Cathedral of Hope’s Jo Hudson Responds to Robert Jeffress Article

Jo Hudson is the senior pastor of the Cathedral of Hope, which serves a predominantly LGBT congregation and is generally credited with being the world’s largest such church. Hudson read our profile of First Baptist Dallas’ Robert Jeffress, and, as you might imagine, she wasn’t thrilled. She writes:

Unlike your writer, I don’t want to hate Robert Jeffress. On the contrary, I realize that his arrival at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, has ushered in a revival. A person who leads a church like that can’t be all bad.

The revival of any Christian church is a good thing. It means that people are hearing the Christian message and being transformed by the love of God. Overall, the recent developments at First Baptist Church of Dallas would appear to be great news for the greater body of Christ in the Dallas area.

But then, the writer quotes the words of Dr. Jeffress from the sermon he delivered “Gay is not OK:”

“What they (homosexuals) do is filthy. It is so degrading that it is beyond description. And it is their filthy behavior that explains why they are so much more prone to disease.” Dr. Jeffress went on to suggest that members of the LGBTQ community are destined for hell.

I’m reminded of the quote by the writer Anne Lamott: “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

How can a minister of the Good News of Jesus Christ who clearly is enjoying success through loving his neighbor as himself condemn a group of people who happen to love people of the same gender? How is this not a violation of Jesus’ commandment to love our neighbors, including our gay neighbors?

And what about the logic of Dr. Jeffress when he claims that he is saying these things “out of love”? As I read scripture and try to be a faithful Christian following in the way of Jesus, I cannot understand how calling someone or some group “filthy” is an act of love. By what definition of love is Dr. Jeffress operating?

Dr. Jeffress is a smart, well-educated man. Surely he is a better Biblical scholar than he is letting on. (Although someone who hasn’t “grown in wisdom and in stature” since he was five-years-old may not be). He knows that the Levitical Code is a vast set of ancient laws that no one today actually adheres to (eating shellfish? Wearing clothing of mixed fibers?) and that to lift one or two verses from that code is the height of proof-texting.

He knows that none of the four Gospels, which tell the story of Jesus and relate his teachings, even mention homosexuality. He also knows that the letters of Paul, found in the New Testament, do not condemn a whole people who happen to be same-gender-loving people, but actually condemns a very particular abusive behavior that was prevalent during the time of Paul’s ministry.

I serve a church filled with people who understand the true pain of verbal abuse and marginalization by people like Dr. Jeffress; they–we–understand the emotional and spiritual pain these kinds of actions cause. Dr. Jeffress clearly lacks the first-hand knowledge of some of his Christian neighbors and is speaking from a position of fear and insecurity. He clearly doesn’t know his loving neighbors at Cathedral of Hope, a congregation of the United Church of Christ.

We aim to correct that.

Consequently, we are committed to being people who try our best to offer to those whom God brings to our church extravagant grace, radical inclusion and relentless compassion. In that spirit, I extend an invitation to Dr. Jeffress to join us for a worship service at our church, Cathedral of Hope of the United Church of Christ. Since it seems to me that it is difficult to condemn what you do not know, I hope Dr. Jeffress will accept our congregation’s offer. Not only will he receive a warm welcome, but he might also discover a congregation that loves in spite of the hate that has been poured out upon them.

The congregation of Cathedral of Hope (UCC) cordially invites ALL other members of First Baptist Church of Dallas to worship with us. We issue this invitation in the spirit and definition of love that the Apostle Paul offers to us when he writes:

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, NRSV)

So, Dr. Jeffress and all our friends-to-be-made at First Baptist Church of Dallas, let us honor God through our shared worship.

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson
Senior Pastor

38 comments on “Cathedral of Hope’s Jo Hudson Responds to Robert Jeffress Article

  1. Well done, Rev. Hudson. I applaud your honest questioning and compassionate understanding. If only more people could learn to be so aware of the root of the problem, maybe then we’d all be able to get along a little better.

  2. Dr Jeffress,
    I am so proud of our church and our Senior Pastor, Rev, Dr. Jo Hudson.
    I also, would like to invite you to come to our church and feel the showering gift of God’s amazing grace.
    God will be there. He always is. Hope you will join us.

