What We Can Learn
About the Guest
How do we relate to the homosexual community? Find out by joining us for today's broadcast when Christian recording artist and former homosexual, Dennis Jernigan, gives Dennis Rainey insight into the issues surrounding homosexuality.
How do we relate to the homosexual community?
What We Can Learn
Bob: When someone is trapped in the snare of sexual sin, there are, most often, deeper, more substantive issues that need to be addressed in their lives. Here's Dennis Jernigan.
Dennis Jernigan: Homosexuality is not the root. There is something deeper that caused the homosexuality and, to me, it boils down to identity – who you are and, in a deeper sense than that – who has God called you to be? Either He is God, and He is Creator, or He's not. And if He is Creator, then it stands to reason He has a perfect plan for that life.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, December 31st. Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll talk today about the power of the Gospel to heal a soul scarred by sexual sin.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. What we’ve been hearing this week is one of the things I often describe as a parking lot moment. There are times you pull your car into the parking lot and you need to be somewhere but you can’t get out of the car because you have to keep listening to what you are listening to.
Dennis Rainey: I think we’ve probably caused a few people to be late for appointments with the story of Dennis Jernigan and his struggle with homosexuality and how he revealed that with his wife and now how he’s taken his message of hope and healing in his concerts. It’s a redemptive story that gives hope to all of us because all of us are broken. All of us are sinners.
Bob: We’re going to dig back into that story in just a minute but before we do that though this is the end.
Dennis Rainey: (laughing) it sounds like we’re dying Bob. We’re not dying. Bob is okay folks. I’m okay.
Bob: No, I mean the end of the year.
Dennis Rainey: It’s the end of the year.
Bob: It’s the end of 2009. It’s the last day. Tomorrow we will be here again but this is it for 2009.
Dennis Rainey: Another way to put it that might be a little bit better is to say it’s crunch time.
Here’s the deal. We now have a matching gift of over $2,000,000 that has been set out there by some families who say we really believe in what you are doing. We want to challenge all the donors of FamilyLife Today to step up and give so that all this money can be matched.
Bob: Folks have been very generous in the month of December. Thank you to those of you who have contacted us and made a donation we appreciate it. The last numbers I saw mean that we have a ways to go to get to that $2,000,000.
Dennis Rainey: It’s always a cliffhanger and it just feels like this on December 31st and that’s why Bob was referring to this as the end. All kidding aside if you haven’t written a check yet to say we stand with you guys and what FamilyLife has done for you and your marriage and family would you do that right now? We need to hear from you.
When you do that you not only make this broadcast possible on this station but you enable us to continue to give free literature to folks who are making spiritual decisions, we help scholarship pastors to attend our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference, we give discounts to military personnel and their marriages and families who attend the conference and when you stand with us you enable us to do those kind of ministries so here on December 31st would you pick up a phone or go online and make a generous gift so we can use all the $ 2,000,000 matching money.
Bob: You mentioned writing a check earlier and you can do that as long as it’s postmarked December 31st that qualifies for the matching gifts. And all of your donations to FamilyLife are tax deductible so again if you can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. We do hope to hear from you and want to say thanks in advance for whatever you are able to do. Also, thanks for listening and standing with us throughout the year. We appreciate your partnership and your support of FamilyLife Today.
Now we have been listening to what is a compelling story, and it’s a story that I think …
Dennis Rainey: … it's a love story.
Bob: Well, it is a love story.
Dennis Rainey: God's love for a man, and then God's love He put in the heart of a man for a woman, and then the love of God poured through the heart of a woman for a man. What a great story of love and redemption. And there's going to be something interesting about a story of a man and a father who has nine children, whose children are named Israel, Anna, Hannah, Glory, Judah, Gaylen, Raina, Asa, and Ezra.
Bob: Now, some of those I've read in the Bible. Others I've not seen in the Scriptures.
Dennis Jernigan: Each name is special. Annie was named after Annie Herring. So that's why that's different.
Dennis Rainey: Sorry, Anna, I meant to say "Annie."
