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about Me

Friday, October 14, 2011

Today's Mailbox

I got a lot of nice messages and letters yesterday and today acknowledging my year anniversary of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth about myself (see www.bloginthenow.blogspot.com - 'One Year Later Part I')
Thanks so much for your letters, everyone, but I think this one is my favorite...

Bish, with this whole year anniversary business going on I found myself wanting to take a longer time to listen to you today. I'm off work, fighting a tiny autumn cold, and decided to just stay in, cuddle my dogs, and listen to you while drinking tea and eating apples. Sounds picturesque, doesn't it?

I find myself truly wanting to communicate what you already know... lol. You speak in this sermon about how immature people can be in their walk debating God in one, or three, or a thousand. And you mention that you are getting affirmation that you're just aware of it and in the flow of some of the oldest news in the world. It seems to me, as a person who has wandered from mainline Lutheranism through AOG and onwards through eastern religions and back through honest and sincere prayer and pursuit, that indeed you have a key that so many have lost. If people realized how ultimately simple the Truth actually is.... but, it's more expedient for powers and principalities to separate and encourage ego over agape.

At any rate, I wish I had met you when I was wandering through Carrollton at West Georgia a decade ago. People love to insult Christianity, not always without reason.. but you really do get it, and you distill truths for people to find and pursue God in easy, loving ways. If more people had access to teaching such as yours, they wouldn't need to wander to Buddhism and other traditions to find that Christianity holds the same intelligence and teachings on curbing ego and seeking transcendence through the Holy Spirit.

I've often said that Christians now have the hardest path of all. The original message of Christ has been so perverted that believers need to focus their work even harder than followers of other faiths. The eye of a needle is the best metaphor! I still believe this is true because of the pressure to place dogma and theology over mystic experience, actual experience of God in the Now moment. However, your teachings show me it's still possible.

Don't ever stop what you are doing. Like you have written, God always provides. People want to make it about your orientation. But you know it's so much more than that.

And yes, next time I get back to Charlotte to visit family, I'll have to take the 85 hop south and wander through.

Love to you and everyone involved in your ministry.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Good Stuff

I saw you speak at Oasis yesterday and it was truly life changing. I think this is the first time that I felt directly engaged with the scripture as if it was relevant to me as a gay man.

So many people have made me feel like this couldn't be my faith if I lived my life honestly...but you asked as God asked, "who told you that?" and why?

I could be angry at those Christians who cast me aside with fundamental interpretations but I am mostly just simply grateful for the sermon you ministered today, it is like my heart is truly beating again for the first time as a Christian.

God spoke through you directly to me instead of at me or over me or around me...for once my faith and my sexual identity could be at peace and engaged together in thoughtful and joyful praise.

When you asked us to open the bible to Genesis, I rolled my eyes...because for the longest time reading the bible especially the Old Testament has been to me like like making the victim of a crime return to the crime scene.

Yet God worked through you to make Genesis one of my favorite books now. Now that the beginning of the book doesn't seem so bad after all, maybe I will read the whole thing through.

Thank you also for speaking to the fact that religion has historically acted as a boys only club. I completely agree, the outright disregard for feminism and women leadership in so many Christian circles has profoundly bothered me.

I am now living my life with extra thought about striving for the tree of life versus the tree of good and evil.

Thank you and god bless.

David Thomas Moran

Monday, September 12, 2011

America, the Beautiful

I heard this song played several times yeterday during the 9/11 Memorial Ceremonies, and I mentioned its composer, Katharine Lee Bates, in the morning service at CHUCH IN THE NOW EAST.

Here is the first verse to her classic...one of the most beautiful ever written, in my opinion. I love the Star Spangled Banner, but I'm one of those who would vote to have this awesome hymn become our national anthem. It's interesting to think that a woman who could write something like this would not be accepted in most mainstream churches today, nor would her partner of 25 years, Katharine Coman...

O beautiful for spacious skies,

For amber waves of grain,

For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!

America! America!

God shed his grace on thee

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea to shining sea!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Ministry of Reconciliation

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(II Corinthians 5:16-21)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Las Vegas Conference: "Surviving the Storm"...

"Thank you for your sermon at the Fellowship Convocation. I enjoyed your presence."
- Victoria Burson

"Thank you for being a truth teller! May God's Blessing continue to over take you!"
- Charla Kouadio

"Love you Bishop Swilley! Wow is what I can say at this moment!"
- Tanya Maryoung

"Bishop, you were awesome. It was great to hear from the Lord through you. Continue to be you and know that your latter will be greater."
- Kellie Turner

"Thank you for being you, Las Vegas Conference - Surviving the Storm."
- MoBetta James

Saturday, June 25, 2011

CornerstoneFellowship/Houston Pride

A special thank you for an evening with..it was all & more than I wanted or expected...my partner had only heard of you thru me..now he knows how what an effect you have on God's people...thanks for the hug
- James Ozga

I guess I need to be on FB more. How in the WORLD could I have moved to Houston, missed you so much, and missed you when you were here. This place NEEDS more of you, believe me!!!
- Dea Smith

