A few weeks ago, after we posted my talk, “Preaching Like Jesus to the LGBT Community,” we received the following encouraging note. Brian was gracious and allowed us to share it here—for which we’re thankful, because it’s a powerful testimony of God’s power.
Dear Pastor J.D.,
This sermon changed my life. This is no understatement either. When I first listened to this sermon a little more than a year ago, I was in a place of deep depression and much despair over continuing on with life. I am a man who’s grown up in the church all my life and have silently struggled with SSA (Same Sex Attraction).
About 18 years ago, I finally understood what homosexuality was (I lived a very sheltered life) and connected it with my personal internal turmoil. I knew I was a Christian and follower of Christ, but how could I experience such things? I investigated the Bible and only found the weight of condemnation for what it said regarding my temptations, my attraction to other men. So, with my resolve, good works, and countless “rededicating my life to Christ” prayers, I suffered in silence through my remaining years in high school and my entire college career (even at a Christian college). Even since graduating from college and committing my life to serving at a gospel-centered church in Hollywood, I believed that I was doing all the right things for Jesus, that He would finally take my temptations away, that He would fulfill my dreams, that He would give me a wife and kids.
I looked and acted like a Christian to the whole world. While I don’t doubt my resolve and commitment to the gospel of Christ, I see that my early upbringing in the church had influenced me to grow up and become a good legalist, not a faithful follower of Christ; I was being transformed from the Prodigal Son into the Older Brother. The more I committed my life to Jesus and living a “Christian life” obeying all the rules, the more I was becoming aware of my failures and temptations rather living a Spirit-filled life. I see that I was like Paul in all my self-righteous behavior. But I could never understand why God wasn’t hearing my prayers and pleas for victory and/or deliverance. I was on the verge of completely giving up on life.