cannot win this battle against abusive religion by yourself.
Jesus faced and won the victory for all people over oppressive religion.
a fearless objective look at your faith. It is really
yours? Religion may have abused and oppressed you so that you
have more doubts than faith. How can you regain your spiritual
life and health? How can Jesus help? Jesus said, "Follow me." (Mark 8:34).
What does "follow Jesus" mean to you?
person experiences Jesus Christ in his or her own way. No two people
have exactly the same experience with Jesus, because no two people are
exactly alike. Attempts by religious leaders to expect and demand
conformity to a standard kind of "experience with Christ" for everyone
are unhealthy and usually lead to a shallow and hypocritical temporary
experiences with Jesus that are recorded in the Gospels and The Book of
Acts and you will notice that no two experiences are exactly the
same. Only Paul met Christ on the Road to Damascus. Your
experience with God in Christ will fit you just as the biblical
experiences always fit the personality and situation of each
individual. Enjoy being yourself. Let Jesus be for you what
truly fits you. You have the promise of the help of the Holy
Spirit to guide you to discover and experience Jesus for yourself in
the ways that best fit you.
See my brochure on Invitation To Freedom.
The following material has been found useful to many people from an evangelical background.
YOU ARE INCLUDED IN GOD'S LOVE
loves you so much that God gave God's only child that you would not
throw your life away but could have a life full of joy and hope now and
For God did not send
Jesus to oppress you but that you might be set free!"
said, "I speak to you so that in me you can have peace. In this
world you live under pressure, but cheer up! I have won the
victory over everything!" --John 16:33
To live is to be under pressure and to have problems. The offer of help from Jesus is
available to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual people!
Bible never discussed gender orientation. The 6 Bible verses used
to condemn and reject us are twisted out of context, distorted and
incorrectly translated to hurt people not intended in the Bible!
is no word for "homosexual" in the original languages of the
Bible. No reference to gender orientation exists in the Bible!
army of ignorant religious terrorists have wrung fear and hate out of
the Bible to use against us to try to take hostage our spirituality and
our sexuality. Jesus faced similar kinds of Bible abuse and
came to set people free from abusive sick religion. Jesus came to
give us God's unlimited love and to invite us to live in the "truth
that sets us free." --John 8:32; 15:11
GOD LOVES AND ACCEPTS YOU! GOD WANTS YOU TO LOVE
YOURSELF AND OTHERS!
cannot "love your neighbor as yourself" until you love yourself!
Remember that YOU are your own closest neighbor. The word
"neighbor" in the Bible means "the one near by."
GOD LOVES YOU
JUST AS YOU ARE!
Bible nowhere says that you can or should earn God's love. God's
love is a free gift that nobody can ever take away from you!
"God demonstrated God's own love for us in that while we yet were in rebellion
against God, Christ died for us." --Romans 5:8
grace you are set free (saved) through faith, not of yourselves.
Spiritual freedom (salvation) is a gift from God and not a result of
human effort. So not one of us can boast (before God)."
THE LIBERATING PROMISE
"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free! --John 8:32
AND ABUSIVE RELIGION
said, "I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are
thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them. I am the
door. The one who enters through me shall be set free and shall
go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal,
and kill, and destroy. I CAME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE A FULL AND
ABUNDANT LIFE!" --John 10:7-10
said that abusive and destructive religious leaders are thieves who
come only to steal, kill, and destroy. That is very strong
condemnation by the one who was patient, kind, gentle and compassionate
with all sick, outcast and rejected people.
This stark contrast between Jesus and sick religion is emphasized throughout the Four
Gospels. You also may have suffered under oppressive and abusive religion.
Don't let sick religion keep you from God!
