If you have had a relationship with Jesus Christ for very long, you know that you can’t just push Him out of your mind indefinitely. I couldn’t! All the joyful memories of God’s goodness and Jesus Christ’s love for me kept returning to mind.

When I was about 13, I had a public school teacher who was unashamedly Christian. I found myself talking with her after class often. Mrs. S. could see that I was raised in a Christian environment but was experiencing a painful internal struggle, though I don’t believe she ever realized it was connected with gay attractions. She kept urging me to pray and read the Bible.

Thinking about prayer and the Bible brought back even more positive feelings. I just could not escape my emotionally charged recollections of my grandmother sincerely singing that Jesus satisfied her desires like nothing else or memories of my father’s answered prayer. It was clear to me that if I wanted to walk away from Christianity, I would be walking away from something very real, powerful, and deeply satisfying.

I knew I had to carefully consider leaving Jesus and not just push it out of my mind.

After much reading, prayer, and listening to recorded sermons, I saw I was faced with a stark choice: it was gay sex or Jesus Christ, a relationship with one or the other, but not both. Jesus was literally asking me to give up the most important thing in the world to me — that is, to give up all hope of a sexual relationship with another guy!

Remember, this hope of future sexual pleasure was what first kept me from suicidal thoughts. And yet I just couldn’t deny that my spiritual experiences as a Christian had been pretty good.

But were they better than sex? At this point, God had opened my eyes. If God could take care of me in all the ways He had already done, couldn’t He save me from the current “hell” of bullies? Wasn’t the future “heaven” of a gay relationship with a flawed man actually a fake substitute for the real heaven of a living, joyful, powerful relationship with God?

I don’t know how to put this defining moment in my life adequately into words, but after looking at both ways I could go — gay sex or Jesus Christ — I knew which way I gladly wanted to go. And I knew that God himself would be with me, helping me as I walked that way.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25 (NIV)

With joy I chose to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus — to lose my gay life so that I would find a real life in Christ! I could drop what I believed to be the temporary, destructive pleasure of gay sex to have the perfect eternal joy of God’s fellowship!

Dropping a lesser pleasure is no problem when you replace it with a better one!

I have no regrets, and I have never turned back even though I have been weak and tempted more often than I care to admit. My choice was a permanently life-altering one that God enabled me to make.

And He keeps enabling me to make it as He walks with me every day!

Have you ever joyfully given up something very important to you because you believed it was incompatible with being a Christian? Have you struggled to give something up for Jesus? What enables you or hinders you from doing that?

* Photo courtesy Greg Khng, Creative Commons.

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