FamilyLife Today®

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

with Dennis Jernigan | March 28, 2011
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Can God truly change your life? Hear from someone who knows. Christian singer and songwriter Dennis Jernigan talks honestly about his past struggles with homosexuality. He reveals how he found deliverance from same-sex attraction when he submitted His life to God.

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  • Can God truly change your life? Hear from someone who knows. Christian singer and songwriter Dennis Jernigan talks honestly about his past struggles with homosexuality. He reveals how he found deliverance from same-sex attraction when he submitted His life to God.

Can God truly change your life?

Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

With Dennis Jernigan
March 28, 2011
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Bob:  Are you familiar with the term “besetting sin”?  That would be a sin pattern in somebody’s life that is repetitive and that has a strong hold on that person.  When Dennis Jernigan was a young man, his besetting sin was homosexuality, and Dennis says he found that the only way out for him was for people to be involved in his life – people who knew his “stuff,” people who could help him.

Dennis Jernigan:  I would say to anybody struggling with anything, “Don’t go through it alone.  There’s no need.  In fact, who wants us to be alone?  It’s the enemy of God.”

In my time, back in the day in the 1980’s before I was born again, the enemy had me living by myself and had me so afraid to talk to anybody else that I couldn’t get help if it was staring me in the face because he had me isolated.  If I’m the wolf, I’m going to go after that isolated sheep, and that’s exactly what the enemy does.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, March 28th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  Dennis Jernigan joins us today to talk about getting free from a besetting sin, and how we can help others who are ensnared in the sin of homosexuality. 

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.

I was just saying that we ought to have a sign out in front of our guest house for when you drive by.  Like McDonald’s has. . .

Dennis:  How many burgers they’ve served?

Bob:  Yes, “billions and billions served.”  This would be “how many songs Dennis Jernigan has written,” don’t you think?

Dennis:  I think so.  How many did you say you had written, Dennis?

Dennis Jernigan:  I have no idea.  It’s a couple. . .

Dennis:  A couple of thousand.

Dennis Jernigan:  . . . a couple of thousand - something like that.

Bob:  I think the last time you were here you told us that it was in the 2,500 range, but that’s been years ago.

Dennis Jernigan:  That’s probably right.  I don’t know.

Bob:  You’ve been busy since then, right?

Dennis Jernigan:  I’ve been busy!

Dennis:  You actually went on a forty day fast?

Dennis Jernigan:  Yes, I did.

Dennis:  And wrote a song a day?

Dennis Jernigan:  Yes, I actually came up with forty-two songs.  It was a song-a-day, though, and we have put those in a collection now.  God said he would give me a song a day if I would listen.

Dennis:  And what did you fast from?

Dennis Jernigan:  I just needed to reboot my life - mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically – every way possible.  It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done in my life.

Bob:  So, explain to folks (and this isn’t necessarily where we wanted to go) – what did those forty days look like?  How did you spend your time?

Dennis Jernigan:  Well, I got up every morning and the first thing I did was go and work out, believe it or not.  I did do some juice, but I tried to keep the calories under 600 per day.  Then I just spent time with the Lord.  I meditated on Psalm 40 and on Isaiah 40, just because of the significance of the number forty.  A friend of mine had written a book, actually, called Forty Days and Forty Nights, about his experience with a fast.  I just used that as a guide, actually.

Dennis:  Your number one take-away from those forty days was?

Dennis Jernigan:  I want to do it again!  I miss it.

Bob:  Because?

Dennis Jernigan:  Because I felt so refreshed, and it really did reboot my system like we reboot a computer.  I felt like I got to start over.

Dennis:  It does recalibrate, doesn’t it?

Dennis Jernigan:  It did, and it has changed my eating habits.  I didn’t realize how much I had allowed other things – outside influences – to control my life.  When you cut everything out, then you can realize, “Oh my goodness, I was giving that more credence than I should have.  Lord, what is it?  I want to hear from you.”

Dennis:  Well, those listeners who have heard Dennis Jernigan’s story know that it is a story – well, it’s a God story.  A story of great redemption and of great love, and of how God reached down and rescued you from a lifestyle. . .

Bob:  In fact, if folks haven’t heard your story, you were here before and we talked for four days about your story.  You can hear that online at, you can download the mp3 files and listen to them if you want to, or you can call and get a CD and kind of get brought up to speed on that.

Dennis:  Yes, and I’d encourage listeners to do that if they’ve never heard Dennis Jernigan’s full story of God’s redemption. 

