You Shall Know the Truth:
A Journey from Knowing Condemnation to Knowing God
These five brief excerpts times 50,000 and more will help you understand why Gary and I are so determined to help end the suffering of God’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered children.
If you would like to share your story, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not wish us to publish your letter to share on our web site, please mark the subject "confidential".
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1. Letter From A Gay Man — Does Jesus Love Me?
May 27, 1999
Hello, my name is…
I am a member of an email-based group called "Christian Gay Chat," and one of the members mentioned your site and suggested that all gay and lesbian Christians should seriously consider joining…. Well, I feel that I should share with you my personal story so that you will know more about where I am coming from…
I grew up within [an independent] Baptist denomination ever since I was 4 years of age. For many years I heard from the pulpit that all homosexuals were sick, morally depraved, and headed for the "lake of fire." This hurt me very much; I didn’t know why or how "christians" could react with such hatred and malice towards people who happened to be different.
I struggled with my own realization that I was gay; and that what I was being taught was "Biblically correct." Still, it hurt me in my heart because I wanted so much to believe that what I was going through was just a "phase" that I would eventually outgrow.
Also, I wanted to believe that Jesus really loved me, but I could not accept that because of what I was being taught. I felt that if Jesus Himself agreed with what the preachers were saying, then surely I was eternally damned for something that I didn’t choose to be. To be honest, if there existed a choice between being gay or straight, I would choose to be straight instantly.
I have never really been able to "accept" my homosexuality; I have tried to for over 15 years but it just seems like an unreachable goal to me. I desparately need to know whether Jesus accepts me for who I am; but I have never had the opportunity to discuss this with somebody who has heard from The Lord on this issue.
I guess what I am really asking is this: Has Jesus ever revealed to you personally that being gay and christian is ok as long as you are living your life with integrity? I struggle greatly with this question. I know that I have spent years begging God to change me and make me feel an attraction to women, but nothing happened. It makes you feel that God just doesn’t have the time for you. I grew up singing all of the old hymns, and whenever I would hear that song "Tears are a language God understands," I would just break down and weep because I wanted to feel that He did understand me.
But, when you are surrounded by folks( and I do love each and every one of them) that mention gay and lesbian people as being an "abomination" to God; it becomes impossible to feel love or worse yet, to be able to believe that Jesus cares for you. I mean, when I read in God’s Word were Jesus says "To Love one another even as I have loved you" that seems to mean that Jesus is commanding all of us to love each other without reservation.
But, my dad stood in my face and said that "Rick, can’t you see that me and your mother just don’t want you anymore," it drove the final stake into my heart. My dad is a fine man, a … deacon and one who has been called to preach the gospel; but he has to be wrong when he reacts with such hatred and bigotry to his only son who was only trying to share with his parents the truth. I never came out to hurt them and cause them to have heart attacks. They accused me of that, and of attempting to bring "shame" to my family name. They said so many hateful things that I really resent them.
They finally kept using the Bible to beat me up and threatened me with losing their love, that I relented and renounced my sexuality and told them that Jesus had finally "delivered" me and that I was now a heterosexual. I did it to save them; it broke my heart seeing them hurting. I have also been to many therapists (secular and Christian) and nothing has helped.
I suffer from extreme self-hatred and suicidal feelings. All of my life I have been chronically and acutely depressed over being gay; I don’t want to be gay, but I feel as if there is no way out. Why does God keep allowing me to suffer like this? :`( I am in tears even now as I write this letter to you. I just don’t know what to do anymore.
I need to know whether or not Jesus accepts this part of myself. I have tried seeking Him about this, but I feel as if I am being ignored and this only adds to my frustration and fear that maybe God has deserted me because of my gay feelings.
Please help if you can; I honestly do not know where else to turn 🙁 I just want to be loved; I have never felt love from anybody. The sex part of being gay doesn’t matter to me, I yearn for companionship and love. I just need help in understanding this; and possibly a Word Of Knowledge from The Lord Himself concerning me. I don’t know how much more pain I can endure.