Bob: And as you've already shared this week, Annie Herring, who was with the group, Second Chapter of Acts, she was singing the night that God set you free from bondage to the sin of homosexuality.
Dennis Jernigan: Very much.
Bob: Which had had its talons in you, in your soul, for nearly two decades at that point. As she sang, and as she prayed, and as she called you, she was speaking to the whole audience, but she was speaking to you.
Dennis Jernigan: She was speaking to me.
Bob: She called you to offer up your sin to the Lord. God took it and did a transforming work in your life.
Dennis Jernigan: That's right.
Dennis Rainey: For those of you who do not know who Dennis Jernigan is, he is a songwriter, perhaps one of the most prolific worship songwriters alive today – more than 2,200 songs to his credit including several love songs, one of which we played yesterday and put all the men under the pile who don't write love songs and can't sing them to their wives, and so all of our wives were wanting a love song last night from us, and, you know, Dennis, it's just not fair that you're so gifted and some of us are so inept in such areas.
Now, Bob, on the other hand, he can write a love song, OK?
Bob: Yes, I wrote – do you want to hear the one I wrote?
Dennis Jernigan: Sure.
Bob: OK, here's a little love song I wrote.
Dennis Rainey: Dennis, Dennis …
Dennis Jernigan: … I don't know any better.
Bob: Here we go, here we go, [sings] "Put your love in my bank. I want to compound your interest; it's compounded daily, a full six percent, so put your love in my bank."
Dennis Jernigan: There you go.
Bob: One of my own songs. Do you want to hear another one?
Dennis Rainey: No, no, no, no, no.
Dennis Jernigan: No, no, that's enough.
Dennis Rainey: Dennis, there's been a question, and this is going to be a very serious question, but Bob and I have been looking forward to interacting with you. We're going to take the rest of the broadcast to do this, because I think there is a pressing question that most heterosexual people would love to hear how a former homosexual would answer it, and that's this – how do we, as heterosexual Christians, relate to the homosexual community and to individual homosexuals? Those who embrace the lifestyle and who don't want to come out, and those who are in the lifestyle and who God may be working in and bringing out? Can you give us some coaching tips, some thoughts and encouragement in this area? Because with the onslaught of what's taking place in the media, I think a lot of Christians really want to know how, but they don't know.
Dennis Jernigan: Sure. One thing I'd like to mention, and then I will share some of these tips that, really, I think will be helpful to you. We've created a new website that's called [edited out]. All it is is scientific fact and scriptural truth. It is for people who not only struggle with homosexuality, but it's also for those of you out there who would like to know how to help someone.
Here is the bottom line – you do not have to have experienced homosexuality to be able to lead someone out of it. What you need to be able to do is make a commitment to someone and say this to them – this is what somebody did for me. You know, after that Second Chapter of Acts concert, I had a friend who came alongside and said, "Dennis, I don't know how you got there. I don't know how to help you out except to say this – I know Jesus is the answer. So I will do this for you. I will walk towards Jesus, the answer, with you, no matter how long it takes, no matter what it takes." That broke my heart again. It's like I thought I couldn't be any more broken, but then to have someone display that kind of love towards me was amazing. It just gave me that much more grace to keep walking towards Jesus myself.
Bob: You had to have some guard go up, because you'd had other people who you'd gotten close to – other people who said, "I want to pray with you. I want to get to know you," and they were just preying on you sexually." So when somebody says, "I'll walk with you," didn't some little voice in the back of your head say, "Here we go again."
Dennis Jernigan: You know, today, still, not in a sexual manner, trust is still a big issue for me. I must say, I'm doing way better. You’d probably find that a hilarious statement if you hung around with me very much, but what I would say to somebody in light of that is this – that one thing I discovered early on as that man befriended me and said, "Dennis, I will walk towards Jesus with you."
I also realized that love requires risk. For me to not risk a relationship with someone is to not experience life. To not risk is to be dead. I had already experienced enough of death, and I had to trust that God was going to surround me with people who I could trust.
