July 06, 2005

Can There Be Hope for the Homophobe?

I've been given the opportunity to publish this article that originally appeared in the 6/22/05 issue of the Bradley News Weekly in Tennessee. It was written by Rev. Apostle Dolly Hamby of the Covenant of Hope Fellowship in Cleveland, Tennessee. She has dealt with issues of acceptance of LGBT people from both sides. I found her insight to be profound and the feelings she expressed to be very moving:


I first came to Cleveland, TN, when I attended BTI (Bible Training Institute) a few years ago, in the church of God of prophecy, and I thought that Cleveland was truly the Holy City of the South. I loved the city and the people seemed to be so friendly. But, that was before I came out as a lesbian. It’s still hard for me to call myself a lesbian. But I had to face the fact that that is who I am and there was nothing I could do about it but accept it and live for God. And I was about the most homophobe person you could ever meet (before I came out), I did not want to hear the word homosexual or gay and especially, that “L” word, lesbian. I did not want to hear it because it scared me to even think someone might find out I was a lesbian.

I had lived a life of being a wife, a mother and a minister in the COGOP (Church of God of Prophecy). I had graduated from BTI and was appointed to pastor a church in Dalton, Ga. The church I was appointed too was in a black community and had primarily been a black church. There was one member left on the roll when I began pastorate, and they had not attended in a long time. Was I discouraged, no siree, I dug right in and went to work. The church smelled so bad from where the pigeons had nested and left droppings in the ceiling that we had to place deodorizers all over the place to even stand to have church. And when the first rain came, we had to place buckets everywhere to catch all the water. The bathroom floor was falling in and the place was so grown up with brushes and trees that needed to be trimmed, that it was an exceptional challenge for me and those that supported me. I remained there until the churches were assimilated together into one and then I started going to another COGOP in the area.

As time went by and my heart ached more to be who I knew I was inside, I begin going to every church that was in revival and going through prayer lines to have hands laid on me to be delivered. I would feel much better for a couple of days then back again with the same feeling of loneliness, emptiness and urgency. After much pain and suffering my husband and I separated and finally divorced. It was very hard to leave a 35 year marriage and start over, but my children were all grown and married and I had prayed for years for God to send me someone to love me for just being me. Not because I helped to make a living or raised their children or submitted to their every wish or demand, but just because they loved me.

I had been in love with one of my members for five years, but I had never told her or said anything to her. I knew she loved me but I also knew that she was married and had children as well. I could see no way for us to ever be together or even think that we might, but she was the best friend I had ever known and if that was all I could ever have with her, then I would contend myself with “just being her friend.” However, I kept praying for God to set me free if there was never to be any love between my husband and myself. I loved my husband (like a good friend) but not as a lover.

He was first to leave me and then we kept getting back together for as many as three times, and finally, it was as if God tapped me on my shoulder and said, “I have set you free three times, why do you keep taking him back?” Well, that was all I needed to let go and believe it or not she was set free the same day, amazing huh?” But God has perfect timing in everything He does and in the season we need it most.

I can almost hear some of you shaking your heads and saying, “She’s crazy, God does not answer prayers for any gay person. Well, your God might not, but my God is not in a box, and He is much bigger than my thoughts or your IDEAS and I will answer to Him for every word I am writing here today. Society or the religious right-wing have tried to keep God away from anyone that they saw as different and they have succeed in instilling fear and rejection into their children and their congregations until many young people are taking their own lives because they feel condemned to hell without a chance to serve God as God created in them to be. Being homophobe is like going back to the times when the blacks were enslaved and forbidden to eat with the whites or to ride buses or go to school with every other American kid. They fought a long time to be free, but they made it and I am very proud to say that I prayed for their freedom when I was just a child because I could see it wasn’t right for any person to be treated that way. Then came the women wanting to vote, and they were fought the same way the blacks were but not as violent. And now in the 2005’s the Gay Rights are fighting to have the same rights as any other American, but until “YOUR FAMILY”, your son or your daughter is among the “gay” society, you will fight with all your might to keep us from having the same rights as you “straight folks” have.

God gave me a Word for the straight people in 1994 “Thus says the Lord, “I will cause your sons and your daughters to rise up among you that will be gay and lesbian and the fathers and mothers will fight among themselves until they see their families being separated from them. I will divide them left and right until “ALL” come to know I will show favor unto whom I will and I will raise up apostles and prophets and ministers among the gay society that will proclaim my Word boldly until all come to the UNITY OF THE FAITH.” One very important thing I have learned about God, “He is a God of spirituality, not a god of sexuality. God could care less if you are male or female, because all He sees is the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ if it’s been applied or not. Matt 6:33 “But seek you first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL these other things will be given you as well.” NIV.

The only thing we want to do at COHF is try to save some of your sons and daughters from taking their own lives and lead them into FULL FELLOWSHIP with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. God gave us a promise when we started the church (then Hope For All Ministries) that as long as He was in control no harm would ever come to anyone that entered our doors. He has kept His promise, but some people are still afraid to come to our church or even put a rainbow sticker on their car for fear of being rejected or harmed in some way or other. That is truly a shame, we are good enough to pay taxes, to vote, to buy your merchandise and if all the closeted gay people came out of your churches, you would be missing many singers and musicians, teachers and ministers that you rub elbows with every Sunday.

There is hope for the homophobe, because LOVE never fails. Until we can learn to accept each other as God does and look for the good that lies within each of us, we will continue to be “The Bride of Christ, with cuts and bruises, and thrown veils and spotted garments; And I’m sure our bridegroom will look at us and say, “well, my bride has been fighting again.” Do you believe that Jesus our bridegroom, will want a bride that looks like that? I don’t think so!

What you believe is your business, that is not for me to decide. But it is with sweet relief to me when I discovered I do not have to embrace another person’s beliefs in order to respect their rights. I am dedicated to being a champion for religious freedom and diversity. To be successful in my endeavors I must overcome my passionate feelings that sometimes get in the way. If I let my emotions rule, I would wing up saying things that are not helpful at all. My brain says, “Stand up for equal rights for all people!” But my emotions step in the way and interpret the message, “Put those religious bullies in their place!” When I hear the manipulatively loaded language of an opponent and am tempted to duplicate it. While I am called a godless, liberal or an enemy to Christ or the Church, my emotions want to label those people with names like, “The Radical Religious Political Extremists,” or “modern-day Scribes and Pharisees.

I am not an enemy to the American Family Association or the Christian Coalition and it’s hard for me to not think of groups such as these as the Enemy. But, as the saying goes, “It is hard to shake hands with a clenched fist. I pray that God can help us have Christ-like communication if and when we should meet.

This journey I have made from a place of fear and ignorance to a place of love and truth has been an adventure of one discovery after another. And it began when God placed one verse in my mind that I feared more than I feared man, “Rev. 22:15 “But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, (and whoever loves and practices lies). NKJV. I will never again be ashamed or lie about who I am because God looks at the heart and my heart is pure. Praise the Lord!

May we forever be united until the Lord Jesus Christ comes for us all. God Bless!