Gay Survival

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Update for October 1, 2004

Do you ever feel that you are trapped in a situation, a relationship, a job, an addiction, financial problems or any other condition that you cannot control and cannot find a way to escape?  A number of gay men have told me that they feel like a woman trapped in a man's body.  Some of us feel trapped in an unattractive body or face.  Many LGBT people feel trapped in abusive family relationships or unhappy partnerships.  Some of us have felt trapped in abusive religion and in rejecting judgmental churches.

Often rejection, frustration and abandonment can create a lot of anger.  Being trapped in your own anger is one of the most destructive forces that you have to resist and learn to overcome.  "Anger Kills" is the title of the book by Dr. Redford and Virginia Williams.  See link below.  See also my studies on anger in Step 4.

Real freedom eludes you as long as you feel you are trapped in some significant dimension of your life.  This is one of the main reasons that I realized the value of changing the term from "save" to "liberate" or "set free" as the goal and method of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  "Gospel" means "good news," but it never functions as truly good news unless it sets you free from abusive judgmental religion and from the most debilitating situations and conditions in your life.


Make a list of conditions in your life that make you feel trapped.  Ask yourself honestly why you feel trapped and develop a strategy to find and exercise your freedom.  All addictions, including religion and codependency, can generate controlling destructive power to trap you into something that you do not want to be. 

Escaping from being trapped takes a lot of objective, logical, realistic, practical thinking.  You may need the help of someone else to talk with, a small dialogue group or a qualified trained therapist in dealing with whatever has trapped you and limited your life.


You often feel helpless and vulnerable when you are trapped in a situation or with a person that you cannot understand or change.  Trying to change other people into your idea of what they should be can be a form of entrapment that you impose on yourself. 

Codependent relationships can make you feel trapped in your own wasted energy trying to make your partner into somebody else.  You may feel helpless, but you really do have the ultimate power to overcome codependent entrapment.  You can let go and move on.

You can also overcome abusive judgmental religion and churches.  Just walk away.  See the two books listed below on "Leaving the Fold" and other related resources in my website "Resources."


Nobody deserves to be miserable and depressed because of trapped situations that challenge and disrupt your life and your peace of mind.  God created you in God's own image to be in control of your own life and to have the mind of Jesus that is described at length in Philippians 2.  See link below.

Victim mentality is always destructive.  When you feel trapped, you develop a victim self-image, and this is always a further descent into "entrapment."  If you are trapped in a relationship or other self-destructive situations, it is because you have chosen to be.  Nobody can truly entrap you.  You have to do that for yourself.


All of the great civil rights campaigns feature the slogan: "FREEDOM NOW!"  You can have freedom now if you really want freedom.  Why do so many of us continue to wallow in unproductive unpleasant trapped relationships?  I truly do not know.  But we do it anyway.  Perhaps you have found a creative effective way out of your own entrapments.  If so, please tell me about it.


Many years ago in the 1970's, I represented the Baptist College of Charleston every Sunday in church programs around the state of South Carolina.  I often drove across the state on Sunday mornings to be at a local church to present church career programs and lead morning worship.  On one Sunday, I had driven from Charleston to a church in the northern part of the state and arrived at the church early for a men's breakfast.  The sun was just coming up.  I was the only person in the church parking lot.  I got out of my car and heard a sound of barking and yelping.

I looked around and saw a large 50 gallon drum trash can and saw the head of a dog jumping up and down in the drum yelping and whining.  He had fallen into the trash can looking for food and could not get back out.  I went over to the can and tipped it over and got out of the way.  The dog leaped from the trap of the trash can and ran off rejoicing in his new freedom.

It was all so simple.  The dog was trapped and needed help to escape.  Just a little outside help was enough to tip over the can and set him free.  This incident has stuck with me all these years as a kind of parable of the mess we often get ourselves into and find ourselves in a very unpleasant trapped situation.  God can and will set you free if you just invite God to tip over your trash can and give you the courage and energy to escape.

By the way, why were you in the trash can in the first place?

Rembert Truluck
October 1, 2004
(Just remember that I had to read this update and apply it to myself to help me escape from the trash in my own life before I ever sent it out to you!)

My new mailing address is:
201 W. Washington St. #805
Greenville, SC 29601

Reply to this e-mail and give me your phone number and a time to call if you want me to call you or I can give you my phone number so that you can call me.


See Dr. Redford and Virginia Williams: "ANGER KILLS" overview

Philippians 2:1-11

See: "Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion." By Marlene Winell, Ph.D., published 1993 by New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 5674 Shattuck Ave., Oakland, CA. 94609.

See also: http://www.marlenewinell.com/ltf.html

And See: http://www.marlenewinell.com/ltf.htm

See: "Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists." By Edward T. Babinski, published 1995 by Prometheus Books, 59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197.

See also: http://www.edwardtbabinski.us/controversial_book.html

Both of these books are filled with helpful information and practical suggestions that give help to individuals who feel trapped in abusive religions.

