I’ve lived most of my life as an active gay man. I don’t remember a day I wasn’t same-sex attracted. Not able to make sense out of God’s word and my “feelings,” I left God and the church when I was eighteen. Six years ago I found myself sitting in my bedroom in front of the computer, about to encounter Jesus one on one. For years I had opted to live life the way it “felt” most comfortable to me. My decisions were not a result of God’s plan or design conveyed through His Holy Word. They were a result of my “feelings.”
I WAS RAISED IN A STRONG CHRISTIAN, ADVENTIST HOME
I was raised in a strong Christian, Adventist home, plagued with same-sex attractions and unresolved considerations about what caused them. Worse was the fact that in church sermons, Sabbath School studies, prayer meetings and Christian education, “homosexuality” was never openly discussed. “Homosexuality” was known as sin, but we lumped temptation and sin together. Disgust long prevented that which began to steal away God’s precious children.
Somehow, there are still those today who believe that if we don’t talk about it, it will just go away. Others believe that we don’t need to talk about it, we just need to embrace it. We’ve done this with a number of human/sin issues in the church. It’s almost as though we don’t think these issues reside in our denomination. In our ignorant silence the world has backed us into a corner and we can’t afford to remain in silence and ignorance any longer.
Satan is cackling as he maneuvers his ways about those who would most likely be susceptible to responding to his cunning deceptions during this dark silence.
Matthew Parish, recently wrote this: “Even as a (gay) atheist, I wince to see the philosophical mess that religious conservatives are making of their case. Is there nobody of any intellectual stature left in our English church, or the Roman church, to frame the argument against Christianity’s slide into just going with the flow of social and cultural change? ”
I’m not “politically correct.” I can’t afford to be when I look to Jesus and He convicts my heart over this life and death matter. We arrive with the stain of fallen flesh. Of course we do. We are the descendants of Adam and Eve whose sin has marred us. God has made His ways and requirements known from the beginning. Eve departed from the knowledge God provided and acted on her “feelings” instead. “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want” (NIV,Galatians 5:17). What happened in the garden has been repeated for six thousand years. God is still waiting for His people to emerge.
Without the Spirit of God a knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of truth, unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart. One may be familiar with the commands and promises of the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home, the character will not be transformed. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not be able to distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful temptations of Satan.
The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit's working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up. This class are represented also by the stony-ground hearers. They receive the word with readiness, but they fail of assimilating its principles. Its influence is not abiding. The Spirit works upon man's heart, according to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. They do not know God. (Ellen White, Christ Object Lessons, 410-411)
For the last five years I have been blessed to share my testimony of freedom from homosexuality around the world. Perhaps one of the strongest attributes of these seminars is being transparent. I believe God preserved me for such a time as this. Not to go out and pound people over the head with academic and scholarly truths, but to share a practical Christianity that’s lacking in Adventism today. Not just about “homosexuality,” as the hot topic of the day, but about becoming complacent about any sin residing in us.
I can now laugh at some of the accusatory things being written about me. Some have frozen video frames, in order to print a snapshot, making me appear as an angry man. I’m pretty sure that most of these people haven’t heard my personal testimony. It’s not about me. It’s about the power of Jesus Christ to change any sinner from continued indulgence in “any” sin. And brothers and sisters we are all sinners indeed. We must stop playing the game called “my sin is less offensive than your sin”. Are we not all broken and in need of the Savior? Are we being honest with ourselves? Are we humbling ourselves before God?
Yes, I believe God called me and I don’t want to be one of the five virgins who only had a knowledge of truth rather than the working application God grants those who will accept Him.
When I stand in front of a mirror, I see a man who is still tempted. I see weak flesh. There are those who still try to classify me as “gay,” simply because I am tempted. Wasn’t Jesus tempted all the way to the cross? Didn’t He have to call out to His Father for strength to endure?
As brothers and sisters in Christ today, I invite you to participate in my sufferings by lifting me up in prayer to Jesus, praying for the healing that is promised to all of us in James 5:16. I’m not better than you. I can’t afford to be self-righteous. Jesus didn’t make the wrong decisions I’ve made. I’m responsible, and because of my wrong choices, I bear the scars of sin today. But not without the strength of Jesus to see me through every temptation that continues to come my way.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age…” (NASB Titus 2:11,12).
