God’s Grace for George Rekers & Jo-Vanni Roman

Cross-Posted from Exodus International Blog

It is being reported widely throughout the media that Dr. George Rekers, husband, father, NARTH Board Member, scholar, theologian and Baptist minister (to name just a few of the highlights), confirmed that he hired a 20 year-old man to accompany him on a 10-day European mission trip and extended vacation.  As it turns out, that young man happens to be a prostitute, as well.  And while there has been no allegation of sexual misconduct, Dr. Rekers actions, at best, lacked an enormous deal of discernment.  At worst, he is guilty of leading a double life, even if just in motivation.

Despite the familiar human desire to throw the stone in my hand at Dr. Rekers, I cannot. He is a human who seems to have made a mistake.  He is a Christian who seems to be guilty of practicing what he has preached against. It is that fact that alone causes the deepest feelings of anger to arise no matter what side of the debate one falls. Regardless of any sexual impropriety, his actions were not above reproach and that has hurt his, until now, excellent reputation. This fiasco has also fueled speculation and doubt about the lives of others who have chosen to pursue a life in Christ above their sexuality – people like me, and those I represent at Exodus. And while Dr. Rekers may be guilty of things beyond those he has admitted, he deserves no less grace than I or any in the gay community now reveling over what must feel like a victory beyond their wildest dreams in their campaign to prove that people affected by same-sex attraction cannot and should not do anything but embrace a narrow view of their same-sex attractions by adopting and celebrating a gay identity.

And, what about the young man, Jo-Vanni Roman, at the center of this controversy.  The carnivorous gay bloggers and their followers seem most concerned with the downfall of a man, a marriage and a movement; not to mention the titillating photos and full bodily description of this boy barely out of high school.

While I can put myself in the shoes of those who are angered by the potential hypocrisy of the Rekers’ story, I cannot understand the gay communities’ lack of regard for this 20 year-old boy who has been prostituting himself to anyone who “asks” and “pays”.  While the gay community seems hell-bent on forcing everyone to be tolerant of their “just like everyone else” lives they seem completely incapable of showing Jo-Vanni Roman any compassion or care that this kid is so desperate for love or money or care that he would stoop to dehumanizing himself with anyone who can afford to use and abuse him.  That’s no less disgusting.

Well, it’s time for the Church to rise up and show that the counterfeit really isn’t the best kind of community.  While it has been common in the Christian community to cast stones, extend the left foot of fellowship and shoot our wounded; the tide is changing. And, I for one am inclined to extend a hand to George Rekers, the man, and offer him help.  He is, after all, a husband and father.  We have seen other devastating situations in families turn around. Maybe this is the crisis that will lead George Rekers to find the healing he has been looking for, but afraid to admit he needed. 

And, Jo-Vanni, if you or anyone like you is reading this, call us.  We will listen because we care.  The one thing we absolutely know is that there is a God who loves, redeems and restores completely. Whatever the damage that has been done, people whom Christ loves and gave His life for are in need. As part of the Body of Christ, Exodus International helps those in need – no matter who they are or what they’ve done—even those who will seek to criticize us for this very offer.

It’s Hard to Hate a President that You Pray For

My wife, kids and I have been praying almost daily for
Barack, Michelle, Sasha, and Malia Obama since they became the First Family
Elect of the United States.  We had voted
for John McCain and, frankly, were very nervous about an Obama presidency.  During the campaigning process I was very
vocal about my support for McCain and my opposition to Obama.  This is the United States and I am very
thankful for the right to speak my mind freely. 
People of every race, creed, color, orientation, political affiliation,
and religion should always have that right. 
There is no harm in having or expressing an opinion.

 However, infinitely more important than being able to
express my opinion as an American is my desire as a Christian to care about
people’s hearts above those right or wrong opinions.  And, while I am, as a citizen of the United
States, regularly and carefully sharing my thoughts with our elected officials
I am far more often simply praying for the people voters have entrusted with
leading us.

 I am sure that the concept of hating a president or elected
official isn’t too far from many people’s minds these days.  The media has always been very quick to show
the stories of those who seem to hate a president.  I hear from people daily who hate President
Obama’s policies and trash him all day long for them.  Sometimes, maybe often times, I sense that
conservatives, more specifically for the purposes of this article, evangelical
conservatives, hate this president’s policies and try to defeat them more than
they love the man as their neighbor and pray for his heart.  I know for a fact that if I didn’t pray for
Barack Obama and his family daily that I would be guilty of the same
thing.  It is my praying for the Obama
family that keeps me from sinning against them with a reckless tongue.