Update added July 17, 2001:

Almost every day, I receive letters from people who describe to me their years of self-hate and self-rejection that made their lives miserable because they had been misled by false abusive religion.  Their joy and inner peace from learning to live in the love of God is wonderful to hear.  Suicidal thinking and behavior are over.  Depression and fear of impending doom are gone.  New life and a profound positive new self-image have emerged.

Today, I received an encouraging letter of thanks for my book that included the following: "I now know that God does not condemn me for wanting to follow my natural instincts that are to me as deeply-seated as my desire to take my next breath."

"I wish I could convey in this e-mail the weight that your book has taken off from me and allowed me to finally see myself as a whole person, not just physically and mentally, as my past two mentors have helped me and to whom I owe a great dept of thanks, but now I see myself spiritually as you have shown me a path to complete the other important side of myself.  Friends and family I have spoken to recently have indicated how different I seem even in telephone conversations with them.  I think I'm an example of what LGBT people everywhere are crying out to hear.  Again, thank you!"


Living in the love of God brings a complete realignment of all of your thinking and feeling about yourself and others.  When religion becomes a barrier to experiencing and enjoying a full and meaningful life, something is terribly wrong with religion.  Religion that hides the loving face of God from view behind legalistic judgmental homophobia and misinformation cries out to be challenged and corrected with the truth and love that God demonstrates in everything that God does.

You are not a mistake.  You are made "in the image of God and after God's likeness."  That means that you are already living in God's love until somebody talks you out of it!  We all make mistakes, but that does not mean that you are a mistake.  God's love as revealed in the life and ministry of Jesus is unconditional and inclusive.  Nobody is left out.  The people who feel left out are the ones who have been convinced by religion that they don't belong and don't matter.

The power of negative abusive religion is awesome.  It only takes a little bit of abusive religion to turn teen-ages against themselves for a lifetime of self-hate and despair.  My pastor preached on "Freedom in Christ" yesterday, and as usual, he brought a great sermon that made me think and feel better about myself.  I was reminded that the traditional rituals of MCC could be powerful experiences of renewal and encouragement when they are clearly expressions of the love of God for all of us.


A neighbor complained to me recently that a difficult situation had "made his life miserable."  I did not try to reply at the time, but I thought about it later and realized that nothing that happens to us makes us miserable.  Our attitude about what happens, however, can drive us beyond miserable!  If we look for somebody to blame for every unpleasant thing that comes into our lives and we allow negative attitudes to dominate our thinking, we will create misery and defeat as we go.

Living in the love of God changes your perspective and attitude about everything.

What are the greatest advantages that you enjoy by living in the love of God?  One advantage is that you never have to question your own value and your right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  Because God loves you, you can love and accept yourself and be free to accept and affirm other people also.

Living in the love of God casts out fear and insecurity about what might happen next in your life.  My most helpful text is still Philippians 4:6-7: "Be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  (All of Philippians chapter 4 is worth memorizing and using "when the roof caves in and life seems to fall apart at the seams.")

Living in the love of God empowers you to calm down and be objective, realistic and logical about what is happening all around you.  Knowing that God is truly with you in all things gives you what it takes to "keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you!"

Update added July 22, 2001:


Yesterday I watched another showing of "Gandhi" on television.  If you have not seen this great 1982 movie telling of the story of Mahatma Gandhi or if you have not seen it lately, rent it and learn from it.  Learn the story of this truly great man who literally changed the world and continues to change the world by his teachings and his example.

As I watched the story unfold, I realized that the main thing Gandhi did was simply to be himself.  He identified with his people.  He acted in practical ways to demonstrate his simple trust in God and his commitment to non-violent civil disobedience.  The most memorable scenes in the movie show Gandhi simply being Gandhi.  He made his own clothes, lived in poverty, walked wherever he went, and led his people out of the British Empire.

A basic principle of Gandhi's approach to dealing with abuse and oppression was to pull back from all participation in oppressive institutions.  Gandhi clearly explained what he was doing and why.  His actions matched his words.  He did not attack the oppressors, he simply refused to cooperate with them and give any legitimacy to their authority and power.  Gandhi never wavered.  He was consistent.  He was beaten, spent time in jail, and was finally murdered by one of his own followers.  But he changed the world.


For years many fine leaders, writers, activists and organizations have pointed out the abusive destructive control of religions over GLBT people.  Yet religious institutions continue to misrepresent the Bible, the Gospel, Jesus, God and human nature in ways that produce injury and death to our people.  Religious institutions and churches have a strangle hold on the minds of multitudes of people, who have been conditioned to accept the authority of religion and its abuses as the "will of God."

When labor unions want to protest unfair and unjust business policies, they go on strike.  They simply quit cooperating and supporting the businesses until they change.  Why can't LGBT people do this regarding the abusive homophobic churches?  Do we dare simply to walk away and declare our own independence from abusive religion?


