One of the regular listeners to my daily radio broadcast is a man named Randy who lives in New York City. His story is painful to read but heartwarming in the end.
I’ve never met Randy in person, but he would sometimes send me a note saying that while he really enjoyed listening to my show, I was being too hard on gays and lesbians. Of course, I can’t write back to the vast majority of people who contact our ministry, but I tried to write back to him, explaining that my issue was with gay activism, not with gay people, and it was the activist issues I would sometimes address on my show. As for the LGBT community itself, I assured him that I had nothing but love for them and that if he listened to my words carefully, he would recognize that.
Two weeks ago, we had another email exchange, and I asked him directly, “Isn’t your real struggle that you’re trying to be gay and love Jesus at the same time?”
He immediately replied with this gut-wrenching email:
“You are so correct, Dr. Brown. For 39 years, I have had to struggle with being gay and loving Jesus. I am jealous of people who claim to have gone heterosexual. ... It is so far out of my reach, I cannot even fathom such a thing. I have been to more counseling, therapy, Exodus meetings, ex-gay ministries, even electric-shock therapy in a mental hospital. ...
“I turned 57 years old on April 18th, and I'm still gay. I did not choose to live a difficult lifestyle where you are belittled and hated—especially when the Baptist church I was brought up in, found out that I was gay. It's just a fact of life for me. I knew I was different when I was still a very little lad. I loved playing with girls ... I detested sports (and still do) ... I loved hanging out with my mother all the time ... sure you have heard this all before ... I truly believe I was born this way ... I don't want to go to hell ... just hope that God knows the struggles I have dealt with and I know He will judge me fairly ... I will always listen to your show ... I NEVER MISS IT!!! ... EVER!!! I listen to 570am [WMCA] from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday ... it is my best friend!!!! I have advanced HIV disease, so I don't work anymore ... so the radio is my friend ... Love you Brother.”
I wrote back to him immediately, asking him one more question, and he made clear to me that he was convinced that homosexual practice was sinful in God’s eyes, adding, “Dr. Brown, I fear that I have been given over to a ‘reprobate mind,’ and there is now no help for me. I will burn in hell for eternity.
“I have already started paying a price for my gay lifestyle—my last lover had HIV and committed suicide. I now have advanced HIV disease and numerous health problems and many of my family had turned away from me. However, these days, that doesn't seem to be so bad—since the gay thing is now pretty much accepted, they have come back to me ... a little at a time.
“What more can I say, Dr. Brown? Please pray for me—perhaps it is too late. Again, I will listen to you this afternoon, and every time you are on 570am ... the Christian radio station is my best friend!”
My heart was even more torn up now, and I wrote back and told him I would speak to him directly on the air the very next day—he told me to use his name freely, since there were thousands of Randys in New York—and he assured me he would be listening.
So, even though my broadcast that day was devoted to Jewish themes, I took time to read his email, fighting back the tears. (How can you read something like this without getting broken up? Can you imagine the pain he has lived with?) And then I addressed him directly, told him I felt the intensity of God’s love for him, assuring him that Jesus had died for every one of his sins, that God had not given him over to a reprobate mind (otherwise he would have no desire for God) and that the Lord wanted to embrace him with absolute, total, non-condemning love. He simply needed to turn away from his sinful practices and seek to be holy, by God’s grace, rather than try to be heterosexual. And I told him that he could live without sex and without a man in his life, but he could not live without the Lord, who wanted to be his best Friend. Then I urged my listeners to pray for him. (You can listen to my comments here, starting at the 7:30 mark.)
Shortly after the broadcast, I received this note from Randy: “THANK YOU DR. BROWN ... GOD BLESS YOU ... WE WILL STAY IN CLOSE TOUCH ... THANK ALL THE RADIO LISTENERS WHO PRAY FOR ME. Anyway, again, thank you again for your wise words; you have given me hope. I truly believe that we are living in the last days, and I want and need to be ready when Jesus returns.”
A few days later, when a listener called to inquire about Randy—obviously touched by his story—Randy wrote once more: “Again, thank you for your prayers, as well as the prayers of the listeners. I have never felt so loved and cared about.”
What breaks my heart is that there are countless thousands of men and women just like Randy, thinking God has condemned them to hell because they are same-sex attracted, and all too often the church has contributed to their sense of condemnation. Let’s reach out to them with compassion, pointing them to mercy and forgiveness in Jesus, to hope in the Lord and to the beauty of a holy life.
Isn’t that the very power of the gospel and the message of the cross?