Religion blog: A pastor’s letter The GA Voice Editors February 27, 2012 Faith For many, it really hasn’t changed much. Our community is still a political football to be kicked all over the field. Santorum, Gingrich and Romney can’t talk badly about us enough. Here in Georgia, Tanya Ditty, state director for the anti-gay Concerned Women for America went on the record saying we the LGBTQI are right there with pedophilia, necrophilia and a whole list of other vile and disgusting things. Then there was a conference in the Atlanta suburbs trying to convince our folks that if they really wanted to, they could change. Of course, the leader of this organization is on record saying 99.9% of the people who go through this hell in the now program don’t change, they just have to fight off the feelings of sin every day. We have to watch and deal with a wacko group who goes all over the country protesting at funerals by saying just about the most disgusting things to one could say about another human being. People in our community are getting the living crap kick out of them, why? Because they can! People in our community are regularly denied hospital visitation, transfer of property, are fired from jobs, denied housing and denied jobs. Why? Because they can. Our president, while having done more for our community then any political leader in history, in his own words says he is “still evolving” with the issue. Evolving? Come on Mr. President, we are flesh and blood human beings who contribute to the economy, pay our taxes, defend our country, contribute to our country’s brilliance in mind, heart and spirit and you still are evolving! We are an issue? Like 4/5 maybe? Do you think if you get another term you might see us as 5/5? Is it any wonder that at least once a week I either get an email or hear a story like what I am going to share now? This letter is from a few years back, but I still get the same kinds of emails and stories today. I know many of the readers of this blog have found themselves in the same spot as the email writer at some point, maybe even now: Rev. Turner: “Hello. I have been to your website many times. I just came from there and I decided I needed to send an email. I struggle with my faith, and I need to be held up in prayer by others who are stronger in the faith than me. For many years I have been trying so hard to accept my sexuality as “God-given.” I have spent countless years desperately pleading and begging God to take these feelings away. I have never heard anything from Jesus, and I am scared. I don’t want to be cast into the “lake of fire.” I am so scared; it feels like I have been totally rejected by Christ. Even after giving my heart to The Lord in October of 1997, I still feel that stinging rejection and condemnation. Growing up in the Missionary Baptist …” Dear Child of God, Growing up in the Missionary Baptist Church probably taught you a lot of things about prayer. For instance you may have learned that God usually has three responses to prayer: Yes, No and Not Now. We experience God’s “yes” usually in very obvious ways as whatever it is we have asked for or prayed about changes. We also experience God saying “not now” in mostly pretty obvious ways as well. Opportunities to do this thing that we prayed about do not come about or the things we want to do does not come about without becoming a major project that causes real trouble for us and others. But that answer of “no” from God is more difficult, generally because we don’t want God to say no to us. We don’t want to admit that God knows better. We have been taught and given all the answers so God should never tell us no. So, how does God say “No”? My experience has been by a very stern silence. That silence from God speaks loudly and clearly as opposed to the other responses. “God, please let me have this new bike!” Silence. No bike sales, no birthdays, no one drops a bike in front of your house. The answer is no. You may want a bike but you don’t need a bike. You have prayed for God to change your sexually orientation. You have spent countless years asking God to change only to be met by silence, hearing nothing. Take the hint! The answer is NO! You don’t need to change. If you are God’s creation, why would you try to change what God has created? Jesus died and was raised so that you might live, not die. The church may have rejected you, but God most assuredly has not. “Whosoever, believes in me will not perish but have life ever lasting.” You believe! You are one of the “whosoever’s.” “…preached sermons where he called all homosexuals an “abomination” and rather loudly declared that they would be all cast into an “eternal lake of fire, which is the second death.” How can I overcome these intense feelings of hopelessness and despair? Suicide is always on my mind; it seems like the only “real” solution. I was taught that gay people were “sick and evil” and this has hurt me far more than I can even comprehend. Does Jesus really hate me?” Jesus just as loudly declared that even what we perceive as wrong, an abomination, God sees differently. Remember the women caught in adultery? Oh yes, she was guilty. Yet Jesus sent her accusers away basically saying they were no better than she was and further he didn’t accuse her either so go. This preacher has forgotten that Jesus was about saving and not casting people away from God. Jesus spent his entire ministry bringing people back to God. People, I might add, that had been told all their lives they had no place with God. Sound familiar? See when we get caught up in the fear spewing, money-making, do-it-my-way-or-burn type of theology, we forget that Jesus was about bringing people to God just as they were and where they were. It occurred to me sometime ago that when you hear this type of preaching, these preachers probably figure no one will ever get to heaven … except maybe themselves. Think about it. Who is worthy of their perception of God? No one. Let me share a verse with you that will help you know if someone preaching is of God. This is a verse I keep close to my heart for discernment in these matters. “But the wisdom which is from heaven is first holy, then gentle, readily giving way in argument, full of peace and mercy and good works, not doubting, not seeming other than it is.” –James 3:17 In other words, the wisdom (that which comes from God) is about life not death. Suicide is not a solution in your case but rather an escape. Please understand, once again, God is calling you to live and anyone who would dare tell another where they will end up is in danger of being a false prophet themselves. Does Jesus hate you? He didn’t hate his accusers and those who ran away from him and mocked him. How would he hate you for being what God created? “About a year ago, I tried to “come out” to my parents, but they rejected me and told me that their love was “conditional” upon my renouncing my sexual orientation and asking God to “deliver” me.” My God, how much more hypocritical can one be? Conditional love? Please. Remember the words of Paul: “Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride; Love’s ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil; it takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true; Love has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things.” –I Corinthians 13:4-7 There is no condition for God’s love. Your parents are wrong. They have been duped by the same grotesque message of hate that has brought you to write this email. “I collapsed under my parents’ relentless assaults on me where they would constantly use The KJV Bible to “blast” me and condemn me. I couldn’t hold up under these conditions, and I renounced my sexuality in order to keep their love. I do feel horrible since doing this, but I am not too sure if they believe me or not. They do like to question me from time to time. They both ask me if “everything is OK, and if that former life of mine is dead and buried.” I have to tell them it is; otherwise I would be disowned and rejected forever.” My friend, it is far better to be rejected because you were honest and truthful than for a lie. Jesus went to the cross for truth. He died out of love. If your parents reject you because you are honest with them and truthful about whom you are I dare say they have far more problems than you. Further, who on earth told you or them the KJV version of the Bible was the “word of God”? There are more than 28 different English translations available today. Please before you do anything that you cannot change check out this website. “Because it became quite clear to me that if you weren’t going to change, then you would be viewed as a failure, or someone who wasn’t sincerely seeking freedom. I know I have rambled on for far too long, but I cannot help it; I have just been holding this pain in for too long a time. It has to end sometime, or I am afraid that I will give in to my suicidal urges and just end my life. Please help me; I feel battered and unloved by God and everybody else.” Child of God, Jesus said if you are “weary and heavy burden come to me and I will give you rest”,“do not be afraid for I have overcome the world”, “I have come that you might have life”, and “whosoever believes in me shall not perish but have life everlasting.” You believe, you know and love God with all your heart soul and strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. This is the Gospel message, this is God’s word, this is our hope, and this is our life. No one can take that from you. Know this day you are a creation of God almighty and that is good! Remember my friends, what Dr. Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. So do not give up, justice is within our sight, within our grasp and as God is our witness we shall have it. Rev. Paul M. Turner is the Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta. For more information, please visit www.gentlespirit.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. SHARE ON Leave a Reply Cancel Reply Your email address will not be published. Name* Email* Website + seven = 15 Comment Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email.