Dennis Rainey: As you were saying that, I thought, you know what? You really put your finger on something I think a lot of us feel. We look out at the homosexual community, and we think, you know what? The easiest thing to do is to take no risk – play it safe, make no encounter, risk no failure, don't risk being understood, don't risk being called a name, and so we do nothing.
Dennis Jernigan: That's right. You know, you have to wonder if Jesus were here in a physical sense, who would He be hanging out with? In this day and age in our society, I'd have to think He would be hanging around with guys who struggle with homosexuality. Not just them, but He would not be afraid to, He would not be ashamed to.
I know this for a fact – most homosexuals battle the fear of rejection. They are used to it. Even if they've never physically been rejected by someone, they still experience that internally, because, like me, as a little boy, I played a good game, and I was the showboat guy. On the basketball court, I performed well; scholastically, I performed well; musically, I performed well, so that you would think, "Man, he's a normal guy. He's a go-getter. He's a good guy. He's got it all together."
Well, but on the inside I was dying, because I was afraid if I don't do those things, you're going to reject me. You're just going to reject me. So that is the first reality people need to come to the table with – they're used to being rejected.
Dennis Rainey: Okay, Dennis, I’m going to get real honest with you here, and I want you to provide a little counsel to me. I was in a major airport the other day. I went up at a counter to buy a cup of coffee, and the young man who served me the cup of coffee was very gay – no question about it. Internally, I felt repulsed. I didn't feel drawn to reach out. I really wanted to cancel my order, you know? I'm just telling you the emotions that ran through my heart real quickly. Now, I didn't do anything. I didn't say anything. I didn't reach out. I didn't reject him but I have to think that a number of Christians have those feelings. What would you say to us?
Dennis Jernigan: Honestly, this is a thought process I personally go through. You have to try to see them from God's perspective. How would Jesus see that person? But then I take it a step further in the sense that if that were my child, how would I respond to them, knowing that that is what they were involved in or knowing that's the trap they had fallen into? How would I respond to them as my child?
Because, my goodness, God has some great cautions to us that we not cause one of His little ones to stumble, and I have to see that that is one of the lost sheep He has gone after. So I must approach them the way He would. So, for me, because the father issue is such a big issue in identity, I have to come from his perspective. So I want to see him as if this were one of my children how would I feel towards them? What would I feel towards them?
So, in fact, when I minister, in general, I ask the Lord two questions – "Lord, would You give me a sense of what that person is feeling?" And then the second question I ask – "Lord, would You give me a sense of what You're feeling towards them?" I'm an emotional guy, so I figure it stands to reason He's going to use me in an emotional way, anyway. So that is just the perspective I bring to the table. In other words, what are their hurts? What are their wounds? And, Lord, how would you address those wounds as the Father? That's how I would personally approach something like that.
And I'll say another thing, too, though – I can only help people who want help. I will not argue with a person who is in the gay lifestyle, because you can tell if they want to argue or if they really want to understand your perspective. So I protect myself a lot in that way, and I'd encourage others to do that. Really approach them in love and compassion but, you know, giving and understanding God's Word is the foundation where I begin, and so let me tell you my perspective from that point of view.
Dennis Rainey: If you sense they're arguing, just be gracious, back off, back away, and go your own way. You mentioned some tips that you have for us.
Dennis Jernigan: Sure. As I said already, you don't have to have experienced homosexuality to lead someone out of it. What you have to be able to do is be willing to just commit your heart, to walk with that person out of that.
Dennis Rainey: You don't have to be a psychologist.
Dennis Jernigan: We do not.
Bob: And, I think some of us are looking for the opportunity to say the right phrase, to affect the cure, and to be able to walk away. I want this to be a 15-minute process, where I open the Scriptures and point something out, and you go, "Boy, I never saw it like that before, and God's doing a breaking work in my heart," and we say, "Well, I’m glad, and I hope things go well with you from here." God is calling us to something that's a little deeper than that if we're going to really get involved with those who are bound up in this lifestyle.
