by Tim Wilkins
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)--Unsure how I, a former homosexual, received an invitation to speak two consecutive weeks to a gay/lesbian organization at a major university, I readily accepted. I arrived well ahead of time to mingle with the students, shake hands and get to know them. Though I felt like a ham at a bar mitzvah, I shared with the 25 to 30 homosexuals how, from an early age I felt "different;" how, upon reaching puberty, I was attracted to other men; and how, after 11 years of homosexual activity, I told God, "It's over! Homosexuality is an illusion, a dead end! Homosexuality promises a lot, but delivers little!" I told them homosexuality was a sin, immoral and that God punishes sin.
For 90 minutes I shared my story and answered many questions -- some of which were mildly discourteous and others overtly rude. No sooner had the meeting ended, when several homosexual men and women, most with puzzled expressions on their faces, approached me. In semi-private conversations the recurring statement was, "You didn't say what I expected to hear." I asked, "What did you expect to hear?" The recurring answers were predictable. "I expected you to be preachy, loud and self-righteous." "I expected you to quote Scripture the entire meeting, to say you hate us." But I did none of those things. I politely expressed my appreciation for the opportunity to speak with them, befriend them, and tell what Christ had done in my life.
I arrived the following week to a crowd almost twice the size of the previous week's. Why? Word had spread that "the ex-gay guy was respectful, polite and friendly." Had I compromised my beliefs, condoned homosexuality, diluted Scripture? No. After being interviewed on a TV program and while leaving the studio, I met a militant gay man who hosts a TV program. I extended my hand, told him I had seen his show and found it "interesting." Ted asked my name and why I had been interviewed. I gave my name and said, "I used to be gay." Immediately Ted's speech accelerated, his face reddened as his knee-jerk reactions kicked into gear. I stood silently as his monologue continued, all the while asking God how I might defuse the situation. When he paused, I intervened with these five unprepared words. "Ted-you-are-a" -- I was unsure what the last word would be, but it finally left my lips -- "blessing." In the most generic sense, Ted is a blessing in that, though he is not a child of God, he is a creation of God. Like a man who had been punched in the stomach, Ted was speechless. After collecting his thoughts, his face relaxed. With a deep sigh, Ted said, "I really appreciate how you have taken our conversation to a higher level." Immediately I moved the conversation away from homosexuality to family, work, college -- general topics.Shortly, the TV host who had interviewed me approached the studio door where Ted and I stood talking. Automatically, I prepared to introduce Ted and the host. While turning to my right, I placed my left hand on Ted's right shoulder saying, "Ted, this is the host," and then telling the host, "Ted has his own TV show." Ted and I ended our conversation as we left the building. We shook hands and went our respective ways.
A week later, Ted's live show aired. And guess what? This militant gay man recounted to his primarily militant gay audience our entire conversation, ending it with these words: "I don't know whether the guy used to be gay or not, but he made a distinct impression on me." Rick Warren says, "There are two basic reasons people don't know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. One, they have never met a Christian. Second, they have met a Christian." A genuine, conspicuous display of Christian love quickly and decisively eclipses the counterfeit love found in homosexuality, opening the door for the Gospel. Do I hate homosexuals? Absolutely not! The truth is, I love homosexuals more now than when I was one!