Gay is now good?

Gay is now good?

After the publication of two of my books, The Third Sex? and The Gay Theology in the mid-1970s, I was invited to participate in debates about homosexuality at Presbyterian Church, USA events. I represented the conservative or biblical point of view.

During this process, I inadvertently heard a number of discussions among pro-gay church leaders who were seeking to advance the gay agenda, which was to normalize and win acceptance for homosexuality. The religious contingent of the pro-gay lobby was particularly concerned that their sexual practices be considered as normal as heterosexuality. This was the goal, and to reach that, they knew that two things were necessary: one, denominational leadership must endorse homosexuality; and two, children must be educated to accept homosexuality. During these discussions, it was clearly understood that the two-pronged process would take decades and that it would be important to work incrementally, little by little, until homosexuality was affirmed as good and normal.

The program as then outlined was to change and/or influence the leadership of Christian denominations and of both Christian and secular educational institutions. The themes of “fairness” and “equality” were slated as the primary concept tools to be used in these public and private institutions, but there was something else on the agenda, something more subtle and far more compelling. Everyone must get to know an actual homosexual. The idea was that it is one thing to debate principles and legal issues, but it is another to reject and judge another individual human being. To make homosexuals known in a personal way to the entire culture, entertainment media was the perfect vehicle. So, in film, television, drama, novels, and so on, gay and lesbian people would be shown as normal, healthy, talented, and lovable. The real issue would then be masked.

That was nearly forty years ago. Now we see more clearly how the goals of the pro-gay folks are being achieved.

During the 1970s I wrestled with two issues. First, I understood that those practicing homosexuality would resent being looked down upon as being deviant. Because the power of guilt and shame is so strong, they would have to work fiercely and spare nothing in their efforts to normalize a gay lifestyle. Second, I feared that I would have to fight the whole pro-gay battle long into the future.

Though the law of the land is tending to equalize homosexuality and heterosexuality, all the way to sanctioning same-sex marriage and beyond, this will not necessarily satisfy homosexuals. As long as there are people out there like me who have not changed their opinions and continue to say so publically, then their victory is not complete. No, the dissenters and the conscientious objectors must be dealt with somehow. I assume that, along with a whole host of other Christians and fellow travelers, I will be challenged with the goal of being silenced.

There will be varying forms of intimidation, including supposed violation of hate crimes and civil rights laws, removal of non-profit status, disqualification for state and federal grants, and exclusion from other desirable programs such as helping the hungry and housing the homeless. It will no doubt prove to be a complex and expensive nightmare.

One good thing, however, is that there will be a shaking of the Christian tree, and the dead leaves and branches will fall. The result will be a purified Church. Already a number of denominations have capitulated, and more will follow, including some that historically stood up for the authority of Scripture. In the hearts and minds of Christians, a decision will have to be made. And for those who have homosexual friends and loved ones, the problem is far from academic or political in nature. Indeed, it will be emotional, familial, and personal, and it will leave many confused and divided in their loyalties.

The pro-gay lobby has won certain victories, and they will boast of more goals reached in the future. The activists I encountered in the 1970s had it right; they knew what they were doing. The recent triumphs in the courts will not, however, reach so deep into the heart and conscience of those who glory in their homosexuality as to bring deep abiding peace. There will remain a certain uncomfortable sense that things are still not right. All the powers that be will not be able to hush the voice of the Creator that is hard-wired into every creature made in His image.

The political battles presently being waged and won will only be celebrated in the here and now and not in the forever, which is where we are all headed. None of us will get out of this alive, and then, as the Scripture says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). To temporarily have guilt assuaged, shame suppressed, and a measure of acceptance achieved, is all merely a part of a larger deception perpetrated by the prince of the great lie.

Memoirs of a Jesus Freak: Part 7 in the series “My years as a tongue speaker”

A transition in title is now necessary, and in this blog I will explain why.

Prior to a winter night late in 1968, at Soul Inn, at 2 o’clock in the morning (the story of which is yet to come), I had consigned anything to do with Pentecostalism to the nether regions, meaning that I thought such was error or even outright demonic. After that night I was a tongue speaker from 1968 to 1975. When I ceased speaking in tongues I continued to hold to its validity, as well as all the other charismatic gifts. It is simply that I stopped speaking in tongues, a ceasing I cannot explain.