Dennis Jernigan: Sure, and I would encourage anyone out there to realize homosexuality is – to me, that's not the root. There's something deeper that caused the homosexuality and, to me, it boils down to identity. Who you are and, in a deeper sense than that, who has God called you to be? Who did He create you to be? Either He is God, and He is Creator, or He's not.
And if He is Creator, and He has made you to be a certain way, then it stands to reason He has a perfect plan for that life, and that is where you need to start. As somebody who wants to help somebody out, you know the best thing you can do for them is to affirm them as to what God sees. See them as God sees them. Call it as God calls it and, in other words, even if they're lost, remind them God has something better for you, there is a better way, and let me tell you where I was. Because, as the redeemed say so, those who are in bondage in the same manner can see, you know, "Maybe I don't have to stay this way?"
And you know what? And here's what I tell people – heterosexuality is not the answer, either. The answer is Jesus, and He may or may not give you a wife. A wife isn't the answer, either. Jesus is the answer.
Don't seek a ministry; seek Jesus. Seek Jesus, seek Jesus, and in knowing Jesus, you're going to find lots of answers along the way, and you're going to have moments where you'll have those instant healings but, by and large, God's called us on a journey here, and just because I'm tempted in a manner, whether it be homosexuality or gambling or pornography or whatever, the temptation does not define who I am.
And that's what I would tell anyone who is ministering to the homosexual. Temptations may even increase, because the enemy does not want to give up that stolen ground. He wants to keep it so, my goodness he's going to do whatever he can to keep you from taking that ground back.
Well, when the battle gets the most intense, guess what? We have a mighty Warrior in Jesus, who is in our midst, and He is there surrounding us with songs of deliverance. That's Psalm 32:7 – so we need to be listening.
Dennis Rainey: You know, I mentioned I had an encounter with a young man in the airport, and as I reflected with that encounter with the young man who was gay, as I walked away, I found my heart changing, because I began to ask, "Lord, how do You see him? Who hurt him? What's contributed to his life for him to turn from what You wanted him to be as a man? "
And yet the thing that I'm ashamed of, Dennis, is that was not my initial response. I think we all have some growing that needs to occur here before it will grow up into Christ, and the Christian community – this issue, folks, is not going to go away.
Dennis Jernigan: It's not going away.
Dennis Rainey: It isn't going away, and so, you know, we've really – we've got to know how to engage. We've got to know how to pursue relationships and how to be real and admit our humanity. I don't know how else to go do that. I'm not going to go to a gay bar, and certainly you wouldn't encourage that.
Dennis Jernigan: No. But I do have a friend who went to a gay church and just began befriending some of the leadership there. And when they saw that she was going to be real and loved them regardless, they began welcoming her, and she got a lot of insight into how to help those who struggle, and I was blown away. I was amazed that somebody would have the courage to do that. God has not called me to do that. He has called me to tell my story and – not that I'm afraid, it's just I'm called to do what He's called me to.
Bob: But I imagine there are some ambassadors who God has set apart and said, "I am going to send you" – maybe not into the gay bar but outside the gay bar, where you can talk to folks. I remember the story of Yvette Snyder, who was living as a lesbian, who was going with her friends to a gay bar one night, and there were Christians there passing out tracts as she walked in, and she went up and got real angry with one of them – "What are you doing here? What makes you think" – and the person handing her the tract said, "We're very sorry. We did not mean to offend you. We just hoped that you would read this and consider it."
She walked in with kind of her head tilted a little bit – that wasn't the reaction she thought. She thought she was going to get a little combat out in the street with these radical Christians, but instead she got kindness, and she found herself reading that tract later on that night and having to reflect on what was going on.
I think God may be setting some apart and say, "You know what? Your mission field isn't going to be in Europe or in the 1040 Window. Your mission is going to be to those who are hurting, who have been damaged, who have been abused and who are now living in slave to sin as a result of that, and you may be used by the Lord to bring some of them out of that lifestyle and ultimately to Him.
Dennis Rainey: If you do go and assume that tactical approach, use the biblical approved model. I think it's in Luke, chapter 10, where Jesus sent them out …
Bob: … in pairs, yeah …
Dennis Rainey: … two by two …
Bob: … yes, that's right …
Dennis Rainey: … and don't walk into those situations alone. Did we finish your list, Dennis?