    Leslie Frye

  3. Way to say it, Rev. Dr. Hudson. God is love, not hate or intolerance. That’s the other guy.

  4. “We aim to correct that”…seems a little smug…isn’t the Rev.Jeffress “aiming to correct” something that some of the Rev.Hudson’s congregation partake in, also? Rev.Hudson seems a wee bit “boastful” and I believe Paul had something to say about that, too.

  5. I think we should also extend an invitation for AIDS/STD testing to First Babtist Church Dallas, simply based on statistics alone, of course.

    I am straight however I attended COH a couple of weeks ago for the first time. I have to say it was so clear that the spirit of Christ was among the congregation. The words of Matthew 18:20 “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” rang so true for me that day. There was no horse and pony show, no fancy videos or light production. It was straight up church, no gimmicks, no smoke and mirrors. I have never felt so revived, so welcomed, and so loved. I was almost in tears when Rev. Dr. Hudson commanded to the church that NOONE was to leave without a friendly handshake, smile, or hug….and WOW!! did the congregation take those words to action. I couldnt hold the tears back anymore!! I felt a part of something more than just Sunday church service. I felt rejoiced and filled with HOPE!

    I do disagree with one thing Rev. Dr. Hudson wrote. I’m sure Dr. Jeffress has an abundance of knowlege, well versed and studied. However, a smart man, a wise man, actually puts to action the knowledge he obtains and will practice what he knows to be the truth. I dont believe Dr. Jeffress is an inteligent man, not by the message of hate that he spreads. This is black and white, Jesus was not sent here to Earth to simply die, he was sent here to show us how to live. How to live in Jesus’ consiousness, the true example. Something Dr. Jeffress is all to well versed in yet to ignorant to live by.

    HOORAY to Rev. DR. Hudson and her congregation!!!

    It is also my understanding that FBD has a mega complex project going on. I wonder if in all that construction and reviving there are plans to spread a message of peace.
    I love Cathedral of Hopes newest addition the Interfaith PEACE Chapel. What a work of art and committed devotion to Hope and Peace the members of CoH put out into their community and the world.

    Finally I would like to extend an invitation to D Magazine to do an article on CoH and actually put something positive out there. CoH needs more recognition for all the great things they do for the Dallas community!!

    Cant wait to move to Dallas and be a part of it!

    -Carter

  6. Very well spoken Dr. Hudson,

    But I feel I must point out one thing I feel you have misunderstood. As I read Dr. Jeffress’s comments, he did NOT say that homosexuals were filthy, but only what they DID. I think he is far from wanting to “pour out hate upon them.” On the contrary, he said he encourages his congregation to love them whole-heartily and not to turn their backs on them.

    I am not trying to endorse his belief or yours, I just felt it needed to be known the difference in judging a person and a person’s actions. I feel Dr. Jeffress is not judging the individual, but the act.

    that is all,

  7. I know what it feels like to experience discrimination because of my sexual orientation. Growing into a self-assured, confident, gay man has been a defining accomplishment in my life. I feel that my passion and drive are directly related to rising above suppressive beliefs and injustices in our society. Through my journey of self-acceptance and reconciliation I feel a transformation occurred in my life by the distinct human ability of transforming my personal sufferings into empathy, understanding, compassion and LOVE. I believe that our society can encounter the same transformation by collectively turning our suffering into LOVE. I am so proud to be able to stand in my truth of being a gay Christian and know that nothing can separate me from the love of God, not even sexual orientation. Thank you Rev. Dr. Hudson for all of the blessings you bring to the Cathedral of Hope. LOVE NEVER FAILS!

  8. The publishers of this magazine must feel very proud to promote homophobia by attempting to make a hero out of a closeted tool.

  9. As one noted philosopher opined, “If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!”

  10. What a great example of the Christ-like value of “love your neighbor”! I hope Dr. Jeffress will take Dr. Hudson up on her invitation. Sadly, I doubt he will take the opportunity to really get to know the neighbors he regularly condemns.

  11. Rev. Jo Hudson’s article and invitation are terrific. But, I do have a bone to pick. “The revival of any Christian church is a good thing.” Really? Would that include Westboro Baptist Church? The “revivalism” of Catholicism in Spain at the time of the Inquisition? And, only Christian, or any religious revival? That in Iran under Chomeini? A revival that leads toward hateful attempts to deny others their dignity and limit their legal rights is not a “good thing” for either its victims or its perpetrators.