Letting go means exactly what it says.  It means not attending church, not giving money, not supporting or participating in any way in abusive religious structures and institutions.  It does not mean to disappear or to give up.  It means writing a letter to your pastor and to your church.  Declare your truth about yourself.  Declare your self-acceptance as created in the image of God.  Come out about how the church has hurt you.  Explain how you cannot any longer be part of the deceptions and demeaning destructive teachings and policies of the church.  Spell it out in detail in your own way.

Probably 15 to 30 percent of the membership of the average church is LGBT (remember that includes bisexuals), and along with our supportive parents, families and friends we can make an extraordinary impact by staying away.  Mel White pointed out that if all of the gay organists quit church, there would be a great silence in the churches.

Many LGBT people have long ago abandoned the churches, but just dropping out makes little difference to self-righteous religious institutions.  Starting our own churches has helped, but when we repeat the same legalistic judgmental attitudes and controlling lifestyle of traditional churches, our gain has been minimal.


Jesus came into the world to be his true self and calls you to be and celebrate yourself with confidence, self-respect, faith in God and compassion towards all people.  Jesus held a little child in his arms and told the disciples that unless they humbled themselves and became like this little child they could not be part of God's work.  Children begin by enjoying being themselves.

Churches work hard to prevent children from being themselves and enjoying who they are.  Hard wooden pews are torture for little children.  If they sit with their backs against the pew, they can't bend their legs.  If they sit where they can bend their legs, they can't lean against the back of the pew.  They are expected to remain still and quiet in an awkward position for over an hour, which is never ever forced on them anywhere else!  Then they are told that God won't love them if they cut up in church.

Children are conditioned from a very early age to assume that doing what God requires will make you miserable.  Jesus, however, devoted his life and teachings to convince people to love and accept themselves as God's beloved children no matter what religion might tell them.  Jesus accepted himself, but his enemies did not accept him or themselves.  The religious leaders that killed Jesus lived in a world of careful classifications of people as clean and unclean, law keepers and lawbreakers, sinners and righteous.  Religious institutions traditionally identify themselves as much by the people they exclude as by the people they accept.


Letting go is the prelude to moving on.  Letting go is not an end in itself.  Letting go sets you free to discover and develop the spiritual environment that really fits you and equips you to become your best possible self.  Small groups meeting in homes or any convenient place can provide the setting for study, sharing, prayer, growth and dialogue without any institutional structures or controls.  Jesus taught in the setting of small group dialogue.  Jesus also established a pattern of one-on-one dialogue as basic to all effective ministries.

Building and maintaining churches, cathedrals, massive complex institutional structures, and tons of supportive literature and instructions obviously are not necessary and probably are a great hindrance to following Jesus.  The churches historically have declared themselves to be the keepers of the faith and to have the authority to speak for God and decide all spiritual issues.  The fact that there are hundreds of different church denominations that disagree with each other on every possible issue does not seem to diminish their religious passion to control people in the name of God.  If this seems to be ludicrous, it's because it is.

Where to begin?  Jesus began by accepting himself as a human being in the image of God with a mission on earth to help others to do the same.  Trying to skip that first step has doomed religion to the internal struggle mode that is always self-destructive and abusive.

You are important.  You have equal value to God with every other human being who ever lived.  God has made you like you are.  You are not only important; you are unique.  Nobody else ever has been exactly like you.  Accept and celebrate your identity.  Some call it pride.  Some call it sinful.  What you call your identity is really up to you.  Nobody else can enter into your mind and tell you how to think and feel about yourself.  That's your job.  Nobody can take it from you or do it for you.  When God created you, God gave you the capacity to be self-aware and to be a self-respecting responsible individual.

What you do with your freedom is up to you.  Before you can act on your freedom, you let go of inappropriate abusive controls in your life whatever form they might take.  God will help you to let go and also will empower and guide you to move on.  God did it for Jesus, and Jesus promised that God would do the same for you.

See "WALK AWAY" web site

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Soulforce draws on the principles of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. in challenging and confronting abusive religion.

Update added July 10, 2001:


The anti-gay political industrial religious complex is gaining strength and abusive power through secret political deals that are just now being revealed between the President and the homophobic policies of the Salvation Army.  This development is a threat to personal freedom far beyond these current events.

The President of the United States has violated his oath of office to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States, which clearly mandates an absolute separation of church and state.  In boldly proposing private school vouchers for students to attend religious schools at public expense and in the so-called "faith based initiative" to give public money to blatantly homophobic religious institutions for their social services (and accompanying evangelism), the President seems to have abandoned the Constitution of the United States in order to support the conservative religious/political forces that paid his way into the White House.  (See Salvation Army article link below.)


These most recent developments in the anti-gay public policies of the United States are just the tip of the iceberg that threatens our safety and our very existence as GLBT people.  Public opinion is being shaped against us as never before in the 32 years since Stonewall.  Political compromise is the method of government in the United States.  The diversity of our population demands the necessary give-and-take of carefully devised legislation that protects minorities as well as letting the majority rule.

