(Embrace this truth and it will surely set you free!)

The other day while visiting a very popular website, I stumbled onto a video of a very renowned Pastor who was being interviewed by Piers Morgan on CNN. In the interview, Piers asked this guest minister if he thought being gay was a sin and of course the minister responded (as most ministers do) resoundingly by answering, “YES! I DO BELIEVE THAT BEING GAY IS A SIN!” As the interview progressed, the Pastor began to explain to the host why he felt this way, yet went out of his way to point out that his church does not condemn gay people and that he believes God loves all people. For most same-gender-loving people, this type of response is nothing new, since most have heard this repetitive message all of their lives. For many, this inescapable message has been literally and indelibly seared into their hearts and conscious minds, as though by a moral laser. Because of this philosophy, multitudes have left traditional churches by the masses. Even though some overcome the deep feelings of rejection that they feel from family members, associates and friends, many still wrestle with the idea that The Creator of the universe rejects them and because He does, has condemned them to an eternity of unimaginable suffering in an abyss known to many as, “Hell.”

Because I am a believer and heavily involved in several aspects of ministry at my church, it affords me the opportunity to visit numerous churches of all denominations all over the country. And to be honest with you, Sunday after Sunday, I often worry about the psychological and spiritual damage that could possibly be inflicted upon same-gender-loving people as they sing in choirs, play instruments, usher on Usher Boards, serve as Deacons, teach Sunday School and Bible Studies, Evangelize and even Minister. It greatly disturbs me that they are forced to listen to rehashed homophobic sermons proclaiming that God loves the sinner but hates the sin - with same sex attraction being at the top of the list. Being a gay man, I know this is where the problem lies. You see, for me being gay was not something I just decided to do because I wanted to defy God or revolt against the norms of society just to make a statement. Being gay for me was as natural as the color of my ebony brown skin, as natural as breathing, singing and playing the piano. So my dilemma was always how could who I am and what I am be a sin?

Today, I am a mature man, but I have been in the church since I was five years old. I was taught to respect and revere my elders and most certainly those who served in any capacity of ministry. In my mind, it was never a question of whether being Gay was a sin, to me it was the Gospel truth, after all, these were men and women anointed by God (so I thought) who proclaimed the true Gospel to me. They couldn’t possibly be wrong because without question, I was confident that they knew the will, mind, purpose and complete plan of God for my life. Moreover, who was I to ever question them or the authority of the written Word!

Like thousands of teenagers in church, I often contemplated suicide because I felt trapped in that dilemma, a condition that I could not resolve nor escape no matter how hard I fasted, prayed, promised not to backslide, and no matter how many times the elders tried to cast gay demons out of me. Imagine, sitting in church for years, surrounded by hundreds of people (lonely and feeling rejected) hearing sermon after sermon, hating who I was and what I was, on the brink of suicide and a nervous breakdown. I was convinced that God detested the most important part of who I was and I felt trapped in a condition not of my own doing and hell-bound.

Now, here is the good news! Something happened to me, even in the midst of all this madness, I took the preacher at his word and developed a personal relationship with God. Now this presented a huge problem because the Creator that I came to know intimately, never condemned me for being gay and to my recollection, never even made a big deal out of it. This was quite a contrast to what I was hearing over the pulpit. When I felt rejected, He bathed me in the warmth of His love! When I was tempted to give up and end my life, He convinced me that I had everything to live for and assured me that He had a marvelous plan for my life!

In 2001, when I was diagnosed with full-blown AIDS, He never abandoned me, even when others said that my affliction was most certainly the result of my rebellious lifestyle and was without question, the wrath of God in full manifestation in my life! While I must confess to making some bad decisions while in my early 20’s and 30’s (that exposed me to the HIV virus), there are consequences that we ALL must face as a result of bad choices. God made one thing crystal clear to me: He loves me, wanted me well and wanted me to make choices that would not put me or anyone at risk of contracting any type of disease. This is the message that I pass on to everyone each time I have the opportunity to share my story. I tell people that the fact AIDS exists is no one individual’s fault, but it is our fault, if we don’t act responsibly and protect ourselves and individuals with whom we are intimate. The love of God abounds and is evident in the beauty of Creation and in His expression of abundance of rich blessings conferred on humanity daily.

Now please don’t freak out on me because I am talking a little bit about religion or because I may use some religious terminology. You must understand that many of the reasons, as to why people believe being gay is wrong is primarily induced by Biblical views. And if I am to shine the light of truth upon the subject, I must from time to time refer to concepts that pertain to religion. Additionally, it is important to note that focusing on religion is critical to mobilizing change!

