Ohio, that I will help to lead for a group of
area churches this June 14-15, 2003. See the link above.
Look at the web site and plan to attend the conference if you can.
The theme of this conference is: "Reconciling Christians and promoting spiritual growth for people of all sexual orientations." I will deliver the "plenary address" on
"LEGALISM AS IDOLATRY: JESUS AND THE BIBLE" and will conduct workshops on "Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse" and on "Personal Evangelism in the Gay Community."
Brooks and Rev. Marj Creech are planning this event. Donna Brooks
is Director of Write On! Productions. Rev. Marj Creech is pastor
of God's Promise Church in Granville, Ohio. See their web site
for all of the details.
SHARING AND LEARNING
usual, I will probably learn a lot more than I teach at this
conference. My own personal search for my own truth is never
ending. I look forward to meeting the other leaders and the
conference participants and hearing what I need to hear from and along
with them. Nobody ever comes into my life by accident! Or
into yours, either!
Look again at the wonderful help available from Iyanla Vanzant
in her truly great volume of "Daily Meditations for People of Color": "ACTS OF FAITH"
. Read and focus on her meditations for July, August, and September: "Others."
has your search for your own truth led you so far? To
church? Away from church? Into meditation? Back to
school? Back to the Bible? As far away from the Bible as
possible? Into a recovery group? Escape from a recovery
you tried to follow Jesus? Did it work? Have you tried
spiritual paths of the various world religions? Where has your
search led you? What have you learned of your own truth along the
way? The journey is the goal, and the journey never ends.
What have other people taught you? What have you taught to others?
All of us travel different sometimes opposite paths in our search for our
ONE SIZE NEVER FITS ALL
of the greatest distractions from God that traditional religion can
throw across your path is the persistent notion that the truth is
somehow the same for every individual. Jesus resisted the
prevailing religion of his time that demanded the same rituals and laws
for every individual. See my material on "LEGALISM AS IDOLATRY".
Read again my last update on
to refresh your memory about the value of each individual to God and to all of the rest of us.
Nobody else can do your personal search for you. You can, however, learn a lot from the journey that others have
traveled. Whose journey has been most helpful and encouraging to you personally?
DON'T GIVE UP
searching. The search is part of the answer and a necessary path
into your own self-understanding, self-acceptance and self-worth.
How can you ever know and enter into your own truth if you are
convinced by misinformed abusive religion that you cannot accept
yourself? Once you have been taught to believe that you have no
value to God or to others, you give up. Traditional distorted
views of "sin" are some of the most evil concoctions that churches have
created so far to control and diminish people.
thief on the cross called out to Jesus to accept him, and Jesus
did. Before the thief could accept Jesus, he had to accept
himself as having worth and value to himself and to God.
preacher and church may have given up on you. Your parents and
family may have given up on you. Some of your friends may have
given up on you and abandoned you. Don't ever give up on
yourself! Keep searching for your own truth.
already are made in the image of God. The Spirit of God has
already been given to you. The great turning point in biblical
prophecy came when Elijah ran from Jezebel and hid in a cave. God
did not speak to Elijah in fire, wind, and earthquake or any other
outward event. God spoke to Elijah in "a still small voice"
within. The original language of that phrase is "the sound of a
gentle blowing." (I Kings 19:12)
already have the spiritual resources that God has willed for you.
You are not alone in your search for your truth. God is with you
and within you. Don't let religion, the church or the Bible
distract you from God's "sound of gentle blowing" that only you can
March 16, 2003
"CHANGING OTHER PEOPLE"
Update added May 3, 2002:
You cannot change or control other people. They have to change themselves.
often encourages the illusion that if you work hard enough and do the
right spiritual manipulations, you can control and change others.
Abusive religion demands that you change others, no matter if they want
to change or not.
Jesus let people go.