Bishop, it was great seeing you. Such a rich word you shared at Cornerstone. Really enjoy the fellowship afterward at dinner. Seemed like old times in a new way.
- Susan Watson

Thanks for the word. We love your honesty. We really enjoyed having you in Houston! Lots of love heading your way. Christa and Holly from Cornerstone Fellowship
- Holly and Chris Ortego

I cannot express how much I enjoyed this weekend! Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to visit us at Cornerstone Fellowship. Joe and I are looking forward to seeing you again in August. We hope you will not be a stranger to Houston!
- Shannon Manley

Tonight WAS awesome. So glad you came in town. Loved hanging out and laughing over dinner! What a treat!! And it was great hearing your message tonight! As always...love your guts! :)
- Jere Luck

Bishop, thank you so much for sharing 'so much' of your testimony with our church family. Looking forward to seeing you in August. Take care and God bless!
- Joseph Carl Bales

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an ABOMINATION to Him...(#7) he who sows discord among his brethren.
(Proverbs 6:16, 19 - AMP)

...a troublemaker in the family. (Proverbs 6:19 - The Message)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Speak the Truth

I finally made contact with Randy Potts...we had a good, long, heart-to-heart conversation, and I made a new friend...real good guy...here's his It Gets Better video in case you haven't seen it...

...and this cool picture is on his Facebook page...


We tell lies when we are afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger.
- Tad Williams

Truth: the most deadly weapon ever discovered by humanity. Capable of destroying entire perceptual sets, cultures, and realities. Outlawed by all governments everywhere. Possession is normally punishable by death.
- John Gilmore

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Yes, Jared Swilley is My Son! Part II

A couple of hours ago I spoke to Jared (my oldest son) in Manchester, England, where he and his band are currently playing. They are doing very well, about to release a new album, and will be featured on the cover of Spin Magazine next month. I've already written about him and the band on my other blog (www.bloginthenow.blogspot.com) "Yes, Jared Swilley is My Son!" - March 14, 2008).

Anyway, after we ended our conversation, I started thinking about all that has happened in the last year, and was reminded of a letter that Jared sent me last July. At the time, I had come out to him and my three other children, but I had no plans to ever publicly say anything about the real reason why I had gone through a very unexpected and surprising divorce. I thought that if I ever told the church about my orientation, I would most likely lose my ministry, and so I just went with the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" concept, in order to keep things afloat in a ministry that was already having financial challenges.

But then, in September/October, there was an unprecedented spate of gay teen suicides...so many that it had a profound effect on me, and made me feel that I had no choice but to tell the whole truth about myself. My intention was to possibly help change some attitudes and misoncpetions about people with same-sex attraction. And the rest, as they say, is history.

This type of letter was completely out of character for Jared...really surprised me...and it had a great impact on my thinking. It's as much a factor in my coming out publicly as anything else, really. He may not want me to share it (I didn't ask his permission)...but here I am nearly a year later, and I want to use it as a point of reference.

I didn't lose the ministry (the gifts and callings of God are without repentance), but I've definitely lost a lot. Most of the pastors I covered for years don't speak to me any more, and, even though it's not the reason we lost our property, I'm sure that many of our people left CITN because of it, and so it has had an indirect effect on our ability to maintain a megachurch.

But despite all that, I still have a wonderful relationship with all four of my kids, and that's one of the most important things to me. I have no regrets. I am blessed. The online gay watchdog groups that write about me so much will probably have a field day with this, and so, in a sense I'm throwing my son to the sharks in posting it. Whatever. They and their bloggers are so extremely hateful and mean-spirited that I don't take them seriously as being anything with moral authority...they don't talk about the Gospel, they just obsess about me and people like me. Anyway, I love this letter and I love my son. The picture above is of him and me in 1985 when he was two...


(please ignore my punctuational and grammatical errors, I woke up in the middle of the night and am writing a stream of consciousness email)

I have obviously been thinking about everything that has happened recently. I was asleep but have been tossing and turning the last few hours. I have never heard a "calling" or felt like God has spoken to me (something has). My relationship with God is fleeting and sort of intimidating. That's a whole other issue (don't worry I am not an atheist, I just question a lot).

I have been thinking about how D.E. told you you could be like an MLK to the gay community. While I think that is somewhat of an extreme statement (like someone comparing me to John Lennon), it does ring true. I have come to feel very strongly about this issue. I was always proud of the fact that I came from a family that upheld human dignity and equality. I even brag about Uncle Earl's supposed signing of the Atlanta Manifesto sometimes. I have always felt a special sense of history and accomplishment, being from an Atlanta family that helped overcome what is, in my opinion, this country's greatest obstacle.

Knowing that your and Grandad's generation was there to fight for other humans to actually be treated like humans with dignity makes me feel very proud, and this place was the epicenter of that struggle. I just listened to a speech Kennedy made about the plight of the "Negros". The fact that in 1963 he had to actually refer to them as Negros blows my mind. BUT what's worse is that they weren't granted full civil rights until 1964 (when you were 6) That's even crazier. My point is that, whatever it is, I don't know what, maybe just intuition, I have been spoken to by something. Maybe my own mind...maybe God... this doesn't happen to me. Before I get to my point I want to say that, although we haven't actually spoken more than usual, I have never felt closer to you in my life. I feel like I understand you a lot more. You are finally yourself. I feel like that, myself. We are both outsiders in a sense, and lead strangely parallel lives in a sense. I am comfortable with myself after a lot of doubt. I made myself on my own, as did you.

