My Testimony, as sent to my home church, RBC

All we have are our testimonies.  It’s fitting because the Bible is made up of testimonies—witnesses to the power of Christ in our lives.  They are stories that cannot be dismissed.

I was raised in a Christian home, my father a Southern Baptist pastor.  I became a Christian at seven, growing in the Spirit as any child raised in Church.  I went to church every Sunday, reading my Bible, praying daily, singing in the choirs, accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior, and eventually, serving three times as music director for churches, and once as the director of religious education.  I graduated from Wayland Baptist University in West Texas, a flagship Christian university.  I was a model Christian: devoted, spiritual, scripturely-rigorous, conservative, and chaste.

While others dated, I found the whole thing a mystery.  I never felt the desire to kiss or touch a woman.  I watched my friends in college pair up like shoes.  I lived my life thinking I was broken, that I was not made like other men.  Others told me that one day the right girl would come along and I would somehow awaken.  This never happened.

So, I committed even stronger to the Lord, hoping he would figure it out.

At 34, after two years in the Yukon, I exhibited a deep anger problem towards homosexuals—a rage that I couldn’t understand.  It wasn’t Christ-like.  So, I decided to examine it closely.  Where was this anger coming from?

I prayed and asked God for guidance, and I started reading the testimonies of gay Christians, thinking that if I could find a flaw in their argument I could feel more righteous about my anger.  Surely my church was right—that gays would not share in the kingdom of God.  But when I read those testimonies I read my own story.  In a moment of revelation, I told God that I thought I might be gay—which, at first, brought peace.

But then I remembered what that might mean—eternal separation from God, disappointing Him, and the possibility of never having love—and I nearly took my life in January of 2004 so that I wouldn’t sin against God.  If you have read my short story, “Believing in the Dog,” you have read my original plan for suicide.

But God showed me he needed me that day, and the next, and so I decided to research the issue more—to figure out what God believed about homosexuality.

I spent three years in Texas researching the subject of gays and Christianity, while finishing my degree, working as a professor and leading music in a small Baptist church.

I interviewed countless people—both for and against, pastors, laypeople, famous scholars, and read my Bible, read commentary, prayed to know the truth and not just to hear what I wanted, and weighed all the evidence before I returned to the Yukon.

I concluded beyond any doubt that God has a plan for gay and lesbian people in his church, and that there is no condemnation towards us.  We are to live honest and open lives, find a mate if we like, and work side by side with people in the church, telling others about Christ.  We are as essential as everyone else is to Christ’s commission.   We are created.  We are loved.

I will continue to tell this good news to everyone.   But I cannot do God’s work at RBC, when I’m not allowed to.  So I have started attending the United Church.

But when you need me, I will be here for you.

When your family members—your sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, parents, uncles—come out—when your world is shaken and when you don’t know what to believe, when you are stuck rejecting them or rejecting Christ, I will help you find that third way that allows you to do as Christ has done and embrace us all.

And if you are someone who is gay or lesbian, I am here for you.  You will not be abandoned, rejected, or punished.

I will help you keep your faith, your joy, and your life.

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Posted November 13, 2010 by jstueart

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