If you don’t gain anything else from reading this blog, please understand this one fact: Know emphatically that God loves every person on this planet! Or as the old folks use to say, “Know that you know, that you know, that you know, God loves you!” And there is no length to which He will go to demonstrate His great love and everlasting kindness. What He wants from us first, is NEVER to allow anyone to separate us from His love; especially when His Divine unconditionally loving nature is being intentionally or unintentionally misrepresented because of people’s phobias. Don’t miss out on His wise direction, insight, abundance, and prosperity because some misguided soul misunderstands and misinterprets His Word! Don’t miss out on the joyful celebration that can be found in life because everything in the world was created for our enjoyment and benefit.

Through my personal relationship with God, I learned how imperative it is to love myself and to rid myself of the burdensome mental and emotional baggage that I acquired over the years while attending houses of worship, where scripture was not properly interpreted and/or articulated in love. I found out that I was not infected with the AIDS virus because God hated me or hated who I was. But that I had merely simply placed myself at risk as a result of a behavior that was not safe for me or anyone else -- something I feel was also the manifestation of personal self-hatred and self-rejection.

You should know that the immune system is constantly eavesdropping on our internal dialog (in others words, what we think). Noted physicians and psychologists who specialize in the field of psychoneuroimmunology strongly believe that the immune system is constantly responding to the pictures, sounds, feelings, smells, tastes, and the internal dialog that we hold in our mind. Unfortunately, if these are negative thoughts (no matter what the cause), they can adversely affect our immune system, and this places individuals who have a high degree of self-hatred at risk of more easily contracting the virus, whose body’s natural defense systems could have possibly protected them more adequately. Additionally, it places people already infected with the AIDS virus in greater jeopardy because their immune systems have already been compromised adversely by this life-threatening disease, putting them at greater risk of contracting other AIDS-related opportunistic infections.

Thus, we know that the AIDS virus is caused by infection with a virus called Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). And that this virus is passed from one person to another through blood-to-blood contact and UNPROTECTED SEX. In addition, infected pregnant women can pass HIV to their babies during pregnancy or delivery, as well as through breast- feeding. People with HIV have what is called HIV infection. Some, but not all of these people will develop AIDS as a result of their HIV infection.

Without a doubt, self-hatred could be viewed as the number one enemy to people battling this pandemic, because it further weakens the immune system, making infected persons more susceptible to diseases - and definitely AIDS (no pun intended) AND ABETS THE VIRUS! Since the unconscious mind (also known as the “body mind”) is the controlling intelligence in the body, it is also the connection between the mind and the immune system. One of the major theories of PNI (Psychoneuroimmunology) and hypnosis is that the unconscious mind can communicate with any part of the body at any time it so desires and can in this way stimulate the healing process. There is, in fact, profound substantial neurological evidence that supports this idea.

Every thought, every emotion, every desire, every internal representation you have is monitored, overheard and viewed. Your immune system is watching, listening, and feeling! It has been shown that grieving people often have grieving immune cells. If the grieving goes on for a prolonged period of time, then the immune system has also the self-talk of, “Leave me alone; I don’t want to be bothered.” Feelings of grief and self-hatred, according to noted physicians and psychologists, can cause people to be extremely susceptible to cancer and countless other infectious diseases. That is why it’s so important to understand that negative emotions that are trapped in the body are not conducive to health and why there is a need to release all of a person’s negative emotions within a healing process. It is imperative that individuals battling any life-threatening illness do all they can to eliminate all self-hatred from their lives so that they can regain wholeness and return to optimum health.

Tell yourself every day: “I came into the world divinely supplied. When I arrived on the planet, I brought with me wealth in the form of talents and mind powers. I am here to find my true place in life and to give my talents to the world. I am here to expand and unfold in a wonderful way, according to my God-given potential, and to bring forth spiritual, mental and material riches which will bless humanity in countless ways. That is why I affirm that God is flowing through me as health, peace, harmony and abundance.”

This affirmation, if said daily, will usher in SELF-CONFIDENCE, LOVE, SUCCESS and ABUNDANCE into your life in ways you never dreamed if you dare to affirm it out loud each day.

Click here to see my interview with Real Health Editor Kate Ferguson on why the black church must break the silence that contributes to HIV stigma.

Terry Angel Mason Named National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Spokesperson

The National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day Strategic Leadership Council has selected Internationally Acclaimed Author and Community Activist Bishop Terry Angel Mason to serve as a national spokesperson for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day held each year on February 7th. Bishop Mason has worked diligently to empower thousands of Black communities across the country to increase awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the importance of getting tested and/or seeking treatment. Because of his dedication and passion to mobilize African Americans to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, we are honored to have him serve as a one of our national spokespersons.

For more information on the National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, please visit NationalBlackAIDSDay.org.