I am not a “cessationist,” the definition of which is someone who believes that the charismatic gifts as listed in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 – at least the “power gifts” like speaking in tongues, prophecy, and miracles – are no longer operative and are also unnecessary due to the publication of the Bible. I never bought that idea, because I did not clearly see it in Scripture. I was tempted to do so – yes – since distortions of the charismatic gifts, especially prophecy, became all too flagrant.

Early on in the Jesus Movement, which was a designation originating from where I do not know, we called ourselves “Street Christians.” Our fields of labor were the streets of the big cities. For me it was San Francisco, specifically the Haight-Ashbury District, where the young and restless, those looking to expand their minds and explore the esoteric spiritualities, and sex and dope, were to be found. Sex and dope went hand in hand and likely became the major motivators for the majority, but there were definitely those who wanted to find God and assumend He was not to be found in the American churches. The causes for this are beyond the scope of this piece, but to identify with a “church” was not the thing to do.

I was a Baptist but I didn’t tell anybody that. For a period of time I avoided the term “Christian” as well. “A follower of Jesus” is how I described myself. Eastern religions were big, Buddhism more than Hinduism, but there was the Hare Krishna thing, and the Beatles made TM (Transcendental Meditation) popular for a time. There were so many isms out there then, and all of them were foreign and new to me. During 1967 I received so many rejections, sometimes beatings and threatening, that I felt like giving up and concentrating my efforts in Byron, but I kept on figuring that God had called me and I was not going to discourage easily.

Sometime in 1968 there was news coverage of what was going on. Some reporter used the phrase “Jesus Freak,” a tag I did not appreciate and rejected in favor of Street Christian. A more friendly term, “Jesus People” was coined along the way and I adopted that one. Later on, the whole thing that was going on then across the country was termed the “Jesus People Movement” or JPM. This worked for almost everyone

It is not clear to me when I realized that what I had been involved in was unusual. During my seminary years the great revivals of religion were taught but I had no idea that the JPM was actually one of those. It was only in looking back at it that I realized that the JPM was an awakening like the great awakenings America had experienced, and this realization came primarily through reading the books of David Martin Lloyd-Jones and, above all, Iain Murray.

In my book, Awakenings in America and the Jesus People Movement, I attempt to demonstrate that the JPM meets the requirements for inclusion in America’s great awakenings. (see

Jesus freak was not a term of derision, as it turned out. Everyone who sought after more than could be found in main street USA was a freak of some sort, even if it did not involve sex, dope, or far out religion. Artist, poet, musician, writer, occultist, astrologer, psychic, Satanist, monk, wanderer – these and more were considered part of the freakiness that seemed to offer more. I was really not one of these, as I had already found what I had been looking for, and I had no sense I had ever been looking for anything at all, as I thought I had it all.

The writing of this very blog is the first time I have embraced the term Jesus freak.

My Years as a Tongues Speaker: Part 6 – in Byron, CA

Byron is still a small farming community, a bend in the road, off Highway 4 in Contra Costa County between Brentwood and Tracy. A large development went in called Discovery Bay, but that was long after I was gone. In fact, the Excelsior Baptist Church  long ago disappeared, though the old building that once housed the Excelsior School and then the church is yet standing.

Toward the end of my first year as a seminarian I had a strong urge to pastor a church. Pastoring was what we, the young lions, were constantly talking about. We were either going to be missionaries or pastors, one or the other for sure. I wanted to pastor.

In a way I do not recall I put out word that I was looking for a church and received a call from Joe Smith, the area missionary, who offered me the chance to preach at the Excelsior Baptist Church in Byron. Was I ever excited, and I went right to work on a sermon that I was sure would cinch the deal. I was right, and quickly they “called” me as pastor and gave me a salary of $20 per week. On October 2, 1966 the church ordained me, and my old pastor, Bob Lewis, then pastor of First Baptist Church of Fairfield, California, preached the ordination sermon. My dad made the trip but my mother did not. My mother, though a staunch Methodist, never was born again, and this is not a charge against her but something she proclaimed loud and long. I never did figure that out.