Some elements of personal protection and freedom, however, are not subject to compromise.  Our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not negotiable.  The rights of all citizens are compromised when the rights of any citizens are denied.

While we appear to be making progress in greater public attention to same-sex households and in domestic partner benefits offered by many businesses, governments and institutions, the unseen shift of governmental mood against us is building steadily behind the scenes.


Jesus faced the awesome power of entrenched political control in the person of Pontius Pilate, the ruler who reminded Jesus that he had the authority to release or crucify Jesus.  The response of Jesus was to answer Pilate: "You would have no authority over me unless it had been given you from above; for this reason the one who delivered me up to you has the greater sin."  As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Jesus, but the leaders cried out saying, "If you release this man, you are no friend of Caesar; every one who makes himself out to be a king speaks against Caesar." (John 19:11-12)

When Pilate heard this clear claim from the leaders who could bring him down from his power (and did so a few years later), he "delivered Jesus up to them to be crucified."  Paying political debts can be terribly expensive.


We are engaged in a great struggle for the minds of the people of this country and throughout the world.  We have been caught up in the ideological warfare that has created far greater divisions and more destructive differences than in the past.  Part of the reason for this increased intensity of conflict over ideas and beliefs is the presence of the Internet and the availability of conflicting claims to truth in over 100 million web sites on the world-wide-web.

Instant communication in many forms has heightened the conflicts among competing views of truth and freedom.  I recently received from a friend a copy of the updated version of the book on "The Fundamentalist Takeover in the Southern Baptist Convention: A Brief History" by Rob James and Gary Leazer with James Shoopman.  This 1999 book is published by Impact Media, Timisoara, Romania, and is hard to find.  You can guess why the book is available only from Romania!  Please tell me if you know a good source for this book.  (See link below on SBC Takeover.)

Another very valuable source that is more available is the 6 hour PBS series of videos: "With God On Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right," available from PBS.  (Click on PBS and go to shop and to books and enter the title.)  I have seen some of this series and recently ordered the entire set.  This carefully done documentary leaves no doubt as to the nature and power of the unrelenting progress of the determined religious forces that are attempting to take over every facet of life in the United States.


The history of the human race is also the history of abusive destructive religions.  The entire life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth took place in the midst of powerful abusive destructive religious forces that were constantly on a collision course with the love and truth that Jesus represented and demonstrated.  The human drive to control and subdue other humans is an unrelenting feature of the human landscape that defies the mind of God and claims absolute power whenever ignorance and weakness let it win.

Even in the face of convincing information that demolishes the false claims of abusive religion, the leaders of religion persist in their struggle for power and acceptance with the same misinformation that has enslaved the minds of millions throughout history.  Nobody yet has been able to defeat the forces of religious ignorance and ambition.  Limited here, they spring out there.  Never is there a lack of an audience for religious fakery and deceit.


What has liberated you from the control of sick abusive religion?  How did you escape?  Can you find a way to share that victory with others?  These are crucial questions for our survival.  We are moving towards the precipice that hangs over our oblivion.  Where is the detour onto a healthier road?

The resources that I mentioned above do not offer an answer.  They simply explain factually and eloquently the religious trap in which we are caught.

The first step in overcoming the takeover forces of abusive religion is to do your homework and become informed about what is really happening.  Sources for this step are plentiful.  Soulforce under the leadership of Mel White, Gary Nixon, Jimmy Creech, Laura Montgomery Rutt, and others has done a great deal of research related to understanding and confronting the onslaught of religious oppression and abuse in our society.

The next step is to assimilate and understand what you know and discover what path of truth and activism is appropriate for you.  You are an individual created in the image of God and possessed with incredible abilities to think for yourself and to hear and follow the mind of God by whatever path best fits you.  The only step that you want to avoid is the step backwards into despair and hopelessness.  We are not losing because others are winning.  We only lose when we quit trying.

Rembert Truluck
"Let go and move on"

See the details of the Salvation Army's Anti-Gay Partners by John Aravosis.
Chronology of the Southern Baptist Convention Takeover

Update added July 19, 2001:

The following statement was issued recently by the anti-gay right wing religious organization called "Focus on the Family" in an article with the title of "How Hate-Crime Laws Harm Religious Freedom and Lead to Same-Sex 'Marriage'".

