Updated Spring 2021
Born Gay or Not
a testimony of jesus christ in the Life of ron browning
Twenty-five years ago, I was a gay man, living as a chronic liar and professional thief. But on October 31, 1994 Jesus captured me with His grace and set me free! Today, I’m a new creation in Christ Jesus—my Righteousness. My Life. Praise God!
THE GOOD NEWS
From liar to truth-teller. From thief to legit. From a homosexual predator to faithful and pure. Getting saved changed me forever!
MY FUTURE… MY PRESENT… EVEN MY PAST…
All traded for Jesus’ Life living within—Jesus’ crucified, risen, and eternal glory living in me. An inexpressible joy! A salvation garden planted—all of grace, faith in Christ. My sin-dead rebellious spirit transformed—forgiven and made alive. Set free! As real repentance ignited saving faith within the depths of my spirit (Acts 11:18):
- my nature to sin miraculously exchanged for Jesus’ righteousness; to partake in His divine nature (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; 2 Peter 1:3-4)
- my identity of sins, supernaturally traded for Jesus’ living out His Life in me—right living (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27)
- my relationship with the power of sin died; powerfully resurrected into a living relationship with Jesus Christ, learning to daily overcome sin’s hunts, haunts, and habits (Romans 6:1-14; 1 Peter 1:3-9)
Hallelujah! That’s the good news! But why was it necessary? Why did I need to be rescued, and from what?
THE BAD NEWS
No, homosexuality doesn’t send anyone to hell. Not me. Not you. Not anyone. It took me a long time to understand it’s not about behavior; not even about passions of the heart; it’s about CONDITION. The condition of one’s spirit. And the eternal damning condition is humanity’s fallen nature, identity, and destiny.
My own fallenness. My sin nature that could only be exchanged; when repentance ignited saving faith, replacing my sin with Jesus’ righteous Life—His nature, His identity, His destiny.
Pastor Paul explains it like this. For our sake He (Father God) made Him (Jesus, Son of God) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV).
Pastor John clarifies. If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness… Whoever has the Son has Life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have Life (1 John 1:9; 5:12). That’s it! Seems simple, doesn’t it? Anyone who rejects Jesus is already destined for eternal death (John 3:18); because they lack the repentance that leads to Life (Acts 11:18). Such rejection, such blasphemy sends a person to an eternal death in a forever hell.
Because of this sin condition (i.e. my nature to sin), same sex attractions plagued me for over two decades, and the curiosities and pleasures of this craze kept me from true repentance and saving faith. Keeping me lost and spiritually dead-in-my-sin.
I just wasn’t willing to give up homosexual interests and passions. It was all-consuming! Gay thoughts and feelings riveted my heart, even as a young boy of six. The attractions I held for other boys wouldn't stop hunting and haunting. Capturing me with habits, I knew were wrong. Same sex attractions (SSA) and homosexual behavior pursued me, with an insatiable hunger and an unquenchable lust. I couldn’t stop; couldn’t get enough! …so—
DISHONESTY & DECEIT
Lying became deeply ingrained; always trying to hide my secret—my sexuality. Hiding. Always hiding. Trying to live two separate lives. On the one-hand, trying to live like a good Christian boy. On the other, trying to find safe places to express my sexuality. Until all the lies smothered every thought, choice, and feeling. So much so, that truth seldom crossed my mind, which lead me into a life marred by—
Theft (swindling, cheating, the con), my profession of choice. Convinced—really deceived—the only way to have the money, possessions, and pleasures I wanted was to take it.
To sum up the bad news, three motivating lies held me captive: 1) boys are more interesting than girls—sexually speaking, of course… 2) if I could spin the web just a little thicker, a little longer—the con just might save me… and 3) I deserved it now, not latter—I deserved to be rich, and have everything I want, when I want it…
Before getting saved, it seemed I could get away with almost anything. If I just kept talking and moving, the consequences of my sins and crimes were haunting but never fully realized. Getting saved removed that bogus safety net. And over the course of almost a decade, God used the courts and our legal system to teach me to tell the truth. Fraudulent crime faded into a distant memory; however, homosexuality was indeed a more difficult giant to defeat. Because the lie—I’m more interested in boys than girls—had seized every thought, choice, and feeling. Until everything and everyone had become sexualized.
