Dear Dr. Dobson,
My name is Mary Lou Wallner. I am 59 years old and recently moved from the Chicago area to the Little Rock, AR area. I was raised in a very conservative fundamentalist church environment. My family was part of the Plymouth Brethren sect. We were taught many things that I did not and do not understand. We had to wear hats to "meeting" on Sunday. We couldn't wear makeup. We could cut our hair, but not short. Women could not speak in meetings where men were present. We had to be at "meeting" every time the door was open. We had closed communion.
Then I went to a Christian college and discovered there were other Christians in the world besides the Plymouth Brethren. It was then that I asked to "sit back" and not take communion at the church where I grew up, because none of my college friends would be allowed to take communion with me.
Then I married a guy from this Christian college. He was not Plymouth Brethren. My mother didn't even look at my engagement ring for 3 weeks. He and I were ultimately divorced after 12 years of marriage and the birth of 2 daughters.
In 1988, my oldest daughter, Anna, came out to us as a lesbian. She was also a Christian. I did not accept that in her and told her I would always love her but would forever hate that, and would pray every day that she would change her mind and attitude. She did not.
You see, I raised my girls on Hide or Seek, Tough Love, etc. I believed you held all the answers to everything. I even went to a conference in Denver at a Nazarene Church where I listened to you and Joyce Landorf teach a wonderful seminar. I'll never forget you talking about your little boy who climbed up into a pickup truck bed and couldn't get down. You said that your little boy said quietly, "Somebody help the boy. Somebody help the boy."
I also raised my kids on Bill Gothard. I'll never forget my first husband spanking our youngest daughter when she was about three years old, until she "cried softly." She was also "bruised softly" on her bottom. This was supposed to break her will, not her spirit.
Today, my oldest daughter, the Christian lesbian, is dead. She committed suicide on February 28, 1997, by hanging herself from the bar in her closet at the age of 29. She left no note. It was at that time that I had to research the topic of homosexuality. After reading many books, and talking with people on both sides of the issue (including John Ortberg, Mel White, Phillip Yancey, Peggy Campolo and Dr. Gilbert Bilezekian), and studying the Scriptures, my husband and I finally understood that homosexuality is not a choice. We certainly do not promote promiscuity, but after getting to know hundreds of GLBT Christians, we realized that they did not choose their orientation, and if it wasn't chosen, how could it be a sin?
For me, largely due to the way I was raised and taught by the church, "different" somehow meant "bad." That is simply not true in any sense of the word. What on earth and in heaven would we do if we were all alike? That means that all but one of us is unnecessary. Regarding gays and lesbians, it is our observation that most of them consider their orientation a gift from God, and if we would get to know them better, we would find that they have a multitude of gifts to offer us!
In the Christian community, Dr. Dobson, who in their right mind would choose an orientation that would cause them to be abused, maligned, hated and even murdered?
I am part of Ralph Blair's organization called Evangelicals Concerned. I was a keynote speaker at their summer conference, ConnECtion, in Denver in 2001. Soon after that, I was given 3 other tapes of a previous ConnECtion-talks by Gil Moegerle. Dr. Dobson, I grew up on "Focus on the Family" broadcasts, and Gil Moegerle being your co-host. If what is written in his book, and spoken on his tape is true, you cannot possibly win your "war on America."
Where is Christ's unconditional love for all people in your message? Where is Christ's grace and salvation for any who accept Jesus, regardless of race, color, ethnic orientation or sexual orientation?
I used to receive your free magazine and newsletter. My wonderfully wise Dad, a Plymouth Brethren, finally cancelled all your materials from coming to their home because in his words, you had become way too "political." We did the same because of your judgment against homosexuals.
It seems to me that John Paulk speaks for himself, along with many other Exodus leaders. They all had to leave that ex-gay ministry because they were not converted to heterosexuals-and indeed were still homosexuals, and since they did not choose it, they could not change it!!
What would you do, Dr. Dobson, if your own unmarried daughter admitted to you that she is a lesbian? Just possibly, it would change the whole course of right-wing evangelical Christendom-for the better.
In my opinion, the church has created a "monster." We have singles groups in all our churches, for heterosexuals. But for homosexuals, we have nothing. I am an RN and was an HIV nurse for 5 years. I believe that in part, the fundamental church of Jesus Christ is responsible for the AIDS epidemic. What do you think would happen if our churches (like the one where my husband and I were members for 7 years-Willow Creek Community Church) decided to embrace gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders, and create singles groups for them?
My heart and soul grieves for you, Dr. Dobson, along with Dr. Falwell, Pat Robertson, D. James Kennedy and Dr. Joe Stowell. (We were casual friends with Joe and Martie Stowell, and Joe was the one who suggested I write a book. When I did, he refused to answer our phone calls or e-mails when he found out we were "dining with sinners" like Mel White.) Sadly, I know well what all five of you would have to lose should you declare your unconditional love for God's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children: Millions and millions of dollars!!! How tragic to put money and huge organizations and mighty political power ahead of God's own children.
I echo the words of your small boy, Ryan. "Somebody help God's GLBT children. Somebody help these children whom Jesus loves and the church scorns." Dr. Dobson, will you be courageous enough to just meet with Mel White, with Peggy Campolo, with other Soulforce folks, with Ralph Blair?
When Soulforce comes to Colorado Springs next Spring, my husband and I will be there, and I will tell my story.
Would you have the courage to meet with my husband and me in private? That is and will be my prayer for the next several months.
To whoever reads this letter in Dr. Dobson's place, I ask you to have the courage to give it to Dr. Dobson and let him read it himself. I'm well aware that he is a very busy man, but hopefully, he can spare 10 minutes to read this letter. Thank you.
In Christ's never-ending and always unconditional love,
Mary Lou Wallner
Following the death of my daughter I embarked on an arduous journey to discover the truth about homosexuality, eventually coming to believe that it is not a choice and therefore cannot be a sin.
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