GOD'S GIFT TO YOU
love and acceptance are available to you. God's love is inclusive
and unconditional. God's love includes YOU.
needs and can enjoy God's "grace." The word "grace" means "an
unearned gift." Nobody can earn God's love, for God's love has
already been given freely to all people!
wants to set you free from the limitations and pain of "sin." The
word "sin" in the Bible means "to miss the target." Sin is
failure to hit the target of God's good purpose for your life to reach
your greatest possible potential for joy and fulfillment.
defined "sin" as the failure to love. Jesus gave a new
commandment to the disciples to "love one another just as I have loved
you" and added, "By this everybody will know that you are my disciples
(followers) if you love each other." --John 13:34-35
BECAUSE GOD ACCEPTS YOU,
YOU CAN ACCEPT YOURSELF
"Therefore accept one another, just as Christ also accepted you to the glory of God."
GOD ACCEPTS YOU . . .
BUT HAVE YOU ACCEPTED GOD?
"Behold, now is the right time! Now is the day of freedom (salvation.)" --2 Corinthians 6:2
CAN INVITE JESUS INTO YOUR LIFE NOW
you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Sovereign and believe in your
heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be set free
(saved). Any person who calls on the name of God will be
delivered!" --Romans 10:9 & 13
BECOMING A CHRISTIAN IS EXTREMELY SIMPLE
The only invitation that Jesus gave to
people was "FOLLOW ME."
you invite Jesus into your life, you receive the help of God in all of
your other decisions. You have the Spirit "helper" promised by
Jesus to all who follow Jesus.
went about setting people free from abusive and oppressive
religion. Becoming a Christian does not mean becoming
religious! It means that you let God do for you what God already
wants to do for you but cannot do without your permission!
Let go and open up your mind and your heart to God's love!
DO IT NOW!
Jesus to come into your life is the most important decision you will
ever make! It is the act of faith that turns your life into a
positive and healthy new direction.
Pray this prayer or use other words that are more
comfortable for you.
I ADMIT TO YOU THAT I NEED YOUR LOVE AND FORGIVENESS.
I TURN TO YOU NOW AND ACCEPT YOUR LOVE FOR ME.
I INVITE JESUS TO COME INTO
MY LIFE TO BE MY SAVIOR AND GUIDE.
SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE MY LIFE IN YOUR WILL AND TO LOVE MYSELF AND OTHERS.
THANK YOU FOR SETTING ME FREE TO ACCEPT MYSELF AND TO ENJOY BEING ME!
--IN JESUS' NAME, AMEN.
TELL somebody about what you have
experienced. Tell the person who is most important to you. Tell your friends.
WRITE out your experience of inviting Jesus into your life and be able to share it with other people.
PRAY and ask for God's help to enter fully into your new life of following Jesus.
READ and study the life and teachings of Jesus in the Four Gospels.
FIND or BEGIN a
spiritual support group for yourself and others.
YOU HAVE BEGUN THE STEPS
TO RECOVERY FROM BIBLE
ABUSE AND FROM SICK
AND OPPRESSIVE RELIGION!
quotations are translations by the author and are based on the fact
that "save" in the Bible literally means "to set free" or "liberate.")
Further discussion of Step 3 can be found in my book Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse in the following Lessons:
(Click on Bible references to read them.)
No. 9. "HOW TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN"
John 3:16-17; Romans 10:9-13
No. 10. "THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE"
No. 11. "WHAT THE CRUCIFIXION SAYS ABOUT YOU"
No. 12. "HOPE AND THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS"
Romans 6:4;1 Peter 1:1-9 and read all of Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24 and John chapters 20 & 21
Update added July 25, 2004
new television series about fire fighters is called "Rescue Me."
Sometimes we need somebody else to rescue us from a variety of dangers
and depressions. Many of you recently have been helpful to me to
"rescue" me from financial and other disturbing problems. Thank
"RESCUE THE PERISHING"
1820, Fanny Crosby was blinded by an incompetent doctor and yet went on
to become the most prolific hymnist in history, producing over 8,000
hymns. (See links below.) She herself was "rescued" from
her blindness through her calling to write hymns of deliverance and
hope that have inspired millions of people throughout the world.
