Tag Archive: LGBTQ

Pastor Brian Tome: God Knows What You Are Going Through, He Lost His Son

brian tome

I was listening to the Bill Cunningham show on WLW-700 on my way home from my doctor’s appointment today. Cunningham had as his guest Brian Tome, pastor of Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cunningham and Tome were discussing the untimely deaths of children, young adults, and family members. Tome, evidently, was brought on the show to give advice on handling such deaths. What he did, instead, was spend the time throwing up cheap, worn-out Evangelical clichés. On one hand, Tome went out of his way to say, hey, I am just a regular guy who is looking for answers to questions concerning life and death. On the other hand, he was the typical preacher, ever ready to give an answer when he should have, instead, kept his damn mouth shut.

According to Christianity Today, Crossroads is the fastest growing church in the United States with fourteen restaurants –uh, I mean locations – and thirty-eight thousand attendees. Crossroads is using the franchise model to build its brand:

Like about a third of US megachurches, Crossroads relies on technology and resources to support church growth beyond physical buildings. Leaders see Crossroads Anywhere—groups that gather in homes to view the weekend service together—as a crucial part of the church’s future.

At least 38 groups meet together for Crossroads Anywhere in far-flung cities like Seattle, Los Angeles, and Houston. The church spends over $100,000 a month to keep the app’s digital infrastructure running.

The Crossroads Anywhere app also acts as a data-driven feasibility study for possible new campuses. If more than 100 people are convening in a certain location, Crossroads evaluates if it should begin providing on-location resources in that region.

In January, the newest Crossroads campus opened in one of the outlying Cincinnati regions where the staff had seen growing interest—and 8,000 people showed up the first weekend.

To expand beyond the Midwest, Crossroads will rely upon technology to liberate where brick and mortar have limited. Consistent with a business startup mentality, Tome stated, “No matter how big one building is, it is still too small for the growth that God wants for his church.”

Jenn Sperry, whose team oversees media at Crossroads, said the staff had always sensed that the church was growing beyond regional borders. But starting last summer, Crossroads team members were asked to use new language when speaking of the church to communicate a more unlimited scope. Sperry’s department, for instance, has been recast as a “national team.”

Early on in the job, Sperry watched the speed of change going on, caught her breath, and asked her supervisor, “Is it always going to be this way?” At a church like Crossroads, the answer is almost always yes. The fast-paced environment shattered her expectations that working at a church could be boring.

“It’s invigorating and also frustrating to be in an environment of change all the time,” Tome acknowledged.

The rate of growth and change can also create trepidation and questions for church members. One longtime member who worships and serves at the original Crossroads campus in Oakley, a neighborhood of young professionals near the city center, heard whispers of concern after the national announcement was made.

“People hear this declaration of Crossroads becoming a national church, and they wonder, ‘What does that mean for us? Do we lose our identity?’ ” said Marie, who asked to only be identified by her first name. She had her own questions, too. “If God has placed this on the hearts of our leaders, then we must trust what God is doing.”

….

Where is all of this growth coming from? Are thousands of sinners finding salvation through the evangelistic efforts of the church? Of course not. Most new church growth comes from pilfering congregants from other churches. In Cincinnati, there are countless hamburger joints, each offering up its distinctive burgers. What happens when a new hamburger joint comes to town? People flock to the new place looking for something new and different. That’s what we do as Americans. We want diversity and choice. Religious hucksters such as Tome tap into that “need” with their new, exciting churches. Tired of their own places of worship, people seek out new adventures and experiences. Off to Crossroads they go, leaving McDonald’s and Wendy’s to die.

A glimpse of  Crossroads’ website reveals a sneaky Evangelical church that goes out of its way to position itself as not-one-of-those-churches. Crossroads advertises itself as a church for people who don’t like church; a church that doesn’t care what you believe; a church that is cool, relevant, and oh-so-hip; a church that has an awesome band. However, their beliefs are typical of Fundamentalist churches (see Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?), despite how the church hides them at the bottom of a colander filled with word-salad.

Here are two things that sum up, for me anyway, the essence of Crossroads’ beliefs and ministry methodology. These statements are found on a page titled, Seven Hills We Die On:

  • Crossroads is a place for people on every part of the spiritual journey, from those just investigating whether there is a God to those who have made following Christ the priority of their life. The Bible presents a dangerous message of life change. We don’t assume everyone believes, or even knows the Bible, but we do assume everyone who comes through our doors is open to exploring it. We believe the Bible is God’s inerrant truth and it’s the foundation to everything we do.
  • We don’t expect anyone who walks into Crossroads to be a committed Christ-follower, but we do expect everyone who is around our community for any length of time to be growing. We expect every person to be moving closer to reflecting the complete image of Christ in every area of life. This is a safe place for everyone. But safe doesn’t mean comfortable. The answers aren’t always comfortable. In fact, we often grow only when we are pushed out of our comfort zone.

All that talk about believing whatever ever you want? Well, that’s fine when you walk in the front door for the first time, but if you stick around, Tome and the two hundred Crossroads paid staff members expect you to grow into their version of what it means to be a Christian. On the FAQ page, Crossroads answers the question, is this place a cult? Here’s their response:

Great question. After all, it’s full of people singing songs and drinking the same beloved liquid (in this case, great coffee). Plus, numerous guitars and people dressed comfortably. But seriously. No. Cults tell you what to believe, take away your freedoms and forbid you to leave. Here, you’re welcome no matter what you believe, and we want you to experience freedom (including the freedom to leave whenever you want). If that still isn’t enough for you, then the answer is “Fine, we’re a cult.” But we’re rubber and you’re glue.

god knowsThe church would have you believe that its pastors and teachers don’t tell people what to believe. R-i-g-h-t. Of course they do. That’s why Tome preaches on Sundays. Here’s truth! Believe, lest you perish in your sins and go to hell. Why not admit this? Crossroads’ statement of faith claims that the Bible is inspired and inerrant. This is an objective — albeit false – “truth” claim. Could Joe Blow become involved in the teaching ministry at Crossroads and teach people that the Bible is just another book, and is not, as the church’s statement of faith states, a timeless book different from and superior to all the books ever written? Of course not. Tome and his church have all sort of objective, non-negotiable beliefs. Why not lay all the cards on the table for visitors?  Why not tell them what the church really believes and what will be expected of them? Surely, Tome has nothing to hide, right?

Preachers like Tome are professional bullshitters. They cover their bullshit with a patina of religious words, but underneath it all you will find generic Evangelical beliefs. Such men hide their true beliefs because they are offensive, and if their churches are going to continue to grow numerically and generate larger offerings, new people must not get a whiff of their bullshit until they have been thoroughly courted, fucked, and married.

I am not the only one who sees through Tome’s loving and accepting shtick. At one time, Crossroads was known for being welcoming to gays and lesbians. Remember, the church likely IS welcoming when people come through the front door. But, once embraced by the church and immersed in its teachings, attendees are expected to embrace the church’s beliefs and practices. In 2004, a gay man who was also a volunteer youth leader became engaged to another man. Once it became known that this man was engaged, according to City Beat, he was forced to resign. Here’s an excerpt from the City Beat article:

Leaders at Crossroads found out about Jones’ sexual orientation after a member of his Bible study group told others what Jones thought had been communicated in confidence. When leaders ousted him, Jones asked for a written explanation. They talked to him over the phone but refused his request for something in writing.

“I almost feel it’s because they’re afraid to have a written policy stating anything that would stop someone from coming in and giving them money,” Jones says.

As the church’s pastor, Tome says he can’t talk about the particulars of any dealings with individuals in his church. But he said Crossroads communicates openly and directly about the issue of homosexuality.

In a Sunday message last year, Tome addressed homosexuality in response to the many questions he’d received about the issue.

