Thursday, December 13, 2007

If You Give the Devil A Ride

One of my favorite quotes is “if you stop to give the devil a ride, eventually he'll want to be the one doing the driving.” What that basically means is that if you entertain sinful thoughts, and give in to those temptations, the devil will use that to little by little gain control over your life. The point is that, if you see a temptation coming up ahead, don't stop, just drive on by. Get out of there! Don't stop to let the devil into your life. Just leave him there stranded on the side of the road.

A few months ago, a friend of mine recommended a book to me called Heaven's Back Row, by a man named Bob Blackford. Nowhere have I ever known a greater example of how a person can allow the devil to take over their life. Blackford describes in his book the events, which led up to him contracting the HIV AIDS virus. And even though his story is one of great hope and redemption in the end, it is nevertheless an incredibly sad life story. It's one of parental neglect, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, confusion, self-doubt and low self-esteem. It's a story of a man who becomes a Christian, gets married (even though he knew he was homosexual), has children, goes into the ministry, and then little by little severely damages his life by allowing Satan to control it.

He began going into gay bars and adult bookstores. Then he began secretly having an affair with another man. He let that man introduce him into a very promiscuous gay lifestyle. One in which he lied to his wife for many years in order to have it. And it was through this relationship that he contracted the HIV virus. When that happened, he was caught. He knew he had to confront the people in his life about this, and the aftermath of that was that he nearly lost everything he had—his ministry, his family, his friends, even his life. And the truly sad thing about this was that, by that time, he was hooked. He continued to seek out other men and to have sex with them. He continued looking at pornography and lying to his family. And he hurt all those other people in his life so terribly.

I read Bob Blackford's book and I can't help but break down crying. I feel sorry for him and for the people in his life. I've had a lot of the same feelings he's had, and I've even done a few of the same things, so I can relate to him very well. I know how awful he's felt about some of the things he talks about. I know all too well about some of his struggles—a lot of them have been my own. And I hate that he's had to go through everything he's went through. I hate how he allowed Satan to get such a strong foothold on his life. I'm saddened that he now has to face all the consequences of that. I'm saddened that the man he was with also died of AIDS, as a very lonely, poor man who never knew Christ. I'm saddened that another man he knew died in a very similar way, rejecting God only because he was afraid God would be too much like his uncaring, unloving father. I'm saddened that Bob's wife and family and friends had to go through all the turmoil that he brought upon them. I'm saddened by the fact that they have to continuously watch this man they love now die slowly by a ravaging illness.

I wish, with all the openness of homosexuality today, that there was a greater openness of a persons options when dealing with this. If I find guys attractive, does that mean I'm gay? If so, does that mean I have to live a gay lifestyle? Can I be a Christian and still be gay? Is there any help or hope for me to overcome homosexual desires? All these questions and more I don't think are being answered. Are people getting help? I don't think so. At least not like they should. We have ministers who won't talk about this issue, or if they do, it's only to condemn the homosexual to hell. The media and a great many school officials and politicians seem to push and promote the idea that homosexuality is okay. That is, believe it or not, a fact. And so where does that leave a person? Especially a young, confused person who doesn't want to be gay? It leaves them alone and confused, and prone to giving into things that they probably wouldn't give into if they were just properly taught about this issue—as in the case with Bob Blackford.

I see people who are so confused and desperate for some answers. I see people suffering. I see them going down a road of destruction, led by the devil, searching desperately for something they can't seem to grasp onto. And the very thing they need (God and his truth) so many of them turn away from because of self-righteous, hypocritical bigots who show them no care or mercy or love, and give them the message there's no hope for them. And so they keep on searching... in vain.

And that's what Satan does. He gets at you little by little until eventually he takes you further than you'd ever imagine or dream you'd go, all in a big ploy to get you to turn away from God and to destroy your life. I'm sure Bob Blackford never intended to meet that man in the bookstore when he went in. I'm sure he never expected to have a long-term relationship with that man afterwards. I'm sure he never expected to get AIDS, or to hurt his family and his ministry and his friends. You see, once you pick up the devil, once you open your life and your heart for him to infiltrate, he's going to do everything he can to destroy you. That's his sole purpose, because he hates God, and he hates us because we're a part of God's creation.

I look at the man, Michael, who Blackford talks about as his second long-term gay partner, and I feel so sorry for him. I can't imagine how unloved he must have felt. I can't imagine how horrible a death he must have experienced. And why? Because his father didn't love him and was ashamed of him. Because he believed the lies of those bigots. Because no one of the church, not even Bob, ever really tried to reach out to him with the love and truth of Jesus Christ. And why? Why can't we as Christians go desperately into this world saving more people? Why should anyone be dying, not knowing the truth? Why isn't the church being that shining city on the hill for all those affected by homosexuality? Why are homosexuals looked at as the scum of the earth, with no hope for the future? Where's the compassion, the forgiveness, the mercy, and the care? Jesus loved sinners—desperately loved them—so why don't Christians today? Why do the homosexuals of the world have to wander about, searching in vain, dying without ever hearing the truth when we Christians today have the truth right here in front of us? Why aren't we giving it away to others with arms wide open and with all of our hearts, bringing them to Christ, and showing them there's so much better a life to live through Jesus Christ? I just don't understand it.

