Phil Donahue Show
By Joanne Highley
Published January 1986
The next morning, December 9, was the DONAHUE show on NBC right here in little old New York, and did the Lord go before us! So many had been praying that those on the show, Sy Rogers, Colin Cook, Frank Worthen, and Joanne Highley would be allowed to give solid answers to questions from the audience and not be harassed by Phil Donahue’s usual tactics. Again, it was more than we had asked for, as Donahue seemed confounded by the simplicity and honesty of the remarks by the panel. Overall we were able to say that anyone can be free from homosexuality if one wants to be; the strong implication being that it is not natural or desirable. Donahue had trouble with that, saying as strongly as he could that making it a sin made life much harder for homosexuals. The producers came up to the panel during the commercial breaks, volunteering the information that most calls coming in were from ex-gays… they were screening them for balance, however, so that some comment from both sides was provided. The audience seemed on our side, too… there were moments when you might think you had tuned in the PTL Club! Afterward, Phil Donahue came down the hall and thanked us for a good show, but raised his hands in anguish and said, “If you only knew how much damage you do when you call it a sin!” I couldn’t take that, so replied, “Phil, if you only knew how much damage you do when you DON’T CALL IT A SIN.” He is a man with some real wounds and confusion… we ask you to pray for him. He had to see something of God that day. Our friend, Lois Lange, from Chicago, wrote such a lively letter about the show, we have included it for your enjoyment.
Dear Ron and Joanne:
When I wrote the Donahue show about a year ago giving some contact numbers of some special folks in Exodus, I KNEW that sometime or other they would surely get to you. I told them that I thought their programs were in the dark ages… about 10 years out of date as to what was happening NOW and if they didn’t mind giving some credit to God they’d find you to be some interesting folks… and left it at that.
You represented Exodus’ ministries throughout the nation well. And your bright, sweet spirits gave the credit where it is due… to the wonderful power that God gives to the humble heart. You were a blessing to so many, many people who are tired to death of hearing the same old rhetoric from the gay/lesbian population. You showed that God redeems all those with broken lives and makes new lives out of the ashes. When our lives get screwed up and scrambled by ourselves or by someone else… it doesn’t matter to Him. He still restores. God redeems that which was lost. FANTASTIC! Thank you. I’ve heard many good responses from grateful viewers.
Sy Roger’s “I may not be Burt Reynolds, but I’m a long way from panty hose, buster!” was a classic. He showed himself to be resilient, self-accepting, nicely confronting, and humorously assertive. I sat cross-legged on my chair screaming, “I love it. I LOVE IT!”, rocking enthusiastically back and forth.
The spouses were lovingly tender and real in their responses. It takes a real man among both men and women graciously to admit their mistakes as you did, Ron. You set the country an example of real humility and authenticity. I love you for it. The wives were beautiful, too. Bless you.
How I love you for being over-comers. God has wrapped tender arms around you to help you serve one another. I have not ceased praying for those coming out of homosexuality for 13 years. From 1972 to now, 15 to 60 minutes a day, sometimes weeping, pleading, praying, challenging, praising. Occasionally it is all day, ½ a day, but my mind is always pulling for you day and night to WIN. I lift up my former husband, as well, for God’s healing and blessing, and I’m sure much of my love for him is being re-channeled to help the many lives besides my own that he has affected. (We divorced in 1975 after years of his struggling with what he insisted was “what God had made him from birth”.)
I gave him Colin Cook’s tapes last year praying that if I couldn’t spend my life with him, at least I might be able to spend eternity with him… but there was little apparent response to the tapes at this time. The Lord has poured in the oil and water to heal this poor lady and reshaped me into a vessel that thanks and praises Him for all the last little lousy and crummy things that have ever happened. I couldn’t have said that three, five, or even seven years ago. But it is the only way to break the spiral of self-pity that is Satan’s cunning trap. It will be a lifelong sacrifice of praise as the loss of a husband, a sexual partner, a companion, and his support have been a devastating loss to a lady who dearly loved being married.
Like you, I have found that in my darkness of despair, the Lord was right there beside me all the time, not just leaning into the pit with a handy life preserver to throw to me on a long rope… but He was right down there BESIDE me, carrying me, when I simply couldn’t even walk!
He’s taught me not to look back to “what might have been…” a futile exercise… but to keep my eyes on HIM as He lifts me through the pain.
God has tapped us ALL on the shoulder and is asking us to turn around toward Him again. Don’t get smug as the promiscuous heterosexuals fall to AIDS. It’s no credit that it started with gays and drug abusers and it’s no credit that it has spread like wildfire. It only reveals the sexual misconduct of the nation… and now the innocent suffer as well. You and I may have to be obedient unto an untimely death, just as Jesus had to be. He preferred to live longer but accepted what was God’s chosen time for Him when He went to the cross for others… all of us… you and me.
Maybe the “USA allotment” is 78 years give or take a little, because we have been a very blessed nation. But God, who created the world, only got to visit it for a mere 33 years as a man before returning to His throne. Remember, WE’RE ONLY LIVING IN THE SERVANT’S QUARTERS over the stable! Our King has prepared a place for us. And the King is waiting for His kids to come home. All we need to know is that we’re part of His royal family and that we stay close to Him as our trusted Leader day by day.
Keep on keeping on. You are prayed for daily. God doesn’t fail! Honor Him with your obedience. It is only reasonable and better than any sacrifice. He took care of sacrifice. All we have to do is walk in His light and love.
You’ve recharged my battery – all of you. I’m so happy!