“You cannot say the Bible supports homosexuality,” he said. “It does not.”

Still, almost a year later, many homosexuals continue to attend the church.

“We would believe that homosexual sex is just as wrong as two people not married having sex,” Tome says.

He admits that he has looked at Internet pornography, which he considers just as wrong as homosexuality.

“(Homosexuals) should not be singled out as committing the capital ‘S’ sin here at the church,” he says.

There is a reason the church doesn’t want a written policy on homosexuality, according to Tome.

“The church in America, and might I also say Cincinnati, is pretty much irrelevant, and it’s because we make things like sexuality our rallying issue,” he says. “The church is not supposed to be God’s political weather vane.”

Gays ‘very confused’
The Bible speaks to particular sins in a manner that doesn’t require additional written doctrine, Tome says. He interprets passages such as 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10 to clearly indicate that homosexuality, even within the confines of marriage, displeases God.

“Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God,” the passage says.

Jones, however, differs in his interpretation. He says the reference is to homosexuality associated with male prostitution, not to homosexuality within marriage.

Jones suspects that Crossroads isn’t just interested in what the Bible says. He thinks discrimination and stereotypes play a role.

When Crossroads let him go, he asked, “Is it because you want to protect the children from me?”

Jones says the response was, ” ‘We’re sorry you interpret it that way … We need to put the child first and err on the side of the child.’ I asked them, ‘What are you protecting them from?’ ”

Jones is a doctoral candidate in child and adolescent psychology at Xavier University.

But Tome says Crossroads doesn’t advocate the false stereotype of homosexuals as pedophiles.

“We would not say that homosexuals are pedophiles,” he says. “We would not say that and we would not say homosexuals cannot be around kids in any way shape or form. That has not been the way we practice.”

Tome says an abstinent homosexual Christian who slips up sometimes but is trying to abstain is welcome to teach at the church, but that someone who believes homosexuality is not a sin would be asked to serve in some other role.

….

Sadly, way too many LGBTQ people get sucked into Evangelical churches through believing a particular church’s marketing slogans. And believe me, Tome sees himself as an entrepreneur, a seller of the greatest story ever told. LGBTQ people hear Tome and his church say, you are WELCOME here. Come as you are. Believe what you want. We won’t judge you. And these things might be true — for a time – but the longer LGBTQ people are in the church the more likely it is that they will face pressure to conform. And if they refuse? Why, they are free to leave. No harm, no foul, except to the LBGTQ people who thought that Tome and Crossroads really loved and accepted them as they are. Sorry folks, no matter how an Evangelical church markets itself, the Bible will have the final say.

Tome made several absurd statements during his time on Bill Cunningham’s show. First, Tome said, “We have to have an answer for pain and suffering.” Both my wife and I said, “why?” Why do we have to have an answer for pain and suffering? Is it not sufficient to say, shit happens? Tome is looking for answers where there are none. Tome and Cunningham, a vulgar, right-wing Catholic and political extremist, want to “see” God in the midst of pain and suffering. However, as many ex-Christians have found out, God is nowhere to be found.

Second, Tome said, “God knows what you are going through, he lost his son.” Polly and I both were shocked that the good pastor let this nonsense slip from his lips. How could God, the father, know what we are going through? He has never been human. He’s never experienced pain and suffering. According to orthodox Christianity, pain and suffering are the consequences of humanity’s fall into sin. God’s never sinned, Evangelicals say — though the Bible reveals a deity who has little regard for his own moral commands — so how is it possible for him to “know” pain and suffering?

Did God, the father, really lose his son? In what way was Jesus “lost?” According to the Bible, Jesus spent a long weekend in Hell preaching to sinners. I am sure his father knew exactly where he was. Oh, what great pain and suffering God faced when his son was on a forty-eight to seventy-two-hour vacation in Cancun! Is God’s “suffering” over the “loss” of his son comparable in any way to the pain and agony faced by countless humans, day in and day out? Of course not.

God, the father, is a work of fiction. The fact that the pain and suffering exist in the world — both for humans and animals — suggests that God is not the kind of deity Evangelicals claim he is. Would an all-powerful God of love ignore pain and suffering when it was in his power to put an end to it? What better way to show your love, mercy, and kindness than to alleviate pain and suffering. Instead, God does nothing, suggesting that either he doesn’t care or he doesn’t exist. My money is on the latter.

Jesus, on the other hand, was very much a flesh and-blood human being. Not a God, Jesus was the son of Mary and an unknown man. Jesus had the same wants, needs, passions, and desires, as the rest of us. Ask yourself, did Jesus masturbate? Is the Pope Catholic? Of course Jesus masturbated! He did all the things that were common to man. Why? Because he was human. Thus, when Jesus got himself crossways with the Roman government and the local Jewish community, he experienced great pain and suffering. Why? Because he was human. And then, when he body couldn’t take any more pounding, he died. Why? Because he was human.

Tome should immediately, without delay, put away the vacuous cliché, God knows what you are going through, he lost his son. Saying this makes light of human pain and suffering. It’s the equivalent of saying, Hey, suck it up. God suffered loss too when Jesus didn’t come home one weekend. He knows what you are going throughGod made it to the other side and you will too! 

Oh, how I wish I could “suffer” as Jesus supposedly did two thousand years ago. I would gladly trade a long weekend of pain and suffering for my current experiences with chronic pain and illness. I have met countless chronic pain sufferers over the years. I have also known people who have gone through great heartache and tragedy. In every way, the suffering faced by these people far eclipsed that of the man, the myth, the legend, Jesus, the Christ. Tome wants to believe that his God is an ever-present reality, a deity who understands — yet, does nothing for — their pain. Why bother with such a God?  Why waste your energy worshiping and serving a heartless, helpless God who cannot or will not do what supposedly is in his power to do? No thanks. I much prefer humanism’s view of pain and suffering; that such things are common to man; and all any of us can do is love and support one another.

There Are So Many Gays in the Olympics Now

gay olympians

My wife and her mother talk via telephone every Sunday evening around 9:00 PM. One recent topic of discussion was the Winter Olympics. Polly and her Mom both shared what events they liked watching. Polly’s mom, a devout Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) Christian, shared one observation that left Polly and me laughing when she told me what her mom had said. There sure are a lot of gays in the Olympics now, Mom said, with, I am sure, a shaking of her head a low sounding, umm hmm — the sound she makes when something or someone doesn’t meet her approval.

Polly said nothing. She could have, of course, told her mom that there have always been gay athletes in the Olympics. Gays, gays, gays, everywhere gays, but for most of Mom’s life, they quietly hid in dark closets, so she didn’t see them. Out of sight, out of mind. Now that closet doors have been flung open, Fundamentalists are forced to see and engage people who are considered by them to be abominable reprobates. I have no doubt that Fundamentalists wish that gays would stop flaunting their sexuality — you know like heterosexuals flaunt theirs.

Mom’s youngest brother died of a viral heart disease at age fifty-one. Art was a wonderful man, a pacifist who refused to carry a gun during the Vietnam War. He was a telecommunications operator. Art lived in Michigan, hours away from his Fundamentalist family. When he traveled to Ohio to visit on holidays, he would attend church with the family at the Newark Baptist Temple. I never heard Art talk about God, Jesus, the Bible, or Christianity. He supposedly made a profession of faith as a boy, but I doubt that Art attended church other than when he was visiting his Fundamentalist family. After Art died, it was left to his two preacher’s-wife sisters to settle his estate and take care of his personal property. There were things “found” at his apartment that still can’t be talked about to this day. I’ve thought, over the years, surely everyone knew Art was gay. The first time I met Art was Thanksgiving 1976. I knew immediately that Art was “different” from the rest of us fine upstanding Christians. It’s too bad he died so young. I suspect he would have found today’s societal openness towards gays liberating. I would love to have had an opportunity to talk to him about life as a gay man in a Fundamentalist Baptist family.