Quoting: "First, the passage of hate-crime laws that include "sexual orientation" will be used to chill free speech and to harm religious leaders. If a member of a congregation were charged with a hate crime, his pastor could be prosecuted for "conspiracy" or subjected to civil lawsuits if the pastor preached against homosexuality. The mere prospect of defending this kind of lawsuit is enough to intimidate a pastor, chilling his right to free speech. Certainly, those who advocate violence should be held accountable, but ministers should not have to live in fear of preaching non-violent opposition." (See link to this entire absurd article below)


How non-violent is preaching?  I have seen many Southern Baptist preachers, especially "evangelists," become red in the face, tremble with rage, stomp around on the rostrum, bang their fists on the pulpit and scream angrily at their frightened listeners.  One of these evangelists was famous for ending his performance (usually about two hours in length) by taking a bright railroad lantern into the aisle and swinging it around yelling, "Stop! Stop! You're going to hell!"  Needless to say these acts of oratorical violence were effective in gathering multitudes into bogus religious experiences that were called "conversions"

While I was a student at Furman University, I heard this particular evangelist named Percy in a Greenville County rural Independent Baptist Church in the pine trees one hot summer night.  Percy was a huge man with white hair.  He always wore a black double-breasted suit and had a voice like thunder.  All of the windows were open.  As the preacher incited his audience to increasingly extravagant emotional excesses, he pounded away at the pulpit and the audience with the legalistic judgmental bastardization of Christianity that was popular and unquestioned at the time.  Many people cheered, laughed, ran up and down the aisles, ran outside and shouted as they ran around the church building and in and out among the pine trees.

It was an incredible spectacle.  It was not unique.  I saw this kind of performance in many Baptist churches while I was continuing my education and visiting all kinds of evangelistic meetings with some of my fellow students.  It was part of my education.  It still goes on throughout the South and in many other sections of the country.


Imagine a young gay boy trembling in fear in his seat at that church, wedged between his large big-hair mother and his even larger redneck father, who had no fear of the preacher's message of doom.  They were immune to the message and the preaching violence.  They had been "born again" and were "safe in the arms of Jesus."  The young gay boy, however, heard the shouted angry denunciation of people who were different, homosexual, damned for all eternity by an angry God, and learned at that moment to hate, reject and ultimately destroy his own life.

Using religious violence to goad young people into suicide is just as violent as any other "hate crime" imaginable.  Hate crimes against homosexuals are not limited to physical violence and death.  Discrimination against LGBT people in housing, employment, medical services, and many other things that the average person takes for granted, are also "hate crimes."  Constitutional guarantees and a multitude of laws that protect minorities from discrimination are routinely ignored in regard to same-sex couples and LGBT individuals.  These are hate crimes too.


Spiritual violence has become more subtle and indirect than the preacher with the railroad train warning lantern shouting fear and anger at scared people in the pews, but the violence is just as real and even more destructive today.  Major religious denominations are engaged in unending debates about homosexuals and the Bible and are passing polite carefully worded policies that clearly define LGBT people as different and special and needing extraordinary attention to their "condition".  All of this might sound like progress, but the subtle implication in ALL of it is that Lesbian, Gay, Bi, and Trans people need special consideration and help because they are terminally different from everybody else.

In all of this, the religious establishment in the churches fails to address their own basic errors and misinformation about God, humanity, Jesus, and what the Gospel is really all about.  The Gospel is not about sin; it is about love.  It is not about condemnation; it is about acceptance.  It is not about how to exercise spiritual violence against the unruly; it is about how to know and express the unconditional inclusive love of God to all people in all things.  Why did the churches jump the track in the so-called "Great Awakening" in the early years of this nation, when the most popular and universally accepted portrait of God was presented by the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Edwards in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God!"?

More important is why the churches have continued into the twenty-first century chugging blindly along in the mud and bushes instead of turning back to the path of faith once delivered to the saints and clearly set forth in the Good News of Jesus Christ at the beginning.


Our homophobic enemies charge us with wanting special rights.  This is a gross misrepresentation of reality.  We simply want relief from special abuse and discrimination inflicted upon us by religion and society because of our sexual orientation.  The issue is never "special rights."  It is always "special harassment and abuse."  Only religion could get it all backwards and not even realize how stupid it is!

Even if all religions opened all church levels of leadership to homosexuals, welcomed and even paid us to come to church and help to lead it, and performed same-sex weddings upon demand, nothing would really change unless the churches face and change their morbid abuse of power at every level of their legalistic judgmental distortions of Christianity.  Joining some churches is like joining a mutual spiritual suicide pact.  Who would want to!


Neither government nor religion is yet ready to include all people in the civil and personal rights protection guaranteed to everybody.  The fact that there is still a debate about including GLBT people in all civil rights legislation (as recommended in 1973 by the American Psychiatric Association, Psychology Association, Medical Association and Bar Association) is itself absurd.  To hesitate to include everybody on the basis of sexual orientation in all civil rights rules and opportunities is itself a "hate crime"!

Isolating GLBT people from everybody else for any reason whatever is a "hate crime."  Never! Never! Never! willingly accept yourself as different from everybody else because of your sexual orientation.  Don't contribute to violence by classifying yourself as "different."  You are a child of the Almighty Creator God of all of the universe, all time, all space and all things.

You are far more like everybody else than you are different.  No variations in our humanity can be allowed to isolate and reject any of us from being accepted and treated with the respect due to every individual on this planet.