Today I am witnessing the approval of sin from pulpits. More than a few are delivering “itchy ear” messages to those who insist that change is not possible. There isn’t a single verse in God’s word that supports same-sex sexual behavior. And yet there is a seeking to rewrite the word of God according to the desires of the flesh, even going so as far as to put God’s stamp of approval on it.
God’s Holy Word is inspired for all time. His word is inspired with a message of love that if allowed, would change our hearts to live in agreement with our Creator. Also inspired are the words of His messenger in Acts of the Apostles, p. 504. “Ministers of the gospel sometimes do great harm by allowing their forbearance toward the erring to degenerate into toleration of sins and even participation in them. Thus they are led to excuse and palliate that which God condemns, and after a time they become so blinded as to commend the very ones whom God commands them to reprove. He who has blunted his spiritual perceptions by sinful leniency toward those whom God condemns, will erelong commit a greater sin by severity and harshness toward those whom God approves.”
JESUS INVITES ME TO SURRENDER
Jesus invites me to surrender and to abide in Him each and every moment. He invites me to come away from the pleasures and delights of the world and get to know Jesus. I am to deny myself for the kingdom and live my life for Him, who gave His life for me.
The change that’s taken place is not in exchanging gay sex for straight sex demonstrated through “conversion” and “reparative” therapies. These are therapies that promise the gay person that they can be made “straight.” Many such therapies have caused great harm.
Only the love of Jesus can bring about the “change” in anyone’s life to live in agreement with Jesus. According to His Holy precepts, sex is not promised to any of us. Many believe that sex is a rite of passage for everyone. But this is not found in scripture. However, when “marriage” occurs between one man and one woman as is ordained by God, the gift of intimacy is provided with God’s blessing.
There are widows, widowers, heterosexual singles and same-sex attracted people who will experience temptation and endure only by surrendering those temptations to Jesus and grasping the strength He promises.
We can’t endure without knowing Christ and choosing to obey Him as a result of our deep love for Him. We must stay securely fastened while weathering the storm.
As the storm approaches, a large class who have professed faith in the third angel's message, but have not been sanctified through obedience to the truth, abandon their position and join the ranks of the opposition. By uniting with the world and partaking of its spirit, they have come to view matters in nearly the same light; and when the test is brought, they are prepared to choose the easy, popular side. Men of talent and pleasing address, who once rejoiced in the truth, employ their powers to deceive and mislead souls. They become the most bitter enemies of their former brethren. When Sabbath keepers are brought before the courts to answer for their faith, these apostates are the most efficient agents of Satan to misrepresent and accuse them, and by false reports and insinuations to stir up the rulers against them.
In this time of persecution the faith of the Lord's servants will be tried. They have faithfully given the warning, looking to God and to His word alone. God's Spirit, moving upon their hearts, has constrained them to speak. (Great Controversy 608)
I CAN’T HIDE BEHIND A MASK OR PRETEND TO BE SOMETHING I AM NOT
Hiding behind a mask, or pretending to be something that I am not wouldn’t be an honest representation of my walk with God. God is calling those who long for freedom from that which has controlled them. He is calling us from Satan’s passions and deceptions, wrapped in “self-truth” rather than gospel truth.
Paul gives us a beautiful promise. “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (NIV, Romans 6:18).
In the face of adversity in and outside the church, I’m committed to sharing the only “pure” love that promises to change people’s lives. The love of Jesus that replaces our self-love and the sin we love. Victory is possible. It’s been paid for with the blood of Jesus. Grace abounds for the forgiveness of our sins. When we see the enormity of what sin causes, we come and weep at Jesus’ feet and He offers us this “Amazing Grace.” How blessed we are to partake of this sweet grace and of the divine nature of Jesus.
My prayer today is that hearts will open wide to this love message that offers hope, freedom and forgiveness. We are in need of our “Redeemer” and all that He offers.
When I look in the mirror I see a changed man who is in need of constant change. I am not someone for people to look up to, but someone who wants to point others to Jesus, the Savior of mankind.
I want to demonstrate to others that we are loved while we are still sinners, but that Jesus offers us a way out of intentional sin. We have an identity in Jesus rather than being identified by our temptations. In Jesus Christ, we are free from the burden of sin, if we choose.
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:24, 25).