I don’t fault my mother-in-law for being homophobic. She was raised in a Fundamentalist Christian home where human sexuality was defined by the Bible. Gay people were disgusting, vile cretins in need of old-fashioned Baptist salvation. Getting saved turned sinners into saints, homosexuals into heterosexuals. This is how I was raised too. From my elementary school years forward, I heard pastors, youth directors, and Sunday school teachers say that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah over the sin of ho-mo-sex-u-al-ity (shout the word loudly, enunciating each syllable while pounding on the pulpit). Gay people were viewed as sexual predators. No child was safe when near homosexuals. Church was considered a safe haven because there supposedly weren’t any gays in IFB churches.

I didn’t personally know a gay person until high school. I knew a lot of people who were called queers and faggots, but these slurs were often hurled towards boys who refused to participate in gym or who acted in ways deemed unmanly. They may or may not have been gay. In ninth grade, my gym teacher decided to teach us how to square dance. My pastor got wind of this and made a fuss. Dancing? In school? This resulted in me sitting on the sidelines while everyone else, save two other boys, learned to do-si-do and swing their partner round and round. The other two boys? Yeah….the two “queers” who refused to participate in gym. I was thoroughly embarrassed by having to sit with these boys. (Please read Good Baptist Boys Don’t Dance.)

I am sure my mother-in-law, along with her fellow Christians, is upset and alarmed over how out-in-the-open gay people are these days. Why, there’s even gays kissing on TV! Umm hmm. What Fundamentalists fail to understand is that there have always been gay people. Religious oppression kept them from openly expressing their sexuality. Now, LGBTQ people are out of the closet and openly living their lives as they see fit. Their openness scares the Jesus right out of Fundamentalists. They genuinely believe that homosexuality is a sin above all sins, and that societies which endorse and support such behavior will be judged and destroyed by God. This is why Fundamentalists opposed same-sex marriage and continue to threaten boycotts of companies that support the “gay agenda” or the “gay lifestyle.”  The problem now, of course, is that anti-gay Fundamentalists make up a small and shrinking percentage of Americans and tend to live in southern or rural communities. They no longer have the political power necessary to turn back the Sodomite horde. As the United States becomes more inclusive and tolerant, Fundamentalists are forced to admit that Christianity no longer rules the roost; that even some Evangelicals now think it is okay for people to be gay; that come the next Olympics there will be gay athletes. Umm  hmm…..

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Anonymous Fundamentalist Spends Eight Minutes Talking About Sodomite Sex

sodomites

This is the one hundred and sixty-ninth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is a video clip of an anti-gay rant by an anonymous Fundamentalist Christian who operates the God, Guns, and Glory blog. It comes as no surprise that this man is a huge Steven Anderson fan. I suspect that this man, along with Anderson, is suppressing his true sexual nature by railing against LGBTQ people.

Video Link

You Are Welcome Here

you are welcome hereA tagline often used by Christian churches to advertise themselves to non-Christians is this: YOU ARE WELCOME HERE! This statement is meant to convey to people that their church is friendly and accepting of everyone. When mainline churches use this line, they often are just that: friendly, accepting, and welcoming. Years ago, Polly and I, along with our three youngest children, visited the Episcopal church in Defiance. On our first visit there, an older woman — whom we learned later was a pillar of the church — came up to us and said, WELCOME! We don’t care what you believe, you are welcome here. This congregation sincerely didn’t care what you did or didn’t believe, though there were several members of a Fundamentalist persuasion who likely were not as indifferent about our beliefs, especially our pro-choice view on abortion. There’s another church in Defiance, St. John’s United Church of Christ, that advertises the fact that they are a welcoming church. St. John’s caused quite of bit of controversy when they came out in support of same-sex marriage. Both of these churches genuinely accept people as they are, where they are, and don’t try to evangelize. They are more focused on good works than right doctrine.

However, when Evangelical churches, such as the one outside of Ney, say, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE!, I chuckle, knowing that they mean something far different when they say this than do the aforementioned Episcopal and UCC churches. Evangelical churches want to be perceived as welcoming places where anyone and everyone can walk through their doors and feel at home. Little do first-time visitors realize that this friendliness is a play; that the church’s welcoming of them has an ulterior motive attached to it — to evangelize them and turn them into another soldier in God’s Fundamentalist army. Evangelicals will piously say that they love everyone, just as God loves everyone. Sounds good, right? We all want to feel loved and accepted. With Evangelicals, however, their love is a means to an end. They might feign love for you for a time, but their objective is to save you, baptize you, get your checking account number, and add you to the church roll. Yes, Evangelicals say, we love you as you are. But, we love you enough to not leave you there.

Some Evangelical churches are content to leave sinners alone, trusting that the Holy Spirit and the preaching of the Word will bring them to repentance. Week after week, congregants will “love” on sinners, leading them to believe that they are loved and accepted as they are. Little do they know that there is no way for them to truly gain membership in the club until they first change their ways. This is why I laugh when I hear Evangelicals say that their churches LOVE and ACCEPT LGBTQ people. Sure they do. Or, they love and accept them enough to let them take two feet of real estate in one of the church pews, but let someone living in “sin” try to become part of the club and they will be told, sorry, only saved, sanctified, heterosexual people are allowed to be members. Want to sing in the choir, play in the church band, teach Sunday school, or work in the nursery? REPENT and believe the gospel. REPENT and stop being who and what you are. REPENT and realize you are a filthy, vile, broken sinner in need salvation.

It is really easy for anyone to test whether a particular Evangelical church is as welcoming as its members claim to be. Ask the pastor if you and your lesbian partner — whom you legally married last year — can join the church. Or, ask the pastor is you can recruit church members to work at the local Planned Parenthood. Take any of the hot-button social issues or any of the “bad” sins Evangelicals are obsessed with and work them into your life story. Ask the pastor if the church will accept you as a member as you are, with you not planning to change your ways. I guarantee you that Evangelical churches will let you in the gate so they can preach at you, but they sure as heaven aren’t going to let you be a club member unless you first go through their particular club’s membership rituals.

So, when Evangelical churches put on their advertising signs, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE! don’t believe it. When Evangelicals tell you that their churches love people unconditionally, feel free to snort, chortle, and laugh. They don’t love anyone unconditionally, and, according to the Bible, neither does their God. (Please read Does God Love Us Unconditionally?  Does God Hate? and Evangelicals Say They Love LGBTQ People, But do They Really?) I am sure Evangelicals reading this might say, Well, Bruce, you aren’t welcoming of everyone. You don’t love unconditionally. So there! Here’s the thing, I have never made such claims as these. I don’t live in a mythical world of cheap clichés. While I go out of my way to be kind to and respect everyone, some people are assholes and I have no interest in, nor do I have the time to be fake friends with, such people. The same goes for unconditionally loving everyone. While I generally am a nice guy — just ask anyone who knows me — there are some people who don’t deserve my love. One of the joys of unbelief is that I no longer have to fake-love people. As a pastor, I had to feign love towards countless boorish, nasty people. What would Jesus do, right? Now that Jesus isn’t in my way, I am free to choose whom I want to love and whom I don’t. I spent decades putting up with relatives such as my grandparents, all because I thought that the Bible taught me to do so. Now I am free to say to them, I have no interest in you being a part of my life. (Please read Dear Ann.) Goodbye, good riddance, have a happy death.

