I grew up in a home where the Bible was not read, prayer was not heard, and church attendance was nonexistent. Except for a ritual baptism as an infant by a local Episcopalian priest, there was nothing Christian about my early childhood.
When I was 6 years old, my parents moved to Florida. Here my mother sent me to Vacation Bible School at a local church where I had my first contact with Christian people and Christian teaching. To this day I can still remember some of the songs and Bible stories from those times.
Then when I was 9 or 10 years old, I became friends with a neighbor boy whose parents attended church regularly. They took me to Sunday school for a while where I was first exposed to a typical evangelical church setting.
Also, when I was 12 years old the principal of the elementary school I attended spoke to my 6th grade class as we were graduating to junior high school. At the time I did not know what he was doing, but I now realize that he was giving us his Christian testimony. He then passed out a small pocket New Testament to each of us to keep and read. I remember being interested in what that little book said and attempted to read it several times. Unfortunately, I always began in the Gospel of Matthew and could never get past all the names with which it begins.
These were the early Christian influences on my life.
Then I began attending junior high school. It was during these years that I became increasingly aware of an inclination that started when I was about 11 years old. This inclination was the sexual attraction I was feeling for other guys that would soon dominate my life. At this point in time the attraction was limited to visual and mental desire and did not yet break out in actual homosexual behavior.
But when I was 14, my parents decided to move back to Michigan. Here my high school years began. Also at this time a course of life began in which I became more and more involved in a pattern of homosexual conduct that continued for about 15 years.
But although I was living such an immoral life, the Lord had plans of mercy to eventually deliver me from it. He sent several people into my life throughout many of the following years to tell me about the gospel.
In high school there were two Christian boys who befriended me and had a significant influence on me. One of them invited me to his church, which I attended with him for some time. I even ‘walked the aisle’ when I was 16 and thought I had been ‘saved’, but this didn’t last long. I was soon tempted to return to my sinful ways and quickly succumbed to the lusts of my high school years.
After graduating from high school, I attended a university. Here I became more deeply entrenched in the gay lifestyle.
But the Lord continued to pursue me.
The head of the janitorial staff in the dormitories was a solid Christian man. He took an interest in me and spoke to me about the gospel. I even attended his church for a while.
There also was a girl who befriended me and invited me to meetings of the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. Here I was introduced to the writings of Francis Schaeffer. Because I was a philosophy major at this time, his writings appealed to me. The young people who attended these meetings were genuinely interested in my welfare and showed real love to me.
But I was not willing to turn from my deviant lifestyle and gradually withdrew from these Christian influences. I became a ‘hippie’ and was increasingly involved in Eastern teachings, being especially captivated by Taoism, Yoga, and Zen Buddhism as propagated by the writings of Alan Watts.
During this time I also became openly gay and gave myself over to unrestrained homosexual behavior.
When I was done with college, I returned to my hometown. It was at this time that one of my Christian friends from high school suddenly appeared and took an interest in my spiritual welfare. Through his influence I began attending a small Southern Baptist church in the area. I was starting to feel the degrading effects of the life I had been living and continued in that church for about 2 years, refraining from any homosexual encounters.
But I wasn’t yet ready to abandon it completely. When temptation and opportunity combined to assault me, I was soon drawn back into the gay life. I hardened myself to all Christian influence and gave myself over to my sinful desires for the next 5 to 6 years.
During this time the Lord continued to send Christians into my life to confront me with my sin and point me to the deliverance found in the gospel of Christ, and when I was about 30 years old God gave me the grace to finally turn from my sinful life and believe on the Lord Jesus.
I immediately separated myself from all my past connections and started to associate with other believers. Some were skeptical about my conversion, but most welcomed me with complete acceptance and encouraged me greatly.
I began my newfound Christian life with the naive expectation through faulty teaching on sanctification that every trace of same-sex attraction would be instantly removed from my heart and that I would now be a normal man with heterosexual desires. But I soon found that this wasn’t the case and often was engaged in fierce battles with the remainders of sin in my flesh. This caused me to sob frequently before the Lord for deliverance. I had renounced my gay life, but the remaining gay lusts in my heart had not renounced me.
Then I was counseled and convinced that I needed to get married and develop a normal sexual relationship with a woman. This, I thought, would be the deathblow to my same-sex desires. But what woman would marry me if she knew about my past?
I was considering all these things when a Christian woman suddenly appeared in my life. She had just recently been abandoned by an adulterous husband and had four children from that marriage. As our relationship blossomed during the following months, I was convinced that this was the woman that God had provided to be my wife.
But I did not tell her about my past because of fear that she would reject me. We were soon married – a man just recently saved out of a gay life and a woman just out of many years of a bad marriage and a recent divorce! But I was convinced that this was the will of God for us.
Our married life began fairly well, but because I had intentionally kept my past covered up it wasn’t long before difficulties began to appear. I soon realized that my expectation that marriage would end all the same-sex attraction I had always known was an illusory hope. The flesh was alive and well, and this, coupled with frequent temptation provided by seductive young men, kept up the conflict in my heart. God always gave me the grace to keep from giving in to temptation and committing actual sin, but the intense inward struggle began to have a gradual eroding effect on my spiritual life and on our marriage.
Because I had kept my past a secret, I could not tell my wife what was going on. And I was afraid to open up to anyone for help because of the shame I felt about what I had done. So I became increasingly withdrawn and was left to fight my battles alone. There were painful questions in my heart that made me scream out to God, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ and ‘Why don’t you take these desires away? Don’t you really care about me?’
As time went on I became more and more discouraged, even coming to the place where I thought I was hopelessly gay and would never be able to be a real husband to my dear wife. I felt so guilty about the unhappy marriage I had brought upon her and didn’t see any way it could change. I was spiritually paralyzed by fear and unbelief and was in the grips of a deep depression.
And then one summer God brought everything to a crisis.
I had come to the nadir of my spiritual decline. I had stopped praying and reading the Bible and was on the verge of giving up on everything. I became angry with God for not doing what I thought He should do for me. I was also looking for some way to free my wife from the miserable marriage I had caused.
Then one night I couldn’t take it anymore and told her all about my past and how it had affected our marriage. Needless to say, this was a shocking revelation to her. I feared she would tell me to leave, but I had to be open with her regardless of the consequences.
The next Sunday morning I was sitting in church after the service had ended when one of my pastors walked by. He stopped and looked at me and said, ‘Brother, what is wrong with you?’ This was the prod I needed from the Lord to finally go for help. I met twice with this pastor and opened up about my struggles and the state of our marriage. This was followed with a meeting that included my wife and me and all my pastors in which I acknowledged my sin and my need for help and counsel. We also made these things known to select friends for needed prayer and support.
At this point in my spiritual journey, I felt for the first time that the back of this persistent problem had finally been broken and that I could have a happy marriage as a man fulfilling the design God intended. I realized that fear of the consequences of being completely open and honest had crippled me and kept me from trusting God with these things.
Remaining lust in my flesh still pesters me, but I am not ruled by it. I left the gay life when I was converted and have never returned to it. At the same time I am aware of my weakness and vulnerability and need of grace from the Lord. I am where I am today solely because of His grace and mercy. I know that change is a process that will not be completed in this life, but whatever degree of change we experience is real change. For that I am very grateful.