One of her most famous and often sung hymns is "Rescue the Perishing".
wrote this hymn in 1869 on the way home after visiting a "rescue
mission," meeting the people there and hearing their stories. My
favorite part of that hymn is verse three:
"Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter,
Feelings lie buried that grace can restore;
Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness,
Chords that were broken will vibrate once more."
(See the entire hymn in link below.)
"TOUCHED BY A LOVING HEART"
ministry of Jesus in the Gospels can be described as "the touching of
people by a loving heart." This is something that you and I also
can do. It is also something that often has been done for you and
for me by others. Your "loving touch" can work miracles of relief
and restoration for others.
New Testament Greek word "save" could also be translated
"rescue," "set free" or "deliver". The Greek word's for
"save" and "savior"
were used for many kinds of people who saved or "rescued" people from
something. Teachers, doctors, military leaders, politicians,
prophets "saved" "delivered" or "rescued" people from ignorance,
sickness, oppression, anarchy, sin, etc.
just clicked on "save" to keep this message on my computer and realized
that one of our most common uses of "save" means to keep something like
it is so that it will not be "lost".
THE RELIGIOUS CORRUPTION OF "SAVE"
1993 I made a tour of some of the MCC congregations in the Pacific
Northwest for evangelism, teaching, workshops and retreats. I visited
with Rev. Frodo Okulam and her family in Portland,
Oregon. Frodo, a former high priest in Wicca (See link below),
was pastor of a local Metropolitan Community Church that was reaching a
lot of women who had been neglected and rejected by other
churches. I greatly admire Frodo and her special work.
sat around in a circle in her home as I began to go through my MCC
brochure on "How to become a Christian" ("The Bible as the Friend of
Gays and Lesbians"). One question that was raised by the group
was the problem that they had with some of the words. I asked:
which words? They said: "saved," for one! Then they
explained to me that the way many fundamentalist religious people use
the word "save" is to expect anybody who is "saved" to become the same
kind of closed minded religious bigot as they are!
was when I began to explore exactly what biblical "save" really means
and came to the clear conclusion that a better translation of biblical
"to be saved" would be "to be set free" or "to be liberated".
Look at my website material on Step Three for more details (See link
below). Step Three includes my revised guide to "How to Become a
Christian," in which I use the word "liberate" in place of "save" and
give a brief explanation. (My book goes into a great deal more
detail on this issue.)
RESCUED FROM WHAT?
preacher read a newspaper story about the dramatic rescue of a child
from a burning building. He decided to tell the story in his
Sunday sermon to illustrate people being saved from hell. He told
the details of how a ladder was put up to the wall, a hole was cut into
the wall, and the child was brought down to safety just in time.
He was surprised that there was no reaction by the congregation.
After church, he asked his wife what was wrong with the story.
She replied: "You forgot to tell them that the building was on fire."
is constantly trying to rescue people from imaginary and unspecified
horrors based on medieval mythology and spooky memories. One of
the greatest challenges today is to rescue people from religion
itself! Anything that you can do to rescue others from legalistic
judgmental abusive religion is a clear act of "following" Jesus and
continuing the work of the Holy Spirit.
LEARN TO THINK
to think for yourself and to trust your own mind can be a great
liberating experience! Develop your personal use of objective,
logical, realistic, practical thinking so that your self-esteem will
soar and your sense of freedom and liberation will make you a better
and more useful person to yourself and to others.
liberation from the binding and limiting self-image that has been
forced upon you by parents, family, church, your culture and your own
willingness to let other people do your thinking for you. My
personal mission in life now is to help everybody, not just GLBT
people, to accept and feel good about YOU so that you will quit hurting
yourself and others.