As "the Elephant Man," who was quite different from everybody else, exclaimed in his frustration: "I AM NOT AN ANIMAL!"  You are not an animal to be tamed and abused or killed and eaten, not even by homophobic religious cannibals!  You are a human being in the image of God.  Accept yourself as you are and expect others to do the same.  Don't waver or doubt or give up.  We are right and our enemies are wrong.

God is with you, for God made you like you are.

Rembert Truluck

"For God so loved everybody that God gave Jesus to you, that whosoever believes (follows or identifies with) Jesus should not give up (throw your life away: "perish" means "to utterly destroy, completely destroy, kill") but have a full and meaningful life now and for ever.  For God did not send Jesus to judge (condemn) you (the world "cosmos"), but that you through Jesus should be set free (saved means "liberated").
(My paraphrase of John 3:16-17)


Special thanks to Paula Brown, Features Editor of the "Gayly Oklahoman" for regularly printing full page copies of my updates, the most recent one on "Faith Based Deception" on page 9 of the July 15, 2001 issue.  Contact the Gayly Oklahoman.

Update added July 5, 2001:


(I began writing this update the day before I received the news of a teenager's death at a "tough love" boot camp in Arizona from Lawrence Reh of "First Light"Click here to see the story.)

"Tough love" has been applied to the unfortunate brutal rejection of LGBT children by their homophobic legalistic parents.  But what really is "tough love"?  The definition of "tough" in Webster's is: "capable of enduring strain, hardship, or severe labor" and "to bear unflinchingly."

Tough love actually is your capacity to continue loving no matter what others might do.  It is the love of Jesus, who loved his friends "to the uttermost" (unto the "end": "telos," "to reach the goal") in John 13:1.  Tough love "never gives up" (l Corinthians 13:8).  Remember that you need love most when you are the least lovable.

Religion that encourages parents to reject and abandon their gay children is out of touch with reality and with the Spirit of Jesus.  My friend in Tennessee grew up in an abusive home in which his father, who had recently become a Baptist, knocked him to the floor and beat him unmercifully with a stick calling him homophobic names and threatening to kill him.  This was a turning point in his life.  He was so angry that he told his father if he ever hit him again he would kill him!

Soon after that incident, my friend left home and began a long, long road to self-acceptance and recovery from abusive destructive religion that led through severe depression, suicide attempts, and hospitalization.  Finally, he found MCC Nashville and a new beginning of self-esteem and hope.  Read his story.


Begin the practice of tough love with your own love for and acceptance of yourself.  Tough love is not abusive or destructive.  Tough love develops with steady practice, just as tough muscles do.  Tough love recognizes and respects limitations and boundaries, both your own and those of others.

Tough love liberates you from codependent relationships in which you try to control others and let others control you.  Tough love is not control.  It is letting go and letting others be themselves.  It is letting your own feelings and ideas have your acceptance and realistic evaluation.  Tough love means resisting letting others decide who you are.  Thinking for yourself requires your own tough love for yourself.  Tough love liberates you from the fear of loving or being loved.

Tough self-love means defending yourself from all direct and indirect assaults from abusive religions and people.  When you really love and accept yourself, you can resist becoming a victim.  You also can resist making others feel guilty and victimized.


Parents need to learn to love and accept themselves to prepare them to love and accept their children, and each other. Tough parental love is exercised in the parent's self discipline first and in teaching their children how to love and accept themselves rather than in punishment and abuse.  It is easy to get angry and lash out at another person who has displeased or disappointed you.  It takes tough love to go on loving when that love is misunderstood or rejected.

The pattern of the love of Jesus for others is most instructive and is normative for anyone who follows Jesus.  The love of Jesus for others was often tested.  His mother and family misunderstood him.  His closest followers also misunderstood him and tried to deflect him from his own truth.  They also abandoned him, and one denied him and another betrayed him.  He continued loving them and never gave up.

How can you love God, whom you have not seen, when you don't love yourself, created in the image of God, and others who have equal value to you as God's beloved children?  (See all of 1 John 4:1-21).  The love of God that is poured out within us by the Holy Spirit is very tough love (Romans 5:5).  It is the kind of love that kept Jesus going through all of the foolishness of others and all of the abusive religion that was dumped on him by the authorities.

"Love is not love that alters when alteration finds."  Jesus called his followers to love one another as he loved them (John 13:34-35).  That kind of love cannot be learned or studied in books.  It comes only as a gift through the Spirit of Jesus within you.  That is why it is called a "new" commandment.  God both demands and gives perfect "tough" love to keep you going along the path that Jesus has demonstrated for you.


Tough love is the kind of love that keeps on loving no matter what might happen.  Anger is an emotional and often a physical loss of control.  Anger is not love.  Anger and hate by adults against children or against anyone is a blatant denial of the Spirit of Jesus.  To call the use of pain and abuse against children or anyone else the will of God demonstrates the kind of religious stupidity and hypocrisy that is undermining the stability of our culture and destroying the churches.