 I have written before about Former Governor Jesse Ventura’s
comment that religion is a crutch for the weak. 
In the case of praying for Barack Obama my faith is more like a brick
wall for me.  I am weak and I willingly
and gladly admit it.  I am too weak not
to pray for the daily strength to overcome the sin of unhealthy criticism.  I am too weak not to pray for the ability to
love my fellow man with which I have so many deep disagreements.  I pray because I must.  I pray because I will fail miserably if I don’t.  Having failed far more times than I care to
number, I daily choose to succeed.  In
this particular case, I am choosing to succeed at loving and praying for a
president that I don’t agree with, that I didn’t vote for and for his heart
that I do not understand. 

 God loves Barack Obama and his family as much as He loves me
and mine and wants them for His own—if they aren’t already.  I cannot judge him because I haven’t walked a
step in his shoes let alone a mile.  So,
as a citizen I will be proactive in sharing my opinions, but far more often my
wife, four-year-old son and daughter and I will bow our heads, quiet our hearts
and pray this prayer:

 Dear Jesus, This
morning we pray for Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha Obama to come
to know you if they don’t already.  We
pray that President Obama would become the best Christian president this nation
has ever known.  Guide him, protect him
and help him to seek you.  We pray for
his cabinet and administration and for every decision he will make for our
country today.  We trust you, Lord.  Amen.

 

 

Steven Furtick, Ted & Gayle Haggard and Elevation Church

A few months ago I stumbled across a blog that intrigued me.  The post I read was insightful and I forwarded it to the entire Exodus Leadership Team worldwide.  I went back the next day and the next and finally decided that it was going to be one of the only blogs that I was going to read each day.  I am so glad that I made that decision.  You can check it out for yourself.

Last week as I read that blog I was surprised to see that its author, Steven Furtick, who is also the pastor of Elevation Church, was hosting Ted and Gayle Haggard during the weekend service.  I was pleasantly surprised.  As I stated in an email to Steven's assistant, "I am grateful when any church with so much to lose does something so risky for the sake of grace."

On the Elevation site I found the MP3 of last weeks service and wanted to share it here.  It is rare to hear a pastor share my thoughts on this issue almost word for word, but Steven did. 

Let me know what you think.

Uganda and Beyond

There has been a lot of talk lately about Uganda and their laws which
criminalize homosexual behavior.   This is not a position that I
understand or support.  And as I have been in touch over the course of the
last month with numerous church officials in Uganda I have shared my thoughts
on that–some agree with me and others do not.  Thinking about Uganda and
talking with people there about this caused me to wonder what the laws are like
in other deeply religious countries.  My friend Randy Thomas did a quick
search and found the following:

 BRAZIL

Report:
One LGBT Person Killed Every Two Days in Brazil

http://www.towleroad.com/2009/04/report-one-lgbt-person-killed-every-two-days-in-brazil.html

IRAQ

Fliers,
Videos Reveal Ongoing Death Campaign Against Iraqi Gays Iraqi Gay Men Face
Lives of Hell

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8005420.stm
(via towleroad)

Report:
Iraqi Militia Killing Gay Men with Painful Anal Glue Torture

http://www.towleroad.com/2009/04/report-iraqi-militia-killing-gay-men-with-painful-form-of-anal-torture.html

 http://www.edgeboston.com/index.php?ch=news&sc=&sc2=news&sc3=&id=90236

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/six-gay-men-killed-iraq/story.aspx?guid={68D2C2DD-93A0-4E7B-BAE6-A51A9B7003C5

IRAN

A life or
death decision – Mehdi Kazemi is a gay teenager from Iran.

He sought
sanctuary in Britain after his boyfriend was hanged for homosexuality. So why
is Britain so determined to send him back to Tehran – to almost certain
execution?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/a-life-or-death-decision-792058.html#a

So, while some
others are only talking about Uganda—probably because they want to
link it to Exodus–I was grateful that www.Towleroad.com was covering a
multitude of stories on the atrocities being carried out against gay or
perceived-to-be-gay people around the world.

So what's the answer in these countries?  I don't know.  Sadly, there seems to be no good way to respond because coming at this from a Christian viewpoint in Muslim countries is pointless.  And while others jump on the bandwagon of the United Nations and government sanctions I cannot support going in to a country and forcing them to deal with this issue as the gay activist community would suggest.

Like what is needed with the issue of bullying in the public school, can't a broad coalition of non-like-minded people band together and say, despite our agenda (and we all have one), "violence against people who are different from what is considered normal is wrong and must end."  No religious or social cause is promoted, just love and respect for our fellow man.

Is that possible in today's agenda driven society?  I'm interested.  I really am.

The Day After

I woke up this morning in a world that had changed
overnight.  But, that was going to be the
case anyway regardless of who won or lost in the election.  My wife and I went to bed hoping for a
political miracle, but expecting nothing of the sort.  We were restless, but able to fall asleep
because at the end of the day our ultimate hope, trust and faith is in only
One: The True Living God.  And, as was
the case when we went to bed, He and only He was still, always has been always
will be, on the Throne.