I'm rambling now. I just want to say that I know you have a MASSIVE operation and you are in a strange place. I also think that you can change thousands of lives if you talk about who you are. There are millions of people in your situation...not the exact one, but similar. You always told me that I can survive without the Black Lips. I know that's true. You can also survive on your own. You have such an amazing ability to connect and reach people, especially outsiders. That, coupled with the fact that you are completely honest, and have zero bullshit attached, is a goldmine of human progress waiting to happen.

You have always been making people think. You have challenged beliefs that were not subject to thought. You have questioned your own beliefs and have grown with them. You seek knowledge and understanding. You are the only reason I don't vomit when I think of the notion of a church or God. There are almost no voices in America that speak rationally, right or left. I couldn't sleep because you have something to say. And I believe that it is very important. I can't say it, but you are really an expert at this. Not saying you have to be a "gay" preacher, but I don't think you should have to pander to outdated and ignorant attitudes that hate for no reason either. I really feel like this is your moment to be who you are and say EXACTLY what you want. You have your message, and it's one I actually believe in.

Humans are humans. I understand it's a lot, but I really feel like you should come out (as you hate to say) to the public. If you lose the church, that sucks. It's not the end of the world though. You NEVER did anything close to being wrong. You are one of the only honest preachers out there. I even consider you more of a teacher and a mover. I feel good after hearing you speak and actually reflect on it (and I don't dig church). YOU ARE GREAT AT IT. I'm not saying to give up the church, I just think this could be a new beginning. Things change. A lot. And maybe you should come back to the city. You have helped countless people, but I think you could help a lot more that would have never heard you otherwise. I think it's really important for you, and many other people that have no voice.

You are still young, and I think you could make a huge difference. There are still massive human rights issues in this country. Homosexuals, among others, have no voice in this country. They need a responsible one that doesn't alienate them further. You embody that. I would like to see you find someone that you love, eventually. Unfortunately you would not be allowed to be married, and that is completely unacceptable. I have never pictured myself actually working with you before. Not saying I am now, either, or that you would even be down with that. But I do feel very emotionally connected to this. This is a real thing happening in our time and it needs to stop. People can not be marginalised for their genetics. It is the same thing as hating someone for their skin hue.

Sorry for the long rant, but it's easier to write in passion then spout out on the phone.



Jared and me in Peru a few years ago, building a Habitat for Humanity house...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Today's e-mail

Just saw the CNN report tonight with Pastor Swilley. I don't normally email, blog, etc, however, I must share that I found his interview VERY refreshing. Never have I seen a pastor, especially of a megachurch, be so honest. I am a wife and a mother and a heterosexual. I do not attend church, mainly because of too many churchgoers wanting to cast the first stone and be so judgmental of others. I would absolutely go to church if this man was at the pulpit. He is obviously very intelligent, and I am so pleased to see him have the courage to step forth and handle his "coming out" so professionally and with confidence. Pastor Swilley, you will hear many harsh words in the coming days, weeks and months. You know what you did was right, and hopefully this will give the strength to others to stop trying to live their lives according to how others think they should. Perhaps you will even spare a suicide. Stay strong!!!

Dear Reverend Swilley,

First, let me tell you that I am with you and on your side. I know the pain in making the recent decision you embarked on, but I want you to know your decision was definitely led of God. Know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free. God made us who we are, He loves us the way He made us, and there is no greater joy than that which is found by living in the Truth of His design for us.

The Bible does NOT condemn homosexuality, not anywhere, not anytime. Now, before you think that this is some cavalier statement, I want you to know that I am a scholar in the field of what the Bible actually does and does not say about homosexuality. For more than thirty years, I have devoted countless hours to researching the answers to this very divisive question. Thank God for my Hebrew and Greek studies back at Lee College, but God also led me to research arcane documents from the world's most prestigious collections, to spend much effort reviewing ancient history, culture, linguistics, politics, philosophy, even geology, anthropology, geophysics and the writings of many men down through the ages. After more than thirty years of research, I began putting all of that into book form, which took six years, and the past year was spent putting in eight to twelve hours a day writing my latest book, Homosexuality, The Bible, The Truth.

There are many books out there that seem to answer the question, but I found them to be intellectually lazy. The fact that the answers are available means that anyone attempting to answer the question and putting it into book form had better make the case, make it irrefutable and air-tight, and not use words like "let's suppose." Unfortunately, there are no books available that do this. All of them attempt, but never fully prove without doubt. This is why I think God led me to do the years of research that led to this final book. I say final, because I released the chapter on Leviticus 18:22 as a precursor book, titled Leviticus Revealed, and this book, or chapter, shows that Leviticus 18:22 is not even discussing homosexuality. You can find this book on Amazon. You may want to read it first to see that I am serious in all I have written thus far.