Perhaps it is time for Evangelical churches to be honest in their advertising. Stop lying to the public. Stop feigning acceptance and admit that the only people who are truly welcome are those who believe the right things and live a certain way. And that’s okay. It’s your club, Evangelicals. You have every right to have membership rules and obligations. But, please quit with being the small print at the bottom of an infomercial. Tell people the truth about what you demand and expect of them. Hiding your true agenda behind clichés and word salads only turn people off, especially when they find out you lied to them. Don’t tell LGBTQ people you love and accept them, when, in fact, you intend to do everything possible to turn them into Jesus-loving heterosexuals. Jesus said In John 8:32, the TRUTH shall set you free. It’s time for Evangelicals to put their Lord and Savior’s words into practice.

Read Part Two

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Failure of My Homophobic Preaching

homosexuality a sin

I came of age as an Evangelical pastor during the eleven years I spent at Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. I was young, brash, full of energy, and convinced that God was going to use me to build a large country church. And sure enough, thanks to aggressive evangelism, the bus ministry, and congregational splits among several nearby Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches, Somerset Baptist grew to over two hundred people.

For many of the eleven years I pastored Somerset Baptist, I preached topical/textual sermons. In the late 1980s, I moved away from such preaching and began taking an expositional approach to my sermons. Textual/topical preaching fit well with my IFB ideology. Want to preach against a particular sin? Find proof texts that validate your viewpoint and build them into a sermon. Homosexuality was one such sin that got a lot of attention from me. I was loud and forceful in my preaching, leaving no doubt as to what I — er, I mean God — believed about sodomites and the sin of sodomy.

I was quite certain that if there were any closeted homosexuals in the congregations, my preaching would drive the gay right out of them. I never, of course, used the word gay to describe homosexuals. There is nothing GAY about the homosexual lifestyle, I told congregants, many of whom showered my homophobia with AMENS!  The children and teens of the church, in particular, faced the wrath of Pastor Bruce as he railed against sexual sin. I felt duty-bound to protect their virginity, warning them that physical contact with the opposite sex was the gateway to fornication. The Bible says in I Corinthians 7:1, I hollered from the pulpit, It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Girls were warned that no girl ever got pregnant without holding hands with a boy first. Want to stay pure until your wedding day? I asked. Don’t let a boy touch you! And just to make sure that teenagers put my preaching into practice, I instituted a no-touching rule in our Christian school and I asked their parents to not let their daughters get in cars with boys.

My preaching against homosexuality was meant as a preventative. I was certain that there were NO homosexuals among the faithful. From time to time, we had lesbians or gay men ride one of our buses, and I made sure they knew the “truth” about their vile lifestyle. There was one particular area where we picked up bus riders that was known for its immorality, especially incest. On more than one occasion, several women came to church with their children who had been fathered by their brothers. This inbreeding led to all sorts of physical maladies, including developmental disability (also known as retardation back in the day). No matter how fiery my sermons were, my edicts against their fornication pretty much went over their heads.

In 1989, I became a born-again Calvinist. Church attendance was declining. Those who had left other IFB churches returned home, taking their tithes and offerings with them. This caused severe financial difficulties, forcing us to stop running four bus routes. At this juncture in my ministry, I felt “led” of God to start a tuition-free Christian school for the church’s children. Our highest enrollment was fifteen students.

Fast forward to today. Through social media and private email, I have been in contact with a handful of the school’s students. I have apologized to them for my harsh preaching, especially my rants against homosexuality. Why this sin in particular? Three out of the fifteen students are now gay. That’s right, twenty percent of the student body came out of the closet as adults, proving that all the anti-gay preaching in the world, complete with Bible verses, won’t change who and what people are.

Evangelical preachers continue to rail against what they deem sexual sin. Few people forsake their nature. Instead, they learn to hide who they really are. In the case of teenagers, they bide their time until they can leave home. Once free of their parents’ fundamentalism, they embrace their true sexual nature. Some of them lose their faith, while others find ways to reconcile the Bible’s anti-LGBTQ stance with who and what they are. I do know this: the three people I mentioned in the post have turned into loving, caring adults. It’s too bad they had to spend years being beaten over their heads with the Bible by their pastor and parents. That any of them wants to have a relationship with me is a testimony to their kindness and character. I wouldn’t blame any of them if they spit in my face and told me to go to hell.

Were you raised in a church where your preacher railed against fornication in general and homosexuality in particular? How did things turn out people once they became adults? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Bible Scares the Gay Right Out of a Woman

my beliefs are right

This is the one hundred and sixty-fourth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism is an Anchored North video detailing a woman’s conversion from lesbianism. While the young woman in the video desperately wants to believe that the Evangelical God, by his oh-so-awesome grace, has delivered her from the “sin” of homosexuality, when in fact all that has happened is that she has allowed a few Bible verses to corrupt her thinking and scare her straight.

Video Link

What Evangelical Christianity Taught Me About Homosexuality

phil robertson aids

Guest post by ObstacleChick

Reading Bruce’s recent post titled Evangelicals Say They Love LGBTQ People, But do They Really? made me start thinking about my experiences as a former evangelical Christian as well as my conversations with people whom I know are still in that community.

Most of us probably know someone in the LGBTQ community. Even fundamentalist evangelicals probably know someone, perhaps at work or at school, or perhaps even someone in their church who is struggling with how to reconcile the teachings of their religion with their true sexual identity. Evangelicals pay a lot of attention to other people’s sex lives, and there are rules surrounding “proper” expression of sexual activity. Basically, here are the rules – sex is only to be practiced between a married man and woman (and some sects teach that it is only for the purpose of reproduction). Everything outside that narrow definition is a sin, a choice, and forbidden. (Please read, Are Evangelicals Fundamentalists?.)

Here are specific statements I learned while I was in evangelical Christianity.

Being gay is a result of a homosexual male molesting an underage boy. This was a common theme I heard, that boys were molested by homosexual men and then the boys would “turn gay” through learned behavior. The concept was that the boys would not have become gay on their own, but because they were forced to engage in homosexual acts with an adult male, then they started to like it or thought it was normal and continued engaging in homosexual activity throughout their lives.

This concept is wrong on so many levels. First, of course, is the concept that homosexual males are all pedophiles seeking out converts. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, I remember the evangelical adults having quite an uproar over the group NAMBLA (North American Man Boy Love Association). Evangelical adults believed that the existence and activity of NAMBLA proved that homosexual men were preying on people’s young sons in order to convert them to homosexuality. In fact, NAMBLA was a fringe homosexual group that was denounced by the majority of the homosexual community, and it later disbanded in the mid-1990s.

Another reason this concept is wrong is that it assumes that homosexuality is merely a learned behavior. There is no acknowledgement that people are born homosexual or heterosexual or bisexual or anywhere on the evangelical sexual spectrum.

Homosexuality is a choice. I heard a lot of evangelical people talking about homosexuality as a choice – that people choose whether they are going to be gay or straight. Their thought was that people were tempted to try sex with someone of the same gender, and that the sin clouded their vision of “God’s plan” for human sex. If someone were truly repentant of their sin of homosexuality and prayed for God’s forgiveness and guidance, then they could overcome the desire to have sex with someone of the same gender – in essence, “praying away the gay.”

Homosexuals should remain celibate for life. For the few evangelicals who might concede that maybe homosexuals were born that way (not because God made a mistake, but because something went wrong during gestation to cause someone to be born with gay tendencies), homosexuals should never have sex. I suppose this makes sense if your belief is that God only approves of sex between a married man and woman (for the purpose of reproduction); then all other sex is sin. This concept made it a little more palatable for Christians to “love the sinner but hate the sin.” As long as the person wasn’t having sex, then the Christians could pretend that he wasn’t really gay after all. And maybe God was curing homosexuals of their sinful, lustful desires.