201 W. Washington St. #805
Greenville, SC 29601
Fanny Crosby (1820-1915)
"Rescue the Perishing"
See the following update on the meaning of the resurrection added for Easter 2002:
"THE FIRST DAY"
the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the
earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the
deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the
waters. And God said: Let there be light: and there was
light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided
the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and
called the darkness Night. And the evening and the morning were
the first day." (Genesis 1:1-5)
gave light to make everything else possible. Without light, there
can be no beauty, truth, life or love. What does the creation say
the first day of the week, the disciples went to the tomb of Jesus and
found it empty. One of the women, Mary, lingered there and met
Jesus face to face. She did not recognize Jesus at first until
Jesus called her name and thereby opened her vision to who was really
standing before her. She had thought that Jesus was the gardener
who had taken the body away. Jesus from the beginning was known
only by those to whom Jesus revealed himself because they were
receptive to the truth and to the radical revision of reality that
What does the resurrection of Jesus say to you?
do not encounter Jesus in paintings and statues, which are merely
somebody's imaginary picture of Jesus. You encounter the real
Jesus in spiritual events in which Jesus reveals the truth and opens
your mind to your own truth and to Jesus all in the same moment.
The Spirit of Jesus also gives you insight into why other people in
your life are there. An encounter with Jesus truly is the first
day of the rest of your life.
For disciples of
Jesus, every "first day of the week" (Sunday) is a celebration both of
the creation of light and the resurrection of Jesus that brings the
eternal inner light of love, life and hope.
THE HIDDEN BRILLIANCE
is not made up of chance happenings and vague uncertain
coincidences. The Spirit of God is in everything that is
happening to you and around you. The resurrection of Jesus as
told at the conclusion of each of the Four Gospels draws back the veil
and reveals the brilliance of God's living presence that lies back of
everything all the time but is seldom recognized or even suspected.
is already at work in your life far beyond your wildest
imagination. It is not just that "every common bush is afire with
God," but that you also are afire with God's power and presence at this
resurrection of Jesus is essential to the story of Jesus, because the
resurrection is the event that changes completely how you see yourself
and your own significance in the universe and in the life of God.
The meaning of the resurrection is not in the cold hard fact of an
empty tomb but in the mystical experience of each individual who
experiences the reality of God's presence and glory within.
Through the resurrection of Jesus, God calls you by your name and you
are included in the life of the Creator who made and sustains all
life. Are you listening?
THE COLD HARD FACTS
ultimate triumph of the Spirit of Jesus is not found in the cold hard
historical facts, which we can never know anyway, but in your openness
to the truth about yourself and about God's love and acceptance of you
as an individual just as you are.
is in the creation at every moment and in every molecule, atom and
electron and in the lightening and storms and in every event of human
experience. Far more important, however, is the presence of God
within you and at every moment of your life. You cannot exist
without God. The fact that you do exist is evidence enough that
you matter to God and that God has far greater plans for you than you
can ever imagine or fulfill apart from God.
is far more than a single human event. It is the reality that
lies behind everything that is happening in your life and that gives
meaning even to the chaos and confusions that distract all of us from
who we are and why we are here.
RECOGNIZING THE REAL JESUS
Jesus called Mary by her name (John 20:16), she recognized the real
Jesus and entered into a new realm of being that you also can enjoy now
and forever. Debates, doctrines, demands and disasters do not
give you the experience of Jesus calling you by your name and inviting
you to enter into the truth about yourself and God.
powerful spiritual forces of love, life, healing, and hope already
surround you. Stop and think on these things. Don't let
traditional religion distract you from who you already are in God's
love and plan for the universe. Let the resurrection of Jesus on
"the first day of the week" be a personal experience of new beginning
and fresh spiritual energy for you also.
through the stories about the resurrection of Jesus at the end of
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Think and meditate on what these
ancient stories are saying about you and your present life
situation. Let the reality of resurrection draw back the dark
veil and reveal the brilliance of God's love and power that already
dwell within and all around you.
You can't see your own halo. But it's there.