  12. Define Irony: People who extol the virtue of tolerance for some such as Homosexuals, Muslims etc; Yet engage in the worst Anti-Christian bigotry ever.

  13. Many of Jeffress’ ilk adopt the adage “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Except it’s impossible to fully love someone if you hate a significant, intrinsic part of him or her. That’s the fallacy here; there is always a qualification to what is supposed to be unconditional love, especially among family members. God’s love transcends all human failings, even our inability to accept one another.

    Some say homosexuality is a predisposition to sin to be overcome, like alcoholism or other addictions. But I ask how so many gays who knew they were “different” at a very young age could be expected to endure the ostracism of the self-righteous when they are not yet fully grown and able to understand the world and the negativity it indiscriminately associates with a part of them? Are we to believe a loving God brings children into the world to be hated?

    Why cannot we love all people for who they are? Why is it acceptable to hate? And why do we follow those who preach a Gospel that denies salvation to those who are merely different?

  14. Thank you for your intelligent and passionate response to this article Rev. Dr. Hudson!! I am so proud to be a member of the Cathedral of Hope!

  15. At the end of my life, I believe what will matter most, is how I loved God’s people, the needs I met, the difference I made in the world. Dr. Hudson’s comments reflected my belief.

    I have not worshipped at the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, but I have attended services at FBC, Dallas. I look forward to attending Dr. Hudson’s church very soon.

  16. As a graduate of Bob Jones University (one of the largest Fundamentalist universities in the world), I am continually amazed at the true spirit of Christ that comes from the more liberally minded churches than from the Evangelical ones. I applaud Rev. Hudson’s invitation. If more people tried to open the lines of discourse with other viewpoints, we would see more of Christ. Just imagine if Jesus refused to talk with the Samaritan woman or the thief on the cross next to him. This lack of adult-like, loving interaction results in bitter attacks and leads people away from Christ instead of toward Him.

  17. Rev. Dr Hudson,

    Thanks for such a wonderful response. I’m so glad that you have chosen to respond to this issue in a loving Christ like way.

    I too recently attended Cathedral of Hope. I found myself uplifted, and felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. I hope Pastor Jeffress will accept the invitation. So that he too can experience the atmosphere of love, acceptance, and spirit of Hope.

    Blessings! Keep it coming Dr Jo!

    Andy Burdge

  18. I grew up as a Southern Baptist and graduated from one of their colleges. I drove over 400 miles to attend a service at COH with a gay relative who had turned against God because of the teachings of his Baptist church. God was so present in that service that we both became emotional when the first hymn started. It was a regular, routine service for them but a life-changing, “revival” experience for us. My gay relative absorbed God’s unconditional love for him and resurrected his faith. I challenge any one who doubts to attend a service at COH . You can’t deny what you experience!

  19. People like this are the very reason I no longer say I am a Southern Baptist. I prefer the title Christian. what would Jesus do is a mantra that all would do well to adopt. I have many gay friends and they The Lord as I do. I defer to God to judge us all. Me included.

  20. And we wonder why less people attend Church & giving is down?  How about in a world where every person around us is feeling some sort of distress, we work to lift each other up as a “Christian” instead of attack & defend.  There’s not one of us better than another nor more informed or educated.  Life is open to interpretation as is the Bible.  There are no authorities! Just food for thought..if you are going to use Bible verses why not make it your mission to use the ones of hope, love, peace & joy.  A stump speech that might empower people to a revolution instead of a revival of a broken religion might be..I’m for all people & do unto others.  Maybe quit asking God in prayer for what you want but pray for a vision of how you can help someone else today.  Lead by example.  In my opinion the “invitation” issued (if not politically motivated) and accepted (also, if not politically motivated), are signs of Leadership.  Let’s all go make someone else’s day instead of figuring out how to tear them down.  Peace