I say all of this for a reason. God led me to write this latest book, it is complete, I can assure you, and it makes the case with irrefutable and verifiable fact. I do not deal in suppositions. Everything from Sodom and Gomorrah to Paul's writings are thoroughly analyzed and explained in the light of every known fact on the subjects. You will be heartened and strengthened by reading these eye-opening discoveries, even if you thought you knew what these verse said. No offense to anyone who thinks he knows, because, in most cases, we were taught our Theology by spiritually lazy people. It is easier preaching to the choir than it is to preach to the mobs. This is not a thin book. It is a complete study, and I want people to read it and help spread the word. Anti-homosexual bigotry was a man-made invention (I show when in my book), and it has brought sorrow and division for far too long. Time to end the ignorance and bring the true message of salvation to all.

My latest book will be published sometime this Fall, but while we wait, if you would like a copy of the manuscript, I would be happy to send one to you. Keep the faith, live in the light, and may God give you the strength in the coming days to open eyes and hearts. You are a lighthouse on a hill.




Saturday, May 7, 2011

Observing Bible Abominations...Abomination #3: EATING UNCLEAN THINGS

Those who [attempt to] sanctify themselves and cleanse themselves to enter [and sacrifice to idols] in the gardens, following after one in the midst, eating hog's flesh...

...and the ABOMINATION* [creeping things]and the [mouse--their works and their thoughts] shall come to an end together, says the Lord.
(Isaiah 66:17 - Amplified Bible)

*These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat. And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an ABOMINATION unto you: They shall be even an ABOMINATION unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in ABOMINATION. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an ABOMINATION unto you.
(Leviticus 11:9-12 KJV)

These ye shall eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.
(Deuteronomy 14:9-10 KJV)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Observing Bible Abominations...Abomination #2: A PROUD LOOK

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him...a proud look..." (Proverbs 6:16-17 - KJV)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Observing Bible Abominations...Abomination #1: CHEATING

Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the short measure that is an abomination?
(Micah 6:10 - New King James Version)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden is Dead

As an American, I join in with the rest of the country in breathing a collective sigh of relief in knowing that Osama Bin Laden has been removed from the world stage, and I applaud the obviously successful efforts of our (American-born) Commander-In-Chief (who has had a very good week, by the way) and the amazing soldiers who executed a virtually flawless raid on the Pakistani mansion/compound belonging to Bin Laden. I wish it hadn't taken so long to find him, especially since he has obviously been hiding in plain sight, and I regret that we are still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan...but at least he's gone, and at least it happened before the up-coming 10th anniversary of 9/11.

Being as patriotic as the next guy, I was moved by the spontaneous celebrations that broke out at the White House and in Times Square and at Ground Zero last night, and I certainly don't want to be insensitive to the pain of the families who lost loved ones on that horrible September morning a decade ago...families that will never have full closure from the atrocities of that day, no matter who is assassinated...but I am sober today. Relieved? Yes. Happy? Not really...at least not totally.

Just yesterday I preached on "The Fruit of the Spirit is Kindness", and even though what was done in Pakistan in the last few hours apparently had to be done, I can't in good conscience rejoice in the death of anyone, no matter how evil they are. Am I glad he's gone? No doubt about it. I'm glad to know that we don't have to dread another of his videos coming out that shows he's still alive and still a threat to our safety. But I am grieved that we live in a world where this kind of thing still has to happen at all.

The President gave a short but brilliant speech last night, in which he pointed out that Osama Bin Laden does not represent Islam, and he's right about that. In fact, Bin Laden has killed more Muslims than he has any other group. But where my mind is today is that the real enemy is not Osama Bin Laden or any other person...it's religious fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism kills...be it Muslim or Christian or that of any other religious persuasion. The Crusades, The Spanish Inquisition, the Holocaust, the violence between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, the Ku Klux Klan, the Taliban, etc...it's all about religious intolerance, and people are vicitimized by religious intolerance on some level every day.

Today I'm proud to be an American. I'm proud of our President and our troops. I love my country, and I want it to be safe. But I'm really, really tired of religious fundamentalism, and all the hatred and death that it inevitably causes.

Terrorism happens every day in the name of religion...believe me, I know of what I speak.

Just wanted to share some thoughts.

God bless America...

Monday, March 21, 2011

God is Love. Period.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.


 Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.

When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.

We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

1 Corinthians 13 - The Message

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Today's affirmation from A Year In The Now...

"And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)

Today I will live in the now! I will live in the now because I am a real person, experiencing the real God in the real world. I will live truthfully today, understanding the difference between walking by faith instead of by sight, and living in denial of reality. Today I will reconcile my preparation for the worst case, with my expectation of the best case in every situation that arises.

Today I will be sober without being sullen – mature, but not morose – levelheaded, yet lighthearted at the same time! Harmony, balance and a genuine sense of serenity will display the peace that passes understanding through my life. The peace of God makes me shockproof today, so that, come what may, I am calm, cool, and collected in every circumstance.

Today I will not waste my time trying to be someone or something that I am not. The people in my life will have an authentic sense of trust in me, because my self-truth will give them permission to be who they really are, and to like who they really are.

