Testimonies of redeemed homosexuals should be commonplace, Paulk says
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--Individuals can be delivered from the homosexual lifestyle.
It's a message that John Paulk gives regularly, and one he believes should be heard in churches of all sizes.
Paulk knows firsthand that Jesus Christ can deliver men and women from homosexuality. He spent years in the homosexual community, marching in gay pride parades and even working for a short time as a male prostitute.
But today Paulk is married and serves on the staff of Focus on the Family, traveling around the country to tell others how Christ saved him from his sinful lifestyle.
Paulk spoke at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary as part of a one-day symposium March 5 held by Focus on the Family. A team from the Colorado-based ministry founded by psychologist James Dobson briefed the seminary community on current issues related to homosexuality, with an aim toward formulating a biblical response.
Saying that stories like his are not rare, Paulk challenged Southern Baptist pastors to have someone like him speak to their churches.
"Testimonies like these need to be a dime a dozen," Paulk said. "They need to be boring to you. You need to have heard them so many times that it's not big news anymore. We need to get into churches and tell this story. ... This is the No. 1 social evil that we are facing, and it's drastically changing our culture. We need to let people know that Jesus Christ can love and redeem them."
In 1998 Paulk and his wife were featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine as part of a story about transformed homosexuals. The Paulks have written two books, including "Love Won Out."
"We have to remember who our enemy is and is not," he said. "It's very easy to get riled up and angry. ... We have to remember that our enemy is the enemy -- our enemy is Satan. Our enemy is not people.
"Thousands of men and women have [been] freed from homosexuality through Jesus Christ. He can heal anything, right?"
Paulk, saying that a "deep-seeded core of rejection" lies at the root of homosexuality, explained how he gradually became immersed in the lifestyle.
He grew up in a non-Christian home, and his parents divorced when he was 5. Paulk then lived with his mother.
"Because of that lack of Christian faith -- that lack of tradition -- my parents had no moral background to make decisions upon," he said. "... That divorce was extremely profound. It took a devastating effect on my life and the life of my young sister."
Paulk had no brother or father to serve as a male role model. The older he got, the more confused he became. He was ridiculed during his childhood and teenage years, often being the last one picked on sports teams.
"I wish that I had had a father, or an uncle or a grandfather or an older brother that would have walked alongside me to show me what it meant to be a boy," he said. "We have to be taught those things. We don't just wake up and know what it's like to be male or be female. Of course our biology tells us what our gender is, but those things have to be taught to us. We have to be nurtured into our gender."
Because of his lack of male role models at home, Paulk said he began to admire the male sports figures at school. He wanted them "to tell me I was OK, to show me how to date, and all the things that normal kids know how to do."
Paulk said he did have feelings of attraction toward the opposite sex.
"When I first started going through puberty, I was attracted to girls," he said. "I felt all those wonderful feelings you feel as a teenager when you get excited about the opposite sex. I tried a very few attempts at dating, and I think if I had been nurtured in the right ways my heterosexuality would have gone on and developed. I really had all those feelings and urges."
But, he said, a sense of inadequacy caused his dating life to be short-lived.
"When I started going through puberty, and I went through the ages of 16, 17, 18, I was so intensely curious about guys because I didn't feel like I fit in with them," he said. "These longings to be part of them and to be liked by them got confused. This was subconscious. I didn't realize that this was going on."
Soon, his feelings for men became "eroticized."
"I envied other men because I knew I was not like them. I so wanted to be like them," he said.
For his senior year in high school Paulk attended a performing arts school. There, he said he met other boys who had been ostracized at their schools. He had found camaraderie.
Paulk was introduced to the homosexual lifestyle on his 18th birthday in 1981, when a group of friends played a joke by taking him to a gay bar in a dark side of town.
"I finally felt for the first time in my life I had found a place I was accepted and wanted," he said. "I was no longer different. I thought, 'Where have you people been hiding all my life?' I finally fit in."
Paulk said that "Satan had his grasp" on him. Paulk began telling his friends and family members that he was gay.
"I figured at that time that ... I was born that way," he said. "That's what everybody said, so that was easy to buy into. My parents believed that you were born this way. That's what they had seen in the media -- Phil Donahue, Oprah and the whole bit."
He shaved his hair into a mohawk and dyed it pink. He became a homosexual activist and marched in gay pride parades. He would walk down one side of the street, and people would cross the street so as not to get near him.
"People were just repelled by me," he said.
When he was 19 and desperate for money, he answered an ad in the newspaper and became a male prostitute.
"The things you hear about the gay lifestyle by and large are very true," he said. "There is a tremendous amount of promiscuity -- both in male and female relationships, but more so in male."
Homosexuals are promiscuous for a reason, he said.
"When people of the same gender try to connect, it doesn't inevitably work, because God didn't design us to connect," he said. "Someone of the same gender cannot fulfill you. They cannot complete you. They are not ultimately compatible with you because they are just like you.
"Homosexual relationships do not last because you're trying to bond with [someone] that you're identical with. It gets boring and it gets old, and you have the exact same needs as the other person. ... This insatiable hunger continues and continues for love and fulfillment. That's one of the main reasons there is so much promiscuity -- you are trying to fill a deep, legitimate need through sexual acting-out. What you really need is someone to come along beside you and meet the emotional longings and cravings of your heart."
Throughout his homosexual lifestyle, Paulk said he was fearful of Christians and Christianity. Whenever someone started talking about God, he "would just duck and bow out of the room."
But God soon placed a Christian couple in his life. While working at a printing company, Paulk met a Christian man and woman who frequented the business. They were friendly to him, and he noticed. Their attitudes contrasted to his bitterness and sarcasm.
"They were always happy, and I just wanted to go up and slap them," he said, laughing. "I didn't think anyone could be that happy all the time. I had never seen that or experienced that."
Over time, Paulk began wanting to experience the faith that his new friends had. The Holy Spirit was working in his heart.
Finally, in January 1987, Paulk knelt down at the foot of his bed and asked Christ into his life.
"I remember saying to him specifically, 'I don't know how to get out of homosexuality, but it's your love and acceptance that drew me, and it's the truth and conviction of your Word that will keep me,'" Paulk said.
He said American society makes it difficult for homosexuals to come out of their sinful lifestyle.
"It's very difficult for people in this situation," he said. "Society, the American Psychiatric Association - they all say it's not possible. The church does not know what to do with it, so there is really no place for people like me to go to get help and to come out of homosexuality. We want to live righteously for Christ."
Paulk said at times it has been tough for him as well.
"Many times the Lord has challenged me on that - through the very difficult years of trying to come out of homosexuality in the face of a society that says it is impossible," he said.
God also provided Paulk a wife. In 1992 he married Anne, who had come out of lesbianism. They have two children. God has also healed the relationship with Paulk's parents. He says that relationship "is so much better now."
Paulk said it's easy to identify the reasons why an individual entered the homosexual lifestyle - simply by looking at the person's life.
"Because people are not born homosexual, they have to get that way somehow," he said. "People do not wake up one day and say, 'Gee, I think I'll be gay today.' I think the church in the United States has done a very grave disservice to people that deal with homosexuality by giving pat answers and throwing out cliches."
The church, he said, must accept homosexuals -- in the same way it accepts all other sinners.
"The Bible does not categorize one sin as worse than another," he said. "We all struggle with sin in various forms. ... Homosexuality is just another sin that you can struggle with.
"All too few Christians are willing to open their eyes and their ears to this message."
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: A HEART FOR HOMOSEXUALS.