With faith, hope and love,
Different Light Book
Store in the Castro in San Francisco has recently stocked fresh copies
of my book. Go to the Different Light Book Store, explore the
offerings of this important part of our community, and buy a copy of my
book as an Easter present for yourself or for a friend.
The following Update was added February 23, 2001:
"CAN GAY CHRISTIANS BE SURE?"
you be gay AND be a SAVED Christian?" This question was part of a
recent e-mail sent to me by a woman who was struggling with the same
questions that sick and abusive religion has forced on millions of
people. She went on to say, "MANY passages in the Bible PROMISE
the Holy Spirit to those that are saved. If I had a "gift" of the
Holy Spirit (such as speaking in tongues, etc.) I would have PROOF that
I was saved and NO ONE could question whether you can be gay and be
letter went on to describe many personal details of her life-long
struggle to find spiritual joy and peace in the face of religious
rejection and humiliation. She said, "I have grown up with the
idea that you can't be gay and be a Christian. This attitude has
been instilled in me by my parents, by churches, by preachers and now
by the Bible."
thought about this letter for a long time and prayed about my response
before I answered. I am printing the reply that I sent today so
that you might discover some answers that will be appropriate for you.
already have "the love of God poured out into your heart by the Holy
Spirit who was given to you" (Romans 5:5). Read all of Romans
chapters 5, 6, 7, 8 for great encouragement and a clear picture of
God's love, which you already have in abundance.
greatest gift of the Spirit of Jesus is love, for love controls
everything else. You obviously have love in your heart for many
people, especially for your partner. I thank God for your
experience of love! Read 1 Corinthians 13 again and notice the
details in this chapter on love.
nowhere gave any teaching that you had to "speak in tongues" if you
experience the Holy Spirit. Instead, the clear repeated teaching
and example of Jesus was love: "I give you a new commandment that you
love one another just as I have loved you. By this everybody will
know that you are my disciple if you love one another." (John 13:34-35.
you for writing. You are struggling as many people have, not just
gay people, because churches have taught things about Jesus and the
Bible that are just not true. Let go of anything about Jesus that
disturbs you and makes you crazy. No such negative self-rejection
really comes from Jesus. These kinds of self-destructive and
self-rejecting thoughts come from abusive sick religion, which I have
written about at great length in my web site and book.
don't have to do anything to prove you have God's love. You are
made in the image of God and you are the blessed and beloved child of
God. Jesus came to set you free from abusive religion, just as he
did 2,000 years ago in his life and ministry. Jesus came to
destroy destructive religion and replace it with something better:
the section in my web site on "Legalism as Idolatry". The problem
with "speaking in tongues" and other "requirements" of certain church
groups is that they not only have no basis in the life and teachings of
Jesus, they also are made into legalist requirements that separate
people from one another and create artificial barriers between people
and God that Jesus never intended. For Jesus, the ONLY requirement is
love, and you obviously have a great abundance of love in your heart.
to accept and love yourself. A lot of my web site and book is
devoted to helping gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans people love
themselves. Our entire outlook on life is transformed when we
quit fooling around with religion and just relax and let go and accept
God's unconditional all inclusive love for us. I hope and pray
for you that you can and will do that.
you had any contact with a Metropolitan Community Church (MCC)?
The MCC churches are wonderful congregations of GLBT people who are
totally accepting and affirming of all people and who help each other
know Jesus and build strong Christian fellowship based on
self-acceptance and faith in who Jesus really is. Let me know
where you live, and I can tell you where the nearest MCC is located.
you for taking the time to write to me. You already have the
answers to your questions in Jesus. Read through the Gospel of
John. Think about Jesus. You are going to work through all
of this and learn not only how to let go and trust God's love but you
are also learning how to help others to do the same!
(The following material continues the theme of the above letter.)