Today I will embrace the inevitable. If I can't change it, I will adapt to it, and will live freely and peaceably, choosing to go with the flow, accepting life as it really is. Today I choose truth-inspired tranquility, and welcome honesty-induced happiness. Parting with illusions will bring great relief to my soul, as I live the liberated life with godly contentment.

Today I will tell the truth, plain and simple. My stories will need no embellishment, my memories will remain intact, my ambitions will be realistic. I will see life the way that it is, and call it as I see it. Whatever is built on a lie in my world will fall, because it should fall, and I will have no fear today, because the Lord is my shepherd, and I do not lack or want for anything.

Today I will not get involved with the silly games that people play when trying to relate to one another. I will let my "yes" be "yes," and my "no" be "no," providing a safe haven for those, like me, who seek the truth in the world. I will move on from those who refuse to live in authenticity.

Today I will get a grip on reality. I will not fear telling the truth, or hearing the truth, taking both praise and criticism in stride. Today I will enjoy the effect of speaking the truth in love, even to myself, and today I will live in the now!

Father, help me to live truthfully today. In Jesus’ name, amen

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Food for Thought

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
- e.e. cummings, 1955

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10 - Today's New International Version)

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation. - Oscar Wilde, De Profundis, 1905

Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, "Why did you shape me like this?"
(Romans 9:20 - The Message)

The great majority of us are required to live a life of constant duplicity. Your health is bound to be affected if, day after day, you say the opposite of what you feel, if you grovel before what you dislike, and rejoice at what brings you nothing but misfortune.
- Boris Pasternak

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
- Thomas Merton

Friday, March 4, 2011

A New Song

Ray Boltz, composer of such Gospel classics as 'Thank You', 'Watch the Lamb', and 'The Anchor Holds' has been the recipient of two song awards from the Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards. 'Thank You' received the 1990 Song of the Year award, and 'I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb' received the 1994 award for Inspirational Song. He also was one of various artists contributing to God with Us: A Celebration of Christmas Carols & Classics, which won the 1997 award for Special Event Album. He is a great songwriter...and his best days are ahead of him...

God's gifts and God's call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.
(Romans 11:29 - The Message)

For God's gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]
(Romans 11:29 - Amplified Bible)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Everything Jesus Said About Homosexuality*

*Although Jesus never mentioned it, some scholars believe that Matthew 19:11, 12 contain His words on the subject of people with same-sex attraction...it is an issue that is up for debate...here are verses 3 - 12 from Matthew In The Now...

3. And while He was in the area, the Pharisees came to Him again and put Him to the test by asking, “Is it legal and right for a man to dismiss his wife…to divorce her for any reason that he may have?

4. He replied to them, “Have you never read in your Scriptures that He Who made them from the beginning made them male and female?

5. This is why a man has to leave his father and mother at some point, and be united and bonded to his wife…and when that happens, the two of them become, in a sense, one single entity,

6. so that they are no longer two separate physical bodies, but actually become one new one. And if a particular union between a man and a woman is, indeed, God-ordained, then no human being should do anything to create a disconnect between what God has put together.”

7. They shot back at Him, “Well if marriage is so special…if, indeed, it is a God-created thing, then why did Moses make it so practical and easy to get a divorce? According to his law, all a man has to do to get out of a marriage is to send his wife a written notice, and then just simply dismiss her from his life, and be done with her, altogether.”

8. He said to them, “Moses set up this system basically because of the hardness of your hearts…specifically, your insensitivity to women. He permitted you to simply dismiss your wives with no regard for required responsibility to them because you have had no concept of covenant. But in this Moses did not have the heart and mind of God, considering that this self-serving male convenience was not in God’s original plan.

9. But I say to you that whoever just casually dismisses his wife for no legitimate reason, and marries the next available woman who comes along, really is only committing adultery with her. His shallow flippancy in such a case shows that he has no understanding of the seriousness of covenant. The situation is somewhat different if the wife has been unfaithful to her husband, but the real issue is still about the apparent disregard of covenant. So if a man marries a woman just because she was dismissed for her unfaithfulness to her husband, he is still just committing adultery with her if there is no genuine commitment to the covenant of marriage.”

10. The disciples, listening in on this conversation, said to Him, “If that’s really what marriage is about…if covenant is really that important…if God takes it that seriously…then no man in his right mind would ever want to get married! What would be the point of limiting your options by binding yourself to that kind of commitment?”

11. But He said to them, “Marriage is for men…not for boys. That’s why not all men can accept this concept. It’s for those who are mature enough to understand and appreciate the value of human, adult relationships.

12. But it also requires a certain kind of maturity to understand that this kind of relationship isn’t for everyone. There are some asexual men who, from birth, never seem to give women or marriage a thought. Other men may have been intentionally emasculated for cultural purposes, or for other reasons. And still others are single and celibate for spiritual pursuits…as if they were married only to the Kingdom of/from the heavens. Whatever the case, it requires insightful maturity to comprehend that not everyone takes the same path, or has the same needs in these matters. If you can receive this, you will be able to live and let live.”