After a few weeks David Hoyt began to accompany me to Byron. My practice was to travel up on Saturdays and Sundays, 75 miles one way, meaning 300-plus miles per weekend. I had arranged for weekends off from JC Penney & Co. between Mondays and Fridays. As I think about it now, I had begun a pattern that would essentially take me away from my family way too much. Here were doors opening up to me, which seemed to me to be by the Hand of God, yet in walking through them I was also harming my family. It is something I have had to live with and about which I have never come to any clear understanding.

David and I began seeing what we could do in the Byron area. For one thing we made contact with the local juvenile hall. David had tantamount to grown up in state institutions; California had, in a real sense, been his father and mother. He was quite at home visiting there, and before long the entire boys’ home was coming to church every other Sunday; the other Sunday they went to the local Methodist Church, the only other church in town.

Oddly, this did not sit well with the deacons, maybe because it took my attention away from them, yet I still visited every single household in the church at least twice a month.

The situation deteriorated when David and I started walking though the local migrant workers’ camp on Hwy 4 between Byron and Brentwood. One particular family quickly responded to the Gospel, a family of seven, who lived in a one room shack in the migrant settlement, and I baptized all of them. Soon other Mexican people were coming as well, and the church got crowded. Soon after this the deacons cut my salary to $10 a week.

Perhaps they knew more than I did, because trouble followed almost immediately. One Saturday morning I arrived at the church building alone without David to find that almost all the windows had been broken. Tomatoes from the fields that surrounded the building on three sides had found their way into the chapel and school rooms. It was a huge mess. I put out a call for help and soon most of the church members were on hand cleaning up the splattered tomatoes.

The next week, a time when David was with me, we entered the migrant workers’ housing area when two large German Shepherd dogs rushed out to attack us. It was a fight for life; David and I defended ourselves and fought them off, and after a while the dogs were whimpering and whining.  David and I were a complete mess: dirty, bloody, and plenty scratched up. None of the occupants of the camp, including those who had been attending church, emerged to help us except one elderly man who told us that the priest at the Catholic Church in Brentwood had put the dogs on us.

We drove to the church, cleaned up, then headed to Brentwood and the Catholic Church. Both David and I had grown up having to fight and stand up for ourselves. Parking in front of the church, we loudly called the priest out, and when he emerged we verbally let him have it, and in no uncertain terms. He knew we could have made a lot of trouble for him if we had gone to the police.

That turned out to the last time we had any trouble, and the migrant workers continued to come to church while the harvesting was going on.


My years as a tongue speaker: Part 4 – Bible study in the temple

Timothy Wu was a young and very evangelistic student at the seminary. Since we both were intent on direct personal evangelism, we became friends. He readily agreed to come with me to a Bible study at the Hindu temple.

As was my agreement with the temple officiates, we had to sit through the Kirtan before we could file down into the basement with David. After a prayer, I introduced Timothy and asked him to give the teaching. He started with how he had become a Christian and moved right into a very fine account of the Gospel message. He was speaking rapidly and passionately.

After the meeting broke up I headed upstairs, and after talking to some of the devotees for a while, I looked around for Timothy but didn’t find him. I went back down the steps to the basement and saw Timothy and David engaged in animated conversation. They were both yelling, and it looked like it might be the prelude to a fist fight. Seeing me watching them, they calmed and backed away from each other. Timothy walked toward me, and we both turned and walked up the stairs and out of the temple.

On the ride home we did not talk about what happened back in the basement. It was almost three weeks before I found out what transpired between David and Timothy.