Dennis Jernigan: You know, and there's a couple of other things I would like to touch on – just this. People say, "Well, I didn't have a choice in the matter, and you must come from the homosexual or lesbian point of view in understanding that as a little child, some of those things that happened, they didn't have a choice. So we need to change our way of approaching even that. Even though I believe that there comes a point – there came a point in my life where I had to choose – this is who I think I am. But to say to somebody – "You chose that," when they can honestly say, "No, I didn't."
Dennis Rainey: Yes, as a five-year-old boy, you didn't ask to see that guy that came in the restroom.
Dennis Jernigan: That's right, so that's what I mean by that, and we need to be sensitive to those kinds of things and really, really try to see it from their perspective. But in doing that, you don't have to get involved in sin to see that perspective. You use that perspective to then turn around and see a better way to present God's perspective to them, because you need to be able to guide them around the roadblocks that the enemy has set up in their minds, and that's really what we need to be doing. Get prepared, be ready with an answer, go to my new website, [edited out]. It will give you a lot of insight and help you be even more compassionate as you present the love of Christ to people.
Dennis Rainey: I think a great reminder at this point for all of us as we go and seek to fulfill His mission, the Great Commission, is found in Romans 8:38 – it says, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Dennis, you don't know this about me, but God's love pursued me and chased me down as a sinner, a broken sinner, just like you. What a great reminder you've given us of God's redemptive love that wants to take people who were lost but have now been found; who were filled with shame and guilt but now have been set free and forgiven. Thanks for being on FamilyLife Today and sharing your story.
Bob: I have to think there have been folks listening this week who have been not just challenged by your story but I think God has been at work in lives this week because of your transparency so we appreciate you being on FamilyLife Today.
We’ve got to wrap things up but before we do we want to quickly remind our listeners Dennis about the matching gift challenge. Today is the last day. We are hoping to hear from listeners to make a year-end donation as generous as they can so we can take full advantage of this $2,000,000 opportunity.
Dennis Rainey: There are a lot of invitations going out as New Year’s Eve approaches and I want to give a unique invitation. I want to invite you to go online or call and when you do make a gift to FamilyLife Today you are making a great investment that when you give it it will instantly be doubled. Now there are not many gifts that you can give that will be immediately doubled but this one will because we have had a group of donors step up give $2,000,000. We’ve not reached the full amount of that challenge.
Bob: And today is the last day so if you can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call us at 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY to help push us over the top here on New Year’s Eve we would appreciate it. I know that over the next couple of days on FamilyLifeToday.com we are going to try and let folks know whether we were able to take full advantage of this matching gift. So if you want to check back with us in the next couple of days we’ll have the details for you.
Dennis Rainey: I want to add my voice too. This is the end of the year and 2009 has been challenging at times and I want to thank you to our legacy partners—those who give each month. And to all of you who stand with us on FamilyLife Today. You make this broadcast possible for the ministry in other people’s lives and you and your own family. Thank you. I mean it. Praying God’s best for you in the coming year and that His favor will be upon you.
Bob: And every day we say thank you to our engineer Keith Lynch and our entire broadcast production team. I ought to name some of those folks today.
Dennis Rainey: Why don’t you?
Bob: I want to thank Pete Stokke, Kenny Fairris, and Dennis Leake.
Dennis Rainey: Don’t forget Tonda.
Bob: We want to thank Tonda and Christy Bain. We want to thank Michael DeLon, Emmitt Fowler, Phil Krause, Justin Converse, Julie Denker, Michelle Hill, Matt Hofmann, Larry Loraine, and Megan. Well this year she’s Megan Martin. She wasn’t last year. Mrs. Megan Martin.
Dennis Rainey: How has the first year been Megan?
Bob: So far so good.
Dennis Rainey: (laughing) I got a nodding head there.
Bob: We want to thank you for listening as well. On behalf of our host Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We'll see you in the New Year on FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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