I am very seriously considering just throwing the towel in, committing suicde and just taking my chances before God. Please help, I beg you. My heart has been so broken for so long; doesn’t Jesus care? Doesn’t He know that I am not trying to defy Him or His Word by laying hold upon my sexual identity?
I know I have rambled on and on, and alot of what I have written is out of order, but I am so heartbroken and don’t know how to articulate my views very well. I apologize for that, and beg for your forgiveness for this… : ( I have read your book," Stranger at the Gate" and was very moved by what you shared in there about your life and your struggles….. I read the book in one night, and I was crying the entire time because alot of what you had experienced I could relate to…. Please help if you can. God Bless You both.
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2. Letter From A Desperate Gay Man
Friday, 20 March, 1998
"With every single word I read in "Stranger at the Gate" I identified more and more with you…I have experienced every longing, felt every sense of guilt. My needs, however, remain unfilled. My guilt remains. My feeling of worthlessness remains. My fear of God’s condemnation remains. I can not tell you how many times I have cried myself to sleep aching with my entire being just to hold someone and to be held, to love and to feel loved. I find myself now, as you did, on the near edge of a complete breakdown. I hesitate to call it a nervous breakdown, because I feel it would be much more drastic than that: a spiritual breakdown as well. I feel like I am totally losing it all together. I continue to live a lie. Thought I have not been sexually active, I have continued to hide my feelings and my orientation. Even friends with whom I was once very close I no longer see; because I had become so totally convinced that homosexuality was that abomination all the "moral majority’ say it is. I too have had my belief shaped by those six "proofs" from the Bible. Well, anyway, no need to continue…"
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3. Letter From a Gay Teacher Arrested But Proven Innocent
November 29, 1998
"I am a teacher. In August of 1998 I helped a young teenage boy (he declared being gay to myself and others) report his parents to Children’s Services for medical neglect/abuse. Within days the mother was informed by Children’s Services and the Sheriff Dept. that I was gay. She went ballistic…and then convinced the boy I helped to concoct a story that I abused him. It was incredible — within a week I lost my job, my status in the community ("Teacher of the Year", creator of town’s soccer program, foster parent, board member of rec center) was shattered. It took the D.A. six months to decide to prosecute me as they had no evidence except the boy’s and his mother’s story. Six months later they decided to arrest me. I had my trial the end of May. I had over 85 witnesses and was decided to use 27 of them. The boy had two — his mother and sister. The jury reached a decision in 15 minutes!!! Reason? The boy, his mom and sister showed no emotion, stories were changed many times, and the boy admitted to lying about parts of his story, and lack of evidence. So—I’m searching for a way to get my life back together. Wished I had money to seek a legal recourse. And trying hard to keep my head high and not fall apart. If you have any ideas or anyone who can help me out —please. So far I haven’t found anyone who can or will."
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4. Letter From a 17 Year Old Lesbian Looking For a Friend
"I am a 17 year old lesbian. My mother raised me with my step-dad. They neglected me, abused me and constantly told me I was a bad kid. I found myself attracted to girls at a young age. I was even more confused when my parents would gay-bash people and tell crude jokes. I felt alone, confused, and desperate. When I was 13 I hit the streets of Portland. I did a lot of drugs including heroin. I was convinced that homosexuality was a deadly sin. So I slept around with many guys, looking for what I could only find in a woman. I was desperately trying to get rid of my lesbian feelings. When I was 15, I overdosed and was sent to the hospital in…. My mother picked me up and drove me back to Idaho. There I was admitted into a mental hospital for my drug addiction, suicide attempts, self-mutilation, and I was acting psychotic. Now I am in the state hospital. I met another lesbian girl here and we came out together. Now she is discharged and I haven’t heard from her since. I recently told my mother about my sexuality and she is now part of the ‘religious right.’ She condemned me and told me I was a sinner. Now I feel alone. Can you please send word around that I need some young lesbians to write to. I need some encouragement and support from young Christians like me. Thank you."
