Jesus: Expletive, Weapon or Freedom
About a month ago, I celebrated the 17th anniversary of the day I walked away from homosexuality. There were no cakes, no banners or brightly colored, celebratory paraphenalia; only the amazing recollection of the day that Jesus became something more to me than a crass expression used by irreverently or the weaponized tool of manipulation used by religious zealots. Jesus Christ. What a powerful name! Jesus' life and ministry was the fulfillment of many prophecies in the Old Testament. During those cold moments at the close of 1998 and the cessation of my sexual escapades, Jesus fulfilled one scripture for me above all else. Proverbs 18:24- "One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." A friend that sticks closer than a brother. I had lived a life virtually spitting in the face of Jesus, but at the end of my rebellion He was standing there saying "Welcome Back". Back to reality. Back to His will. Back to life. The Walking Dead, though science fiction, was my reality for 2 decades. I spent my life focused on getting beyond the difficult junk in order to get to the good stuff on the other side. Good stuff was forever elusive. Life had become a vast swamp and I wandered endlessly, pursuing an ever changing destination. Conversely, the Old Testament account of Joseph speaks of thriving in difficulty. Joseph was sold into slavery, stolen from his father and imprisoned on false charges. Yet he consistently gave glory and praise to God, rather than moping about. He thrived, because he was surrendered to God. It was said of Joseph in Genesis 41:38 "Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?" As I wandered through the desert of my dysfunction, I repeatedly said 'No Thanks God', blaming my misfortune on Him. Joseph's peace in time of trouble was always something of an illusion to me.
As a young, gay man I wielded words like weapons. I made sport of being angry, bitter and offensively witty. In restrospect, it's clear those aren't Christlike attributes. But to my young, gay mind, tainted by the deceptive beliefs of: "abandoned by God" and "hated by Christians", words were a source of survival. So much of the scripture lately lends support to choosing Jesus over sin of any kind. There are benefits to serving the One Master, Jesus, over the other master, our broken sexuality.
My father's effective and powerful prayers and growing up in a church bathed in scripture, are the two main reasons I was able to leave homosexuality and stay away. In my own ministry, I have realized that I don't pray for people nearly as much as my father did for me. God is not bringing young men to me so I can tell them to behave. God is bringing men into my life who struggle so that I can reiterate the fact that Jesus is the answer to what ails them. The Holy Spirit revisited that idea a few weeks ago in the wee hours of the morning. "Just tell them about Jesus," he said. It's always been about Jesus and will always be about Jesus. There is no other name under heaven by which a man can be saved. I pondered these thoughts yesterday, as I sat across the table from a young man who had just told me he was on the verge of making a huge decision. He was deciding between living a life for God or going headlong into the gay life. This was no easy decision for him. And no easy confession. I have been in this young man's life for a little over a year. I've seen him victorious over sin one day and giving into it entirely the next. Keep in mind. He never came right out and said, I plan on screwing up my life forever by leaving my wife and family behind in order to live as who I truly am. He is tormented by the decision, but he sees no other way.
As a Christian who struggles with homosexual desires I understand his pain. What struck my heart the most was one of the reasons he said he was giving up and going into the gay life. He said it would just make things easier. To which I replied, "For whom?". I read in scripture today about serving two masters. While it is primarily used as a sermon on serving God or money, it speaks volumes to a principle I alluded to earlier; choosing one master to serve. The bible says that no servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. -Luke 16:13. As I chatted with my friend, I could indeed see the fork in the road where he was standing. The road on the left was an easy, short journey through life followed by a tormented, infinite journey into hell. The path on the right was narrow and winding, filled with hardship for a time filled with an eternity with a loving God. My friend had spent the bulk of his life stuck between gay and God, taking on the feel good parts of Christianity and the exciting parts of his gay life, while never fully committing to either. It was the proverbial life of living on the fence. One which the New Testament describes God as saying, and I am paraphrasing, be hot or cold, because you will never amount to any good as a lukewarm, fence dweller; spiritual limbo if you will.
Conversations like this are frequent in "ex-gay" ministry. After the death of Exodus International and the onslaught of government, approved gay marriage, many have lost sight of the truth of scripture. Many have lost the will to fight. While perusing Facebook last week I read a post that hit like a gut punch. No it wasn't "Hillary 2016". The post said simply, "Here is a picture of my beautiful wife." Those words were uttered by a friend I used to attend church with and minister alongside. That friend's name is Lisa. Daily, I see the casualties of homosexual sin and desire. I don't hate homosexual sin for all the preconceived Christian reasons. I hate the idea that the people I know and love are surrendering themselves to a life where they will be chewed up, spit out and disrespected. A world where Jesus is neither honored nor exalted. At the end of the day though, they are subject to the laws of the land we chose to live in. They may be submitting themselves willingly, but I know the realistic pull of sexual sin. It sets in at an early age and steals away a person's youth and life experience.
I see now why my father spent so many nights on his knees in prayer before God. His heart ached for the lost, as mine does now. If you find yourself at the same crossroads as my friend, please reach out before you make a life altering decision. If you have someone in your life who is about to succumb to the pressures of sexual desire and temptation, please don't stop praying for that person. Though I have traveled to Alaska, Australia and beyond to share Jesus with whomever would listen, I found myself defeated in my own backyard. For a moment I gave up on my friend. The thought crossed my mind that I was so tired of losing friends to homosexuality. Later that night I repented for giving up so easily and prayed earnestly for the life of my friend and other sons and daughters. I asked God to remind satan that he's been defeated. I went to battle for lives that truly matter and souls with whom I want to spend an eternity in heaven.
Jesus was fully a man. Jesus is fully God. And where I get it wrong and build expectations and hurdles for people, He builds a bridge. You can know Jesus today, too. He doen't ask you to clean yourself up before you come to Him. He simply invites you to come. If you are struggling today at the crossroads, there is freedom from homosexuality, but most importantly, there is life in Jesus Christ. I am living proof.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 - 9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed,you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.