Rodney’s story continues to amaze me, but, that’s probably because of two things – the first being, he is an amazing man, loyal to his wife, friends and ‘strangers’ (which he doesn’t know!). The second is his humility to put God as the number one reason for his story.
I met Rodney 14 years ago, when I first came to church and decided to take God seriously. He was living the single life, and I would often see him encouraging the other members of the congregation, making them laugh, giving them gifts. It was apparent how much he was loved. Really, I didn’t pay too much attention to him at the time because I was bringing in my own baggage of converting from the manipulating, dark sex world I was a part of for six years. Coming in, I was nervous of finding the godly men I was attracted to, for fear of seducing them and leading them down a path that I knew would hold on my conscious. So I usually kept my insecure eyes down – though I was extremely vocal – about everything.
Rodney must have noticed this, because he was the first to ask me out on a date. I knew the singles often did encouragement-type dates and I was so excited because with his tall frame and fun personality, I actually felt safe – and honored to be chosen.
We had a blast and somewhere in there, he told me that before coming to the Lord, he was actively living a gay lifestyle. Since then, I’ve always been mesmerized by his story. Partly because I found similarity with my own life that I was leaving. Though I come to find (after being a part of sexoholics anonymous), my addiction was being in a relationship. I would do anything to be in a relationship and be loved.
How was he looking so happy? I had so many questions but instead I just watched this confident, loving man continue to serve others in the congregation and community. My shock came when I received his wedding announcement – to the woman who often gave me helpful advice.
I just HAD to know. What and how could he change? Did he still have those feelings towards men? Well, I finally decided to sit down and ask. His story, without knowing anything before now, served as an inspiration to me of faithfulness, self-control, and perseverance and always has me truly in awe of God.
Here’s his story. (Answers stated are per questions asked.)
How long did you actively live the homosexual lifestyle? I guess I always new I was different since the age of 9 and after wrestling with the idea (if homosexuality was ok with God,) i came out and started living the gay lifestyle at age 21.
Do you believe a person is born this way or it is just a lifestyle? I believe I can only answer this question for me … I believe I was born with a different heart capable of loving another man more deeply than that of a woman i.e the pure relationship of Jonathan and David and I became tempted with the sin of homosexuality as any other person who chooses any sin that he or she is tempted with and given in to.
What was your turning point – what happened in your life to turn it over to Jesus? I was enjoying my life before I became a disciple of Jesus. I guess by some standards I was well rounded emotionally, physically, socially and otherwise. I guess my turning point was when I was invited to go to church and at that time I was not looking, I thought I was spiritually good. After several no’s, I finally said yes. On that Sunday there was a woman who was sharing her life and she read a scripture Isaiah 55:8-9 “Your thoughts are not My thoughts nor are your ways like My ways declares the Lord.” When I heard that I knew in my heart the way I was living wasn’t pleasing to God. I didn’t immediately change or desire to change, but I think my heart became unbroken little by little and eventually, I let God change me from the inside out.
Did you believe you would get married even after giving your life to Christ? When I became a disciple I wasn’t focused on dating, marriage or anything having to do with relationships, I guess I was enjoying being surrounded with other believers and doing the work God had for us to do. Over time I began to build strong friendships with women and 2 captivated me and I wanted to take one deeper.
Was race ever a factor in your choice? She was black, smart, beautiful and everything I felt I ever wanted in a woman and there was another – Latin, also beautiful, but not what I was attracted to, however our friendship was the deepest, strongest. secure, loving and everything godly. When things didn’t work out with the the first woman, my friendship with the other grew even more but my eyes were still blinded to the thought of her being just a best friend and she was and is still my best friend.
How did you know your choice was the one? We spent so much time together as friends it became like a second skin, I guess other people noticed the potential dating relationship there but I was totally blind to it until God opened my eyes. It was at a friends groom’s party…He got up to say how grateful he was to be marrying his best friend and how she was a best friend to him and how their relationship was like a best friend…Get the picture? I was floored by his confession. After that hanging out with my best friend seemed weird because I felt like she was my wife, we would go to the grocery store, out to eat, to church, practically everything we used to do as friends now seemed as if we were married. It freaked me out!! Not in a bad way but in a way that was unfamiliar. I knew I wanted to get married, have kids and all the blessings of family and now I felt it was here right in front of my eyes all the time. We eventually started dating, got engaged and then married all within the year. We’ve been married now for about 13 years and it’s been good and bad, but most of all it’s been awesome having someone to love and someone to love me unconditionally.
Do you still struggle with thoughts of homosexuality? Yes I still struggle with the thoughts of homosexuality but isn’t that what we all do with whatever sin we are tempted by. I believe you have to see sin is sin to God, He doesn’t say this one is worse off that the next or that one deserves more or less condemnation. To God we all fall short and He gave His Son for all of us, not just the one who don’t practice homosexuality. Romans 3:21-31
How do you cope within your marriage with these struggles? We both handle things thru openness, prayer and getting help. We realized we can’t do marriage on our own, we need people who love us and are willing to tell up the truth about ourselves. We also made a commitment to each other that we don’t believe in divorce, to make the decision to love each other and to keep God and His word in our marriage. We had a rough year a few years back where I turned back to homosexuality and had sex with men. It was the hardest thing I had to do but I told my wife and got open with friends and eventually my marriage got to a better place.
Now to answer your last few questions in these few short sentences:
I believe we are not put here on this earth to discriminate in any form. The world is not perfect and there are no perfect people in it, so how can anyone judge what is right or wrong for a particular person. The only thing we should be concerned with is how we love God, how we love others and how we love ourselves. I imagine it as God seeing us as children, treating and loving us as such. He wants the best for us, He hopes we will make the right decisions and He is gracious with us. Isn’t this how we should be if we call ourselves God followers…want the best for others graciously, hope for others, that they will find the truth and be the extension of God’s grace since we are created in His image. God doesn’t need me to defend His church or His word. Who am I to think that I can stand in front of God? The only thing I can do is Love His creations and follow the truth of His word 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and 1 Peter 4:8-11. My nephew is gay and he lives with us. I know he sees my life with my wife and how loving we are to each other, and to him and how gracious we are. I believe when he has his turning point, he will look back on his experiences living with us and make the best decision for him and his relationship with God.
See what I mean? I knew from this story, you would get a sense of why he is so admired. I always wanted to ask these questions – without offense to anyone, and he allowed me.
Next upcoming blog, “I love God, He loves me, and I gotta have Sex with my Dates.!” (Title pending.)
S. Arikah Nash Baly-Jensen, Founder, Two Hearts Offline Matchmaking