You and your wife Melinda have been married since 1983.  You have nine children and you give leadership to your ministry.  You’ve written a new book called What Every Boy Should Know. . . What Every Man Wishes His Dad Had Told Him

But I thought, since most of our listeners haven’t heard your story, if you could just give them the Readers’ Digest version of what took place in your life going back to you being a young lad and then going away to a Christian school and having some things occur to you that seemed very unjust and unfair.

Dennis Jernigan:  Sure.  When I was about five years old, I was already by that time struggling with homosexual thoughts.  It was really reinforced in my life.  In one particular instance when I was five, I was in a public restroom and a man exposed himself to me and tried to get me to do things that should never be done to a little boy.

I did the right thing in that moment – I ran.  But right in that moment, the enemy got his foot in the door of my heart, because I began to think, “What’s wrong with me?  Why would somebody do that to me?  Something is wrong with me.”

So right there the enemy had me trapped in that world of same-sex attraction.  I carried that all the way through high school.  Now this is the short version - I struggled with my identity and found out very quickly that if I performed for people’s acceptance on the outside, then they wouldn’t ask too many questions about what the reality was on the inside. 

I was great at sports, I was great scholastically.  I excelled at music.  I went to a Christian university.  While there, during my senior year, I finally had someone begin to invest their life in my life.  Yet you have to understand that I felt like a worthless worm of a person, so how would anyone even care that I exist?

Dennis:  In fact, during that experience at that Christian university, you actually went to a professor?

Dennis Jernigan:  Yes. 

Dennis:  You tried to come clean from what had you in its grips?

Dennis Jernigan:  Yes, I said, “Before I tell you this, I need to know you’re going to love me.”  He said, “I’ve heard it all before and I’m going to love you no matter what it is.” 

So I told him and it felt like the weight of the world lifted off of my shoulders.  Now, that feeling lasted just a few moments, because this one whom I considered a mentor made a sexual advance on me. 

That’s the night I actually gave up and just went to my apartment and turned on my gas stove.  I did not light the flame, I just decided, “I can’t do this anymore.”  I had played all the games and nothing worked.   I couldn’t fix myself.

I got so scared, though.  These little thoughts came in my mind like, “Are you prepared for eternity?” and “Are you prepared for what waits for you out there?”  I couldn’t answer that question.  It scared me so much that I turned off the gas and I just declared to my own soul, “This is just the way I was born.  This is just the way I am.  Instead of fighting it, I’m going to embrace it.”

So, I lived the rest of my senior year in that mindset.

Bob:  It was at a concert a few years after that God did a work of redemption and deliverance in your life?

Dennis Jernigan:  Very much so.  I graduated from college living that life.  I got so fed up living that life that I said, “I’ll go on to seminary.  I’ve already tried suicide, I might as well try seminary.”


And three days before I was to go to seminary, a friend of mine called and said, “The Lord’s been speaking to me about you, and the Lord has given you music.  People all over the world are singing your songs.”  He said, “My mom and I had the same dream.  We want to know if you’ll move to Oklahoma City and live with us.”

So, I’m living in Oklahoma City three days later rather than going to seminary!  During the fall of 1981, I went to a concert at the University of Oklahoma by a band called 2nd Chapter of Acts and during that concert, Annie Herring began to prophesy, saying “there’s someone here tonight who has gone through things you never thought you’d have to go through in your life.  You have hidden things in your heart that you would be devastated if you thought anyone knew about.  Well, God wants me to tell you that He sees it and He loves you anyway.  So, we’re going to sing over you, and while we do, you get honest with the Lord.  Make it like Christmas.  You give that thing to the Lord.”

It seemed like such a lame Christmas gift to me, but I got the concept.  She said, “On Christmas, you don’t just give things away.  You receive gifts in return.  What do you need in return?”  I just needed to know that the Lord loved me right where I was. 

That night, I walked out with a brand new identity and didn’t look back.  So, within a two year period He gave me a wife.  And here I sit with you today getting to tell my amazing story.  I love to tell my story!

Dennis:  You serve on the Board of Directors of Exodus International, which is a ministry, really, to anyone who wants to come out of a homosexual lifestyle.  You said earlier that there are more than 400,000 calls a year coming to this ministry of folks crying out for help.

Dennis Jernigan:  Yes, folks crying out for help, family members crying out for help, just relatives and friends wanting to know how to minister; but, by and large, it’s men and women who are struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction.

Dennis:  And I’ve heard you say, Dennis, that you believe that the church really is the key to providing hope and help to those enslaved in same-sex attraction.