Update for February 24, 2001:
"THE JOY OF LETTING GO"
I was a student at Furman University in Greenville, SC, and serving as
pastor at Beaverdam Baptist Church, I went through a severe spiritual
crisis of doubting that I was "saved." I had gone to hear a
well-known evangelist preach in a revival in Spartanburg, SC, and he
had stressed having a certain kind of "conversion" and being "sure you
were saved" or you were not saved! He said repeatedly that if you
doubt your salvation, you are not "saved". Somehow, this burned
into my mind and heart and I became literally sick with worry. I
could not sleep, and I worried about my salvation all the time. I
did not have the "feeling" that he described so vividly in his sermon.
advice would you have given to me if you had been with me at that
time? I asked several religion professors and some of my
ministerial student friends if they had doubted their salvation.
The answer always was "No," until I confessed that I doubted mine, and
then they would become honest and share with me their own experiences
of doubt and uncertainty! I realized that the pressure to pretend
to be confident in fundamentalist religion even when you have doubts is
one of the strongest forms of sick abusive religion.
also realized at that time that a lot of what Southern Baptist
ministerial students and pastors preach is not what they have learned
for themselves from the Bible or their own experience but what they
have heard other preachers say, even when they did not know what they
were talking about! A lot of murky uncertain misinformation gets
into sermons and does greater damage to people than the preachers
realize. Ignorance is in charge, and ignorance kills!
DISCOVERING THE TRUTH IN JESUS
I was not satisfied
with any answers that came from other people. Using Young's
Concordance, I looked up and read every verse in the New Testament that
talked about being saved or about salvation. Not one verse
mentioned "feeling" or gave any kind of "proof" that the individual
could depend on beyond simply trusting in God's love and grace. I
was greatly relieved! But I still had no proof. I continued
to pray and search. I finally told God that I might go to hell,
but I would go to hell trusting in Jesus. That hit me as so
ludicrous that I laughed at myself.
worrying, searching and praying episode lasted for about four
months. Needless to say, this distraction from my studies took
its toll in bad grades and other mistakes.
verses of encouragement finally settled my mind. John 3:16-17
became the bedrock of my new confidence. I am included in
"whosoever," and so are you. Another very brief verse helped:
"Cast all your anxiety upon God, for God cares for you." (I Peter
5:7) Finding a way out of the misinformed evangelical demand that
I should experience a certain "feeling" to be sure I was God's child
was a long tortuous journey. The "cold grip of fear" is still a
vivid memory from those days of uncertainly and doubting 48 years
ago. I still have doubts and uncertainties, but they don't drive
me crazy and destroy my sense of peace with God.
THE JOY OF LETTING GO
can still remember my overwhelming sense of relief when I finally
decided to let go of trying to prove my salvation and just trust God to
be in charge. But it was far from all over. I continued for
years to listen to misinformed fundamentalist preachers pontificate
about things that they did not understand. It took many years for
me to begin to become objective and realistic about the Bible and about
what I was called to be and do in ministry. Only when I was outed
and the complete break with Southern Baptists came for me in 1981 was I
able to begin thinking in new directions and with the new freedom that
has led to my web site and book.
Letting go is hard
to do. Psalm 46:10 became more meaningful a few years ago when I
noticed the marginal reading. The verse says, "Be still and know
that I am God." The marginal reading is: "Let go, relax and know
(experience) that I am God." What this says to me is that I don't
have to struggle to play God. I can relax and let go and let God
be in control. I don't have to do everything myself. In
fact, I don't have to do anything myself. This can be a great
has come for me to the degree that I have been willing to let go and
let God be God. I have come to the place now where I really don't
try to manipulate everything and everybody. I am tempted to try,
but it never works. My codependence will never be completely
under control, but I am trying. When I intentionally let go of
trying to control other people, the joy and peace that come are worth
the effort. I have come to the conclusion that when I really
trust God and believe that God is in control, whatever is supposed to
happen will happen, for there are no accidents with God.
Read "Dynamics of Faith" by Paul Tillich for practical help.
See new music drama, "White Darkness," written and directed by Tom Dean and performed by Oakland Opera Theater.
On to Step 4