Abusive religion always holds on. Jesus respected the freedom of
individuals to make personal decisions about themselves and their
relationship with God. Abusive religion tries to make decisions
for people through arguments, threats, fear, social pressure and
really cannot change other people. How, then, do people
change? What is the process of spiritual change? If we have
to make spiritual things happen, nothing spiritual would ever
happen! God makes the truth happen and opens minds and hearts to
the love of God. God encourages you to be honest and true to
yourself, to God and to other people.
cannot change others, but you can share with others what you have found
helpful to you in your own spiritual journey. You can
listen. You can offer your encouragement and your concern.
But you cannot change another person.
great deal of the e-mail that I receive from my readers is about their
frustration and pain trying to change parents, friends, and partners
who are judgmental, demeaning and rejecting. I really have little
advice to give. I never know the whole situation that a person
faces, and I don't have a clue as to how to change people who do not
want to change.
cannot change others, but you can change yourself. You can decide
how you will feel about what happens to you, and you can decide what to
do that best fits you and meets your needs. Nobody else can
decide that for you. In the same way, you cannot decide those
things for someone else either.
has given you the gift of creativity. You can think for yourself
and you can create new attitudes and new relationships. You are
not the victim of circumstances. You are in the image of
God. You have a clear sense of destiny and purpose that God has
given to you. You can make great changes for yourself. But
nobody else can make those changes for you.
cannot, however, be creative and make changes for anybody else.
You can watch and wait and care, but you cannot change other people, no
matter how much you love them or how much you want to change
them. This is a hard lesson to learn, especially for me! As
a Christian minister and a spiritual teacher and leader, I am tempted
to try to "arrange things", like Dolly Levi, who "arranged things: like
flowers, garden parties, and lives!" But none of us is equipped
to arrange other people's lives!
LEARNING TO LIVE WITH FRUSTRATION
you can never change another person, you have to learn to live with the
frustration of not having your way! How have you learned to
handle your frustration and distress over not being able to change
somebody who is very important to you? A lot depends on who the
person is to you and what they are doing that you want to change.
you tried to reason with the person you want to change, and then when
that doesn't work, tried to manipulate and pressure the changes that
you want? Trying to manipulate others into making changes that
they don't want to make is a little like trying to play god without the
necessary skills and authority!
frustration and anger because we cannot change someone can lead us to
condemn and reject a person who is really very important and close to
us. Breaking off contact with unchangeable friends, lovers,
family members, or others is often our final grasp at power to change
other people. That doesn't work either!
you feel threatened by the attitudes and behavior of another person
because that person refuses to change, you can take a good look at
yourself and at why you are so anxious to control and change
others. You can also learn to detach from your entanglement with
another person, and you can learn to compromise. Learn to respect
the integrity of the people in your life that are important to you.
ways of relating to others all three reside within each of us. To
act like the controlling demanding parent or the compliant obedient
child is unrealistic for adults. Yet many couples fall into
parent/child patterns of relating to each other. To relate as
adult to adult is to be objective and realistic, but it can take a lot
of self-awareness and honesty to break the old parent/child patterns.
Have you ever had anyone respond to your efforts to change him/her by shouting: "You sound just like my mother!"? I have.
OBJECTIVE, LOGICAL, REALISTIC and PRACTICAL
These four basic
attitudes of thinking honestly and successfully about anything are
especially necessary for getting a grip on your passion for changing
other people. In the first place, be objective. What is the
real reason you want to change others? That will vary from person
to person. There is a lot difference between why you want your
parents to change their homophobic legalistic religious rejection of
you because you are gay and why you want your lover to give in to some
of your demands for control over her/his actions!
Learn when to let go and move on. Read again my material in Step 5, "Avoid Negative People and Churches."
