When I was a student at Furman University, we had an annual “religious emphasis week” when famous spiritual leaders would come to lecture, preach and hold discussion groups with the students. The best speaker that we ever had was a Southern Baptist Pastor who related well with the students and applied his message to the real needs of people. Many years later, when I was living in Atlanta and attending the Metropolitan Community Church, I learned that this particular pastor was gay.
The hypocritical and unhealthy religious abuse of gay and lesbian people by Southern Baptists and other evangelicals is now dominating American culture, where every week is somebody’s “religious emphasis week”. Recent events like the Promise Keepers meeting of hundreds of thousands of men in Washington, D. C. , and the Billy Graham Crusade in the Bay Area are vivid reminders that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are increasingly under attack by the religious establishment.
As an openly gay Christian minister, a graduate of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville with two master’s degrees and a Doctor of Theology degree, a writer of Southern Baptist Bible study literature, a former Southern Baptist pastor and college religion professor and as the former pastor of Golden Gate MCC in San Francisco and of MCC Nashville, I feel that I have a responsibility to God and to my homosexual brothers and sisters to respond to distortions of the Bible and perversions of the gospel of Jesus Christ that have become daily weapons of judgment and rejection against us.
My forthcoming book, Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse, is being published this fall by Chi Rho Press, and my website can be seen at on the Internet. The book, the web site, and this article are intended as weapons to fight back in our war with religious terrorists who attempt to hold hostage the sexuality and spirituality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual people.
On the basis of my own years of study and teaching the Bible, I can assure you that the Bible nowhere says that gays and lesbians can or should change their sexual orientation. In fact, there is no word for “homosexual” in the original Hebrew and Greek languages of the Bible. The concept of sexual orientation did not exist in the Bible and did not begin to develop anywhere until less than a hundred years ago. The parts of the Bible used against gays are twisted out of contest, translated wrong, and perverted to use as weapons to hurt and destroy people of the same sex who love each other. All of this is a direct rejection and contradiction of the spirit and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, whom the religious preachers of homophobia claim to follow.
According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, the leading cause of death of gay and lesbian teenagers is suicide, the rate of suicide of gay men is three times the national average, and the rate of suicide of gay men with AIDS is 60 times the average. Homophobic fundamentalists have told me that being gay makes people depressed. They are wrong. Gay and Lesbian people are not depressed because they are gay but because of how we are treated by religious people who think that they are serving God by attacking and condemning us!
One problem is the closet. The rest of the world does not see the terrible toll of suffering, pain and death that homophobia inflicts on the homosexual community. If the reality of horrors that are caused by homophobia could be shown on nightly television news, like flaming freeway wreckage of mangled bodies, destroyed lives, pain, agony, loneliness, suicide, hell on earth and death, and be shown in the faces of the gay children, family and friends of those watching, it might make a great difference in how most people hear the lies of the “religious right,” which is neither!
The author of Invitation To Freedom and Steps to Recovery from Bible Abuse, Rev. Rembert S. Truluck served in Metropolitan Community Churches in Atlanta, San Francisco and Nashville from 1988 to 1996. He earned a doctorate in sacred theology from Furman University, serving from 1953 to 1973 as a Southern Baptist preacher. He resigned as a professor at Baptist College at Charleston (now Charleston Southern University) and became an MCC pastor after being outed to the college’s board of trustees.