Protestors. Death threats. Misleading newspaper articles. In the days leading up to a talk I was doing on campus at North Carolina State University last year, the environment consistently became increasingly hostile. I was simply speaking about my story of struggling with sexuality issues, and how God’s overwhelming grace had rescued my soul. Why the hostility from the LGBT community on campus? It was because my very existence is a threat to the foundation on which they have built their lives, their identities, and ultimately their value and hope. Which is why they feel so threatened by anyone who dares to say they could live any other way.
Being raised on a farm in Nebraska, I grew up experiencing nothing but same-sex attraction. By the time I was in my teens I identified as gay. As with anyone else who is gay, I felt like “I was just born this way.” I grew up during a time when our culture was undergoing a major shift, and LGBT people were becoming more and more accepted. As I was confused and trying to figure out what to do with the feelings I was having, culture was screaming at us, “if you have same sex attraction, you were born with it and you need to be gay to be happy and healthy.” That’s the narrative which was fed to me. I would go on to accept that dogma, because I thought I had no other choice.
But then I came to know Jesus and my whole world changed! I later walked away from my homosexual life. I knew that if I was going to live out a faith based on God’s Word, I had to surrender to ALL of God’s Word, not just the parts that were easy, convenient, or made sense. Walking away from my LGBT life didn’t always make sense, because it felt to the depth of my soul that “this is just the way I am!” But, over the years God chipped away at my gay identity and started to untwist what my heart had twisted.
I still struggle occasionally. Once in a while I catch a glimpse of a guy who I find attractive, and I have to repent. With that said, however, my life, and my attractions are so different now than they were a decade ago. God shined His light in my heart to show me places where I was looking to men to find value and wholeness. He showed me the idolatry in my heart. Now, I have instead been able to find wholeness in Christ. The further I have been away from that community/lifestyle/identity, the less normal/natural it seems. I am now in a healthy relationship with a woman which is leading towards marriage. And it’s all from God’s grace! That’s what sanctification does.
It is a fact that even if we were born with same-sex desires, we still have a choice in how we live our lives — we have free will! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can wake up every morning and choose to live a life that is pure, holy, and pleasing to God — no matter what attractions, temptations, and desires we have — or not! So in that sense, it does not matter if one is born gay or not.
What am I Free to Choose?
I am always discerning in how I use the word choice, and so should all Christians. I didn’t choose to have same sex attraction. Nor could I just choose to turn it off. It is only after I chose to stop resisting the Holy Spirit and chose to surrender my life to Christ that I gained God’s power to make hard choices — free choices — to deny my flesh and take the way of escape God promises to provide when we face temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Romans 8:26-27 states, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” The current belief of the LGBT community and secular society at large is that “gay people are born gay.” That is used as justification of their lifestyle, and justification of not only acceptance, but forced celebration.
After living in the gay community, leaving it, and now being in a ministry where I have helped hundreds of people work through their own wrestling of same-sex attraction and faith, I adamantly do not believe that we are “born gay.” That debate, however, is for another day. The scope of this article is to show that even if I am wrong about being “born that way,” it simply does not matter and is irrelevant.
What does matter is that I once was, and no longer am gay. Not only I, but thousands like me! It does not mean that a switch is flipped, and all the same-sex attraction goes away. It does not even mean that you can “pray away the gay.” It means that over the course of our lifetime, God sanctifies us, shows us the idols we are serving, and through ongoing sanctification, He untwists what our sinful hearts have twisted. Which means we can find our wholeness through Him, instead of acquiring it through idolatry of another person. I’ve seen the idolatry in my own heart, and the hundreds of others who I have ministered to. But, there is true freedom is choosing to submit to Christ, instead of things of the world!
There are no studies proving that people are born gay. Some people have bought into the rhetoric and claim that there are studies that “prove” it, however, every time I ask to see these supposed “proofs” these same people have never provided anything but assertions. And even if we were born gay it is still irrelevant. After all, the Bible makes it clear that we are all born into sin. We are all born with sinful inclinations and a deceitful heart. So why is there such a strong rhetoric, claiming that people who feel gay have no choice but to act gay? It is because the entire narrative pushing the gay agenda in our culture relies on it.
Brady Cone Exists!
The LGBT community tries to claim that people like me don’t exist — but we do! Thousands of us. They try to claim we don’t exist, because our mere existence completely derails their entire narrative. Their narrative and agenda rely on convincing people that some have no choice but to be or act gay, just like white people are born white and black people are born black. But, the fact that people like me change shows that they are wrong and illustrates that sexuality is fluid, controllable, and cannot be put on the same level as other aspects of our personhood such as race.
The push of not only equality—but forced acceptance, relies on them making their sexuality a part of who they are—a piece of them which is central to their humanity. Which is why they feel so threatened by someone like me. My very existence—proving that people with same-sex attraction don’t have to live as gay—pulls the rug out from under every piece of justification they have in their push for equality, acceptance, and forced celebration.
I have lived through such a unique time in our culture. Growing up wrestling with gay feelings and attractions, I felt extremely rejected by those around me. But a mere 15 to 20 years later, the rejection comes from our culture for merely choosing to not live as a gay man. Our culture claims that how I live is dangerous. They claim it is irresponsible, dangerous, and outright cruel to expect people to deny themselves from the feelings of what comes natural to them. However, it is only cruel if sex and romantic relationships are central to our humanity. But they are not. So what is more dangerous? A culture which claims “sex and romantic relationships with whoever you please is central to your humanity and without it you are not complete” or a faith in which our savior Jesus comes along and says, “I have set you free because everything you need for your humanity and your eternity is freely given by me.”
Back to North Carolina
Throughout sharing my story of wrestling with sexuality—and how God’s love and grace is sufficient for every one of us—the back of the room was filled with hundreds of protestors holding up signs. Throughout the question and answer session, LGBT members of the audience and the protestors tried to cause disturbances and ridicule me. One person went as far as saying they wished I had pulled the trigger on the gun back when I had almost committed suicide as a hurting 13 year old boy.
But there was one student that night, whose heart was open to the message of God’s love and grace. His name was Levi, and he was one of the protestors in the back of the room. As he stood there holding his sign with his fellow LGBT comrades, something was stirring in his heart. He stood there, watching his community respond to me with such vicious hatred—all while I responded to them with tenderness and grace.
As he stood there, a thought was racing through his head. He kept thinking, “I’m standing on the wrong side of hate.”
Levi slipped out as soon as the event was over and went back to his dorm room. That same week he reached out to his old youth pastor from high school, and a couple of Christian friends. When I first heard from him months later, he had left the gay community, and said goodbye to his gay identity. He was thriving in his relationship with the Lord. In that moment, in that room, God had shined the light of His truth in Levi’s heart, as He had done in mine over a decade ago. Levi discovered that his sexuality was not central to his humanity, nor could it provide him with any type of wholeness. Only Christ could do that.
Today, Levi is walking in freedom, which was bought for him on the cross. He has found peace and joy, and the freedom to deny himself and chooses to live a life that is pure, holy, and in line with God’s Word. Levi and I are the people Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 6:11, while speaking of homosexuals he states “that is what some of you were,” (emphasis added) “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
– Brady Cone