Anger kills.  Love gives life.  We could hardly face a more severe distortion of the message of Jesus that the evil that has been created in the name of "tough love."  Children who are punished and physically damaged because they are different are not being trained or educated.  They are being abused and destroyed by misinformed ignorant people who are themselves the ones who need discipline and radical attitude adjustments.

Occasionally the torture and destruction of "different" people like Matthew Shepherd and the 14-year-old boy in the Arizona article come to light and sound the alarm against "faith based" anger and hate in our world.  All too soon, however, the clamor dies down and the multitude of unseen acts of horror by the strong against the weak go on unnoticed.  (See Step 4 on "Anger".)


The bright light of truth about what is really happening to LGBT youth is one of our best hopes for change.  If you are being abused and suffer pain and despair because of your sexual orientation or if you know of others who are, turn on the lights and tell the truth.  The current development of "tough love" as a means of demeaning and destroying homosexuals is not love.  It is a blatant denial of reality and a harsh reminder of the inhumanity of people who are out of touch with God and in denial about their own basic humanity.  People don't value others when they have not learned to value themselves.

To Jesus, love is not soft and sentimental.  Love is the "greatest thing in the world."  Love is the reason for the life and ministry of Jesus (John 3:16).  Love according to Jesus is strong, durable, tough and an extension of the mind and creative power of God working through you and me.  "Now abide faith, hope, and love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13).

Rembert Truluck

Click here to see article about President Jimmy Carter at Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Convention.

Update added for Independence Day, 200l:

Read the original 1776 Declaration of Independence Here.


We hold these truths to be self evident, that every person has equal value before God and is endowed by God with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  How much do you enjoy your independence?  As you look at your own life during this week of celebrating Independence Day, how free are you?  What most threatens your enjoyment of your freedom?

In 1776, the freedom of individual people in the colonies was threatened by a foreign power that sought to maintain inappropriate abusive control over them.  Under the leadership of General George Washington, the people fought back against oppression and won.  This historic victory of a small army of freedom fighters against the largest empire in the world led directly to the freedoms of our world of 2001 that we enjoy today.  The aim of the American Revolution was to grant "liberty and justice for all."

Building, developing and maintaining personal freedom has not been easy, as the history of our own country and our personal lives has demonstrated over and over.


Your freedom is limited by misinformation.  Perhaps the greatest threat to independence in individual thought and actions is the culture of misinformation that prevails in many areas of our life today.  Sources of misinformation are vast and deeply entrenched in our environment.  Advertising, television preachers, politicians, and an endless flood of misinformation overwhelm us all day long.

A lot of the misinformation that confuses our freedom comes from our own parents and families.  Children are given misinformation that boggles the mind before they are able to make their own decisions about who they are.


Fear also undercuts our freedom to think for ourselves and to act independently for our own well being.  The thing that we are taught most to fear is ourselves!  Our desires to be free and independent are attacked and thwarted by the methods of child rearing that prevail in most of our culture.  Many children are convinced very early in life that they are unimportant, insignificant, stupid and powerless.  We have been taught to fear our own desires, failures, and people who are different, the government, police, certain animals, and most of all the eternal hell where we will burn forever for our sins.

It is not surprising that the accumulated fears that parents, our culture, and especially abusive religions dump upon us bring pain and disappointment into the lives of multitudes of people.


When you realize that you have been intentionally misled about who you are and about the truth of God's unconditional inclusive love that is already yours, you understandably become angry, which can quickly develop into depression and despair.

Anger, depression, despair and death can result from the misinformation and fear that accumulate and build up to take control of our imagination, our actions and our relationships.  When an individual is led into one disaster after another because of misinformation and fear grows into a life strangling force within, it is not surprising that true personal freedom becomes only a vague remote ideal that is never realized or even clearly imagined.

When my partner and I were developing my web site in July of 1997, we decided to put the famous painting of the "Boy beside the Sea" on the home page.  This picture has become the best known and most often used of any image in the GLBT culture.  I suggested that we add the caption under the picture that: "GLBT people are not depressed because of being gay but because of the way that religion has abused and rejected them."  My partner said, "We don't need the caption.  The picture itself says it."  He was right.

Just look at yourself in a mirror and remember your own personal history or look at the LGBT community of people around you and especially at those whom you know or have known personally and you will gaze upon faces that reflect the results of misinformation and fear.  As I recall my own personal history, I am reminded of the excruciating spiritual violence and the incredible toll of pain, loss and despair that misinformation, anger, depression and fear have brought into my life and into the lives of people whom I love the most.


Last week, the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Group, that has split with the Southern Baptist Convention over all of their demeaning and regressive policies except for their homophobic anti-gay actions, affirmed again their own homophobia and demonstrated their continuing commitment to fear, misinformation and injustice.

