FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 18, number 13, March 28, 2019
“Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” -2 Corinthians 5:17
Can Homosexuals Really Change?
Maybe you know of Dennis Jernigan. He is a contemporary Christian singer-songwriter. Perhaps his best known song is You Are My All in All. I met Dennis when I preached at the God’s Voice Conference in Oklahoma City a few weeks ago. Dennis led our worship time to open up each of our sessions. He told us during one of the worship times that he had been a homosexual, but was converted, born again, and is married to his wife for over thirty years. They have nine children and eleven grandchildren all, I believe, under the age of five. He put a picture of his entire family on the screen, and said, “None of this would have happened if Jesus had not saved me.”
I was intrigued by Dennis’ story, particularly in light of all we are hearing today from the Revoice people who tell us that homosexuals rarely change, that this is their lot in life due to Adam’s sin, that at best they must learn to live with their same-sex attraction for the rest of their lives, that this is an orientation issue, much like the blind man in John 9 and the eunuch in Matthew 19. This idea of the implausibility of change in the homosexual is running rampant in the evangelical church. We are hearing more and more how same-sex attraction is an “enduring reality,” and that we must applaud those homosexuals who remain celibate and struggle on in life.
So, being intrigued by Dennis Jernigan’s testimony, I purchased his book Sing Over Me: An Autobiography. My friends, this is a wonderful book and I urge you to purchase a copy and read it. Dennis tells how he grew up on a farm with several brothers. His father loved him but actually never told him that until many years later. Dennis was very artistic, a very good drawer, and developed into an accomplished pianist. He was very sensitive and boys at school picked on him, bullying him, calling him a “fag” and a sissy. He was humiliated one day on the school ground by a bigger boy who beat him up while others just stood by and watched. One time when Dennis was around eight years old, while at a livestock auction, a man exposed himself to Dennis in a rest room. Dennis was appalled but began to wonder why the man did that to him. Coupled with his creative, artistic bent and being called a sissy and a fag, the exposure by this man caused him to think incorrectly about himself. He began to believe the lies of the evil one who told him that he was inferior, not a real boy. He thought he was weird, strange, not like other boys. He began to look at Encyclopedia Britannica pictures of nude men. He became possessed by this. By high school he was engaged in regular homosexual activity.
Then in 1981 Dennis was born again. You can read his story in the book. This is a a powerful story of God’s transforming grace. Dennis is often asked, “Did you lose your same-sex attraction immediately or did that take time? He says, “Both.” On the one hand, God took it away immediately but on the other hand he grew in his desire for the girl he later married. He says it is like an oak tree. The big, towering oak tree takes many years to grow to its size, but the acorn, from which the tree sprouted and grew, had everything in it to make the oak tree. It just took time and the proper conditions. The same was true with Dennis. And this reminds me of 2 Peter 1:3 where Peter tells the believers that they have everything they need pertaining to life and godliness.
Dennis Jernigan is right on the money with this issue. He repeatedly in the book talks about the choices he made. He chose to become a homosexual. He was not born that way. He did not simply fall into it nor did it somehow come upon him. He chose that path and this is always true of every sinner. Again, I urge you to buy and read Sing Over Me: An Autobiography, Innovo Publishing.
The great Puritan John Owen in his book Temptation and Sin observes that due to the imputation of Adam’s sin we are all prone to be rebels against God and His law. A child, at a very young age, chooses to sin in a particular way. If the parent does not “check” the child on his specific sin, then the child will continue in that sin until it becomes an ingrained and hardened reality. And of course the devil and the world are always telling the child that what he is doing is okay, no big deal.
One of our children once stole a troll doll from a deacon’s house when he was four years old. He really wanted that troll doll. We discovered what he did, gave him a good spanking, and made him return the troll doll, apologize, and ask for forgiveness. If we had not done our duty, if we had allowed him to continue to steal, sooner or later, since stealing was now his lifestyle, we would only be right to call him a thief. The same is true with the homosexual. He makes choices, perhaps from a very early age, and the longer he chooses homosexuality, the more it becomes ingrained in him, his own particular brand of sinning. And he convinces himself that he has always been a homosexual, that that is his orientation. But if that was true, then why would God judge him for that behavior (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)?
But thanks be to God that anyone, yes anyone, who is born again is a new creation in Christ. Homosexuality or same-sex attraction is not his identity. Being a thief or a fornicator is not his identity. God has exterminated his cobra heart on the cross, a heart which hated God and loved sin, and God has given him the heart of Jesus which hates sin and loves God.
This is the hope of every true believer. This is the message of hope every homosexual needs.
1. Temptation and Sin, John Owen, pages 117-130.