Dennis Jernigan:  Very much so.  I believe the church should be the first place people turn because they feel that love and acceptance.  In my personal struggles, during that same period of time at that “2nd Chapter of Acts” period of time in my life, a friend found out what I was struggling with and confronted me.  He said this, “Dennis, I don’t know how to help you; I just know that I know the answer.”  That intrigued me.  I said, “You know the answer?”  He said, “Yes.  It’s Jesus.”

Well, my heart sunk.  I thought, “I’ve heard that my whole life and it has not worked.”  He said, “Oh, no, here’s what I mean.  Jesus is the answer, and I’m going to walk toward Jesus with you.  Let’s go hand-in-hand toward Jesus and seek Him with all our hearts together.  I don’t know how to help you; I just know He’s the answer, so if you fall down, I’m not going to kick you.  I’m going to help you back up.”

Dennis:  You actually had two men who contacted you this year who needed the same thing you needed.

Dennis Jernigan:  Exactly, yes.

Dennis:  They needed to know the love of Christ.

Dennis Jernigan:  Very much so.  In fact, I receive hundreds of letters from guys like this, but these two guys in particular didn’t grow up in the church and didn’t have a concept of homosexual behavior even being considered sinful.  I just patiently heard their arguments and told them, “You know what?  We don’t have to agree.  I’m going to love you no matter what, so you can tell me whatever. . .”

Through the process both were born again and both followed Jesus and stepped out of that lifestyle.  One in particular had lived with a particular relationship for thirteen years and walked out.

Bob:  Wow.

Dennis Jernigan:  Yeah.  So, if we just lay down our lives like Jesus did, and that’s what the church should be doing, as in Luke 4:18:  “We’ve come to set the captive free; to proclaim good news; to minister to those who are poor in spirit.”  Luke 4:18, in a sense, has become my life verse, and I think it’s the church’s call.

Dennis:  Yes, and I’m glad you quoted that, because I was reading in Isaiah the other morning about how He’s given us this message to proclaim to those who are enslaved, who are in prison, that there is redemption and hope.

One of the things I count it a privilege to do here on this broadcast, and I know Bob feels the same way, is to come to listeners and talk about a sensitive subject that is, in the political correct way of thinking, off-limits for Christians to be able to talk about as being wrong and that it’s sinful but to talk about it in a way that doesn’t condemn the person, but invites the person to find another Person, Jesus Christ, and His love, His forgiveness, His hope.

Dennis Jernigan:  That’s right.

And, really, if there is a message today for the church, it is that we really are the arms of love of God to reach out to the homosexual community and offer that way of escape, that way out of imprisonment. 

Bob:  But you know, because you’ve had enough interaction with folks, that there are guys listening to us right now, and maybe women listening to us right now, who have been involved in homosexual relationships and they hear you say, “If you’re looking for freedom, Jesus is the Way.  Come, let’s walk toward Jesus,” and they say, “I’ve tried walking toward Jesus.  I can’t get free from this thing.  It’s so deep in my soul even when I think I want to, it’s got a hold on me.  Like you did, I’ve resigned myself to just thinking this is the way I am and that I need to adjust to that.”

“Walk toward Jesus” just sounds like such a cliché answer.  What do you mean by that?

Dennis Jernigan:  Sure, sure.  Again, that brings the body back into play because the hand needs the arm, the arm needs the shoulder, and the shoulder needs the rest of the body.  We have need to be in relationship.  It was relational.  My freedom was all relational.

First and foremost, my relationship with Jesus Christ: that intimate, born-again, new creation relationship.  But then, I had someone to walk there with me, so when the temptations came, I didn’t have to go through them alone.  All of the sudden, in seeking first the kingdom of God, I seek first the King.  I needed somebody to help me do that; somebody who can see the blind spots I can’t see.

I would say to anybody struggling with anything, “Don’t go through it alone.  There’s no need.”  In fact, who wants us to be alone?  It’s the enemy of God.

In my time, back in the day in the 1980’s before I was born again, the enemy had me living by myself and had me so afraid to talk to anybody else that I couldn’t get help if it was staring me in the face because he had me isolated.  If I’m the wolf, I’m going to go after that isolated sheep, and that’s exactly what the enemy does.

So, if I’m trying to overcome something, whether it’s homosexuality or drug addiction or whatever, I don’t want to do that alone.  I can’t.  We need the body (of Christ).

Dennis:  It’s one of the reasons why, as followers of Christ, those of us who have the Living Hope within us, we need to be careful that we don’t make fun of those who are homosexual or make jokes because you never know who is listening.