It was nice to have a Christian President over the last 8
years who shared my values, whom I believe wholeheartedly means it every-time he
says, “God Bless You and God Bless America”. 
Despite his unpopularity on issues related to the war and the economy, I
believe that President George W. Bush and his family restored honor to the
highest office in our land and to the White House.  He might not have been a perfect President,
but he was trustworthy and moral and like Ronald Reagan, the President of my
youth, he kept America safe.

I confess that this morning I do not feel as hopeful as I
have when it comes to the leadership of this country and the pending
administration.  I do not trust in the
promises that I have heard or the heart behind the promises. I am skeptical,
fighting against worry and planning for the worst economically and
socially.  I am angry that the American
people chose a President who does not seem to understand that life begins at
conception and doesn’t seem to want to understand it because it’s above his
pay-grade.  I am ashamed that the majority
voted economy and race over human life. 
But, it’s done and I am praying that God will use my anger for His purposes
and to bring about real change.

Despite my anger, disappointment, worry and uncertainty
about the future, I am resolute in my belief that God is God and that I am
not.  I am galvanized in my determination
to pray for the very best for President Elect Barack Obama, our other elected
officials and all of their families.  My
wife and kids and I started a new ritual this morning, praying for all of the
above and especially for the hearts of the Obama family to be submitted and
surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. 
NOTHING will change the fate of the unborn or the immoral policy
positions except a man submitted and surrendered to Christ.  It may seem an impossible feat, but I know real change is possible.

As I watched the election coverage last night, into the wee
hours and again this morning I began thinking beyond the surface of what was
happening.  Take for instance the two
conservative Congressional incumbents in my area that I have supported and had
the opportunity to vote for once or twice respectively; both lost to their
rookie opponents.  The margins were
narrow, but I believe those conservatives, along with others elsewhere, were
voted out because they were connected to scandal and disappointment. One of
them was connected to the Jack Abramhoff lobbyist scandal and the other a man
who, as the attack ads pointed out, went to Washington to change Washington and
Washington ended up changing him.  When
this particular leader was elected he was a married family man and today he
isn’t.  There’s no judgment in that
statement, but the facts are the facts and people are tired of hypocrisy. 

Interestingly, our country voted overwhelmingly for a
liberal Democratic president and for some liberal congressional leaders—ousting
conservative Republicans in the process. 
But, in three key states, one of which is arguably one of the most, if
not the most
, liberal in our nation, the people voted in favor of keeping
marriage the union between one man and one woman.  That, to me, further underscores my belief
that we aren’t a liberal nation moving quickly towards liberalism more than we
are one trying to do the right thing.  I
think there is some misguidedness in there, but the fundamentals of the
American hearts are good.

Related to the wins for marriage as we know it, though, must
come the realization that 18,000 marriage licenses are this morning deemed
invalid in the state of California.  Translated: 36,000 hearts that have to be absolutely broken.  And, while I am thrilled with the vote in
support of keeping marriage the way God intends it, I am truly heavy in
heart for the men and women who saw same-sex marriage as an answer to their
struggle for acceptance
.  I
do not take any joy in seeing people’s dreams or hearts crushed even if I
disagree with them
.  I pray this
morning that the proponents of Arizona’s Prop 102, California’s Prop 8 and
Florida’s Amendment 2 celebrate with these broken hearts in mind and with a
desire to comfort those who need comfort in the wake of what has to be bitter
disappointment.  Truly this is
what Jesus would do
!

Finally, and again, I am choosing to see the outcome of this
election in a non-hopeless light and with the absolute belief that America is,
though possibly hanging by a thread, still a nation guided by Christian values
and moral goodness.  The silver lining in
all of this is that we elected a black president—skip our differences in
beliefs and policy for a moment and think about that with me.  Once one of the most prejudice countries on
earth, guilty of horrific crimes against black people, we are now a nation with
a black president elect. 

I watched two months ago when Michelle Obama spoke at the
Democratic National Convention and my heart lept thinking of her as a young
black school girl who probably never dreamed she would be the wife of a
presidential hopeful let alone the First Lady of the United States of
America.  I watched that same week as
Barack Obama accepted his parties nomination for President and was truly
thrilled to watch as our nation was ushered into a new day beyond the evil legacy
of racism that overshadowed us.  Then, I
watched last night as the Obama family waved to their supporters and hugged one
another—as Michelle Obama said to her newly elected husband, “I Love You.”  Politics aside, those are moments that melted
my heart and the moments I am choosing to hold onto today as I pray that God
changes their hearts on issues related
to the moral values of this nation. 