"The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship ended its annual meeting Saturday by turning back a motion to change its policy regarding the financing or hiring of gays and lesbians.  The policy approved by the fellowship's Coordinating Council last year does not allow the fellowship to hire gays or lesbians or send them as missionaries.  It also prohibits giving money to organizations that affirm homosexuality.  A motion to suspend the policy and study it for a year was rejected 701 to 502."

The vote may seem one sided, but if only 100 people get accurate convincing information about LGBT people, the result next time could be different.  For 502 Baptists to vote for GLBT acceptance and affirmation is a great leap of spiritual progress!

My seminary classmate and friend Dr. Mahan Siler has worked tirelessly and effectively in both the Alliance of Baptists (which already is accepting and affirming of LGBT people) and in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to give accurate convincing information and to lead the way in fairness and spiritual truth.  Dr. Siler, as Pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, performed the first public same-sex holy union in a Southern Baptist Church in 1992.

Dr. Siler is not gay.  He is an amazing hero in our struggle for freedom and self-esteem in our community.  He has paid a great price in time and energy, careful research and writing, emotional commitment, and untiring practical actions to challenge the misinformation and fear about GLBT people in the Baptist world.  Because of the life and ministry of Dr. Mahan Siler, many Southern Baptist LGBT people have learned to accept and affirm themselves and enter fully into the freedom and life that the true gospel of Jesus offers.


Don't abandon Jesus simply because the churches have misrepresented him and his message.  Discover the real Jesus in your own self-acceptance.  Jesus has been given many titles and descriptions and has been pictured in every kind of artistic expression imaginable.  All of the descriptions, titles, music and pictures are inadequate and keep the real Jesus at a distance.  When you accept yourself just as you are in the image of God and truly human, you are accepting Jesus.

Jesus is not a remote ancient figure that you need a PhD in ancient history or theology to know and experience.  Jesus is part of who you are already.  In a profound real sense, Jesus is you.

In my continuing study of the Four Gospels to write my forthcoming book on JESUS, discovering for the first time how truly human Jesus is pictured to be in the core material of the Gospels constantly amazes me.  Paul gives a clear faith based picture of the humanity of Jesus in Philippians 2:1-16.  Stop and read it now.


The heart of Paul's vision of Jesus is given in 2:5-11:

"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
Who, although he existed in the form (image) of God,
Did not grasp after equality with God (as Adam did),
But emptied himself, taking the form of a slave and
Being made in human likeness, being found in human appearance,
Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
Even death on a cross.

Therefore also God highly exalted Jesus and bestowed on him
The name, which is above every name,
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
Of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth,
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Sovereign,
To the glory of God the Mother and Father."

In this brief passage, Paul shows how Jesus in his humanity, humility and obedience fulfilled what Adam (humanity) refused to do by disobedience and by grasping after equality with God in taking the forbidden fruit (which he was convinced would make him like God knowing (controlling) good and evil).  Adam and Eve were driven from God's presence for trying to play God.  Jesus by accepting and celebrating his humanity was highly exalted and given the name that Adam had lost.

Humanity was intended to rule the earth and subdue it and replenish it.  That mission was lost through disobedience.  Adam was intended to be ruler, but the name "Adam" is Hebrew for "dirt."  Jesus regained the name of "ruler" that Adam (humanity) has lost.  Jesus did this by being the truly human being God intended each individual to be.

(Paul's manner of speaking is highly poetic and figurative as is the story in Genesis.  Study the incredible parallels and contrasts between Adam and Jesus in Genesis 1 and 2.)

Accepting your true humanity and your capacity for spiritual connection with God because you are created in the image of God is the giant step into freedom that abusive religion often convinces you is impossible.


Jesus began and continued his life and ministry by accepting and affirming himself as God's child in God's image and by accepting and affirming and celebrating his humanity as an example for you and me.  Following Jesus begins with self-acceptance.  Building a full and meaningful life that enjoys personal freedom and fellowship with God and that equips you to realize your own full potential as a human being begins with the necessary first step of self-acceptance.

Many negative forces of abusive religion, codependency, misinformation, spiritual violence, fear and despair attempt to distract us from our journey into freedom.  Jesus usually spelled out the things that had to be abandoned in order to follow him.  Often these obstacles to following Jesus were religious or cultural customs and traditions.


How can you accept and affirm the humanity of Jesus as the realistic true guide for your life into freedom if you cannot accept and affirm your own humanity as God's gift to you?  To distort the image of Jesus into superstition and magic where a crucifix protects you from vampires and bread and wine are magically transformed into the body and blood of Jesus destroys the realistic humanity of Jesus in the Gospels and changes the simple invitation of Jesus to "follow me" into a mixture of religious misinformation, ancient errors and mistakes, and contemporary speculations.

Starting over is never easy, but to follow Jesus in any honest personal way that leads to real freedom demands a radical letting go and moving on.  What are you willing to release from your life in order truly to be free?  What will you cling to until your last breath?  Is that the first thing that you need to forsake in order to follow Jesus?  Only you know and only you can decide.

Rembert Truluck
July 4, 2001

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