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A Pastor’s Heart Still Beats…

On Monday, a dear friend of mine called. They are a high profile Christian leader who hasn’t “come out” publicly yet (they will when the time is right for them and their family.) We talked for about an hour and many things will stick with me. It was a divinely timed phone conversation. The one thing I will share in this post is that they said (paraphrased),

We did what we did in the past because of our temperaments and wanting to do something big, something important, powerful and good for other people. Wrong beliefs infused what we did, but our motivation to help others was honest. That doesn’t go away now the we are being honest with ourselves as gay people and living in authenticity. We are wired to make a positive contribution to individuals and the greater good, and we will.

They are right. I was an ordained Pastor before “coming out” of the Church closet (not sure Grace Church recognizes that still though.) I sought ordination because I have believed since 1995 that I was meant to provide pastoral care and support to people. Through a series of powerful prayer times that lead to amazing dreams and symbols, some of which I shared with Dan a few weeks ago (interesting timing), I know that type of heart “calling” empowers my passions and motivations.

Yes, I and others imposed the ex-gay/conversion theology into all of that for too long. I hate that. But, that doesn’t negate the truth that who I am is who I am and a Pastor’s heart still beats within my chest.

Today, I embrace the truth that I am a minister who happens to be many things, including gay. I am simply looking to bring joy, light and help when the need presents itself. Yep, darn it, I am a bit crass and make no apology for loving Jesus and LGBTQ+ advocacy. I have no desire to be an asshole about my faith and “calling” but I don’t want to leave it in that old “closet” any longer either.

So here I am… big ol’ gay Christian minister who doesn’t know how to put on the glitter eye shadow he got in the mail this week…but will figure that and how this all fits, out!

Today, I am going to pull out this ordination certificate from underneath the clothes in my dresser drawer and put it on my desk. This will be a reminder of the journey and passion that brought me to it, and how that journey continues in a more honest and fully realized way.

Published inLGBT+ Christ FollowerOUTside The Closet Door

18 Comments

  1. Hey Randy, so does Grace Church Orlando and Clark Whitten still empower this ordination with you as a “gay minister” or is this merely a relic of your past for memorabilia of a time gone by? Is Grace Church now a “gay affirming” church to empower “gay Christianity?”

    • Randy Thomas Randy Thomas

      They have never officially revoked it but I doubt they would affirm it today. Still doesn’t remove my “calling” as a Pastor either way. BTW, I know you are just looking to pick a fight with someone, so just move along…

  2. Hey Randy, thank you for answering. I merely want to know what the facts are and shine the light into darkness. If need be, yes sound a warning. It is not about being mean or cruel. This might not fit into your gay world of “nice” but it is kind, in the love of God.

    However, the fight I am “fighting” is a spiritual battle Eph. 2:1-2, 6:12. It is called the fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12) were the work of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross beckons to all true believers to forsake ALL fleshly living, especially gross sexual immorality like homosexuality, to gain eternal life by a sincere and REAL faith in Jesus. A sincere faith in Jesus requires a lifestyle of repentance, or there is no real faith. It is part of walking in the HOLY Spirit, one merely needs to actually study the Bible. Gal. 5:19-24.

    I sincerely fear for your soul in the love of God Randy Thomas. The way is narrow, and you are making it broad in sexual immorality and leading others astray. Matt. 7:13-28. Homosexuality or being gay is NEVER going to be part of God’s economy or Kingdom, as is true of ALL sexual immorality. You have been deceived. 2 Thess. 1:6-10 — You are troubling many with a false message of being a gay pastor and leading souls astray. There is no such thing in the Kingdom of God as a gay pastor. I am very concerned about others, as it is written Jude 1:4. You cannot turn the grace of God into an approval for living a lifestyle of sexual immorality. 2 Thess. 2:5-12, and Rom. 1:18-32.

  3. In all sincerity, may the real grace of God grant you repentance in a true and living faith where we will spend eternity together in Heaven. I have felt for weeks to give you this warning. May God have mercy on both of us to find HIM wider, broader and deeper for HIS glory!

    Sincerely in HIS love,
    Stephen Black

    • Randy Thomas Randy Thomas

      HIS sincere love is manifesting in the person replying to your comment right now, the person you just condemned to hell. Have fun imagining you sit on a throne not built for your limited perspective; using scripture as bullets seeking to defame, stigmatize and discourage God’s LGBTQ+ people. Again, I knew you were just looking for a fight. Move along now…

    • It’s interesting in all of his scripture quoting, Stephen only (mis)quotes Christ once, where he focuses on a deeply philosophical passage where Christ not only condemns those who lead people astray, but he also even more clearly condemns those who do not show his eternal and unending LOVE to all. I think much more revealing of Christ’s attitude are such passages as: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” and also “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” or even “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

  4. Anonymous Rex Anonymous Rex

    Poor Stephen.
    If you don’t do as he says to do, if you don’t think as he says to think, if the can’t have some sort of control over you that you’ll gladly accept, he has a little fit and lovingly condemns you to eternal torment. How typical. It’s charlatans and cult power-heads like him that drove me straight into atheism, thankfully. My life has been incredible since I left people like him behind to wallow in their own filth. Even during my evangelical / exodus years I thought Steven was a hate-filled monster who takes his own misery out on others by exerting this sort of pressure on them.
    I’m so glad I walked away.

