Evangelist Jay Lowder of Wichita Falls makes waves by preaching acceptance of gays
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
WICHITA FALLS — Jay Lowder believes that no matter what, you should love and accept people. He calls the idea of loving the sinner and hating the sin hypocritical.
Lowder is an unlikely person to have those views. He is president and founder of Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries
Evangelistic Association based in Wichita Falls and is married with three children.
Lowder knows his views — recently featured on ABC News — are out of the mainstream of evangelicals.
“I take some heat for it, and I really don’t care,” he said.
When he was 18, he said he got a call from a friend.
“Hey, Jay, there’s something you need to know,” Lowder said the caller told him. “You’re sister’s gay.”
He said that news was devastating for someone raised as he was.
Soon after receiving the news, he was driving. He said he saw his sister headed in the other direction. He made a U-turn and caught up with her.
“Harsh words were spoken,” he said. “I told her she was selfish and I hated her.”
She told him it was her life, and their relationship was severed.
“I became a Christian at 21,” Lowder said. “The moment I became a Christian, I no longer hated her.”
But his acceptance of his sister wasn’t qualified by the “love the sinner” philosophy common among fellow evangelicals.
He told her he was a Christian, that he had never accepted Christ before and was sorry about the way he acted toward her. He admitted he had been judgmental and rude.
“I wanted to be close,” he said. “I loved her.”
Lowder said Jesus didn’t denigrate people. He said Jesus didn’t say to Mary Magdalene, “You’re a whore.”
“He made her heart the issue,” Lowder said.
In describing himself as an evangelist, he called it “the height of insanity” to be driving people away from Christ.
“The purpose of what I do is not to alienate people,” he said. “It’s to know and have a relationship with Christ.”
He still holds his convictions, he said, but there’s a way to approach people. People who cling to the “love the sinner, hate the sin” line use colloquialisms that sound spiritual, he said — but they use them to hate people.
But he said that Jesus taught, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” So rather than focus on other people’s sins, he said, religious people should focus on their own sins.
“Pull the speck out of your own eye before you pull it out of anyone else’s,” he said. “If I tell a lie to my wife, that’s a sin. Breaking a commandment is breaking a
He believes the commandments regarding homosexuality are no more or less important than any others. And he believes there’s a line between trying to rectify a situation and pointing fingers.
“I could go to a heroine addiction clinic and tell them not to do it,” he said. “But I’ve never struggled with it.”
He used the blunt analogy but then makes it clear he doesn’t think his sister has some sort of addiction. He just wants to make it clear that he’s not going to be judgmental.
He said that a Christian’s primary responsibility is to love other people.
“Don’t go around bragging about loving God if you don’t love other people,” he said.
Which brings him back to talking about his sister who lives in Dallas.
Last Thanksgiving, he said that she came to Wichita Falls for Thanksgiving, for the first time in at least 15 years. He said the family reunion was such a happy event that they begged her to come back to spend Christmas with them.
“My sister was back,” he said. “My dad was at the kitchen table, and that was the first time I saw him cry.”
Today, he only describes his sister in glowing terms.
“You won’t find a better person in the city of Dallas than my sister,” he said.
And he said their relationship remains close.
“If something happened to her, I’d be the first one she’d call,” he said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.