Study the four lessons on this subject in my book. Sometimes the
only objective, logical, realistic, practical way to handle people who
blindly accuse and attack you is to avoid them. Detach. Let
go. Let God fight your spiritual battles for you. You are a
lot more likely to win that way.
of the attitudes and actions against you from people who are hostile to
GLBT people are based on misinformation and emotionally charged
religious ignorance. Use my web site whenever you can to give
accurate reliable believable information to correct the sources of
abusive homophobic religion.
is no destructive power greater than misinformation and no greater gift
that you can give to others than accurate reliable information. I
get e-mail every day from people who have found my web site and have
written to tell me that my web site gave them hope and a reason for
living that they had been searching for all of their lives. The
opposite of information is misinformation, and you already know the
disastrous results of misinformation, misunderstandings, fear,
homophobia, and ignorant religious abuse.
Information is also
the key to getting along with your lover and other friends and
family. Honest, caring, nonjudgmental dialogue between people can
lead to fresh understanding and insight along with real changes that
are made by people who have decided on the basis of evidence and newly
discovered truth that they want to change. Then they will make
changes that they really want. But you cannot make anybody change
just by telling them that they should, either to please you or because
you think they are wrong and need to be corrected.
consists of listening and asking questions, which is the first thing
that Jesus is recorded as doing when he was "sitting with the teachers
in the Temple, listening to them and asking them questions" in Luke
2:46. "Sitting" is just as important as listening and asking
questions. Sitting was always the posture of teachers and
students. Sitting communicated an atmosphere of a relaxed, calm,
exchange of ideas. The preaching style of many overbearing
evangelical fanatics on television and in crusades pacing about and
shouting aggressively at their audience is a pattern than has invaded
the thinking of many religious people and turned them into really
obnoxious screamers instead of quiet listeners that demonstrate the
caring humble Spirit of Jesus.
is hard to be calm when others are yelling at you and belittling you
with false teachings and misinformation. You can still pray:
"God, grant me the courage to change what I can change, the strength to
accept what I cannot change and the wisdom to know the
difference." Accept the truth that you cannot change other people.
to wait. Change takes time. Plant the seeds of love and
truth. Give them time to grow. Whatever you do in
relationships, you will never regret doing the loving thing. You
can always be an agent of change, if you begin with yourself.
the current May, 2002, newsletter of Interfaith Working Group
("Religion at Critpath") maintained by Chris and Barbara Purdom in
Philadelphia. This is a great source of accurate up-to-date
information related to LGBT issues and events. Click on:
http://www.iwgonline.org/ktf/ to see the newsletter.
"LIFT ME UP SO I CAN SEE TOO"
Update for December 20, 2001
years ago in Havana, before Castro, a Baptist preacher was visiting
Cuba and stood with the crowd watching a parade. A little boy
came up to him and said something to him in Spanish. The preacher
did not understand and thought the boy was asking for money; so he told
him: No! Then the little boy tugged on his coat and said the same
thing again, and again the preacher said, No. At last the boy
said the same thing again, and the preacher shoved him away and said,
No, no money! Much later, the preacher was in his hotel room and
looked up the words that the boy used. He was not asking for
money. He said three times, "Please, mister, lift me up so I can
that the real meaning of Christian ministry: "Please lift me up so I
can see too?" Probably. As you move into the opportunities
and challenges of the year 2002, what will be your goals and hopes for
the future? How will you relate to the people around you?
What do you want to leave behind so that you can move on? What
have you personally learned from the terrorism and war since September
OUR FRAGILE WORLD
live in a world that has become more threatening and fragile since the
sudden explosion of terrorism in New York City and in the anthrax
biological terrorism throughout the country. Since September 11,
I have made three plane trips to the east coast. Flying is
different now. Flying was once a routine pleasure, but it has now
become a monumental hassle and waiting game. Yet life goes on,
and so do the airline industry and the stumbling but recovering economy.
you have found to keep you going under pressure is worth sharing with
others. Look around you. You have plenty of opportunities
to lift up others so that they can see too.
of you have written detailed accounts of your struggles with coming
out, relating to your homophobic families and friends, questions about
God and spiritual issues that have frustrated you and challenged your
mind and emotions. You have learned a lot from your personal
experiences no matter how awful and threatening they might have
been. You have accumulated a great reserve of "lifting" power
because of what you have endured.