I am glad to say that Bob Blackford did eventually find his way back to God. He's found healing and redemption, and has been able to salvage his marriage and his ministry through the grace of God. He is now helping other people to break free from homosexuality as well, and is showing them that through God, all things are better.

I want to recommend that all of you read Heaven's Back Row. It's one of the most moving books I've ever read. It does include some detailed scenes, so be advised at that. But overall, this is a really powerful book. It's a cautionary tale. If anyone ever wanted an example of why not to engage in homosexual behavior, this is it. And not necessarily just because Blackford got AIDS, or because it damaged his ministry for a time, or because of the effects of his having an affair with another man, but because of the emotional and spiritual damage it did to him. He admits that he engaged in those acts as a means of trying to achieve legitimate needs, but that those needs were never met through homosexual acts. The result of that was that he became a wanderer. He kept searching for something so desperately, through homosexuality, and yet that never brought him anything but ruin. In his never-ending search, he nearly destroyed everything he cared about.

This story makes you feel for your fellow man, and to look within yourself and to examine your own life. It's a message of hope and understanding and redemption. But above all, it's a message of God's truth, love, and forgiveness for even the worst of us sinners—all of us sinners—and that not a single one of us is beyond God's reach. We are all important and of worth to Him. And if we just turn to Him, he's not going to destroy our lives, or condemn us, but love us beyond measure. He'll give us a new life, in Him, better than anything our old lives could ever hope to be.

Why would anyone stop to give the devil a ride when God is waiting just down the road—waiting to love, forgive, and heal the broken parts of our lives?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for you in a compassionate way. I have to tell you, gay doesn't go away. And until you can come to accept that of yourself you will struggle and struggle your entire life. What many gay activists would tell you is that you don't have to suffer so needlessly. Being gay doesn't mean you have to be promiscuous no more than if you were straight. Values and integrity are yours as a part of your being. I don't believe God created us just to turn us away as damaged goods. I'm 35 and am finally seeing this for myself, and I can describe how good it feels even if it is scary at times.

Best Wishes to You!

Brandon said...

Anonymous,

To tell you the truth, I don't really care if I'm gay or straight anymore, if I'm attracted to men or women, just so long as I'm God's. That's what matters to me. And that's what I'd hoped to get across in this post. A person shouldn't turn to sex or anything else in order to feel complete. At the end of the day, it's just you and God. And it doesn't matter what a person's tempted by. That's not what matters, but whether or not you give your life to God, obey Him in all things, and allow Him to use you for the benefit of His kingdom. In the end, that's all that really matters.

I just want to clarify that in this post when I talked about Bob Blackford being introduced into a promiscuous gay lifestyle, I realize that not all gay people are promiscuous. That was just what HE experienced in his life and talked about in his book. The way he describes that part of his life, there were a lot of people having sex with a lot of different people. But I realize a great many homosexuals DO have manogomous relationships. If I was ever going to have a gay relationship again, that's how I'd want it.

In terms of whether or not people can change their sexuality, I believe it is possible. I believe that because the Bible tells us that with God, all things are possible--even this. But really, whether that can happen for a person or not is besides the point. It really doesn't matter what a person likes, but what they do. God doesn't tell us we have to be straight. All he says is we have to be Holy. And it grieves me why more people aren't proclaiming that message instead of all the other garbage being presented.

I want you to know I appreciate your concern for me. That means a lot. Best wishes back at ya. :)

Brandon

Learner Man said...

It is an interesting comment that Anonymous makes. Whether or not 'gay goes away' I don't know. I do believe, as Brandon says, that all things are possible with God - for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. The thought I have though is that whether or not I default to being sexually attracted to men, love is different - it is a choice. I can choose to love a woman and take her as my wife - which I intend to do. I will be completely honest with her about my struggles, and if she will still have me then I'll give God the glory. I don't particularly have anyone in mind but the point still stands. I will not be controlled just by the desires of my flesh - I am a spiritual being also.

I am learning to rejoice about the situation God has put me in because it gives me a deeper understanding of myself, and helps me be more resolute about the future. Any decision I make about a future wife will be made with a great deal of prayer and consideration, counsel, and discussion.

I do not have to let my body and soul control what I do. They are temporary in the long term. I acknowledge that I may struggle all my life but it is a struggle worth fighting. Despite my own struggles, God is not turning me away as damaged goods - I understand His deep love for me, and His desire for me to make the right decisions and choices, following His Word. If I mess up? Well His grace is more than sufficient.