(I had a huge argument with my mother about this one time. She became more involved in evangelical Christianity as she grew older, and she bought into the idea that homosexuality was a sin and an abomination. She believed, as her Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church taught, that homosexuals should remain celibate through life. She also had a problem with the idea that homosexuals were born that way. Our fight occurred when she said these things, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I asked her if she liked men or women, and she said, “you know I like men.” I asked her what if she was told that her liking men was a sin, that God ordained that she should like women. She said, “I would never like women.” I reaffirmed that in our hypothetical scenario liking men was a sin, so what was she supposed to do, as God ordained that she could only have God-approved sex with women, and she said, “Well, I don’t know.” I asked her if she thought it was right that because she liked men, and God did not approve of her having sex with men, if that meant that she MUST remain celibate for life? She got flustered and kept repeating that homosexuality is a sin. She did not like this argument, and she never brought up homosexuality again).

Lesbians were rarely, if ever, mentioned. I only heard evangelical Christians talking about homosexual men. I don’t know if it was just that they did not want to acknowledge that lesbians existed. Most white cisgendered heterosexual males I know find woman-on-woman sex tremendously arousing, so maybe these repressed evangelical Christian men secretly hoped to encounter women having sex with each other. Maybe they didn’t consider it “real sex” because a penis wasn’t involved. Maybe they just thought women didn’t have sex drives so therefore lesbian sex doesn’t actually happen except in pornography. Maybe evangelical Christian males only felt threatened by homosexual men because they feared being lusted after by homosexual men. I don’t have the answer to this question.

HIV and AIDS are God’s punishment for homosexual activity. While most people were careful not to necessarily utter this comment so succinctly, many evangelicals would dance around this idea. They would try to couch it in terms of “bad consequences can happen as a result of sin.” I heard many people say that they would not donate money towards HIV/AIDS research because they didn’t want to promote more homosexual activity. This is the same type of faulty reasoning in which parents do not want sexual education in schools because teaching kids about sex and sexual safety would promote kids having sex. But what can be expected from people who believe that all sex outside married sex between a man and woman (for the purpose of procreation) is sin? To them, participating in sex outside that strict parameter is sin, and sin has dire consequences (for the wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23). In their minds, it all makes sense: sin = death.

My experience is that people who aren’t bound by any religious exhortations about sexuality get to know people as individuals and are only concerned about the person’s sexuality if there is some sort of attraction between the parties involved. It seems that the people most concerned with other people’s sexual orientation are the ones bound by their religion’s rules. When I went to college and was shedding evangelical Christianity, I became friends with several homosexual men. One friend was the son of a Baptist minister, and his father cut him off until he “stopped being gay” (which of course never happened). Another friend came out during our friendship, and he said that he was afraid which friends were going to accept him and which were going to condemn him. Through the years, I have befriended many gay people, both male and female, and I work in the fragrance industry which draws a higher percentage of gay employees than some other industries do. People are just people regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Everyone wants to be treated with respect. Everyone wants to be loved and to find someone to love.

One of my gay friends put it well. He said, “I would never have chosen to be gay, it’s just who I am. Growing up in an era in which gay people suffered discrimination, were called horrible names, told that we were making a choice or that we were automatic pedophiles, that we were thrusting our “lifestyle” on others, that we were breaking down the concept of the nuclear family or of moral society, why would I have ever chosen this?”

Evangelicals Say They Love LGBTQ People, But do They Really?

love gay people

Evangelicals often tout their love for those who are different from them. I love everyone, Evangelicals say. I love unconditionally, just as Jesus does. I hate the sin, but love the sinner! On and on the cheap, worn-out cliches go, with nary a thought given to their truthfulness.

Evangelicals are universally panned as people of hate, people who loathe anyone who fucks in any way or manner other than that which has been approved by God. Much like their God, Evangelicals are obsessed with who does what with whom, where, why, and how, sexually. Violations of “Biblical” morality are met with cease-and-desist orders, and when that fails, people not practicing Evangelical-approved sex are threatened with God’s judgment and eternal punishment in the fire and brimstone of the Lake of Fire. Yet, Evangelicals will still, with a clueless straight face, profess to love everyone. Funny kind of love, I say, a love foreign to those of us who know what it is to love and be loved without strings attached.

evangelicals love LGBTQ people

 

Roy Moore Defender: IFB Pastor Franklin Raddish Says More Women are Sexual Predators Than Men

pastor franklin raddish

Franklin “Frank” Raddish, pastor of Capitol Hill Independent Baptist Ministries and a staunch defender of Roy Moore, had this to say about women, LGBTQ people and pedophile:

More women are sexual predators than men.  Women are chasing young boys up and down the road, but we don’t hear about that because it’s not PC.

These people aren’t the good neighbor next door, they’re out to target young children. They must recruit their heritage. As many of them will die from AIDS, the only way they can keep their numbers is to recruit. Pedophiles and men dressing like ladies, their objective is recruitment of children.

The pedophiles will be here tomorrow. The men who dress like women will be here. The world wants to educate our children to be tolerant of homosexuals. The homosexuals can’t grow in number unless they recruit. How do they recruit? They sodomize. That’s the only way.

(Raw Story)

 

Pastor Raddish, please….come out of the closet before you have a stroke.

Video Link

Video Link

Raddish attended Bob Jones University — shock — and graduated from Tabernacle Baptist College in Greenville, South Carolina.

Pastor Shane Idleman Demonstrates How Evangelicals Pick and Choose What to Believe

shane and morgan idleman

Shane and Morgan Idleman

Warning! This post contains snark and cursing. You have been warned. Now ignore this warning and enjoy!

This post could also be titled, Why Pastor Shane Idleman Hates LBGTQ People but Loves Shrimp and Pork Chops.

Evangelicals are fond of saying that they are Bible-believers; that they believe every word of the Protestant Bible is true, straight from the mouth of God. Shane Idleman, pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Leona Valley, California, is one such Evangelical. According to Idleman, the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. As a sold-out, on-fire, sanctified follower of Jesus, Idleman purports to believe and practice all the teachings of the Bible. However, much like ALL Evangelicals, Idleman is a hypocrite, choosing instead to select some verses to believe, while ignoring others. Evangelicals are what I call Buffet Christians®. Buffets offer all sort of food, giving diners an opportunity to eat foods they like and skip those they don’t like. So it is with Idleman and Company. There are hundreds and hundreds of commands, teachings, laws, and precepts in the Bible. I actually set out one time to write down all the commands found in the Bible. I developed paralysis in my left hand from writing, so much so that I had to stop. This exercise taught me that the commands of God can wear a person out, especially if you take each of them literally and diligently attempt to live your life according to what they say.

Recently, Idleman wrote a post for Charisma News titled 10 Things You Need to Know About the LGBT Agenda. Idleman, as most Evangelical pastors are wont, has an obsession with human sexuality — especially unmarried/LGBTQ people. Idleman has frequent compulsive urges to write and preach about sex, so much so that it makes me wonder about what is hiding in the deepest, darkest corners of his closet. Idleman has convinced himself, along with his disciples, that preaching at/against LGBTQ people is an act of LOVE. That’s right, LOVE! Much like child molesters who convince their victims that being sexually violated is an act of love, Idleman has convinced himself that verbally attacking gays is his way of showing them how much he loves them. Imagine for a moment a husband who beats his wife every day, and when he is finished with his physical assault he smiles and says, Honey, I love you. Absurd, right? So it is when Idleman harangues LGBTQ people. When called out on his hateful speech, Idleman is puzzled. Referencing a recent speaking engagement at a local community college that was protested by gay activists, Idleman wrote “My wife and I were perplexed—when did a message of love become a message of hate? We love the LGBT community….”