LGBT PEOPLE ARE POWERFUL
people are the strongest people in the world simply because we have had
to work so hard just to survive. You have faced pressures from
religion and homophobic society as well as from your own families and
friends that have tested your resolve and have made you develop
survival skills that keep you going even in the face of incredible
abuse and rejection.
have been able to work through extreme emotional situations and
threatening circumstances that never seem to let up. You have
faced your fears and learned to accept yourself and love yourself no
matter what the churches and politicians say. You have become
equipped to "lift up others so that they can see too!"
EVOLUTION AND SURVIVAL
basic theory behind "the origin of the species through natural
selection" is the "survival of the fittest." In the ongoing
evolution of the human race, homosexuals are leading the way into the
future of humankind by learning and growing into better humans by
handling pressures and threats beyond what others face.
people have to concentrate and learn more accurate information than
others in order to survive the garbage flow of ignorance that threatens
to overwhelm us all. We also have to face and handle effectively
the emotional stress created by living "in the closet" and hiding our
true identity. We grow stronger every moment as we deal with the
creeping horror of self-hate and self-rejection to which we are
subjected through unrelenting attacks by sick legalistic abusive
THE FUTURE BELONGS TO YOU
a scene in the park features a beautiful young man who sings a stirring
song about: "Tomorrow Belongs to Me!" The crowd is drawn into the
emotions of the music and the enthusiasm of the Hitler youth and joins
in singing in an ever-increasing tempo into an emotionally charged
shout. This scene is probably one of the most effective movie
events ever made. To whom does the future belong now? Does
the future belong to you as a growing, learning, surviving homosexual
person? I think that it does!
you continue to grow into greater emotional and spiritual maturity and
develop into a fully functioning human in the image of God, you are
becoming the future of the human race. You are being prepared to
"equip the saints for ministry." You are ready to hear the plea:
"Please lift me up so I can see too!"
have nothing to fear from terrorism or from pressures and struggles of
the mind, body and soul. You are marching with a great rapidly
expanding army of LGBT people who are already changing the world far
more than did the events of September 11. The future belongs to
you. Let go of the past except to learn from it and seize the
moment. Freedom, self-esteem, joy, love, hope and peace with God
are here now within your reach.
being you. Accept your necessary role in creating a better
humanity and a better world. God is with you. You do not
struggle alone. You are "surrounded by a great cloud of
witnesses." A great multitude of others travel the same road with
you. You grow stronger through adversity and you become more
powerful every day that you simply survive. You re-enforce your
own self-esteem and vision of truth every time that you "lift up others
so that they can see too."
As Jesus and Troy Perry said: "Don't Be Afraid Anymore!"
give up. Take courage and persevere. The waters of the
stormy sea are parting in front of us, and God is leading us over dry
land into a brave new world that you are helping to create simply by
accepting and being you.
See the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches
web site for messages by Troy Perry and to find a local MCC near where you live.
"WHERE IS THE TRUTH?"
Update added April 14, 2002
of the darkest recesses of your memories and vaguely remembered
experiences, truth can emerge into clear perspective with the help of
the Spirit of God. Once you know your own truth, you will cringe
before the glare of its relentless light. Do you really want the
truth? Or do you want to affirm and sustain the hypocrisy of all
cultures and religions and the destructive prejudices that society has
forced upon you from the time you drew your first breath?
have had to face and accept some painful truth as I recently read a
brief but powerful book by Asian gay men telling the truth about the
cultural clashes and racism of gay Asian/White relationships. The
book is "Rice: Explorations into Gay Asian Culture + Politics" Edited with an Introduction by Song Cho; published in 1998 by Queer Press, Toronto.