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

That Was Then, This is Now

Here are some excerpts from my book Keepin' It Real, written in 2002...these words may seem somewhat ironic now...this was all I could say at the time (or ever intended to say) concerning the subject...

“The Times They Are A-Changin’”

The gospel of the Kingdom must be a counter-culture gospel. Jesus refused to simply accept the status quo. He was outspoken about what needed to be changed in the world and He did what was necessary to bring about that change. Today the word cult has a negative connotation, but the meaning of it is actually derived from the phrase counter-culture. And when there are things about the culture that are contrary to Kingdom principles, it becomes necessary for the gospel to take on an aspect of activism. The gospel should counter a culture where the divorce rate is higher than 50%, where there are more African-American men in jails and prisons than in colleges and universities, and where reports of child sexual abuse have become so common that they don’t even seem shocking anymore. That kind of culture definitely needs a makeover!

The gospel of the Kingdom must be a tolerant gospel. It seems to be the opinion of many in the mainstream religious Church that AIDS is God’s punishment for gay people. Instead of praying for the hurting, many extremist fundamentalists actually consider it their ministry to stand outside the edifices where the funerals of AIDS victims are conducted and hold up placards that read, “AIDS is God’s punishment to fags” or “All fags go to hell.” In Section 3 of this book I’ll discuss some of the challenges that gay people face when it comes to the Church, but I have no examples to site here from the life of Jesus Christ because He was completely silent on the subject of homosexuality. But, when it comes to tolerance in general, He did tell His disciples that those who are not against us are for us, when they wanted to call down fire from heaven on others of whose ministry they did not approve.

The gospel of the Kingdom must be a progressive gospel. In the last couple of decades it seems to have become the popular assumption among many in the mainstream Church in America that political conservatism is synonymous with Christianity. The so-called morality issues have sort of directed many Christians to that conclusion, even though morality is not Christianity. Many people from other religious groups are extremely moral. Parts of Jesus’ message actually do sound quite like the conservative agenda, while other parts of it sound equally as liberal. But Jesus implied that He was rather apolitical when He said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:1). The point is, the Kingdom mentality must transcend natural labels and stereotypes and, to maintain relevance in ministry, Kingdom seekers must strive to be progressive in all areas of life.

The gospel of the Kingdom makes EXPERIENCING THE REAL GOD possible for those outside the Church. The Church is the proving ground for the Kingdom and the Kingdom is the hope for the world. God has not given up on this planet. He loves it and is still waiting for those people who are in covenant with Him to take dominion over it and subdue it. Jesus is held in the heavens until the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21), and the restoration of this planet can only come through the reign of Christ (the Body), under the authority of King Jesus the Christ (the Head). The Kingdom is proactive. The Kingdom is eternal. The Kingdom is advancing. The Kingdom makes a difference. The Kingdom has the answers. The Kingdom has influence. The Kingdom provides God access into the affairs of the earth. Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father!


Tellin’ It Like It Is

Many years ago I worked with my father in his midtown Atlanta church where we experienced what we thought was a great “revival” among many of the gay and lesbian people of the inner city. Over the years I counseled with these people, took them through what we believed to be deliverance and inner healing, cast demons out of them (or so we thought), and pressured them into heterosexual relationships, including marriage, so that they could live normal lives. It bothers me now when I hear ministers say that being gay is just a decision. I have never met any straight person who just decided one day to be gay. Why would anyone just decide to make their life so difficult and complicated? When you have looked into the tortured faces of people as they tell you the tragic story of a life spent trying to become straight, or have listened to them sob in a fetal position on the floor of your office because they don’t want to be who they really are, you begin to see the real problem with the “gay is a decision” theory.

During that period I saw everything from grown men vomiting into trash cans, trying to exorcise the demon of homosexuality, to men who had been gay from their earliest memory trying to maintain a sham marriage so that they could fit the definition of being a Christian. To my knowledge, all these years later, every one of these men and women have gone back to living openly gay lives, and the ones who were married to the opposite sex are all divorced. As anyone who has ever really ministered to gay people knows, if they are not born that way, then their world view was developed thusly from such an early age that they may as well have been. It is all they have ever known or felt. Then, when you tell them that if they come to Jesus they will become a new creation, and they expect to change to the point of having their sexual and romantic orientation altered, they are devastated when they discover (only too soon) that it isn’t going to happen.