In Idleman’s aforementioned post, he lists ten things everyone should know about the LGBTQ agenda. None of his ten things, by the way, mentions civil rights and equal protection under the law, except to deny that such arguments are valid. Idleman’s “loving” solution for same-sex attraction is, in this order: Jesus, non-sexual singleness, or heterosexual marriage. Why? Because the B-I-B-L-E — yes, that’s the book for me — says so. Idleman writes:

3. The Creator made His plan obvious. Jesus said that since the beginning of creation, God created them male and female in order that they would be joined together and become one flesh—to be fruitful and to multiply. He adds, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). Males and females were created purposely and are complementary by design.

….

5. There is no scriptural support for homosexuality. Some argue, “The Bible is not an ethical textbook—culture changes and so does truth.” Not so. Not one moral law that God gave is obsolete, from adultery to fornication to homosexuality. Things that were harmful then are harmful now. They are never painted in a positive light. They caused deep pain then as they do now. Some have even suggested that Naomi and Ruth and Jonathan and David had same-sex relationships. This gives the phrase “grasping for the wind” new meaning. This is exegesis in its purest form—reading things into the text that are not there.

Some parents change their view when they find their son or daughter in an LGBT lifestyle; confused, they “accept” the lifestyle, but feelings are not a gauge for truth. Instead, offer hope and remind them that we all struggle with something. If a child sins in the area of anger, infidelity or addiction, we don’t change the Scriptures to fit their behavior; we offer hope in the midst of the struggle. Why should homosexuality or transgenderism be any different? No matter how many laws are passed in favor of gay marriage, it will not change God’s mind. Times change; truth does not.

6. The Bible is crystal-clear on the issue of sexual sin. As a famous teacher once said of the Bible, “If the plain sense makes good sense seek no other sense lest it result in nonsense.” I cringe every time I hear misguided statements in an attempt to support homosexuality, such as misinterpreting “abandoning natural relations” in Romans 1:26-28. Or that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was only neglecting the poor. Or that Corinthians is outdated and Leviticus is talking about rape. Indeed, neglecting the poor is/was a sin, but it was not the only sin. In addition to rampant homosexuality, they were drunkards, gluttons, covetous, profane and wicked. The context of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction was much more than neglecting the poor: “they were haughty and committed abominations.” (See Ezekiel 16 and Jude 1:5-8.) Additionally, early church fathers, as well as creeds and confessions and Reformers, all echoed the same truth.

Idleman appeals to the Bible (and history) as his final authority. God has spoken, now shut the hell up and get back to having Evangelical-approved, missionary-position, married heterosexual intercourse that hopefully brings a lot of new potential Christians into the world.  According to Idleman’s bio:

Today, as we continually drift away in a current of moral decline and relativism, many believe that the battle is too advanced and that we cannot make a difference. Shane, however, believes that we can, and offers his books as contributions to that commitment. He stresses: “If we encourage truth, yet fail to relate to our culture, the church can seem formal and dead. This fact fuels the postmodern movement. But when truth is sacrificed for the sake of relating to the culture, as we see today, the very foundation is destroyed. Truth, the foundational beliefs clearly outlined in Scripture, must remain unmoved and unchanged. Times change, but truth does not!” (emphasis mine)

The “foundational beliefs clearly outlined in Scripture, must remain unmoved and unchanged. Times change, but truth does not!” Sounds like Idleman is a committed, true-blue, one hundred percent Jesus-all-the-time Bible believer. Yet, right after saying the unalterable, eternal, unchanging Bible condemns adultery/fornication/homosexuality, Idleman writes:

7. God can advise against eating shellfish as well as homosexuality. Although the dietary laws of the Old Testament do not apply today, they are still beneficial. For example, we now know why things like pork and shellfish were forbidden—they are unhealthy. God’s wisdom is sound and purposeful in guiding relationships as well.

Idleman says the dietary laws found in the Bible DO NOT APPLY TODAY!  Shades of outrage, man! Is Idleman saying that some parts of the Bible are no longer applicable (binding, in force)? I thought the big man upstairs said, I am the Lord Thy God and I change not. I thought the Bible said of Jesus — who is also the big man upstairs (figure that one out) — that he was the SAME yesterday, today, and forever. I thought Jesus said in Matthew 5:17,18:

Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Have the heavens and earth passed away? Has Jesus returned to earth and made a new heaven and earth? No! So this means that God’s law — all of it — is still valid and in force. This means that Pastor Shane Idleman, along with all of his Evangelical colleagues, are double-minded hypocrites. And we all know what the Bible says about double-mindedness: A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8)

Shane Idleman despises LGBTQ people, despite saying otherwise. His behavior tells the truth about the man. Idleman is preoccupied with who does it with whom, when, where, why, and how. This makes me wonder if Idleman is afflicted with a malady commonly found among the species Evangelicus preacherus homoerectcus — sex addiction. Evangelical men, taught that women are Jezebel’s out to fuck them, are known for being unable to withstand even the slightest bit of exposure to female flesh. Let a woman’s cleavage, legs, or erect nipples show, and Evangelical men are reduced to dogs running wild, sniffing for bitches in heat. These poor weak and helpless men, already aroused by worldly slutty women, can’t even surf the world-wide web without being accosted by scantily (boner-producing) clad women.

Instead of owning their sexuality and acting like normal, healthy humans, Evangelical men such as the good pastor, condemn, attack, and rail against those who “cause” them to lust. Perhaps Idleman should practice — in totality — the teachings of Jesus; you know the verified words of the son of God found in red in the Bible. Jesus told his lustful followers how to cure their horniness:

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire. (Matthew 18:8,9)

Have a problem with lust? Pluck out your eye. Still have a problem with lust? Pluck out your other eye. Have a problem with masturbation? Cut off your hand. Have a problem typing youporn.com (I did not make this a link lest any of the Idlemans of the world reading this post be tempted to click, look, and masturbate) into your internet browser? Cut off your other hand. Why not take Jesus’ words to their logical conclusion? Have a problem with anything related to sex? Cut off your penis. Still have lustful thoughts? Get a lobotomy. How far are you willing to go to show your loving devotion and commitment to Jesus?

Idleman hates the very idea of LGBTQ people having sex because the very idea of man-on-man sex disgusts him. Many gay haters loathe the very thought of two men doing it (though far fewer of them have the same loathing for woman-on-woman sex). Other gay haters preach against homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and the LGBTQ agenda, because, — deep down in their heart-of-hearts where the Holy Spirit supposedly lives — they have gay inclinations — à la Ted Haggard. Instead of admitting and acting upon their same-sex/bisexual attractions, Evangelical men of God holler and scream, hoping to use their sermons and blog posts as distractions from the real issue — their unBiblical sexuality

I have no idea what Shane Idleman is or isn’t sexually. I do know, however, that he is a buffet Christian, choosing what Bible verses to believe and not believe. Another word for this behavior is hypocrite. If Idleman can pick and choose which verses to believe, why can’t the rest of us?

Let’s Play Smear the Queer

smear the queer

Last night, I attended a high school football game in which the fans on both sides of the field stood with hands over hearts as the band played our post-9/11 national anthem — God Bless America. This largely Evangelical, conservative, Republican crowd views religion and patriotism as one and the same. In their minds, the United States is a uniquely chosen and blessed nation, a people whose God is the deity found within the pages of the Bible. I doubt that any of these uber-patriotic Christians thought, as they stood to praise of Jesus, that what they were doing turned faith into a political football to be tossed to and fro according to the whims of our political elites. From their perspective, the United States has always been God’s Country®. Other religions are grudgingly permitted, and even atheists are allowed the freedom to live as they please, but no one should ever doubt that there is one true God, and J-E-S-U-S is his name.

