As it turns out, Chris was an HIV-positive gay man who had been out of prison under a year after a sentence for dealing drugs in the gay party scene around the country. How's that for a little bit of a different perspective on the world than this little sheltered mk had?
It was an amazing story to hear, and one I got to hear more of over the next four years. Chris was on my husband's floor and he and I were in Gospel Choir together (a truly amazing experience). I got to hear him give his testimony before several inner-city African American churches. I came like and deeply respect him as a man of strength with a gentle heart.
How Chris became a Christian is an incredible story. After he left home to live a gay lifestyle, his mother and then his father became Christians and his mother began praying on her knees for Chris every day. For years. I got to see her at several of the Gospel Choir events. After Chris was thrown in prison, he found a Bible in a trash can and began reading. He turned his life around and followed Jesus in his prison years, and when I met him he'd only been out of prison about six months as he began education to go into full-time ministry. Chris went on to get an MA from Wheaton and is now back at Moody as a professor.
I recently read Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son's Journey to God. A Broken Mother's Search for Hope, Chris's book. He and his mother wrote it together, telling their two sides of the story.
One thing that was new to me in the book was the story of Chris's wrestling with his sexuality while he was in prison after he'd become a Christian.
This is a couple of paragraphs from this section of Chris's book:
Did I have an identity apart from my sexual orientation? I really struggled with this, especially my first year in prison. For the longest time, I knew that God had created me this way - gay. I had told myself over and over, I am gay. I was born this way. This is who I am. I never chose to have these feelings. As I searched the Scriptures for the way I should live, I began to ask myself a different question: Who am I apart from my sexuality? I didn't have an answer.It was interesting to hear the way Chris processed this while in prison and processing mostly alone. All in all it's a dramatic story from a good man.
As I continued to read the Bible, I realized that my identity shouldn't be defined by my sexuality. Paul said in Acts 17:28, 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' Christ should be everything - our all in all. My sexual orientation didn't have to be the core of who I was...
I realized that I shouldn't focus on homosexuality or even heterosexuality, but on the one thing that God calls everyone to: holy sexuality. Holy sexuality was not focused on orientation change - becoming straight - but on obedience. And obedience meant, no matter what my situation, no matter what my feelings - gay or straight - I must obey and be faithful to God.