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From gay to joyous

"From gay to joyous" Continued...

Issue: "The Battle for Africa," Feb. 8, 2014

No condemning words? No words of rebuke; words of unconditional love and grace. That’s what Paul writes in Romans 2:4, that it’s not God’s anger, not God’s wrath, but God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Even on that horrible day for me, God was pouring out His grace and drawing me to Himself through the words of my mother. 

And God in His kindness made a Bible available to you? He did. Before I came to Christ, my parents came to visit me, and I kicked them out. My dad left me with his Bible. I threw it in the trash can. Then, while in prison three days later, I was walking around the cell block, passed by a garbage can, and there on top of the trash was a new Gideon’s New Testament. I took it back to my cell and read through the entire Gospel of Mark that night. 

How did you react to it? People say, “The Bible is good news.” At that time, it wasn’t good news to me because I felt more and more convicted that not only had I rebelled against my parents and the government, but against God. I read Psalm 51 the day before I was to be sentenced, and was called into the nurse’s office to get the news that I was HIV positive as well. I got sentenced to six years, which seemed like a life sentence. 

Then what? I began reading more Scripture. That’s all I had. God delivered me from my drug addiction, but the one thing I was holding to was my sexuality. Passages in the Bible, three in the Old and three in the New, seemed to condemn this core part of my identity at that point: “I am gay.” So I went to a prison chaplain, and to my surprise he told me the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality, and gave me a book explaining that view. I took that book. I wanted to find biblical justification for homosexuality. 

Did you? I had that book in one hand and the Bible in the other, and every reason in the world to accept what that book was claiming. I wanted to have God and a gay relationship, but as I read through the Bible and read that book, it was clear to me that the book presented a clear distortion of God, His Word, and His unmistakable condemnation of homosexual sex.

Prisons are notorious as places where some people go deeper into homosexuality, with all the pressures and opportunities there. Yes.

So why do you think your response was different? I believe it was a miracle. I had no reason to reject what that book was claiming. It would have been the easier route—embrace my sexuality, as the world says, not to have to deny myself, pick up my cross, and follow Christ. God helped me not to just read this book on its own, because if you read it as a stand-alone many people would be convinced. I felt I could not read it apart from the Word of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit was guiding me.

So these theories that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality, just a particular type of homosexual practice, didn’t make sense to you? They didn’t. At that time I hadn’t been to seminary and learned Greek and Hebrew: I was just reading the English text. Now I know that Paul in 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 1 links two Greek words that are the exact Greek words we find in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. In Leviticus 20:13 those two words are right next to each other, and any first-century Jew who had memorized the Torah, most likely in the Greek, would have known when Paul used that word for homosexuality it meant Paul affirmed the universal condemnation against homosexual sex in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

The Talmudic sages, when they wrote about homosexuality, reflected that understanding as well. It was universal condemnation.

So earlier, when you had to choose between family and sex, you chose sex. Yes.

Now, you were clear that this was a question of God or homosexuality. I went through every page of Scripture, looking for positive justifications for gay, monogamous, consensual, adult homosexual relationships. I didn’t find anything. There was nothing in Scripture that blessed a gay relationship. That’s when I knew I was at a turning point: either reject God and pursue gay relationships by allowing my feelings, my orientation, to dictate who I was and how I lived, or abandon gay relationships by liberating myself from my sexuality, and live as a follower of Christ. I chose God.

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