    • Randy Thomas Randy Thomas

      I am sorry you had that experience and if I did anything in my role at Exodus that contributed to your hurt, I apologize. That said, Stephen can answer for himself and RHN can (and will) answer for having him as the Vice Chair of their Board. While I personally don’t understand moving into atheism (not passive aggressively judging you, just stating as a fact of my journey), you have nothing but love and respect from me for where you are. I hope to be a friendly face on your journey forward.

      • Anonymous Again Anonymous Again

        I debated for a day before answering.
        No, you have nothing to apologize for. And since it would serve no purpose to name names I won’t.
        Shortly after I burned my closet I burned my religion instead of burning down the church, and I have been far, far better for it.
        I’m very glad you’ve found a peaceful place!

  5. Norfle Nerg Norfle Nerg

    Technically, in FL at least, everything stephen said after you said “move along” is harassment. I’d view it as such since that is exactly what he set out to do in the first place in his loving, caring way of sending you straight to Hell so he can laugh at your torment.

    • Randy Thomas Randy Thomas

      Thank you for the heads up. I am not worried about Mr. Black’s harassment to the point of figuring out if it is legal or not. He’s the legalist, not me. If I get Home to heaven before Stephen I am hoping Jesus will let me pop out from behind the Pearly Gates as soon as Stephen walks through and yell, “SURPRISE!!!” But I don’t think Jesus will let me do that :)… or that would even be necessary in paradise 🙂

  6. Randy, I no longer affiliate with a Church of any kind because I found this “insistence” that everyone MUST conform their lives to the Community’s idea of who and what Jesus did and taught to be contrary to what I learned about the Unconditional Love of our Creator through an experience of my own Relationship (my Faith) with Jesus. In order to receive this extraordinary Grace (Gift) it became necessary for ALL of my prior beliefs to be taken away; a rock not hewn by human hands stuck my (so-called) “faith” at their feet of clay, and the entire edifice collapsed into a pile of rubble and dust. When the God of my understanding cleared the threshing floor of all that was not from him, was I ready to hear his voice and feel his Unconditional Love in my troubled soul. My Faith has grown into a solid sense of his Love for me simply by being the person he created me to be. Don’t let anyone tell you that God will not love you for accepting yourself as you are. They really have no idea what they are talking about. They reveal more about their own prejudiced attitudes and conditional spirit, than they do about the Living God. Their silly self-righteous “I’m saved and your not” is only so much playground bragging. We walk and live by the light of Higher Power we know, not the alleged wisdom of those who think they know the Bible better than anyone else, and judge us by their opinions.

    • Randy Thomas Randy Thomas

      Thank you so much Brian. I love your thoughtful comment. All of it is great to ponder but the last part sticks out to me to comment on, specifically to elaborate on in this context. With many ex-gay/conversion ministry leaders from days past, they created their own bitterness by doing what you just said, “…judg(ing) us by their opinions.” They would assume the absolute worst, treat those assumptions as fact, condemn us with those falsely derived facts and the opinions they inspired, and then pile on with even more incredibly negative assumptions and opinions being passed around as fact. And, it is much more “worldly” thing to do than I believe they even realize. Well, anyway, your comment was so much more than this but that one part got me riled up (all good.) 🙂

  7. Jonathan H Jonathan H

    I found your post one sleepless night, like many I have, I used to love God and church, but life has been cruel, I cannot rectify God and Gay, so I remain alone and hope that today is not the day I kill myself…I have come to hate God and hate him because I’m Gay, I hate myself too….I have never been to a gay conversation, only suffer sexual abuse and a legalistic church doctrine when I was young, at 41 I fear I will be forever alone…I do not know how much more I can bear.

    • Randy Thomas Randy Thomas

      I am genuinely heartbroken for your pain and suffering; certainly, value every life as a gift and would not want you to end yours. That said, your feelings and thoughts are important. Your contribution to this world is important and your life is definitely more important than anyone trying to convince you what to believe or feel about being gay. That said, I highly encourage you to call one of the numbers listed in this comment below. They will be a safe place to turn to and will not try to force feed you what to believe or feel. I included several options below where one might be a better alternative for you over another. However, all of them would be glad to talk with you.

      Helpful Resources:
      National Suicide Prevention Lifeline http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 800-273-8255
      Yellow Ribbon Ask4help.@yellowribbion.org
      National Crisis Helpline http://www.spsaamerica.org 800-784-2433
      The Trevor Project (for gay teens) http://www.thretrevorproject.org Trevor Lifeline 866-488-7386
      Veterans Suicide Helpline http://www.veteranscrisisline.net 800-273-8255 press1
      National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) http://www.nami.org/
      GriefShare (Christian) http://www.griefshare.org

      Again, I believe every life is a gift. I hate that you have experienced cruelty and hope you find a safe place to land to work through this in an healing, life-giving and empowering way.

  8. J. Allen Stone J. Allen Stone

    I ran across an article of yours tonight that popped up on a mutual friend’s FB feed which lead me here to your blog and then to this particular article–and unfortunately to the hate-filled religious words of a former Exodus leader in the comments. I want to say publically that I am proud of you Randy and where your journey has taken you. Not that you need my approval. I’m responding more as a public statement of what I now see as truth–that the real hell Jesus spoke of is the torment and fear we bring upon our own soul in this life when we sit in judgement of others (including ourselves) and think we can access the eternal state of anyone including ourselves. It’s such lies that created this
    idea of a monstrous God who murdered his own son to appease his ego need of punishment. Lies upon lies rooted in our own guilt. As you said to another I say in encouragement to you, “move along and live free!”

  9. So beautifully written by a beautiful man. Love you, Rev. Randy!

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