  21. Being a lesbian wholly in love with a beautiful woman, sharing life and love, and all that comes with it, I am most appalled by the ‘Christian’ judgement and belief of “love the sinner. hate the sin.”
    Having done what the world told me I should for the first 38 years of my life (I am now 50), that being all that leads to living in a marriage with a man, (whom I loved dearly, but could never be “wholly in love” to my heart no matter how much I prayed or willed it to be), I can tell you that it is only for the blessing of our 2 wonderful kids that came from that union, that I feel good about it.
    For a gay/lesbian to live a life, and share our bodies with those of the opposite sex, which society tells us is “right” and “without sin”, it is an act more “sinful”, more “filthy”, and more “degrading” (although I would not have chosen those harsh words) and is in and of itself more “sin” to “hate” than any wonderful minute of lovemaking with one for whom we are truly, physically and spiritually, meant to make love and share our lives and spirits with, one of the same gender.
    “Love the Sinner. Hate the Sin”? A statement used to proclaim an embrace, feign a encompassing sort of acceptance and Christian “love”? – when it’s pious boastfullness and lack of humility, respect, or true understanding defiles the very core of what “love” truly is – it doesn’t get much more “filthy” than that.

  22. Dr. Jefferies,

    Who will provide the grand design of what is yours and what is mine?

    For there is now more new frontier, we HAVE GOT TO make it here!

    We satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds; in the name of destiny and in the name of GOD.

    And you can see them there, on Sunday morning.stand up and sing about, how and what its like up there. They call it paradise. I don’t know why: you would call some place paradise…then kiss it good bye!

    The eagles
    This is my response to Dr. Jefferies and the “Christian” based Republican Party that go to church every Sunday and then act like their a member of the KKK all week long for the whole world to see…SO SAD! FOR “GODS” SAKE…STOP IT!!!!

  23. Thank you Rev. Hudson (Jo) Im so bleesed to have you as my pastor and call COH my home. Your response was a true reflection of radical grace…beautiful!

  24. “Love the sinner and hate the sin” is at best a reflection of ignorance. At worst, it is a disingenuous lie. It is an expression of conditional love, which as most people know, is not really love at all. Jesus loved every one of us, as is, with all faults. He also knew what was, and what was not, a fault. He faulted adultery, but said nothing AT ALL about homosexuality. If we accept the gospel as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, then the matter should be settled. I’m pretty sure Jesus did not leave anything out during his earthly ministry. His silence on homosexuality means that it is an issue neither with Him nor with God. Period. Based on that, the gay-bashers in the church need to follow Jesus’ example, and remain silent on the issue of homosexuality.

  25. As a member of the United Methodist Church I hope Dr. Husdon’s remarks will cause all of us to truly live our motto, “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors,” so that we too can show the ” extravagant grace, radical inclusion and relentless compassion” found at Cathederal of Hope. The two greatest things a Christian can experience are grace and mercy.

  26. Thank you Pastor Jo, I have been wanting to comment on him, or read someone else commenting on him and a few other DFW Church leaders for some time.

    Thank you!

  27. Way to go, Jo! You do all of us UCC’ers — as well as all who profess and practice the love of Jesus the Christ — very proud.
    Thank you!

  28. Dear Jo,
    Thank you so much for pointing out that Jesus came with a message of Love not of hate or seclusion. I will continue to spread that message here at home in New Orleans, LA and look forward to being back with you all at CoH soon.

  29. So explain to me why one cannot love the man, woman, child, yet not love the behavior? We do this with our children in the process of teaching them right from wrong. Dr. Jeffress never said he hated any person, and I think Jo Hudson would do well to reread Dr. Jeffress’ words to confirm this. Some of her statements to this effect are simply transference and logical “so it follows that…” rather than what Dr. Jeffress actually said. I have personally attended FBCD and have found that God and His Love are in the house! I am certain, and will confirm for myself that He and His Love are also in the CoH, because He has promised that where two or more are gathered in His name, He will be there. I do hope that differences in behavior and lifestyle will not continue to separate the Body of Christ, because God has created it to be a whole, functioning mechanism to change the world.

  30. I’m Christian and do believe practicing homosexual acts as in sex is a sin. Having same sex attractions isn’t a sin; it’s only when you give in to that. The Bible does say that we were sanctified with Jesus from homosexual acts, but it also says to love each other as ourselves. Espeically in America I think that we don’t give enough love with the truth we need to have both in a balance. God is love and he has a way for us and all things that come from Him is goodness. We as Christians need to love people who deal with same sex attraction and not push them away or else they will just go to the homosexual community. Livehope.org is also a great ministry for anyone with this. It really is good :D