Dennis Jernigan:  Well, when I was a ten year-old boy, I was already the church pianist.  I already knew that was my struggle.  I heard the men who taught me about God one Sunday morning after Sunday School—I’ll never forget it; I was ten years old, and here were the men who painted the image of God in my mind, talking about homosexuals.  They were talking about me even though they didn’t know they were. 

When they described what they thought of somebody like me, that’s the first time I remember feeling hopeless.  We never want to leave people feeling hopeless.  We want to leave them realizing there is hope and His name is Jesus, and that we can help them get there.

The other side of that coin is that most believers think it’s somebody else’s job.  We’re all called to be ministers of reconciliation.  Life gets messy.  We’ve got to be willing to get involved in the messiness of life – walking through the trials – realizing, “You know what?  I might fall down, but this person’s going to help me up, so I’m not going to get tripped up so much.  I’ve got someone who’s ‘got my back’.”

Dennis:  One of my favorite moments in all of the broadcasting of FamilyLife Today that we’ve done since 1992 occurred when I was sitting here looking at you the first time we  interviewed you, and you were telling this story and you were telling the story of how you had gotten married to Melinda. 

I believe, if I remember correctly, that you had not told her of your past. . .

Dennis Jernigan:  No, I had not.

Dennis:  . . . and it was like, what, four or five years?

Dennis Jernigan:  Five years.

Dennis:  Five years into the marriage when you told her.  I was looking over your shoulder, and the look on her face was classic.  In fact, we invited her to come in and have her share the story of how she received the information that you shared with her about your homosexual experience as a young lad growing up. I think we ought to play just a clip from that interview.

(Music; transition to audio from broadcast archive)

Dennis:  I think I’ve only done this one other time in more than a dozen years in broadcasting but, Melinda, I’m going to ask you to come into the studio.  I’m going to ask you to sit where your husband is seated.

Melinda, I want you to tell us what you were thinking and how you felt when he confessed that to you.

Melinda:  I have to get my tears off of my face, excuse me.

Leading up to that, we were really close.  I mean, we had three children. . .

Dennis:  A good relationship?

Melinda:  Yes.

Bob:  But you did think, “There’s something there”?

Melinda:  It was like a piece of paper between us.  It was really thin and you could still feel through it, but it was always there.  When he told me, I was like, “Oh!” 

BIG relief.  OK, so. . .

Dennis:  You had relief?

Melinda:  I was hugely relieved.  I thought it was going to be something way big.  That was like, “OK.  Now I can unload my sin, and we can move on.” 

Dennis:  What would be a “big” sin? 

Melinda:  Well, I don’t know.  Maybe like he was going to die or something or like he had killed somebody or something.  I mean, I had no idea.

Bob:  But you understand that people hear you talk about this, and your husband has just confessed to years of homosexual acting out, even at the time he was dating you in college. . .

Melinda:  Well, yes, but I fooled around and messed with guys; I was just as bad.  I am a sinner.  It was no different.  God doesn’t qualify my sins.

Bob:  Did you ever, from that time, pull back and think. . .

Melinda:  No, never.

Dennis:  He didn’t even finish his question.

Melinda:  No, I never pulled back.  I never pulled back from Dennis.  If anything, I went closer to him.

Bob:  Didn’t your imagination start to go wild with what his life had been like?

Melinda:  Never.

Dennis:  Why?

Melinda:  Well, for one, I was confident in his love for me.  He had expressed it and he had never given me any reason to not trust him.  And another, I understood who I was in Christ at that point, and my identity didn’t depend on who he was.  It depended on Who Christ was in me. 

So I was confident in my relationship with the Lord and that my ability to love him wasn’t determined by how I was treated.  It was how I felt love from the Lord.  It was easy for me to love him in return because I was his bride.  He made me feel valued and he made me feel beautiful.  He made me feel so special.

What woman wouldn’t love that?  How could I not love a man that valued me and treasured me above anything else?

(Music, transition to current broadcast)

Dennis:  As I watched her face tell that story and laughed as I heard her say, “It wasn’t much of anything.  I was afraid he was going to tell me he murdered somebody or something” . . .


. . . I thought, “That is a picture of what marriage ought to be:  two broken people loving each other with the love of Christ.”

Right now, we’re talking to tens of thousands of people from one edge of the continent to the other who are in marriages where they have issues.  It may not be homosexuality; it may be drugs, alcohol, infidelity, etc.