noticed and bought the book a few days ago at Different Light Book
Store in the Castro. As I read it, I reluctantly realized how
much truth I had missed in my relationships with gay Asian men and
other gay men of colors, who often have been my friends, partners,
lovers, teachers and tormentors. And I am sure that I have been
the same to them.
is a denial of the truth. Racism dominates GLBT culture just as
it does all cultures. White male privilege and dominance over
people of colors is a destructive fact of life that compromises all
relationships and muddies the waters of love, affection, sex and
emotional attachments. The book, "Rice", forced me to face and
admit some very negative unpleasant things about myself.
other people into stereotypes and objects is not just what the non-gay
world does to us; it is what we do to each other on a regular
basis. I wish it were different. I would love to think that
I am truly objective, logical, reasonable and practical in how I view
and relate to the people in and around my life. But I am
not. This is not because I am a bad person or because I am
ignorant. It is simply because I have usually not been forced to
take a really honest good look at myself and my way of relating to many
of the most significant people in my life.
TRYING TO ESCAPE
suppose that I have spent a lot of the past 21 years since I was outed
as gay and left the Baptist College in 1981 trying to escape from a lot
of unpleasant realities and truths about myself and about my own ways
of seeing people. My being gay is not the problem. My
sexual orientation is a given and is simply part of who I am in the
image of God. My attitudes and images of other people, however,
are the creations of my own imagination and often the result of my
un-objective illogical unrealistic assumptions about other people in my
you have realized some of these same issues in your own life but have
not been able to define and deal with them. The turning point for
me was having the writers in "Rice" make me realize how wrong I had
been about what other significant people in my life really felt and
thought. Now the big question is what to do about it!
really don't know. Probably just being aware of the truth and
what is really going on in my own personal cross-cultural relationships
will have a positive and healing effect for me and for my
friends. I hope so.
gay Jewish Christian in Israel has often been in touch with me about
the pressures and conflicts that he is facing and trying to handle in
an incredibly tumultuous world. Every day I receive e-mail from
LGBT people in many different nations, many different cultures and
religions who are struggling with family rejection and community and
religious abuse that threaten their security and even their very lives.
there an all purpose answer that fits everyone? Of course
not! No two people are exactly alike. I am usually
frustrated trying to decide how to reply to most of the e-mail that I
get from readers of my web site, book and updates. I do believe
that the Spirit of Jesus and the real Jesus of the Gospels provide a
point of reference to the truth, but each individual sees God and
spiritual resources in his/her own individual way based on their
personal history and way of viewing themselves and their world.
THREAT AND HOPE
exploration of your inner world can be both threatening and
healing. Discovering your own personal truth is scary and also
the path to renewal and hope for a better way of life and more honest
fulfilling relationships. Don't be afraid to take a good honest
look at why you relate to and treat people the way you do. You
cannot hide from yourself, though all of us try to do so at times.
really do know when you are trying to manipulate other people and use
them instead of relating to them as having equal value to you as you
have to yourself. Just remember that all people have equal value
to God, and you are not better able to judge and control others than
God! Letting other people be themselves and accepting and
affirming them as they are is simply "doing unto others as you would
them to do unto you." This is called "the golden rule!"
ACTING ON THE TRUTH
attitudes and behavior towards others is already firmly entrenched in
lifelong patterns and channels that can be very resistant to
change. Kermit says, "It isn't easy being green." But it is
even more difficult to change from green to gold. You don't have
to continue the demeaning and dishonest attitudes that may still linger
in your relationships. You can change. You are wonderfully
human, and you have been given the capacity to think, make decisions
and act to make changes even in your own ways of seeing yourself and
is never too late to be honest and face your own truth. It is
also never too soon to be honest and to face your own truth! What
can you do today to make your own life more honest and
compassionate? Compassion is your capacity to hear and listen to
others and to feel what they are feeling and see things from their
point of view. This is one of the great gifts that Jesus had and
that the Spirit of Jesus freely gives to you.
