By Peter J. Smith
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, August 6, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Rev. Tom Brock is a senior pastor at Hope Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis who recently became the center of a controversy after his personal struggles with same-sex attraction were made public. Earlier in June, an undercover journalist with the Minnesota-based homosexual publication “Lavender” infiltrated and exposed Brock's attendance at a local chapter of Courage, a Catholic-run, prayer-based support group for men struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions.
Brock, 57 years old and a virgin by his own admission, says that he has never engaged in homosexual behavior. A two-week investigation by his church, a member of the conservative Association of Free Lutheran Congregations, confirmed that no evidence exists to the contrary.
“Lavender” admitted they did the story to discredit Brock, who has been outspoken in his defense of traditional marriage and who has criticized the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for allowing individuals in active homosexual relationships to serve as clergy.
Brock returned to his pulpit at Hope Lutheran Church last Sunday for the first time since he was put on administrative leave while the church’s task force conducted its inquiry. He was welcomed back with a standing ovation.
Now in an interview with LifeSiteNews.com (LSN), Brock speaks about the public controversy, his ministry, his personal cross of same-sex attraction, his desire to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and the Bible’s teachings, and the forgiveness of one’s enemies. But most importantly, he tells LSN that his ordeal has strengthened his witness to the hope, healing, and forgiveness that all people can find in Christ.
The following is the transcript of that interview:
LSN: How many years have you been senior pastor at Hope Lutheran Church?
Brock: Twenty-one years. And I was seven years an associate pastor before that; so I’ve been at this church 28 years.
LSN: Have you always been a Christian?
Brock: I’ve been a Christian – Let’s put it this way, I think I was a Christian as a child, but it became real good when I was in college. I became much more committed in college.
LSN: What inspired you to follow Christ’s calling in the Lutheran Church?
Brock: Actually, I played around with becoming a Baptist pastor, but then I discovered some Lutheran churches that were as fired up as any Baptist church. I discovered you can be an Evangelical and a Lutheran at the same time, so I decided to stay.
LSN: Now you’ve said that you struggle with same-sex attraction, but that does not make one a homosexual? Can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Brock: I think the myth of our culture for the last 15 years or so has been that God makes you gay, you’re born gay, and even God won’t change that or can’t change that. And I do think that’s a myth – and I could be wrong on this, but I don’t think I am – my belief is that we are all born heterosexual, and that something early in life goes wrong.
A psychiatrist who’s worked with hundreds – if not thousands, I can’t remember what he said – but he said he’s never met one client who when he was a little boy had a close relationship with his father. Not that he couldn’t later in life. But of all the men that he’s treated for this, the big link is when they were real little, like two, three, or four years old, there was a breakdown with the same-sex parent.
Now that said, if indeed they ever find a ‘gay gene’ and it turns out to be genetic, it really still doesn’t change anything. If you believe in Original Sin, that we are all born sinners, and it all comes out in different ways in different lives, it really doesn’t change anything. There are people with criminal tendencies from birth, perhaps, but it doesn’t give them a right to rob a bank.
LSN: As a note, Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes for Health, did a lot of research with genes and cracking the human genome, but has also saidthat just because you have a gene for something, does not necessarily mean that you will end up a certain way.
Brock: Whether it’s nature or nurture – I believe it is a nurture thing – it really doesn’t ultimately matter. The Bible says you don’t do this, so I don’t.
LSN: What prompted you to seek out a group like Courage?
Brock: It’s a battle for me – still is a battle – this same sex attraction stuff. We all need our Christian brothers and sisters. As a pastor, I preach to my congregation that every Christian should have a prayer-partner that holds them accountable, prays for them in their struggles, etc. But that was my way of making myself accountable to the church.
LSN: How exactly would you describe the Courage meeting? Was it beneficial, what was your perspective?
Brock: [Laughter] Well, I would sit through the “Hail Marys”– which I didn’t totally agree with – but once the meeting got started, we would pray, we would counsel each other on purity, and basically talk about our lives. A lot of the meeting really did not have to do with this struggle per se, but it was people talking about where their lives are at this week, and their stresses, and that can sometimes be related to this struggle. But it was a confidentiality group, and across the country there are these Catholic groups called Courage, and there is also Exodus International. There are all kinds of groups for Evangelical Protestants and Catholics around the country.
LSN: So you believe that groups like these are beneficial to people dealing with same-sex attractions because it provides them with a sense of community and a prayerful support group?
Brock: Yep, that’s accurate.
LSN: So although you struggle with same-sex attraction, you’ve taken a very public stand against homosexual behavior and same-sex “marriage”?
LSN: Now your opponents would like to paint you as a hypocrite, but you see it differently?
Brock: Yes. I just got off the radio with a more liberal interviewer, and he raised that issue, “Well, aren’t you being a hypocrite.” And I said, “Well, wait a minute. I’ve publically taken a stand against gay ‘marriage’ and I do publically preach what the Bible teaches on this issue. Privately I struggle with it, but by the grace of God, I say no to it and I fight it. Where’s the hypocrisy?” That was my response.