I know men and women, some even in the ministry, who claim to have been genuinely changed from gay to straight and, if that is their testimony, I choose to believe them. And I know there are ministries that claim to actually have a success rate in turning gay people straight and, if that is their calling, I choose to believe them, as well. As a matter of fact, I struggled with even bringing this subject up in this book because I honestly don’t know the right way to look at this situation anymore. I know everything that the Bible says about it, but in my heart I really don’t believe that people have any control over their sexual and romantic orientation, and that makes me feel hypocritical about some of the positions that I have to take as a minister. At this point, the best that I can offer a gay person who, as a Christian, feels convicted about same-sex union, is for them to believe for the gift of celibacy and live alone. It would really help if Jesus would have said something about this subject, but this is all He gave us to work with:

But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs my men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”

(Matthew 19:11,12)

There is a lot more that I could say here, but I’ve probably pushed the envelope enough as it is on this subject – I’ll save it for another book. In the meantime, I pray that these so-called evangelical Christians who can’t think of anything better to say than, “God didn’t make Adam and Steve, He made Adam and Eve!” will realize that Jesus said the sick ones need a doctor – not an antagonist! For people who are struggling with their sexual orientation and are desperately looking to the Church for answers, these kind of moronic statements just make them feel more hopeless. In the meantime, I want to love people as they are, and, with the help of Parakletos, the Holy Spirit, help them find the Kingdom solutions for their own lives. I want to show people the goodness of the Lord which leads to repentance, and I know that God is good because He has been so good to me. The path to peace in the REAL WORLD is to know that you aren’t required to have all the answers to be effective, and that you don’t have to change people to love and accept them as they really are. God is good, and His mercy endures forever!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Know, I Know...God Didn't Make Adam and Steve

Let me say, once and for all: HETEROSEXUALITY IS ALIVE AND WELL! I make this simple and obvious statement for the sake of the many people who, for whatever reason, write, e-mail, call, text, or post on my other blog to remind me that God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. I’m not really sure what this tired and overused phrase is supposed to mean, really, or what it is supposed to accomplish. I guess it is said to me and to people like me for the purpose of possibly snapping my mind back to the reality of the creation story Genesis 1, and to hopefully change my sexual orientation…as if a statement like this could alter my thinking about the long-held truth of my life, or my beliefs about human sexuality.

But I’ve heard it said so much, not just to me, personally, but also publicly from pulpits across America over the years (and if a preacher is looking for a strong reaction from his audience, making this statement is usually a sure thing) and in television debates over gay rights issues, that I wanted to address the “Adam and Steve” thing, and to make some observations that will hopefully bring a little clarity on the subject (and maybe stop people from saying it to me so often…).

The point is, heterosexuality is not going anywhere. Procreation is not in any danger. The overwhelming majority of the world is straight, and always will be, and men and women will always continue to date, fall in love, get married, have sex, have babies, and do whatever else straight people do. Despite what you regularly hear from the Christian right, the world is not turning gay. There is no “gay agenda” to fear in the sense that gay people are trying to recruit heterosexuals to turn to a “gay lifestyle” (which also doesn‘t exist, by the way, but more about that later).

Nobody “turns” gay. It’s just not possible. There is about the same percentage of the world’s population that is homosexual as there has always been (10 %), you just hear about it more now than you did in the past for many reasons, and so it appears that something strange or unprecedented is happening in society that isn’t necessarily happening.

Gay people, as a rule, are not anti-family, or even anti-heterosexual, for that matter…they are not against the idea of Adam and Eve. Every gay person knows that, were it not for heterosexual procreation, none of us, straight or gay, would be here! Straight people will always be straight, and gay people will always be gay. Period. I know that that statement usually opens up endless arguments on the subject, but so be it. Sooner or later, people are just going to have to realize and admit that no one is making this stuff up. If someone says they’re gay…they’re gay! They didn’t choose their orientation any more than any heterosexual chose his or her orientation.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Tell the Truth

In much of my correspondence, the question of whether or not I’m aware of what the Bible calls an “abomination” keeps coming up, and the answer to that is yes, I am well aware. In fact, here’s a short list of just some of the things the Bible calls an abomination (there are 67 things listed in all), in case you’re wondering about it…

Cheating is an abomination (Mic. 6:10).

A proud look is an abomination (Pro. 6:16-17).

A lying tongue is an abomination (Pro. 6:17; 12:22).

Hands that shed innocent blood are an abomination (Pro. 6:17).

A wicked scheming heart is an abomination (Pro. 6:18).

Feet that are quick to sin are an abomination (Pro. 6:18).

A false witness that speaks lies is an abomination (Pro. 6:19).

A sower of discord among brethren is an abomination (Pro. 6:19).

A false balance or scale is an abomination (Pro. 11:1).

The sacrifices of the wicked are an abomination (Pro. 15:8; 21:27).

The proud of heart are an abomination (Pro. 16:5).

Condemning the just is an abomination (Pro. 17:15).

Divers, dishonest weights are an abomination (Pro. 20:10, 23).

Divers, dishonest measures are an abomination (Pro. 20:10).

Refusing to hear the law is an abomination (Pro. 28:9).

The prayers of a rebel are an abomination (Pro. 28:9).

Eating the flesh of a peace offering on the 3rd day is an abomination (Lev. 7:18).

Taking ornaments from idols when they are being destroyed is an abomination (Dt. 7:25-26).

Any Idolatrous practices are abominations (Dt. 12:31; 13:14; 17:4; 18:9; 20:18; 29:17).

Offering an imperfect animal to God as a sacrifice is an abomination (Dt. 17:1).

Re-marriage of former companions is an abomination (Dt. 24:1-4).

Cheating others is an abomination (Dt. 25:13-16).

Making images or idols is an abomination (Dt. 27:15).