Once the crowd was finished masturbating to the American flag and our country’s phallic “greatness,” they settled in to watch two-plus hours of rock-em-sock-em, mano a-mano organized violence. Christianity quickly faded into the distance as each side cheered their team, calling on them to pummel their opponent into submission. Players were encouraged to hit hard, incapacitating their enemy. So much was on the line: future tales of gridiron glory and a conference championship awaited the team with the most points at the end of the game. As the game wore on, one team got the upper hand and handily beat their rival into the ground. From both sides of the field, the people who just an hour or so ago were singing praises to their God were now screaming and cursing at the officials. One offended fan even went so far as to attack one of the officials because he was fat, leading my son to say, what does the official’s weight have to do with the call he made?

After the game, as I walking to my car, a man and his son passed by me. As they did, the father asked the son what he had been doing during the game (many children “attend” football games, but don’t actually watch the event). The boy replied, we were playing smear the queer. I thought, oh my God, here we are in the 21st century and a boyhood game is STILL called, with nary a thought, smear the QUEER. The boy’s father said nothing, giving tacit approval to his son’s disparaging use of the word “queer.” I suspect the boy has never bothered to consider that using the word QUEER (or any other pejorative word for LGBTQ people) might be offensive. But the father knew better, and yet he said nothing.

I am not surprised by the things I observed last night. After all, I live in rural Northwest Ohio; a land primarily inhabited by white Republican Christians; a land that gives white preference its color; a monoculture proud of its ignorance and simplistic view of the world. While I thoroughly enjoy watching (and photographing) high school sporting events, I find the cultural trappings surrounding these contests to be disheartening. I know that most fellow locals have never ventured far from the farm fields, manufacturing facilities, and Christian churches of Northwest Ohio. They are simply living out what they know, rarely, if ever, exposed to the complex, contradictory world that lies outside their borders. When those who live in a particular locality never come in contact with people different from them, and when the few who are different are dismissed and marginalized, it is no surprise that the locals think and behave the way they do. In their world, smearing a queer is just another childhood game; a game, however, that says much about place where it is played.

Note

It goes without saying, that not every local is as described above. I am deliberately painting with a broad brush. Over the past decade, I have met a few liberal-minded people who value pluralism and multiculturalism; people who know something about life beyond the flatlands and corn fields of rural Northwest Ohio. Personally, I love the place I call home, even if I am not loved back. I appreciate the slowness of small town life. I love living in town where I never have to worry about being burglarized or murdered; and if I leave my car unlocked it will still be there in the morning. I don’t want readers to think that I hate where I live. I don’t.  This is home. My children and grandchildren live here, and it is for them I continue to confront local bigotry, racism, and religious extremism. I want them to have a better tomorrow.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Evangelical Woman Chooses Jesus Over Her Gay Son and Turns Him Over to the Devil

homosexuality hell

It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (The Apostle Paul to the Church at Corinth, I Corinthians 5:1-5)

Earlier this year, Evangelical Kim Higginbotham, a member of the Karns Church of Christ in Knoxville, Tennessee, wrote a blog post detailing her decision to give her wayward, sinful, Jesus-hating son over to the devil. Higginbotham wrote:

It has been said that in marriage, the pain and stress of divorce is greater than even the pain of losing a spouse to death. I believe the same can be said of breaking ties with your child. Unless one has experienced this kind of loss and grief, they cannot fully understand the depth of pain experienced by a parent.

Someone may ask, “Why would anyone break ties with her own child?” The answer is, “loyalty to Jesus.” Being a disciple of Jesus demands our relationship to him be greater than our relationship to our own family, even our own children (Matthew 10:37).

I pray that you never have to make such a sacrifice, but I also pray that you love the Lord enough to choose Him over your children. This is where we find ourselves. This is our life. Our oldest son has turned his back on the Lord, and in spite of all our attempts, he refuses to repent. Consequently, our relationship has changed. It cannot remain the same and be loyal to Jesus (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13). Our contact with our son is now limited to attempts at restoration. We have no fellowship. We used to share holidays, regular phone calls and texts, family events, etc. but now, all that is gone. Our son has completely turned his back on everything he ever believed. He has no respect for the Lord or His church. He has chosen a life of sin rather than the hope of salvation. And because of his rebellion against God, we as parents must make a choice. Do we overlook his practice of sin and maintain our relationship, or do we withdraw ourselves from him as the Lord instructs?

I believe that the blood of Christ is more important that the physical flesh and blood that I share with my son. Unfortunately, my husband and I know the pain of “giving our child to the Devil.” Those words are sharp, shocking and grim, just as Paul intended them to be when he wrote them (1 Corinthians 5:5). Perhaps I am writing this is for myself more than for those who are reading. I have not seen my son in nearly two and a half years now and there are days that the pain is just as fresh as ever. Until now, I have kept this pain inside and shared with only a couple of my closest friends. I am not sure that a day has gone by that I have not shed tears. Sometimes it is a single tear and other days are gut wrenching cries of despair. I have pulled into my driveway with tears blinding my eyes, only to find myself literally screaming and wailing in grief. I’m devastated by our loss; his loss.

I feel desperation and hopelessness. I’m scared. What probably began as harmless flirtation with sin has now become a quicksand that pulls my son deeper and deeper toward Hell. Sometimes I feel jealous of other parents who have close, loving relationships with all their grown children. I feel embarrassed by what my son has done.

The fact is, I don’t know this person that I once thought I knew so well. Was I blind to things that I should have seen? I believed our relationship was so close. I adored this child. Was the love our son expressed to us all a lie? How does one go from being a respectful obedient child to flagrantly disregarding everything we taught him and everything that we stand for?

….

Mother’s day and Father’s day are so hard. While we used to receive the most precious cards and notes of love and appreciation, now any correspondence from him are filled with anger, blame, hateful words. Even worse are the sarcastic and blasphemous words used toward his heavenly Father.

Self evaluation, guilt, despair, fear….I have felt all these emotions. Who is a perfect parent? Who doesn’t have something that they would change if they could go back. Even so, I know that we were good parents. We loved our son, spent time with him, encouraged him, and taught him God’s word.

I don’t know what the future holds for our son or our family. What I do know is that God is faithful (2 Thessalonians 3:3). He will do what is right (Genesis 18:25). He will reward those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). More than I could have ever understood before, I long for the promises of heaven, namely that God will wipe away every tear…there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4).

Heaven will be a place of great reunion with those who have gone on before. There is an old hymn that invites everyone to “come to the feast”. I just wish we didn’t have an empty chair at our table.

jerry falwell homosexuality

More than a few readers of this blog know the pain of having a child choose a path that is harmful to them. Higginbotham refuses to name her son’s sin, saying that the particulars don’t matter; that she would have turned her son over to Satan regardless of the sin. I know she wants to desperately convince herself (and others) that she is an equal opportunity banishment parent, but the “feel” of her article suggests to me that her son’s “sin” is sexual in nature — perhaps he is an out-of-the closet homosexual. (My “feel” was correct. According to Tim Rymel, Higginbotham wrote her diatribe on the day of her gay’s son’s wedding.) Regardless of the specifics, whatever the sin, it was worthy of her son being cast of out the family. Of course, Higginbotham puts the blame squarely on her son. He’s the one who sinned. He’s the one who chose to live a life contrary to Higginbotham’s interpretation of a bronze age religious text — the inspired, inerrant, infallible Christian Bible. He’s the one who loved the wrong person. He’s the one who married the wrong person. IT IS ALL HIS FAULT! screams Karen Higginbotham.

Higginbotham’s post is a sad reminder of the fact that many Christians, when forced to choose, will choose Jesus over their family. Zealots willing to abandon family members over slights to their beliefs find justification for their anti-human behavior in the Bible:

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-37)

My oldest son went through a divorce a year ago. While the reasons for his divorce are many and his alone to tell, one reason I can share is that his ex-wife loved Jesus more than she loved her husband. If forced to choose between her husband and Jesus, the big-hunka-love Jesus wins hands down. A lot of Christians think similarly. Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. He is the one true God, the savior of the world. He is, metaphorically speaking, better in bed than any flesh and blood person could ever be. Jesus is the perfect boyfriend, husband, and friend. No one can measure up to Jesus. Thus, when the Karen Higginbothams of the world find their love for Jesus challenged by maternal instinct and familial connection, they cast aside Satan’s temptation and run into the safe embrace of the man with all the moves, Jesus, the Christ.

