When Gay Meets Grace: My Redemption Story pt8

NOTICE: This is the final installment in a multi-part blog post series. It is the testimony of James Jewell, Jr. Thank you for taking the time to read.

Psalm 119:33-37 tells us, “Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.” Biblical counseling did nothing for me (not to knock the brother in Christ or his counseling techniques). Only when the counselor was telling me what the Word of God said did it help. Which is how it should be. His homework did immerse me into studying God’s Word not just reading it daily. The cleaning process was God’s from the beginning so his Word would be the cleaning agent. I remember going to counseling once and sitting there feeling so let down that it seemed it wasn’t working. The counselor actually stated that I would be thrown into this vicious cycle of repentance, falling back into sin, then repentance again, then… well you get the picture. He even gave me an option of living with a married couple to see how biblical marriage was modeled. This terrified me as in my mind I could be tempted by the husband, or possibly even the wife. At the end of the session, I drove back to my friend’s home and sat in the car while parked in the drive feeling defeated. I began crying and praying, “Lord, that can’t be right. You said you would clean me. Though the amount is up to you, I don’t understand why you can’t fully give me complete deliverance.” This “vicious cycle” teaching didn’t seem fully trusting in the Lord or his Word and made me completely frustrated. The Holy Spirit said to me; “Stick with it. It’s not the counselor that is changing you, but me.” I just cried and praised God knowing that my Lord was making a personal investment in me. The verses above states exactly what my heart cried, and who the Teacher actually was during my time of counseling and cleaning. I made verse cards out of 3”x5” cards to memorize scripture. I went everywhere with them. Though I had a smartphone back in 2009-10 they weren’t as smart as they are today. If the Adversary tried to tempt me, I just reached for my pocket and with the Word withstood his arrows.

For two years my head literally “hurt” as God scoured my thoughts and washed my heart clean. I had given him full control, so nothing was off limits. We had lots of rooms and closets to clean in my thoughts and mind. When it came to my imagination it was more difficult to clean. Pornography had wrapped its tentacles around the prefrontal cortex damaging the circuits associated with reward, motivation, and memory. Memory was devastating to me as I was able to recall way too much of the porn I had viewed. It bothered me so much as it would take over at some of the most inopportune times causing me to retreat and pull out my Bible verse cards. At times it felt like I was experiencing seizures while God cleaned every… little… part… of… my… brain, including the prefrontal cortex. Headaches are nothing compared to God’s Sword and are a small price to pay for cleansing. Praise God his Word is, “Living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword”, Hebrews 4:12. God’s Word not only changed my mind; but my thinking process, my desires, and my worldview to match his. The only problem with all this cleaning was my sinful flesh.

I have never returned to a gay hookup or relationship, yet it took five more years before pornography and masturbation was being released from my grasp. Though a fuel pornography, along with masturbation, is also a sexual release. Meaning it had a different grip on me than sex. It was wound around my imagination so much so that only a flip of a switch could play and replay any video or film I had watched. Releasing control of watching porn was harder than not having homosexual sex as I didn’t feel “alone” with porn. The effects of porn on the brain have already been discussed, and I could talk even more about its disastrous wake on individuals and families. Yet, “a practice of masturbation tends to make one sexually independent. Married persons no longer look to their spouse exclusively for sexual pleasure and become less willing to give what it takes to satisfy and be satisfied completely with their partner. A single person has one less reason to make the kind of commitment needed for a godly marriage. It is virtually impossible to masturbate without fantasizing. Those who disagree are kidding themselves.” Hence the longevity cleaning process on my imagination. Biblical smartphone apps are the best as it makes it easy to access God’s Word! Yet, God lovingly showed me through his Word that I also had to trust in my Heavenly Father to lead the restoration process. As you can guess patience is not one of my strong points. My Lord has taken me through many tests several times to learn how to trust him more. 1 Corinthians 6:11 and Psalm 18 have both been rocks these past fifteen years. The naysayers want to discount, “And as such were some of you”, yet here others and I stand.

What God has miraculously done in this life is only for me to give him the glory he so richly deserves. The God I had in my head as a child was placed into a box that I thought could be contained. For 25 years I had kept him small and insignificant. Even when God tried to get out, I would stuff him back down. In place of an Almighty God, I had elevated myself with all my sinfulness into his rightful position. Now that he has broken free from that box, I see him as this fierce warrior defending his child. I could never place him into any box again. God graciously placed several Christian friends and their families into my path after coming back to him to make the journey easier. Two Christian brothers have become so special that I can’t imagine life here on Earth without them. Both know my story and keep me accountable to our Heavenly Father. Joining and attending a Church and being faithful to a men’s Bible study group has also played a huge role in staying on the narrow path. God’s steadfast love is what keeps me close to him as we walk life’s journey together, and yes, the journey hasn’t always been easy. He continues to teach and discipline as needed, all the while prying my hands off things he no longer wants in my life. He has taught me to become more receptive of letting things go all the while learning to press ever more into him through the process.

Trust is difficult for me, and no I haven’t figured out why, but my Lord continues to teach me to trust him instead of relying on self. Progressive sanctification is life-long, yet his grace is always sufficient for every day. Those “things” I had to sell in order to leave my life of sin? Those are memories that God has restored multi-fold, including a vehicle and a home with furniture that he picked out for me. Each are both complete stories in and of themselves. You might ask about my health. I was checked within the first year for HIV and it came back negative. Every couple of years I get checked and it remains negative. My heart, my head, and my body truly belong to Christ. So I’ve come to accept that should God allow me to acquire a sexually transmitted disease all these years later it was part of his plan and doesn’t surprise him at all. Restoration with my brothers and their families have been the biggest blessing, and something I didn’t think possible. God did, and he even brought me closer to former Christian friends. You might ask, “So where do you stand on the spectrum of being homosexual vs heterosexual?” In reality I don’t think of where I stand on anybody’s spectrum. It’s where I stand with my Lord that is important. If I had to think about it, I would say that I am a heterosexual man with SSA tendencies. Those SSA tendencies are so diminished they no longer have the control they once had. I am the man that God wants me to be instead of the world dictating what I should be. My goal in life is to remain in love with my Lord and Savior, Yeshua, and to tell others that through him change is possible. This is my Redemption Story.

Grace and peace, James

Scripture from ESV, Crossway Publishers, 2001

Quoted portion from Pure Life Ministries

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