But what God used in your life was the love of a mentor who loved you with the love of Christ, but He also used your wife, who loved you with that same love within the bond and covenant of marriage, to help you come totally clean from that, even five years into your marriage relationship.

Dennis Jernigan:  Very much so.  In fact, we thought we were very intimate before, but the veil was ripped away in that moment.  I had let the enemy deceive me for far too long.  God’s Word says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord” . . . keep quiet and hope everyone knows they’re redeemed?


No, it says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”

I thought, “Why am I hiding?  I’m redeemed.  What does it matter what I’m redeemed from?”  In fact, if I don’t tell what I’ve been redeemed from, how are those in the same bondage going to know there’s hope? 

Melinda is my biggest champion.  She’s just my biggest champion.  It’s like I sometimes want her to tell me, “Do something wrong.”  Because it’s like everything I do is the most amazing thing she’s ever seen.  I love that!  She makes me feel like I can fly to the moon.  It’s the truth.

Dennis:  Well, I know we’re talking to some people right now who may be those same arms of love that Melinda was to you.  My encouragement to you is:  Go to the throne of grace, where you’ve received that same mercy and grace and forgiveness, and ask God to enable you and empower you to be able to be those arms that extend that same love to your spouse regardless.

Dennis Jernigan:  That’s good.

Dennis:  Because I know, every marriage – every marriage – and I’m not a fatalist, but I’m going to tell you that the older I get, I realize we’re all broken!  We’re all broken!

Dennis Jernigan:  That’s right.

Dennis:  Some people more visibly broken than others, because their sin is out front, they’ve been caught.  They’ve shared it in public.  But there are others who are coming clean privately, and they need to know that their spouse will stand with them.

Dennis Jernigan:  That’s right.

Bob:  Yes.  And, again, I would encourage listeners, if they didn’t hear the interview that we did with Dennis many months ago, we’ve got a link to that on our website at and you can download the mp3 file or you can stream it online if you like.  You ought to listen to that.  You’ll get a chance to hear his wife and we’ve got some songs thrown in.  It really is, I think, very compelling listening for folks.

So, go to and download the mp3 files of our previous interview with Dennis, and you’ll also find information there about the book that Dennis has written called What Every Boy Should Know. . . What Every Man Wishes His Dad Had Told Him.  It’s a collection of essays, or a devotional for guys, to help us with understanding our identity in Christ and what it means to be loved by our heavenly Father.  How we can be, first of all, children of the Father, and how we can be fathers to our sons.

There’s information on our website about Dennis Jernigan’s book, What Every Boy Should Know. . . What Every Man Wishes His Dad Had Told Him.  You can go online at for more information or you can call us toll-free at 1-800-FL-TODAY.  1-800-358-6329; that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word TODAY.  When you get in touch with us, we’ll let you know how you can get a copy of Dennis Jernigan’s new book.

Now this week, we want to talk to those of you who are regular listeners to FamilyLife Today.  You’ve listened for awhile and you understand what the ministry’s all about.  You have found this program to be helpful.  Maybe you’ve ordered resources from us or been to one of our events, or gone online at; maybe downloaded the new FamilyLife Today app for your iPhone.

Here’s what we want to talk to you about:  This week, we are hoping to rally many of our FamilyLife Today listeners to consider becoming Legacy Partners.  A Legacy Partner is somebody who, on a monthly basis, provides support for this ministry.  You help provide the financial foundation for FamilyLife Today to continue on our network of stations all across the country and keep our website up and running.

Frankly, we could not do what we do without our Legacy Partners being involved.  So, if you’ve been a regular listener for awhile – maybe you’ve made an occasional donation – can we ask you to consider being one of the 1,200 new Legacy Partners we are hoping to recruit this week?

You can go online to for more information about becoming a Legacy Partner.  When you do, we’ll be in touch with you and provide resources to you throughout the year as you continue to provide financial support for the ministry.  It really is a way to stay connected to all that God is doing through the ministry of FamilyLife Today. 

So if you would consider that, again go to for more information, or just call 1-800-FLTODAY and say, “I would like to find out more about becoming a Legacy Partner.”  Someone on our team can tell you how that works.

Let me just say, “Thanks” in advance for considering it.  We hope to hear from you.  Hope to have you on the team real soon.

And we hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to continue our conversation with Dennis Jernigan about how we can reach out to those who are struggling with besetting sins in their life.  I hope you can tune in for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

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Episodes in this Series

Homosexuality Day 2
Going to Battle
with Dennis Jernigan March 29, 2011
There's no time to rest when you're in the middle of a battle.
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