Category: Homosexuality

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Drinking Water

After Europe, I moved into a UCLA fraternity house crammed with conservative Christian men. They were Republicans, I was the on the lunatic fringe of the Democratic party, as was my hair, which resembled a Benjamin Franklin fright wig; their crew cuts and manner were clipped and practical while I was emotional and spontaneous (remember, I used to be fun), tending toward the absurd.

A match made in heaven? Precisely. I needed the limits imposed by a tight community of guys who loved me in spite of our differences. We were one people in our love for Jesus and in our desire to make Him known.

Living there identified the desert of my detachment from regular guys and from the regular guy I was. I aimed awkwardly to explain who I was as a Christian seeking to overcome homosexuality. I tried to convey my commitment to holiness while still confessing my weakness and need for their support; what many heard was that I was still in sin.

Ah well…Semantics matter, and I was still trying to find the words. Yet beyond words, these guys loved me. I drank in their acceptance, which freed me to accept my own masculinity in some new ways. Mercy flowed out from most of the guys and satisfied my soul in a way that gay relationships never did.

That next summer, I joined an outreach project aimed at reaching a beach town in Southern California for Christ. We sought to extend mercy to the unsaved yet learned more about mercy in our team relationships than in evangelism.

There I grew in trusting people, both leaders and peers. One of our assignments was to share our testimony before a large outreach meeting. I asked God throughout that summer to distill what I had learned thus far in my journey out of homosexuality. By the time I shared, I was ready: clear, unashamed, grateful for the mercy that had become my freedom.

I was amazed at what happened next. Team members came to me in quiet, like Nicodemus, asking for hope and help in deep areas of personal brokenness. (Not homosexual per se; most were good old idolaters of the traditional kind.) They were hurting, locked in shame. Mercy alone drew them out of the desert.

Having drunk deep of mercy through Christ’s body, I had merely held out a cup of cold water to them. They wanted more. They needed more in order to go further up and into Christ’s purposes for their lives. Throughout that summer and into the next year, I continued to receive requests for help as a result of that one testimony.

That summer confirmed my calling to release living water to those in the desert of sexual and relational sin. God was multiplying my little offering of mercy. Desert Stream had informally begun.

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

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The Pool at Piccadilly Circus

Soon after the French party, I moved home and determined to grow with the Christian friends I had. Fun or not, they were my people.

My parents asked me if I wanted to save my shekels and go with them on a short trip to Europe the next summer. I did and I went.

London was a blast. I loved the roar of it. I would find a busy street and get lost for hours in the waves of people pouring like currents from every square, park, and avenue.

I met a smart young coupled from Manchester who like me were walking quickly through the City of London Museum. We spent the afternoon together, and shared with some depth about our lives, after which they kind of prophesied over me. They predicted that I would write and speak about social matters related to my Christian spirituality. Their words rang true.

Later that night, my search for companionship took an ugly turn as I walked through garish Piccadilly Circus (London’s version of Time Square). I found a disco there (I used to be, well, fun…) and started dancing in a big group of people. It was ugly—yes, the hair and fashions of course—but mostly the spirit of the place. These people were not my people.

After such a life-giving day, I found myself in a self-absorbed, seductive world that was choking the life out of me. I knew if I did not leave right away, I would bow down to the evil one and his sexy idols.

Surfacing from the underground, smoky club, I gasped for air then called upon Jesus. He met me faster than the oxygen. He filled me with His Spirit and freed me from the ‘desert’ disco. I remembered mercy; I wanted Him, and He wanted me.

I turned a corner to exit the Circus where a young man was waiting for a sexual pick-up. He motioned to me; I walked on but as I did I thought, “He needs ‘living water’ as much as I do…” The Spirit came upon me and gave me unusual boldness.

I turned back and met up with the guy, telling him that I did not want sex but would love to talk with him over coffee. He agreed, and I shared my whole story, even the escape from ‘disco inferno.’

He related, he was amused, and he needed Jesus. We prayed together and committed to keeping in touch with each other. We wrote back and forth for over a year until he left London for University. I do not know what happened to him next. But I know that he encountered Jesus in the desert of his homosexuality. He discovered the God who turns the burning sand into a pool of mercy.

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

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Together, We Discovered Mercy

30-years ago, ‘Living Waters’ surfaced in West Hollywood. The burning ground of lust and sexual confusion became a pool of God’s mercy.

Every Wednesday night for two years, we met in the home of a well-known interior designer. Charlie, along with many of his friends, was riding the first popular wave of gay activity on the West Coast. But after the disco and drug-induced orgies, these men and women cried out for mercy.

The Vineyard Christian Fellowship had just sprung up on the west-side of town. Annette and I began to date while attending that church. At the urging of our pastor, who introduced us to Charlie, we began to gather in his home—worshipping Jesus with simple songs, exploring the truth of Jesus’ good will and purpose for the sexually-broken, and praying for each other.

God’s healing presence became greater than our shame and addictions.

Together, we discovered mercy: the transforming power of Jesus loosed through the advocacy of His community.

As He did to the Samaritan woman, Jesus met each one with ‘living water’. He challenged our defenses and fear of real intimacy. He freed us to confess our sin, the truth that in grasping after others we had forsaken Him, the spring of living water, and had dug our own wells, broken wells unable to hold water. (Jer. 2:13)

He began to heal us; we agreed with Him that we were valuable men and women whom He had created to contain and manifest His goodness. We were vessels of honor who He taught to honor one another genuinely, with our clothes on, our hearts intent on growing into maturity. Annette and I married after the first year of this group, and many in our large wedding party were its members.

We did not know in 1980 that the HIV virus was prowling through parties and discos, seeking to devour the unrestrained. AIDS had no name then; it succeeded to destroy many, including Charlie. He died with dignity: sober, sanctified, ready for home.

God wanted mercy, not judgment. (James 2:13) He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone (Ez. 18: 32), and so He liberated ‘living water’ from the desert ground of a people intent on their own destruction.

He suffered and died to lay claim to that desert. He rose again to transform that desert into a place of life, health, and peace for them.

Living Waters is the essence of Christ Crucified and Raised—the river that makes all things new. ‘Where that river flows, everything shall live…’ (Ex. 47:9)

What a privilege to gather in West Hollywood at the onset of Desert Stream Ministries and what became the Living Waters program. What a privilege to be one of Jesus’ answers to the cry for mercy.

‘The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.’

(Is. 41:17, 18)

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