The Original 17 Step Journey: Step 9

With the Rev. Dr. Mel White
"Seeing Our Adversaries In A Whole New Way…"

A Note from Jerry Falwell

"…the death of Matthew Shepard…was senseless and tragic. My heart goes out to the families left behind. They are in my prayers. I will never condone violence or hatred against another man because of his beliefs, lifestyle or job…[But] I believe homosexuality is a sin. It is against God’s plan. As long as I am able, I will speak out against this wicked, perverse lifestyle…We are called to hate the sin but love the sinner…It is our job to love homosexuals…Through our love, these individuals can be changed…and saved by the grace of God." (Jerry Falwell in a "Letter to Faith Partners," December 1998)

A Note from A Gay Christian Teenager

"…I am a fifteen-year-old gay male teen, who is very confused….It has come down to a choice for me. Either I live my life has a gay male or as a repressed Christian. I do not want to make this choice. I don’t know what the outcome would be either way. I have been through some major depression and suicidal thoughts over this whole problem and I am finally wanting to get help. I saw your profile and noticed that you are a gay Christian. I was wondering if you could email me back or IM me and tell me if it is possible to be gay and Christian… My main reason for emailing you is in hopes that you will find compassion on me and help me out. Please respond soon…

*[This young man changed his AOL name immediately after sending this plea for help apparently because he was afraid to leave a return address. It happens almost daily.]

A Note from Mel
"Aaaarrrgggghhhh!!!"
(Charlie Brown in Peanuts)

Untruth Disguised as Love
We are all frustrated by this (seemingly) endless cycle of UNTRUTH in sheep’s clothing. Jerry Falwell believes that he loves the "sinner" (his TRUTH) even as he accuses us of being "wicked," "perverse," and "lost" (his UNTRUTH). This mixed message leads to suffering and death. The gay Christian teenager (above) is another of its many victims.

People who read my autobiography Stranger at the Gate often ask why it took so long for me to understand and accept the TRUTH. It is simple. UNTRUTH (packaged as "loving the sinner") is powerful. For 35 years I was its victim. When TRUTH set me free, I got angry at Falwell for his UNTRUTHS instead of helping him to hear the TRUTH.

Soulforce shows us a way to get Jerry to listen. I’m just not sure I have the courage to follow Gandhi and King on that journey. It’s easier to keep Jerry as an enemy than to do what it takes to make him our friend. But I dare us all to try. Today that journey begins.

A Review
In Soulforce Files 1-6 we saw ourselves as our Creator sees us. It’s the reason I can say without fear or doubt, "I am gay. I am proud. And God loves me without reservation."

In Soulforce Files 7-8 we saw Jerry as our Creator sees him. How can we hate a brother who is a victim of misinformation as we have been?

The Secret of Soulforce:
TRUTH in LOVE

It isn’t enough to NOT hate Jerry. His UNTRUTH is killing us and, I believe, killing him. If we really LOVE Jerry, we can’t just "love him" and walk away. To allow him to continue being a victim of UNTRUTH (and in the process, allow him to go on making victims of us all) would be cowardly. Soulforce calls us to do everything in our power to help him hear the TRUTH until he is transformed by it. Gandhi and King tell us how.

If LOVE is the heart of Soulforce, TRUTH is the sharp-edged sword in her hand. TRUTH pierces the heart of UNTRUTH and sets its captives free. But LOVE must guide the sword of TRUTH. I’m not trying to wax poetic. Gandhi and King say it over and over again. LOVE (NONVIOLENCE) is the criterion by which our actions (to present TRUTH and to confront UNTRUTH) must be judged. But LOVE without action is not love at all.

You read Jerry’s awful letter in File #7. If you haven’t, read it now. That’s his TRUTH about homosexuals. What is your TRUTH about God’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgendered children? To LOVE Jerry is to present him your TRUTH (in LOVE).

Step #1
Share your personal TRUTH with Jerry

Now, the real "Journey into Soulforce" begins. Today’s assignment is simple. Write a letter to Jerry. TODAY! Share your own personal TRUTH with him (in a brief paragraph or in pages). Or, share with him the story of someone you know and love. If you feel that you must disguise your name and address, tell him why. Move his heart! His letter (File #7) demeans and dehumanizes God’s GLBT people. Tell him who we really are.

The primary way that people are changed (from hating us to loving us) is by knowing us.

Step#2
Enclose a photo

Add a photo of yourself or of the person whose story you are sharing. Let’s place on Jerry’s desk a thousand stories and a thousand faces. This requires a little more time (to find a photo) and a small risk to your privacy. But what a difference it could make.

Step#3
Email the letter to your partner on this "Journey…"

Exchange letters. Discuss them before sending them to Jerry. Learn each other’s story.

Step #4
Copy your letter/photo and send the copies to me

— SEND THEM IN THE MAIL. DO NOT EMAIL THEM TO ME — I’m going to place the copies of your letters and photos in a beautiful leather-bound book. One day soon I hope to deliver that book to Jerry (just in case he didn’t pay attention to his mail.) Maybe you will help me deliver them to Lynchburg (but let’s not jump ahead.)

I know what some of you may be thinking:

"What if he shares my secret with the world?"
(He won’t. But if he did, it would be wonderful for the world and for you.)

"What if he adds my address to his mailing list?"
(I doubt it, but he might. If he does, it won’t hurt you to know what he’s saying.)

"What if he tells my Mom that I’m a lesbian?"
(Don’t worry, he doesn’t know your mother. Besides, she already knows you’re a lesbian.)

It may be only one small step for you to send a (loving, deeply personal) letter to Jerry.

BUT, if enough of us share our stories, if enough of us tell Jerry the TRUTH about God’s GLBT children, if enough of us are willing to take this small risk, I’m convinced that the Spirit of Truth will take our tiny effort and use us in ways we never dreamed.

Before you write
Review the first two Soulforce Credos in File #6 and File #8. Let the powerful yet gentle spirit of LOVE guide you as you write. Remember, Jerry is your brother, a victim of ancient UNTRUTH. Bring him TRUTH in LOVE and don’t be surprised by what happens.

SEND YOUR ORIGINAL LETTER/PHOTO TO:

The Rev. Jerry Falwell, Pastor
Thomas Road Baptist Church
701 Thomas Road
Lynchburg, Virginia 24502

SEND A COPY OF YOUR LETTER/PHOTO TO:

The Rev. Jerry Falwell
% Dr. Mel White
Soulforce, Inc.
P.O. Box 4467
Laguna Beach, CA. 92652

Love (and thanks) to you all,
Mel

NEXT: Step 10

Mel White and Gary Nixon, Partners in Soulforce, Inc.
P.O. Box 4467, Laguna Beach, CA. 92652.
Fax: (949) 455-0959
Email: melwhite@soulforce.org

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