aware of what you are thinking, feeling and doing about significant
people in your life is a great step in the direction of true love, joy
will be at Broadway Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, next
weekend: April 19-21 for workshops, preaching, book signings,
interviews, group meetings. Call the church for
information. I will meet with Ashley Moore and the "Transcendence Gospel Choir"
(the Transgendered Gospel Choir) of the City of Refuge Church in San
Francisco on Saturday, April 27, to share my book with them. I am
sure that I will learn as much as I teach! See their web site at
"LET GOD HANDLE IT
Update for November 3, 2001
"God, give me the serenity to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can, and the good sense to
know the difference."
lot of things are beyond your understanding and ability to
change. Repeatedly the Bible tells us that nothing is impossible
with God. Yet we continue to try to do the impossible
ourselves. We try to manipulate other people and force them or
trap them into doing what we want. It never really works, does
it? Trying to play God is truly exhausting work!
behavior that leads you down the deadly path of trying to control
others or letting others control you can trap you in an unending cycle
of self-destructive attitudes and behaviors. Anger is usually the
result of frustration, and frustration often grows out of not being
able to have your own way.
SO YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL
let it get you down. Nobody is completely in control of very much
in life. Being able to handle what you can and leave the rest to
God is a spiritual goal that few of us reach. We have a passion
for control. "Man the Manipulator" by Everett L. Shostrom was a
popular social studies book published by Bantam in 1968 that described
the human passion for control that can disrupt and frustrate our
lives. Like Dolly Levi, we want to "arrange things: like flowers,
garden parties, and lives!"
People who are
caught up in the religion industry develop a fascination and
preoccupation with arranging and controlling the lives of other
people. The ultimate expression of control is probably the
preacher in the pulpit or on television, who for long sessions of an
hour or more is allowed to speak with authority to other people about
how they should live their lives whether or not they have a clue about
what they are saying and how it is really affecting the victims of
their abusive obsessive religious pronouncements.
being in control of what others do is a great virtue, not a dismal
mistake. We ponder and imagine how we can get our partners to
cooperate and be what we want them to be, but we often have great
difficulty just letting them be themselves and encouraging and
supporting them in being who they want to be. We have difficulty
really listening to our significant others long enough to have a clear
understanding of who and what they really want to be.
culture tries to press you into a mold that does not fit you, but
religion goes farther and tries to press you into a mold that doesn't
fit anybody. How much has your religious background led you to
believe that you know more about what other people should do with their
lives than they do?
HELPING OTHER PERSONS TO GROW
other persons to achieve their full potential and to develop and grow
into their real self-identity that truly fits them takes a lot of
patience, courage, and common sense, all of which are in short
supply! We have some kind of built in bogus radar that makes us
think we know what is best for other people, when we often are making a
real mess of our own lives. What kind of distorted psychology
creates that kind of deliberate disaster? Is it "Satan"? Or
is it just plain ordinary run-of-the-mill abusive religion?
another person who or what he/she should be is a dead-end street for
dynamic growing relationships. Letting the other person feel safe
and accepted telling you who or what he/she wants to be can be
liberating and redemptive. Spiritual ministry according to Jesus
is far more expressed in creative listening than in forceful
you ever had someone try to convince you that what you want is totally
wrong for you? This is the persistent experience of LGBT people,
who are told repeatedly and with great conviction by significant others
in their lives that their sexual orientation and what they desire
sexually and emotionally in same-sex relationships is wrong, evil,
ungodly, and an unforgivable evil! No wonder we are confused and
contradicted by traditional religion.
WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO CONTROL YOU?
has the right to control you but yourself and God, who made you with
built in personal values and self-images that spring from your creation
in the image of God as the basic fact of your existence. If you
cannot accept me, affirm me and encourage me, just leave me alone!
your God-give right and responsibility to take charge of your own life
goes the obligation to know yourself and to know pertinent accurate
information about yourself and your purpose in life. It is not
selfish to concentrate on who you really are what you really want in
life. It is necessary for healthy living and realistic
spirituality. You can never live somebody else's goals and
aspirations, and you cannot build truth about yourself on borrowed
experiences and prejudices from other people.
