Toward an International Discussion of Homosexuality (TIDH)
Promise Keepers Rally: My Impressions
TIDH homepage
"Ask us to explain our position. Then ask the other side. But ask! Then let the real healing begin. If you really love someone, you'll tell them the truth."

from the
Reggie White Ad: "Toward a New National Discussion of Homosexuality"

Promise Keepers Rally

Philadelphia, PA July 10-11, 1998
by Laura Montgomery Rutt
National Coordinator, Equal Partners in Faith

My Impressions

IF.... I was an evangelical Christian and believed the Bible to be the inerrant literal word of God
I was a man desperately seeking meaning to a purposeless existence
I was a man that believed in well defined gender roles
I was uncomfortable with areas of gray and could believe absolute truths
My upbringing loaded tons of guilt on me that stuck with me my whole life and I thought it easier to change my behavior rather than my concept of God
I was uncomfortable with my sexuality and needed my "maleness" affirmed
I was a man seeking to feed my need for a closer connection to a male God
I was a member of the Religious Right,

THEN, I might think the Promise Keepers movement is one of Gods greatest gifts to mankind.

But I am a liberal Christian woman, who is very comfortable with gray areas and understanding the Divine as a nongendered Spirit of absolute love and the Bible as a book of wisdom. So, I must admit I look at the movement and the rallies through tinted lenses.

At the PK rally in Philadelphia, I did hear messages from preachers that men (and women, myself included) need to hear. I did not experience the psychological roller coaster that I felt at Stand in the Gap when men were told they were sinners - repent, Jesus loves you - rejoice, sinner- repent, Jesus loves you - rejoice. Even though it was a men's rally, I did not feel as alienated as I did at the pastor's conference to which women were supposedly 'invited' to attend.

What I did feel was the spirit of God, and enthusiasm, and love, and sincerity. The music was a spiritual experience and the preachers words were important for all to hear. "You are leaving a legacy - do you want to look back and realize that your legacy is meaningless, or do you want to be able to look back on your life when you are seventy and see that your life had meaning, that you spent time with your wife and kids as they were growing up, and that you contributed to the community and your church?" This is a principle I remember from Steven Convey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People".

One preacher talked about how you can memorize the Bible, but unless you apply the knowledge, you are a spiritual infant. He talked about the dangers of idolizing the Bible. This surprised me, because each speaker must sign a pledge that the Bible is the inerrant literal word of God.

Another talked about how making a decision to change was the first step, but unless actions follow that decision, it is meaningless. This is right out of the 12 steps of AA.

I tuned in and out to what the speakers were saying at times, watching the men and wandering around the stadium. I also spent time discussing theology, the implications of the PK to Gary Bauer, why they put "coach" on the 700 Club, etc... with Steve Ruppe, VP of Public Relations, who invited me in as his guest. It was not the first time I had long conversations with Steve. We can agree to disagree.

But more important, we can agree on some things. We are brother and sister in Christ. Some men need to hear the message that they need to be responsible fathers and husbands. God is love.

I was sad, however, to hear analogies the speakers used in their messages. One speaker said "I am the head of the family, my wife is the neck." The implications are a little startling. Another said, "Don't be a spiritual cross-dressers, wearing the pants one day and the skirt the next." I had a hard time figuring this one out in the context of living a Christian life, and but little trouble figuring out what kind of "man's man" this message would appeal to.

Throughout the entire event, I kept hearing about what it meant to be a "man's man", a "godly man", or a "real man", and it certainly had nothing to do with equality of the genders or acceptance of sexual minorities.

Another message was to go out and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ to your workplace, the schools, etc... Again, the insertion of 'the schools' caused me to stop and take notice, as did the implication that Evangelical Christianity is the only true way.

Another statement that stopped me in my tracks was when PK Vice President Randy Phillips called for all men and their families, friends and churches to be on the State Capitol steps in the year 2000 to send a message to America. Steve claims it has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with a convenient location.... But what messages are they sending, and to whom?

The Promise Keepers previously had broken a promise to churches that they would never take money out of the hands of churches (many of whom are struggling financially) when Bill McCartney stated in April of 1998 that it was God's will for churches to give them money. Then at the rally, one of the speakers asked the men to put Promise Keepers contributions in their church mission committee budget.

And IF they are as unpolitical as they claim to be, one has to wonder about words like "winning the nation for Christ," or their plans for the year 2000 to send a message to America or just look at scripture to know what would happen in America if the literal interpretation of the Bible became the basis for overturning the Constitution, or for setting laws, or if one's religious or organizational affiliation was the only determining factor in pulling the lever for a specific candidate. As a main backer of the Promise Keepers, I am sure Gary Bauer is counting on this.

But all things considered, I would say it was a positive learning experience.

I do not have a problem with men getting together to learn to be better husbands and fathers, to worship God through prayer and song, and to create bonds with other men, especially those of a different race. After attending the rally, it is obvious to me that some men need this and I for one think the PK rallies should continue to be just for men. I might even agree (along with millions of other people who are concerned about Promise Keepers hidden agenda) that the Promise Keepers movement is one of Gods greatest gifts to mankind, IF....

the Promise Keepers leaders would publicly affirm the full equality of women to hold positions of leadership in our families, our public institutions, and our houses of worship as ministers and lay leaders
the Promise Keepers leaders would publicly affirm and promote the civil rights of all people, regardless of religion, gender, nationality, race and sexual orientation, as well as acknowledge the value of diversity and defend the religious liberty of all people
the Promise Keepers leaders would distance themselves from the political leaders of the Religious Right and open their podiums to people of diverse theologies.

Laura's BA Intro

Laura on ExGays at Creating Change

email Laura

Equal Partners in Faith

Alliance for Tolerance and Freedom


 [Top |TIDH| B-A Home]