Incense offered by hypocrites is an abomination (Isa. 1:13).

Eating unclean things (pork, shellfish, etc.) is an abomination (Isa. 66:17).

Offering human sacrifices is an abomination (Jer. 32:35).

Robbery is an abomination (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

Oppression of others, particularly the poor or vulnerable is an abomination (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

Violence is an abomination (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

Breaking vows is an abomination (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

Lending with interest to a brother is an abomination (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

Sleeping with a menstruous woman is an abomination (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

Hardness of heart is an abomination (Ezek. 18: 6-13).

Injustice is an abomination (Ezek. 18:6-13).

Things highly esteemed by man are an abomination (Lk. 16:15).

I could go on, but, suffice it to say, according to Biblical standards we are probably all guilty of regularly committing abominations (ever had a “proud look” on your face, or eaten a pork chop?), so we need to keep the use of that word in perspective. Thank God for the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I think it's important to point out that my main message is and always has been one of love, grace, and tolerance. Church In The Now has been a multicultural/multi ethnic/ecumenical community since its inception, and, as such, has established a long-standing reputation as being a bridge builder among belief systems and people groups. It is neither a white church, nor a black church - it is a church for all people - so it will not become, now or ever, a "gay" church. CITN is inclusive because we believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, demands that we be...and that Gospel is simply the Good News that GOD IS LOVE, demonstrated through the Christ, revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus said that the lifestyle demands made by the Gospel are summed up in two basic and proactive commandments: (1) Love God (2) Love people. That's all. Church In The Now will always be a place that embraces the truth of the real Gospel, and the simplicity that is in Christ.

That being said, let me add that, as controversial as my recent announcement about myself may be to some, I at least have not had to work through any credibility issues, or do any damage control concerning my message. I have never one time in nearly 40 years of preaching said a derogatory or condemning word about people with same-sex attraction. An in-depth search can be made through my books, or through decades-worth of tapes, CDs, DVDs, or manuscripts of my sermons, and there will be no evidence of the preaching of condemnation found.


Concerning any negative things written about me online, which are mostly done by conservative Christian or Evangelical groups or watchdog organizations, I can only say that it comes with the territory, and I'm used to it. I have no desire to defend myself, or to argue the Scriptures with those who would not be open to anything I would have to say. Integrity can't be proven, it must be discerned.

I've been discussed on blogs and websites for years because of my inclusive theology, and because of the spotlight being on my family for some time because of my uncle, Bishop Earl Paulk, who died nearly two years ago. Usually, any negative article about me begins by making the connection with him, and, even though I don't understand why that connection is germane to my story, I guess it makes it more interesting to some.

I do want to say, however, that I understand that to those who come from a certain apocalyptic/fatalistic theological background, someone like me saying what I've said publicly represents a dangerous trend...a "sign of the times", as they see it. I really understand that because I came from that same tradition. All I can say to my Christian detractors is, if you think I'm deceived or dangerous, then please pray for me. I am your brother, whether you receive me or not, and I choose to love you and believe that your intentions are good, at least in your own minds.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that the response to the video (“A Real Message to Real People”) has been astounding, but, had I thought beforehand that it was going to become so high profile, I might have phrased a few things that I said on it differently. My apologies to anyone who was offended by anything that was stated, but I just said what was on my heart, with no script, or preconceived idea of what I was going say. I feel very passionate about certain things, and those of you who know me know that I communicate exactly what I feel about things that really matter to me. The video is what it is, but my prayer is that the spirit of the message delivered would be heard louder than the letter of it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

From the Heart

I’m overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support that I have received in recent months from friends, colleagues, fellow pastors, and from so many of you whom I’ve never met. Your words of kindness have been life-giving, and I’ve read your beautiful e-mails, texts, tweets, and public and private Facebook messages over and over again, many times with tears. I’ve tried to respond to all of them, but if I somehow missed yours, please forgive me and know that I’ve read what you had to say, and that I really appreciate it.

I haven’t returned a lot of phone messages, but I’m glad to hear from all of you who have called, especially those of you with whom I’ve lost contact…we’ll talk, eventually.

Those of you who have had less than supportive things to say, please know that I really do understand where you’re coming from, and I’m sure many of you actually mean well, and want to help me. Believe it or not, I appreciate your input, as well…I just don’t want to argue or debate the Scriptures. I respect your opinions and viewpoints, and can only ask for the same consideration.

It’s been really nice to hear from so many of you who have said that you want to visit CITN, and it’s been especially gratifying to hear from those of you who have left the church for whatever reason, and now wish to return. I really hope all of you will follow through with what you’ve said, and that I’ll have a chance to meet you when you come (or come back)…

More than anything else, though, I have loved hearing from so many young people, including teens who are dealing with some serious issues, along with parents of teens who have been touched by some things that I’ve said. If you’ve been helped at all, it’s been worth any negative reactions or bad publicity that I’ve received.

To those few of you who have severed ties with me, I want you to know that I understand, and that I love you, and I also want you to know that I hope our division is not permanent. If my transparency has offended anyone, I apologize.

I pray that all of you will be blessed, and again, I can’t thank you enough for your support…