Much later there was another ride home, and this time it was David and I on our way back to the seminary. David was silent for most of the ride, but as we were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge he told me what had happened between him and Timothy that night after the Bible study. Timothy had given him a prophecy, a word of revelation, that within three weeks God would take David out of the temple.
All I did was listen. David said that night he had a dream. He saw himself in a very large open space and peoples of the world were all around him. All of a sudden he heard a trumpet blast, and looking up he saw Jesus in the clouds with a host of angels. People all around him were lifting up their arms to receive Jesus, and as they did they floated up and joined Jesus in the air. David said that he looked at his own feet and they were planted on the ground. A fear rushed through him and he woke up to find that his makeshift basement altar was on fire. He tried to put it out but it was already too large to extinguish. He grabbed what he could and raced up the stairs. He ran down again, picked up some paint cans and a brush – supplies he had used to paint out the basement for his use – and began writing in large letters those Christian slogans I saw on the walls of the temple. As the fire trucks started to arrive, he found a phone and called me.

Now his life was going to be very different.

As a kind of endnote: Timothy Wu and I remained friends. He was the youth pastor at a Chinese Church in San Francisco, and he invited me to preach to their rather large assembly from time to time – and this while he was at the seminary. I remember now the last time that we did evangelism together. Dr. Francis DuBose, professor of missions and evangelism at Golden Gate Seminary, had become a friend and mentor to me. Sometime in 1968 I asked him and Martin (Moishe) Rosen, who later founded Jews for Jesus, to be on the board of directors of Evangelical Concerns. This was a vital group made up mostly of American Baptist pastors. It was about at that time that Dr. DuBose asked me to conduct a tour and evangelist foray in the Haight-Ashbury. I did this several times, and on the first of these Timothy Wu came along.

Timothy and I met the students on the corner of Haight and Ashbury streets, divided up into teams of two, and agreed to return in two hours bringing any converts with us. At the appointed hour the students began to arrive. I had two with me, none of the students had any, but Timothy came walking down the street with a whole group of hippie kids, twelve being the number I recall. We held a prayer and discipleship meeting right there on the street. Timothy preached and taught and so did I. A larger crowd gathered and more professed faith in Jesus.

This was the Jesus People Movement. And this was not the last time I would see something similar happen on that very street. But the description of some of those events will come along when I talk about Lonnie Frisbee.

My years as a tongue speaker: Part 2 – The call to the hippies

During my years at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (Southern Baptist), I was anti-Pentecostal and did not yet know what was meant by “charismatic.” As far as I was concerned speaking in tongues was of a demonic origin, and short of that it was at least wrong doctrine. We had little or no fellowship with Pentecostals. In Marin County that would have been limited to the Assembly of God churches or maybe a Black Pentecostal church of some kind.

One night in February of 1967, while I was driving home from my part time job as shoe salesman at the J.C. Penny store in Corte Madera and while listening to Scott McKenzie’s “When you come to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair,” it was as though God spoke directly and personally to me: “Go to the hippies in San Francisco.” That was it and that was all. The very next day, a rainy Thursday evening, I did just that and the adventure began.

That night, while peering through the window of Hamilton United Methodist Church on Waller Street, a young hippie approached me and wanted to know if I wanted to meet someone who knew a lot about religion. I jumped at the chance, thinking this is the hand of God and said yes. He brought me just a few doors away to an old Victorian house and introduced me to David Hoyt. David was living in a house full of lesbians; he was the token male and body guard for the ladies, and his room was under the stairs that climbed up to the second floor. It was really just a janitor’s closet, but David had made it into a bedroom, which was probably about the same size as the jail cell at Lompoc Prison from which he had just recently been released. David had entered prison at age 19 as a biker with a conviction of drug smuggling from Mexico. He had become a jail house guru of sorts and had decided on Hinduism as his religion of choice. By the time I met David that evening, he had risen in the eyes of Swami Baktivadanti to being one of the chief devotees at the Hare Krishna Temple on Frederick Street, just blocks away from where David was then living.

We began a Bible study under the stairs, just David and I, but in a few weeks David moved to the basement of the Hare Krishna Temple. To continue the studies, I had to get permission from the swami. After a couple of meetings with the elderly man, he gave me permission to do the studies on the condition that I first had to attend the Kirtans, or Hindu worship service, after which I could hold the study.

More people started attending the studies, which continued for some months, until a Saturday morning when I received a phone call from David asking me to rush to meet him at the temple. I jumped in the old Ford station wagon and did just that.