One Christian gay guy’s thoughts and experiences along this whirlwind journey called life.
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?