Maybe in God’s grand plan for this great nation, regardless
of the politics of it all, He destined the election of this man.  After all, it does say in the middle portion
of Daniel 2:21:  He removes kings and establishes kings. What if
this black President is God’s line drawn in the sand that says definitively
once and for all, “A Godly nation cannot be a racist nation.”?  What if President Barack Obama is just a step
towards an nation repenting for it’s past sins? 
I’m not God, but I have to believe He has a purpose in allowing this leader
to be elected and I am going to trust Him in it and pray that Barack Obama is
the most successful President we have ever known. 

What’s the alternative?

Wayne Besen’s Glass House

Wayne Besen isn’t short on finger pointing. In fact, he is pointing at someone else all
the time. To read Wayne’s Enquirer style rag blog (which I
rarely do) you’d think that everyone in the world has something wrong with
them, except him. Sounds like someone
that should join the throng of liberal misery merchants waging daily war on the
family on Capital Hill.

This week Wayne is pointing his finger at Regina Griggs calling her a LIAR. Well, Mr. B. before you get too far ahead of
yourself, let’s take a look at the blatant LIES you tell in your piece from
Monday, June 11, entitled, DR.
WARREN THROCKMORTON HIDES BEHIND ANONYMOUS SOURCE IN CHICAGO TRIBUNE ARTICLE
. The subtitle to it states: Exodus
Puffs Up Numbers To Conceal Lack of Growth.

Well, that’s a lie
in and of itself. Our numbers are what
we say they are and can be verified by going to our website where the ministries are listed. As of this writing there are 164 Member
Agencies a part of the Exodus Network. Those agencies are largely Member Ministries, which might or might not
have therapists on staff, but mostly conduct support groups and provide
resources to the communities that they are in. 

Exodus has a growing
list of Professional Therapists, which may or may not run support groups. Mr. Besen blows his own smoke by manipulating
the facts by saying we don’t have ministries in certain areas or states, but a
Professional Therapist is just as much a representative of Exodus as a Member Ministry
is. 

Wayne lies again when he claims that Exodus has “Zero
Ministries” in states like Alabama where
there are 2 Member Agencies. One is a
Branch Ministry (same as a Member Ministry) and the other a Professional
Therapist, which has all of the services of a Member Ministry and more. In fact, the Professional Therapist that runs
the ministry in Mobile, Alabama is also a member of the APA. And I thought that all APA members were
fairly represented by the anti-choice policies of that organization. Go figure.

As for Washington, DC,
there’s not only no Exodus Member Ministry located in the District, there’s no
airport, either. Yet, a hop, skip and a
jump away is both Reagan National Airport (located in Virginia)
and Regeneration
Northern Virginia
– a 20 year old Exodus Member Ministry. Sorry, Wayne,
foiled again.

Oh, and Mastering Life
Ministries is listed in Tennessee and Jacksonville because they have groups
going in both locations just like Metanoia does in Tacoma (Seattle Area) and
Ft. Lauderdale. 

Lastly, Exodus
International is now partnering with churches. We have a growing network of Member Churches that have some
type of outreach for those affected by homosexuality. Many of those churches offer the same services
as that of a Member Ministry and some even have Professional Therapists on staff. Sorry,Wayne,
your yellow journalism
is showing.

Wayne, don’t be upset that some people find
homosexuality incompatible with morality and faith. It’s called choice and we were all created
with the freedom to exercise it. Exodus
can, does and will continue to help people affected by unwanted
homosexuality. There are A LOT of people who fit that description.

Exodus
International has never been in the business of starting ministries in local
areas. However, I think it is a good
idea.  New York City, here we come…..

International Day Against Homophobia

Today is the International Day Against Homophobia.  And, you might be surprised to learn that I support this effort.  Homophobia does exist.  Irrational fear of those who are gay or lesbian is a real problem in our culture.  While I believe we have come a long way, I still see true homophobia at work each and every day.

People often call me homophobic, which is ridiculous.  I am not afraid of gay people nor do I hate them.  I don’t even dislike anyone based upon their sexual identity.  For that matter, I can’t think of anyone that I even dislike.  Forgive me as I digress, I ran out of Ritalin last week.

One of the primary focuses of Exodus International and one of my missions in life is to help the Church come to see those who are gay -identified or who struggle with homosexuality  as people whom Christ died for and loves equally.  The Church should be more welcoming to these folks than the local gay bar.  Gay and lesbian identified people should be able to find more help within the Church than they can outside of it.  It has long been my goal to so impact the Church with the message of truth and grace that Exodus would be able to go out of business.

So, when it comes to the evils of  homophobia, bullying, name calling, hatred and violence where those affected by homosexuality are concerned, I stand with all decent human beings who are fighting and praying for an end to the ignorance and ungodliness that cause them.

Join me, won’t you?