Telling the world ‘Jesus led me out of gay life’

1:00am Sunday, 2nd May 2010

Haydn Sennitt

On the 24th of February 2010, a couple of nights before Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, my wife and I appeared on the ABC to share my testimony of how I came out of the gay life by the strength of Christ.
I had been approached by the journalist, Monique Schafter, about three weeks prior to the story’s airing on Hungry Beast, asking whether or not I wanted to be part of an objective segment discussing homosexuality and change. My name had been put forward to Schafter by a former pastor and a spokesman for people who claim to be both gay and Christian,Anthony Venn-Brown, as someone who could offer an orthodox Christian perspective on the issue.
When I was approached I had to think carefully about whether or not I really wanted to appear: even though my surname wasn’t mentioned in the segment, people would recognise my face, track down my blog, find me on Facebook, and do all sorts of other things. Pro-gay and ex-gay organisations alike in the United States, including Exodus International, had linked the segment a day later and forums were ablaze.
A week later, senior members of the Sydney Anglican diocese whom I’d never met before were contacting me offering their encouragement, prayers, and assistance. I had to count the cost of what I was about to do, not just for myself but also for my wife and children, and others such as my in-laws in South Korea. It wasn’t an easy decision to make because such things always have unintended consequences, both good and ill, including heightened spiritual and personal attacks. 
Yet in the end I decided to cast my bread upon the waters, as Ecclesiastes says, and listen to God by sharing my testimony.  My reason was simple: I felt that someone had to stand up for the truth and be a light on a hill in a very, very, dark spiritual place: the place of the gay world.
Someone needed, and still needs, to put their face to a story of redemption about being saved from the darkness of ‘gay’ living because the days are short and people are going to hell. Someone with enough love for God and sinners and enough conviction to put their head above the parapet—even if it means getting one’s head blown off—to win even a few to the Truth, which was something that I thought was worthwhile. I just had to step out because no-one else was doing it. Risky times call for risky measures, in a sense. It was a matter of asking myself whether I’d be a man or a mouse and risk it for the sake of saving some.  I think if I had seen someone share a testimony like mine when I was struggling with my sexuality as a young adult I would have been incredibly encouraged and been spared a lot of folly. Sadly, the ex-gay ministry in Sydney has been in a state of chronic fear and reluctance to engage the media and I felt this was letting down others like myself who could really do with a testimony of encouragement. I didn’t choose to share my testimony as much as I felt strongly compelled to do so.
On the night of the interview going to air, I went to the ABC studio in Chippendale and participated in an online forum. For the ABC it was a first to have so many comments pouring in for a Hungry Beast segment: I was fielded about 10 questions and comments per minute for an hour and it was impossible to answer them all.
I had to be choosy about which things I replied to and when I did, I kept in mind only one thing: bring everything back to Jesus. Bring it all back to the Scriptures, which are profitable for reproof, correction, and saving the lost (2 Tim. 3:16–17). I wanted to demonstrate that it isn’t my faith that heals me, I don’t heal me, my friends don’t heal me, my wife doesn’t heal me. Only Jesus heals me. Nothing takes the place of Jesus, not even family, marriage, and kids. I wanted people to see that so that it wasn’t me or gay sexuality as the issue but the need for JESUS. 
I wanted the audience to see not simply the truth about Jesus but that God actually cares about people. That He loves them. That He even loves gay people, a group that many Christians consider untouchable, freakish, outlandish, and just plain bizarre.
I wanted to demonstrate in no uncertain terms that God really does care about how gay people live, not because He’s a perverted prude but because He made people in His image and wants them to use their bodies for His glory. Even if they never get married, they must be in relationship with Jesus and God wants to know them with their hearts fully surrendered to Him.
God gives His people His Spirit and a community of believers to be surrounded with to ensure that they can stay strong in Him, like coals in a fire. I wanted to demonstrate from Scripture that Jesus in the Ultimate Healer (Isaiah 53) who can sympathise with His weak brethren (Hebrews 2:14–15), empowering them to say ‘No’ to sin (Titus 2:11–14) in order to bring glory to their Maker. The promise in Revelation 21:7 and throughout that book is that those who surrender to Jesus and hold fast to Him will withstand the last day and live lives of blessing.
Yet it wasn’t simply to gay people who don’t know Jesus that I aimed my comments at. I also dealt with those who claim to have Christ as Saviour but continue to live in gay relationships. For them my message was that if we are truly saved by Jesus then we obey His word to be godly and pure, free of any skerrick of sexual immorality (Ephesians 5:3). It was to highlight that it’s not enough to call Jesus “Lord Lord!” (Matthew 7:21–23) but that the Christian must always submit in heart-felt obedience to Christ, denying his desires, no matter how natural they seem to him. We must change for God, rather than changing Him to suit our agenda.
I aimed to combat the common misconception among liberal pro-gay Christians that the Bible is silent on homosexuality and show that it indeed has much to say on the subject, particularly Genesis 2–3, 19; Leviticus 18:22, 20:13; Judges 19:16-30, Matthew 19:4–6; Romans 1:18–32; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; 1 Timothy 1:8–11; Jude 7, Revelation 21:8. As I commented on the forum, I had my Bible next to the keyboard, referencing it every once in a while to ensure that I was quoting it faithfully and sufficiently. 
As the night wore on, my opponent Venn-Brown quipped that he was surprised to see how “theological” I had become in quoting Scripture. With that throwaway, I couldn’t help laughing! How could anyone who calls himself a Christian, which Venn-Brown does, not quote God’s Word when discussing the topic of human sexuality?! Avoiding the Bible denies the power of God and makes the discussion merely a matter of Anything Goes.  I wanted my participation on Hungry Beast to be a testimony of God’s power, not mine: a display of His Word come to life. I pray that my mission succeeded.
Haydn’s bloghttp://fjordsofzion.wordpress.com/2010/02/25/my-abc-interview/
Haydn’s testimony on the ABC http://hungrybeast.abc.net.au/media/gay-conversion

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