Sharon Hambrick, a Christian woman who blogs at Sharon’s Viewhad this to say about Higginbotham’s banishment of her gay son:

Recently I became aware of a Christian mother who is bemoaning the loss of her son to the quicksand of sin that is taking him inexorably to Hell. Turns out he’s gay and Mom cannot even deal. In fact, she used the occasion of his supergay wedding to release a blog post in which she details her agony. You see, son’s gayness means she can never ever see him again. Because Jesus.

Jesus says (apparently) if your kid goes all gay on you, you have to yell at him all the time, or at the very least litter the house with “Gay Blade” Chick tracts when he comes over. Which he doesn’t. Because Chick tracts are gross and porny.

“I pray,” this mom says to her readers, “that you never have to make such a sacrifice, but I also pray that you love the Lord enough to choose Him over your children. This is where we find ourselves. This is our life.”

It’s their life not to be pleasant to this adult man who happens to be gay. No, they must lob Gospel bombs at him. Also, crying a lot is required. All the time and everywhere, but most especially it’s necessary to publish a hate-piece about his gayness on his wedding day. Awkward!

Speaking of choosing your children over Jesus, what does that even mean? Does that mean we won’t hang with our kids if they take to drinking? Or will we turn our backs if they are preggers-sans-marriage? What if they embezzle? What if they speed? Of course not, you judgy thing you! Not just any sin will do. It’s just the creepy gay sins that break the ties that bind, amirite?

Cuz, seriously, gay sex is so gay, she can’t even.

“In spite of our all our attempts, he refuses to repent.” What this means is simply, “He won’t stop being gay, so we’ve washed our hands of him,” which allusion doesn’t pull up images of Pontius Pilate with her, no one knows why.

I wonder if this dear lady has read any of the literature. Any of the testimonies of tormented gay kids who strive with all their hearts to please God, who beg God to make them straight, toggle the hetero-switch, fix them. No one gets fixed. Gay people stay gay same as hetero people stay hetero and bi people stay bi. You is who you is, all your parents’ “attempts” (translate: screaming, hauling you to pastoral counseling, various invasive therapies) notwithstanding.

What Mom should do here, of course, is realize that her son is an adult, adult enough that one of the 50 states granted him and his husband a marriage license, and she should treat him like any other adult with whom she comes in contact: with civility and pleasantness. There’s no need to be super-duper-closies, but by the same token there’s no need to vomit your sobbing broken heart all over the internet on your son’s wedding day. Why not just send a card?

“We have no fellowship,” Mom continues. “Fellowship” is a churchy word that indicates hanging out. They used to hang out. Now they don’t. Cuz son is too gay for words. They don’t even text! He’s so gay she can’t even trade emojis with him!

….

“Now any correspondence from him are filled with anger, blame, hateful words. Even worse are the sarcastic and blasphemous words used toward his heavenly Father.” Aside from your syntax freaking me out (is correspondence plural?), I have an inkling of an idea why he might be angry. For starters, he was the perfect child—he sang harmony with you in the kitchen, for crying out loud—and you tossed him out for being who he is.

You’re the loser here, you realize that, right? You missed his wedding, and you’re going to miss his children, his successes, his hopes, his dreams. He would have participated in your family memories if you’d been kind, but you weren’t kind. You decided God didn’t want you to be kind. You decided Satan was at your beck and call to “take over” the life of the son you birthed out of your own body, and you made the call.

I mean, seriously. What kind of spiritual clout do you imagine you have: “Yo, Satan, my son is gay. Can you whack him around a little?” Seems Satan is a little too busy these days to deal with your son, or maybe he’s waiting til after the honeymoon. And anyway, why are Christian people talking to Satan? What is up with that?

“Self-evaluation, guilt, despair, fear . . . I know we were good parents. We loved our son, spent time with him, encouraged him, and taught him God’s word.” Yeah, sure, and good job, Mom! But this isn’t about you. I think we’ve covered that.

“I don’t know what the future holds for our son or our family.” Oh, but I do. He’s going to be fine, and you’re going to be fine, and what is keeping you from being fine together is your insistence on being separate, on being unwilling to talk, on hating his gayness so much that you refuse to see the sweet, caring son who adored you and sang harmony with you in the kitchen.

Your belief that God wants you never to see your son again unless he stops being gay (he won’t), is what keeps you from peeling those potatoes with him ever again. Keeps you from hearing that infectious laugh. Keeps you from making those memories.

The empty place at your table is there because you haven’t invited him to sit there, and frankly you don’t get to now. Unless you put out two chairs and say, “Come, both of you. We love you and want you in our lives.”

Many of us raised in Evangelical churches were told by our pastors that the family of God (the church) was more important than our flesh and blood families. We were told that our church families would stick by us through thick and thin, unlike our non-Christian family members who distanced themselves from us over our resolute, unwavering stand on the Word of God. Sinners are the problem, not us, we were told. Chosen by God, Christians are lights in darkness, voices that shout to the rooftops and mountains the good news — Jesus Saves!  What former Evangelicals learned, however, was that their church family’s love was contingent on them believing the right things and living life a certain way. Break this pact, and your church family will divorce you quicker than it took uber-righteous Karen and Steven Higginbotham to throw their gay son into the gutter.

satan created gays transgenders

Church sign for Back to the Bible Holiness Church in Buford, Georgia, Bobby Wright, pastor.

I walked away from Christianity almost nine years ago. In doing so, I lost most of the relationships I had with Christian friends, family members, and colleagues in the ministry. I quickly learned that the people who were going to be there for me no matter what were my wife, children, and a handful of dear friends.  Sadly, in Higginbotham’s son’s case, not only did he lose his connection to the church of his youth, he also lost his relationship with his Christian family. In other words, he was thrown overboard, coming to rest on a barren, forsaken island. The good news is that instead accepting that this was how things had to be for him, Higginbotham’s son forged new relationships with people who love him just as he is. And that’s the key, isn’t it? Loving people as they are. Accepting differences. Learning that there are boundaries in relationships; one of which is that who has sex with whom, where, when, and how is not our business.

Karen Higginbotham has set her house on fire, and she blames her son for having to do so. If only he had met a nice Evangelical church girl and married her, all would be well. But, no, he is gay, so he is to blame for all the familial turmoil. Until Higginbotham realizes that she, not her son, is the arsonist, there is little that can be done to repair the parent-son relationship. Until Higginbotham is willing to admit that she is wrong, she will remain estranged from her son. Such an admission would mean her admitting that what Karns Church of Christ and her minister husband believe and teach is wrong. Rare is the Evangelical who is willing to admit that her beliefs are harmful. The Bible is what stands between Higginbotham and her son. If she truly loves her son, she will tell Jesus to return the Bible to the dusty back catalog shelves of the library. The Bible’s teachings on sexuality are out of date and out of touch with modern understandings of gender and sexuality. Gays are here to stay. Out of the closet, they have no intention of returning to a closet that is every bit as dark and void of love as Karen Higginbotham’s mind.

It’s up to Higginbotham to repair the broken relationship with her son. I hope she will do so. If not, it looks like Higginbotham’s son is willing to say goodbye to Mom and Dad, choosing to embrace and love those who have the capacity to love him for what he is, and not what they want him to be.

Note

Higginbotham’s husband, Steve, is a preacher at the Karns Church of Christ. You can read his sermon on homosexuality here.