THINK FOR YOURSELF
you really want to help your partner to become the person you can love
and accept and trust, then help and encourage your partner to think for
himself/herself. Don't try to think for someone else. You
cannot do it. You can try to impose your goals and ideas on
others, but they don't stick. They don't work. The only
goals and ideals that make any difference are the ones that the
individual thinks through and accepts. You cannot impose anything
on another person that will really make a difference in the long run.
it: you are not your partner. You have a lot in common, but you
have valuable and necessary differences, even conflicts, that are
legitimate and part of the human mix that makes you special and
attractive to each other. Why do we meet people that we find
attractive and lovable then immediately set out to try to change them
to conform to what we expect and what we want?
are good at pretending to be what you want them to be. But the
illusion of conformity is a lie, and the relationship is on shaky
ground from the word go! We all wear masks that we think will
please our significant other, but eventually the mask dissolves,
reality sets in, and frustration builds and the relationship begins to
fall apart. Then we begin the same dismal cycle over again with
somebody else. What a mess!
LETTING GOD HANDLE IT
there a way out of the swamp of controlling and being controlled in our
most significant relationships? Yes, there is. Let God do
the controlling. You do the loving, understanding, accepting,
patience and liberating that encourages and helps your partner to be
true to who and what your partner really wants and desires in life.
is not control. Love is letting go. Love is being with and
being supportive for whatever your partner really considers to be
valuable in life. Telling the truth takes great courage.
Truth is often very threatening and quite confusing in
relationships. The old saying is: The best way to break up a
beautiful friendship is to answer honestly the question: "What do you
really think of me?" Any relationship that cannot survive honesty
is false and doomed, no matter who thinks he/she is in control of it!
do I know all of this is true? Because I am living in it every
moment of every day as I write this to you. And so are you.
Pay attention to what is really happening in your most intimate
relationships. Who is trying to control whom? Where is God
in all of this? How much courage does it take for you to let God
be in control of what really matters most to you?
The Spirit of Jesus is the most powerful liberating affirming force in human experience.
Update for April 6, 2001
of you who receive these updates have endured long struggles for
survival and worked hard to build and maintain your own self-esteem.
What has kept you going? What has most motivated you to continue
in your purpose for living and not give up?
I have intensified my study of the Gospel "according to Luke" to
discover more clearly the "real Jesus" of the gospels, I have come to
realize that the overall theme of the life and ministry of Jesus was
based in his own acceptance of himself as to who he was and why he was
here. Luke makes it clear that Jesus consistently affirmed his
own humanity and his identification with all people.
was born as a tiny baby, just like everybody else. Jesus was
descended from a long line of people, just like everybody else.
Jesus grew up and declared his independence from his parents, just like
everybody else. Jesus went to see John the Baptist, just like
everybody else, but he did not identify with John. He never
baptized anyone himself (John 4:2).
identified with the people, the "sinners" and all types of individuals,
who came to humble themselves in baptism and turn their lives over to
God. Jesus was baptized just like everybody else. Jesus was
baptized for the whole human race. Everything Jesus did was done
for the entire human race and for you, no matter what you might do or
not do about religion.
wanted Jesus to baptize him. Jesus said "No." Later, Jesus
remarked about the greatness of John, but he said that the least in the
kingdom of God were greater than John (Luke 7:28). Jesus always
plowed new ground. The most startling new thing that Jesus did
was to identify with everybody else instead of identifying with
religion and religious leaders.
his temptations, Jesus refused to use magic and religion to deny his
humanity. He identified with everybody who has been tempted to
quit and not follow through with being the genuine human being in the
image of God that you are and that Jesus saw himself to be. All
of us like Jesus are tempted to give up and quit being who we really
are. Why have you not quit?