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5. Letter From a South African Gay Man
September 18, 1999
Dear Rev. Mel,
I recently ordered a copy of your book "Stranger at the Gate."
I recieved my copy about three days ago, and haven’t been able to put it down. I immediately identified with your experiences. In fact, I could have written the chapters dealing with your adolescent/young adult struggles. I am part of the conservative Evangelical community in South Africa. I am presently studying Theology (at one of South Africa’s most esteemed Evangelical colleges) in preparation for full time ministry. The antigay stance that is unblushingly adopted by my fellow evangelicals left me feeling terribly alone and afraid. Recently, I decided that I had to accept my homosexuality or end up dead. I was overwhelmed by guilt and fear- feelings that I knew were not from God.
As I started to go through the liberating process of accepting myself as a human being loved by God, I received your book. Your book has acted as a catalyst, it has encouraged me and liberated me more than years of theological study.
It is "Pink September" in South Africa. A month where South African gays and lesbians celebrate their freedom (South Africa has some of the most liberal gay legislation in the world). I will be celebrating my freedom by coming out to all of my friends and family. Our country is a testimony to liberation from superstition. For decades the conservative, white minority used the Bible to sanction the apartheid regime. The religious right in our country (based on the American religious right) has begun to preach dangerous antigay rhetoric. So our battle begins. In spite of all the freedom gays and lesbians have, it needs to be protected.
Thank you for your testimony. It gives me courage to make the decisions that I have to make. The Lord has used your book to free me from the shackles of an ungodly opression.
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6. You Shall Know the Truth:
A Journey from Knowing Condemnation to Knowing God
I’ll never forget the night a man named Dennis Jernigan came to minister to my church. I was only thirteen, but I was passionate for an experience with God. He led the congregation in songs that he had written, and each one seemed as if it had been written for me. There was something about this man that seemed so familiar to me but I could not pinpoint it. It seemed as if we both had a secret we wanted no one to know. During the middle of his presentation, Dennis stopped singing and began to tell his story. As I listened I could feel blood rushing to my face. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. It seemed he spoke directly at me. He was telling my story. Dennis was talking about being gay.
It had only been about a year since I realized that the desires I had, to be held and loved by a man, actually had a name. At the same time I learned that those desires are not socially acceptable to most people. In my faith tradition homosexuality was one of the most horrible sins someone could commit. I can recall hearing my own minister loudly declaring from the pulpit, "Homosexuality is an abomination to God punishable by death! We must rid the world of this sickness that is overcoming mankind. We must protect our children." I feared it was to late for me. There was no way out. No hope at all until I heard Dennis Jernigan.
Dennis told the congregation how God had miraculously set him free from homosexuality. I listened intently. Maybe there is hope for me. If God can take this away from Dennis Jernigan then I’m sure He can do the same for me. At that moment I set out on a quest to find freedom. I began praying and asking God to heal me. I read my Bible more diligently. I constantly read Christian books and listened to Christian teaching tapes. I never missed a service at church. I became a leader in my youth group. I started a Christian club at school. I watched Christian television and only listened to Christian music. Maybe if I did enough for God He would take these sinful homosexual thoughts out of my mind, but the torment never let up.
As I grew older the suffering grew worse. Would I ever find freedom? Every chance I had I would have people pray for me. I went through "deliverance" trying to have demons cast out of me. I had big name televangelists lay hands on me to set me free. Countless nights I would cry myself to sleep begging God to change me. Nothing seemed to help at all.
On the outside I led the perfect Christian life. I didn’t drink or go to parties. I witnessed about my faith. I never cursed. I didn’t have sex. I didn’t even date. I was the one parents always trusted their children to hang out with. But night after night when I was all alone I knew the truth. I had a secret sin. One that seemed unpardonable. All though I had never acted on my desires, in my mind I constantly imagined what it would be like to be held by another man, or to kiss another man, or more. I feared I would be unable to hold back my feeling much longer.
