“I never chose to be gay; I was born this way.”
“I’ve felt same-sex attraction since I was very young.”
“Who would choose to be gay? If it were actually a choice, I would have chosen to be heterosexual. My life would be so much easier.”
“I believe God created people to be gay; therefore, how can it be a sin?”
The statements above were made by Scott Barefoot during the ten years that he openly practiced the behavior of homosexuality. The gay community with whom he surrounded himself reinforced his beliefs.
Love. Peace. Happiness. When Scott read his Bible or went to church, these were the things he was searching for. When his definitions of “love” and “happiness” differed from God’s, he moved on.
Scott moved on from the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod* of his childhood during the time he was a practicing homosexual to attend a church where 80 percent of the members identified themselves as gay or lesbian. The pastor went to great lengths to spin the interpretation of God’s Word and did not address the spiritual danger that threatened to consume Scott.
Do not judge became Scott’s “go to” scripture. If he needed to tweak God’s Word to justify sexual relationships with other men, he did so. But something was happening to change Scott’s perspective.
Scott held the prestigious position of Clinical Assistant to the Director of Interventional Cardiology at a large hospital in the Washington, D.C., area. He immersed himself in the gay “Christian” community, had plenty of cool guys seeking to date him, and brushed aside guilt in order to celebrate his sexual freedom. Then Scott learned he was HIV positive.
For a year, Scott was in severe depression. Slowly, he came face to face with the realization that his “unnatural and unrepentant behavior” had placed him in physical and spiritual danger. He had wrapped Jesus around his sensual desires and, in so doing, moved farther away from God. But how could he ever change? How could he overcome same-sex attraction?
On his own, Scott could not change. But through the work of the Holy Spirit, Scott acknowledged that he was sinning against God and his own body. Like King David, Scott felt God’s hand “heavy upon” him and his “strength was dried up” (Ps. 32:3-5). Scott, the creature, was led to trust the pure Word of his Creator. At the foot of the Cross, Scott confessed that his behavior was not pleasing to God and, with the shedding of any notion of a sensual identity, he was set free in Christ to continue living as a redeemed child of God.
But redeemed children of God are not promised an easy life. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Scott—like every one of us—is called to resist earthly temptations and persevere in Christ.
Scott did not wake up one magical day with a natural attraction to women. He may never marry or father children, but he finds peace in celibate singleness that gives him freedom to grow in the Lord. He can choose to live in a way that honors God and does not tempt others. He is free to shine light in dark places and help others know that release from sexual captivity is possible.
Like an alcoholic who never returns to a bar, Scott explains, “I am no longer captive to a destructive behavior . . . The Holy Spirit led me to make my exodus from the fantasy land of thinking I could live as a practicing homosexual and still be right with God.”
This is the message that Scott brought to my hometown during the weekend of April 9-10. His visit was sponsored by the Lighthouse Center of Hope, a pregnancy and family life center. Why? Because at the Lighthouse, we see young people struggling with the deception of a sexual identity. We want male and female to know who they are in Christ and why that matters. So we invited Scott to speak to teens, parents, and pastors. At three different locations, Scott shared his story and offered wise and sensitive counsel.
Scott does not stand alone. In my book, The Failure of Sex Education in the Church: Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity, I quote another man who turned from his homosexual practice while in study of God’s Word. Christopher Yuan writes, “My primary identity didn’t have to be defined by my feelings or sexual attractions. My identity was not ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual,’ or even ‘heterosexual,’ for that matter. My identity as a child of the living God must be in Jesus Christ alone.” Christopher continues, “God did not say, Be heterosexual, for I am heterosexual. God says, ‘Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy’ (1 Peter 1:15-16).” (Out of a Far Country, p. 187-188)
The opposite of holy is common, referring to things that can be used by anyone. But to be holy means to be uncommon and useable by God. Once Scott let go of his proud identity as “gay,” he could begin to see himself as God does. He is called by name (Is. 43:1)! He is an heir of God (Ro. 8:17)! He has come out of darkness and into the light (1 Pt. 2:9) for God’s good purpose. From the time of Scott’s baptism, the Holy Spirit was faithfully at work in him. The world and his own sinful nature did not want Scott to change. But change for this repentant man was possible because of mercy and grace.
Scott told me, “I was, but now I am.” The Word of the New Testament explains —
Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
If you are a Christian struggling with same-sex attraction, Scott has a message of hope for you. If you are a parent concerned about a son or a daughter, Scott has resources and helpful advice. Please contact him or visit his ministry, People of Grace.
In Jesus Christ you, too, have mercy and grace.
* Scott returned to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.
Linda Bartlett is the president and co-founder of
The Lighthouse Center of Hope in Iowa Falls, IA.