about Me

about Me

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...