By my freshman year of college I heard about an "ex-gay" counseling ministry in Oklahoma City that claimed they could transform a person into a normal heterosexual. I began attending both individual counseling sessions as well as a group session once week. The program did little then encourage me to continue what I had already been doing for the past six years. Pray, read the Bible, avoid evil and temptation, and try to be as straight as possible. I stuck with the program for about a year until I had finished their "Living Waters" curriculum. It had supposedly helped "thousands", but I was just as gay when I left as when I started.
I was reaching the end of my rope. I didn’t know what else to do. At this point giving in to my desires was not an option. I believed to do that would mean condemning myself to hell for all eternity. I wanted to be healed just like Dennis Jernigan. I wanted to be set free and able to marry a woman and have a family just like my ex-gay counselors. Why did God love them more then me? Why did He set them free and leave me dieing? I decided the only way to prove to others that I had been good enough do deserve God’s healing was to just pretend He had healed me.
May 25, 1997 I began sharing a new story of how God had "set me free of homosexuality". I shared with my family, and told my best friends. I even began to travel to different churches across Oklahoma and eventually in to Missouri, Arkansas, and Kansas preaching and telling them how God had "set me free". I decided if that if I was going to claim to be free I might as well marry a woman, start a family, and grow my ministry all on the basis that I was an "ex-gay". The whole time I knew on the inside I was living a lie, and every moment I dug my grave deeper and deeper.
Luckily, I somehow got hold of a book written by Rev. Mel White called Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America. As I read the book, it felt as if Mel had written about my own story. He explained how for years he had struggled to be free from homosexuality and nothing ever worked. He described his love for God, and how he developed a successful ministry. How he married a wonderful woman and raised a family. All the time denying his true self. Eventually he could live a lie no longer. He left his wife and children and began living as a gay man.
He continues his story detailing how eventually he also came to terms with his faith, and came to believe God loves him just as he is. Unfortunately the latter part of his story did not quite sink in to me. All I could focus on was how he had left his family and lost his ministry. Those were two things I did not want to happen to me, but I felt they were inevitable. I knew eventually I would not be able to hide my true feelings any more. I would end up destroying my family and my ministry. In my heart I believed that there was only one way to prevent such a tragedy. I would never let any of it happen in the first place. I could not get married or have a family. I would discontinue my ministry. And I would embrace "the gay lifestyle". To do this would mean eternal damnation, but in my mind I was sacrificing my life for that of my future family and those involved with my ministry.
Within only one week of making this decision, I told my family and friends that I had been living a lie. They all knew how hard I had fought to be set free, and like me they all believed I would be destined for hell if I gave into me sexual desires. Many tried to get me to change me mind, but I assured them I had made my decision and it was the only way. Some refused to speak to me. Others like my grandmother wrote me letters and constantly called me on the phone begging me not to give up. My grandmother even made the statement that if I was going to hell then she wanted to go too, because heaven would not be heaven for her with out me there.
The pain was worse now then ever. Not only had I lost my dream to have a wife and children, I had also lost my dream to have a ministry. I had lost my friends. I had lost my family. I had lost my God. I had lost my total reality. I came extremely close to taking my own life.
On a particular Sunday morning in January of 1999 I found myself in church. The denomination really makes no difference. I believe were ever I would have been that day God would have found me. Near the end of the service the minister lifted up a piece of bread and the cup of wine that was to be used for communion, and she said, "These are the gifts of God for the People of God." Suddenly my heart leaped inside me. I realize that I had come to God’s house, and He was asking me to eat at His table. In that instant I knew God loved me. I knew He wanted to be apart of my life no matter who I was. I knew unlike me friends and family He would never turn me away. Now that I had finally given up trying to be good enough for God, He was able to help me understand He loves and created me just the way I am. Finally my search for freedom was over. Now I am finally free.