My God is awesome and there is nothing He cannot do!

Bless you guys,

Dave

Brandon said...

Dave,

I think you have a really good attitude about all of this. You're absolutely right when you say God's grace is sufficient. That's very true, and that's at the heart of the whole "change" issue. Whether or not God takes away a persons same-sex attractions (or whatever other stumbling block a person may have) is besides the point. His grace is enough. And His love is overwhelming--if we just accept it.

And yeah, love IS a choice. That certainly goes beyond our attractions, doesn't it? I hope God gives you a wife (if that's what you want) and blesses you richly. :)

Brandon

Learner Man said...

Cheers Brandon,

It is encouraging to hear that. I can't say it is easy to walk out that attitude at times but I am convinced (most of the time) that God is in control. I have talked quite a bit in the past about how I get low and about how all these struggles get on top of me - but am always so encouraged when I decide to step out of my self pity, to find that God hasn't changed a bit. His love for me has not diminished - he's just waiting there for me to stop being so self absorbed and stupid.

Our relationship with God cannot be based upon how we feel - about ourselves, about Him, about our attractions, anything. If it is then the devil will do his utmost to ensure I feel crap. The more I keep my attitude in check, and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, the more I think the devil is to want to be bothered. He isn't going to get this one!

It's a challenging battle but it is one that we can have the victory in.

For the record, I do want to get married - I always have done. I am really eager to have kids too - so when God asked me to begin to deal with all these things I thought it was all going down the toilet. Now I'm beginning to see victory over my struggles and my feelings, it all seems so much more likely.

Praise God.

Look after yourself Brandon :)

Thinking of you mate,

Dave (I didn't mean to sign off with my own name before but I don't suppose it makes any difference now - DOH!)

MR said...

Brandon,

Dave,

Whatever happens, know that God can give you all the grace you need to marry a woman and have a happy family. I know men who struggle with SSA and are happily both husbands and fathers.

I just can’t remain silent on this subject. I want to tell part of my story here but I have to be careful on this. It involves a girl who would not want her story on the internet, so I will leave out some details. You see, I was once in a relationship with a Christian girl and we were starting to talk about marriage. As soon as she found out about my SSA she ended it immediately. That hit me so hard it took me years to sort everything out and learn from it. What I learned was that friendship alone is not enough to start a marriage. If my love is not deeply heartfelt and passionate enough, I just should not marry.

You are both wise not to hide your struggles with SSA from any girl you intend to marry. You need to find one who is understanding and compassionate. They do exist, but not every Christian girl is able to handle this.

Remember, above all you are pursuing God, not a heterosexual orientation.

Brandon said...

I agree with you fully, MR. I would like to be married someday and to have a family of my own, but I've decided to leave that up to God. I want that, but I'm not going to frustrate myself and worry myself to death over the prospect of maybe never having that sometime in the future. If it's God's will for me to someday be married and to have kids, then great. If not, then great, because I'll still have God. Not having a wife and kids is not going to be the end of the world for me. I'm tired of worrying about it, so I've decided to try my best just to be happy with where I'm at and to leave that desire with God.

I do think, if I ever found a girlfriend, that I would tell her by at least the third date what I struggle with. That would only be fair. And not only that, but honesty really is the best policy. Like with my parents. I haven't seen any results of anykind due to my telling them I'm attracted to other guys other than the fact that I feel like I can just be myself a lot more around them. In other words, I feel like I can be more honest and open with them. It would be the same if I found a girlfriend/wife. I would want her to know me for me. I'd want her to know everything about me and love me for all that I am. So, I would definitely tell her about this. And I'd definitely ONLY marry a woman if I was in love with her. If not, then no way.

I like your last sentence, because that's really something I've just realized in my heart. I'd been pursuing a heterosexual orientation more than God the last year or so, and that's done me very little good. That's something about with what I was talking about before dealing with change. I'm going to leave that in God's hands, and on my part, I'm simply going to pursue God more. I want God that way. It doesn't matter so much to me anymore what I'm attracted to. I'm tired of worrying about something that I have no control over. So, I'm not going to worry about it. Instead, I'm going to hope, and I'm going to place all my hope in God, and I'm going to pursue him with all my heart. That's what's most important to me. I just want God. Everything else is secondary. Now, when I say all that, I'm not saying I've decided to give up my fight against homosexuality, just that I'm not going to worry so much about what I'm attracted to anymore. God doesn't condemn me for that. He doesn't ask me to worry about that, but to follow Him, and let him worry with it. So, that's what I'm going to do.

I am sorry to hear about your girlfriend leaving you like that. That must have really been hard. I hope God will lead you to a woman who'll love you still despite your struggles.

God bless ya.

Brandon