WHAT THE NEIGHBORS THINK
Luke 4, Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth and spoke at the
local church and everybody thought he was wonderful. Then he
dropped his bombshell and said that he was just like everybody else and
accepted everybody else just like God did. He included everybody;
even the hated and despised foreigners and other marginalized and
oppressed people. For this, the neighbors rejected him and
plotted to kill him. Jesus was not being hateful or
abusive. He was just being himself. That was not acceptable
to the neighbors.
4:16-30 is a clear concise summary of the story of Jesus according to
Luke. When the hometown neighbors rejected and threatened
violence against Jesus, they demonstrated the exclusive attitude that
defined their religion on the basis of who was left out. When
churches define themselves on the basis of who they leave out, they
cease to follow Jesus and thus cease to be Christian.
you think about yourself is far more important than what the neighbors
or your family or anybody else might think about you. What you
think about yourself and how you see yourself determines your goals and
your mission in life. Who are you to you? If you are one
with all humanity, you define yourself by who you include in your life
and not by who you leave out. You have to love and accept
yourself before you can love your neighbor as yourself.
WHAT THE CHURCH THINKS
rejected religion just like everybody else did. But Jesus refused
to be a hypocrite and pretend to believe nonsense that comes disguised
as "faith" or abuse and oppression that masquerade as "the will of
God". He rejected the Temple and predicted its total
destruction. He intentionally broke the abusive religious laws of
exclusion and accepted everybody equally no matter if they were "clean"
or "unclean," sick or well, poor or rich, male or female, gay or
straight, slave or free, Jew or Gentile, crazy or sane, soldier or
defied and rejected the whole concept of "religion" that uses and
controls people in the name of God. Jesus rejected magic, ritual,
idolatry, oppression and all other forms of mind control practiced by
religion. Jesus wanted above all else for people to be free,
truly free, to be themselves and to celebrate and enjoy being genuine
human beings loved and accepted as the children of God.
did not accept the prevailing religious opinion of himself. Do
you accept the judgmental rejection of yourself by religion
today? Jesus was despised and rejected by religion, but he
refused to reject himself. Jesus was uniquely human in the
powerful dynamic meaning of God's purpose for all humans from the very
beginning. When God made humans in the Genesis story, God said,
"That's good." Religion ever since has tried to convince people
that being the human that God made is bad, not good.
I have a choice between Jesus and religion, I don't see that it is a
very difficult choice. Accepting Jesus is accepting yourself; so
do it! Then let go of whatever gets in your way, including
abusive religion, and move on.
Jesus means many different things to many different individuals, but
the basic meaning of following Jesus is to accept and affirm yourself
and your worth and value to God, to yourself, to others and to the
universe and then act on your realistic honest vision of yourself to
find and follow the will of God for you personally. You matter a
lot more than you think. Being true to yourself and accepting
yourself is your first step in changing the world.
BEING HONEST, LOVING AND CONFRONTIVE
led by Mel White, Gary Nixon, Jimmy Creech, Elizabeth Montgomery Rutt,
and a great multitude of volunteers and supporters are acting on being
themselves and continuing the revolutionary inclusive mission of Jesus
in many events in the coming year. Read about the most recent
plans in Soulforce Web Site. I plan to participate in the Soulforce events at the annual meeting of the Southern
Baptist Convention June 11-13, 2001, in New Orleans.
I was pastor of a Southern Baptist Church many years ago, I attended
the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans as a messenger.
That was the first time I ever went to the French Quarter. I
visited the French Quarter again on a trip in 1996,when I saw
everything through different eyes and enjoyed it a lot more.
being yourself. Feel good about who you are. Affirm your
own value as a human being and help others to accept and affirm
themselves. Welcome and affirm yourself and you can become a
powerful welcoming and affirming force wherever you are, within or
outside of church. Religion is often the brick wall across the
path. Jesus can be your detour around the barrier into the full
and meaningful life God has planned for you to enjoy and share.
On to "Give Yourself Time to Grow"