I mean if I was having a gay boyfriend, and engaging in sex, that would be a whole different story. To a degree, we’re all hypocrites; nobody lives perfectly the way they should in every single moment. So I’m not saying that I don’t have my sins or my problems. But it is kinda like someone who has a problem with drinking, and they fight it, and they are sober for twenty years. Can’t they still say to other kids, “Please beware of alcohol”? I think they can.
LSN: What message do you think people should take away from this “controversy”– for lack of a better word – being in the news?
Brock: Well after this story broke, a guy from my Catholic support group called me, and he said, “The one thing that the homosexual community never hears from a conservative Christian is, ‘I have this struggle, you can have this struggle, say ‘no’ to it and still follow Jesus.” He thought that I would have now even more credibility to speak to that issue, that it would be kind of a new message now to come out of this.
LSN: So would you agree that this whole public spotlight has heightened your witness for Christ for other people?
Brock: That’s the way God is turning this. I’ll tell you what I think happened. Back in February, I was asked to speak against same-sex “marriage” at the state senate in Minnesota. I’m guessing on this, but I’m pretty sure this is what happened: I walked into the room, and here is a person that used to go to my group, who left it and was now living in the homosexual lifestyle. He was sitting there with his boyfriend. I was kind of thinking to myself, “Uh oh, do I still make my speech? Is he going to get up and scream? What’s going to happen?” And I thought, “Yep, I’m going to make my speech, and if I die, I die,” as it says in the book of Esther. I’m virtually certain - I can’t prove it - but I think he’s the guy who went to this magazine and said, “You know you can get him if you go here.”
LSN: So what are your own personal feelings toward this person and to the gay journalist who essentially tried to destroy you and your reputation?
Brock: I have forgiven them, and I did do that immediately. I mean this thing is horrible, and I know if I don’t forgive it will eat me up more. Plus, we’re commanded, that if you don’t forgive, God the Father won’t forgive you, said Jesus. So I think by the grace of God, on that one I did okay.
LSN: That is admirable. Forgiveness is something which a lot of Christians struggle with every day.
Brock: And I can too. For some reason, this thing has been such an ordeal, I have been thinking of so many other things than the people that did this, like, “How are we going to glorify God through this mess, etc.,” and other things, that I haven’t had a whole lot of time to think about these people. I do pray for them, because from my point of view they hold a view of homosexuality that is so awful. So I do pray for them, I have forgiven them, and I hope they come to Christ.
LSN: How has your church responded?
Brock: They’ve been absolutely wonderful. I just can’t tell you. I come from a very conservative church that virtually everybody believes that homosexual behavior is a sin. They’ve been so wonderful, they’ve just been so supportive. They gave me a standing ovation on Sunday when I spoke, so it’s been great.
LSN: Do you still attend Courage meetings or do you do something else?
Brock: For now, anyway, I’m not. I will still be a part of an accountability group and have my prayer partners, etc. That is my plan.
LSN: But overall, you found groups like that helpful to those individuals?
Brock: Absolutely. I think – again no matter what your sin is - every Christian has something they struggle with. Which is why I think every Christian needs a support group or at least a prayer partner.
LSN: What is the next step for your ministry?
Brock: Before this whole thing broke, I’ve been pastor there for 28 years, and I was thinking it’s probably time for a change. It was heavy in my mind before this thing broke, and then this thing happened. So everything’s been on hold. But we have a radio and TV show, and we now have enough money to expand the TV show nationally. So here is the plan – none of this is for sure yet, everything is being worked out – but the plan is for me to come back to my church, but not be the senior pastor, and to now direct my attention to expanding the radio and TV ministries. That’s the plan and we’ll see how that develops.
LSN: What’s the name of your radio and TV ministries?
Brock: It’s called “The Pastor’s Study.” We’re on local 980 AM. You can also just go to KKMS.com and do live-streaming on Saturday’s at 11 a.m. central standard time or Sunday’s at 3 a.m., central standard time. And then the TV show is on all the cable systems of the Twin Cities, but we’re not national yet.
LSN: Well, thank you Pastor Brock for this interview. That concludes my questions, but would you have any final thought or comment that you’d like to impart to our readers?
Brock: Well, you know, I’ll tell you. Two things to say: Everybody in this culture is starting to believe that there is nothing wrong with [homosexual behavior]. But 1 Corinthians 6: 9 – 11 says that if you persist in impenitent sin, you don’t go to heaven. So it’s rather huge that people know, yes this is wrong, and even your eternity could be at stake. But the second thing to say to people who struggle with this, “Look, I struggle with it too, but there is forgiveness with Christ, there is hope, there is healing, and even if you battle with it ‘til the day you die, as long as you’re trusting in Christ and following Him, there’s hope.”