Last weekend my commentary on the loving approach to homosexuality for Christians, and the problem of speaking truth for so many in the Emerging Church movement (that claims to be avoiding divisiveness in the name of tolerance) appeared at the American Family Association’s website, One News Now. It remained atop their “Most Popular” stories for three days.
I anticipated getting feedback from the commentary, good and bad. And though the negative responses were fewer than I anticipated (praise God!), I can tell you that I never expected to receive such a profound, meaningful and amazing email as I did from Jerry.
Because I am sure there are those in my listening audience or online audience who struggle with homosexual urges and temptations, and because I am sure they are hearing from pop culture that God intends for them to embrace that lifestyle and that they are being dishonest to not live that way outwardly, and because I am sure that many are looking for hope but are being confused by many in the so-called Emerging Church and other Christians that won’t speak truth to them, I want to share this email with them in full.
As a sinner saved by grace myself, it touched my heart, and I have a feeling it will offer hope to someone who needs that very grace themselves. Thanks, Jerry, for sending it along:
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Good morning Peter,
I just read your article, Brian McClaren's Struggle With Truth, and greatly appreciate your honest and loving response. God's Word is sharper than any sword--and it does divide.
You've likely never heard from someone like me. I've been married for 32 years to a godly woman. We have a wonderful son who will soon finish college. I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ at age 8, an officer in my church, and have served in leadership with an international Bible study.
November 11, 2009 I was set free from a life long battle with homosexual curiosity and lust. I would not wish what I went through on anyone--not even an enemy, if I had one. Living 54 years in hiding, struggling, begging God to "fix" me--feeling alone and ashamed, was a difficult way to live. But I managed to pull it off and led what appeared to be a very normal life.
Pornography was my outlet for many years. Having access to the internet gave me a way to "do it" without really doing it. What a lie! Eventually I ended up in chat rooms, connecting with other men--some of whom were also married. Then I progressed into phone sex. I knew all along it was wrong, and even said so to some of the men I connected with--of whom some were also professing Christians!
Many would have described me as an addict--I think the more accurate term is prisoner--I was in bondage. God was more than patient with me, holding on to me even when I was not holding on to Him. He protected me and preserved me. Though I attempted to hook up, I never had physical contact with anyone--praise God!
My church held a men's retreat a few years ago and I learned about a ministry known as Setting Captives Free. I completed one of their courses, Door of Hope, for those seeking freedom from homosexuality. I have been free from internet porn and homosexual lust for more than 2 years.
The most difficult part of the journey was speaking out. I first approached a dear Christian brother who supported me, wept with me, and loves me still. My pastors were amazing--one saying, I love you and I stand with you.
It would be several months before I could be honest with my wife. I feared destroying her and losing everything. Satan tried to tempt me to despair--I contemplated suicide numerous times. But I stood on God's promises and trusted Him. I now have a marriage I could not have dreamed of!!
I say all this to say, whenever I was honest to confess my sin--I was met with the love of Christ. Sadly, that is not always the case for my brothers and sisters who have been down this painful road. Which brings me to my point.....the church has missed a huge opportunity to minister to homosexuals. The issue is greatly misunderstood.
In discussions with my pastor, I have several times referred to what I describe as "heterosexual righteousness". All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And our hearts are idol factories. It is so easy to look down our noses at some of the lost and say, well at least I'm not like them. I've never done xyz. Isn't there a similar story in the New Testament?
My point is the church has rarely reached out in love. We have been cruel at times and judgmental. The stigma is profound. Some debate whether the lifestyle is a choice or are they born in to it. Here's the surprise answer--NEITHER. It is spiritual warfare. Satan is crafty and takes advantage of opportunities where there is hurt, abuse, or an emotional disconnect with a parent (as was my case). I know this from reading dozens of testimonies from others who have been set free.
What is the answer for Christ's church? Be prepared. Be available. Be loving and humble. Paul told the church at Corinth....and such were some of you. The target audience, if you'll pardon the marketing term, are those who wish to be set free. And there are many. But they are afraid and feel they have no where to go. I wish I could speak out publicly, but my wife and I have decided along with our pastor, that it would be unwise to air our dirty laundry. And I do not want to dump this baggage on my son to deal with. But I do ask God to use me as He will--perhaps as an on-line mentor at Door of Hope, or however He wills.
My life story is summarized in Isaiah 38:17. Behold, it was for my welfare that I had great bitterness; but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back.
Thank you Peter for taking the time to read my story. While I write this in confidence to you, feel free to refer to this story in a general sense if you like.
God bless you and your beautiful bride, Jerry. Thank you for your testimony of truth that reveals the power of Christ’s redemption to overcome all our struggles – even the fiercest ones.