My life was in chaos and shambles. I was miserable but didn’t know it. I was sin-dead and dying in my sins. Now that’s… BAD NEWS!
BORN GAY OR NOT: PART 1—GROWING UP HOMOSEXUAL
I don’t know why homosexuality plagued me. Was I born gay? Did relationships scar me in some way? Was there an event, or set of circumstances, that molded this preoccupation to sexualize everything?
I grew up in a Christian home, with parents who loved me. I was enjoyed by grandparents who treated me like a prince. I had amazing role models—adult men serving as respected leaders in family and church. So, why did I develop this obsession with sex and boys? Looking back on how my sexuality developed, three things cross my mind:
- an early exposure to adult male nudity, igniting an unrelenting curiosity… compounded by—
- an early exposure to sex—both the facts and the emotions I didn’t have the maturity to process… resulting in—
- a warped sense of masculinity and sexuality
Sounds like porn, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. I suppose it was a combination of both genetics and training. Predisposition and environment. Like you, I was born with a sin-dead spirit. My nature, identity, and destiny were dead because of sin. Deadening my whole being—spirit, soul, and body—with tendencies that leaned towards homosexuality. Why? I don’t know. What I do know is, the Bible teaches me that homosexuality is sin. Its thoughts, its choices, and its feelings. But let me clarify. There is a difference, between being tempted and choosing to sin. Gay thoughts and feelings are sinful, but often remain temptations that God’s Word teaches us how to escape and endure (1 Corinthians 10:13). It’s the dwelling on such thoughts and feelings that makes these sin and/or leads to sinful choices (James 1:14-15).
So, what exposed me as a six-year-old, to adult male nudity and sexual exploration with male peers? It doesn’t seem so out-of-sorts in 21st century culture, where sex themes postmodern media and the family dinner table. But in Christian community 1970’s, sex wasn’t really out-there to be found by just any curious young mind. TV, in general, didn’t offer any real nudity in the 70’s. Dallas was the raciest show back then. Wonder Woman questioned by some. Then in Christian community 1980’s (at least in my sphere of influence), you had to go looking for sex; because it wouldn’t come looking for you. Be that as it may, in my case, exposure came from family and home, really quite innocently. The intent was good, but the consequence not so much.
Like many boys, I learned to swim skinny-dipping on my Papa’s (pronounced Paa-paw) farm. In this way, I was exposed to adult male nudity, creating an unintended curiosity about the male body early on. About that same time, both my first and second grade teachers were pregnant. Creating opportunity for this curious little mind to wonder about the why’s and how’s of babies and sex. Most Christian parents, who talk to their six-and-seven-year-old’s truthfully about how babies are made; say something like—moms and dads have a special hug, and sometimes when they share this special hug with each other, God makes a baby. If this had been the response, things might have been quite different. But that’s not what happened.
Mom didn’t give me an age-appropriate answer that I was emotionally equipped to handle. In detail and for several years, Mom shared with me the birds-and-the-bees, infused by the emotions of her own brokenness. You see, Mom’s own discovery about sex wasn’t from her parents. Somewhere during the 6th grade, as Mom began her menstrual cycle, her mom, my Mama (pronounced Maa-maw) took her to the family doctor for the TALK; consequently, Mom’s journey into her own sense of brokenness began. A brokenness that would chase her into adulthood.
No, the family doc didn’t abuse Mom. He just gave her some biological facts. Facts without guidance. A seemingly innocent decision that eventually led to some bad choices. So, Mom determined that her children wouldn’t find out about sex in such an embarrassing and what she described as a ‘horrific’ way. Still, the emotional detail given to my inquisitive young mind wasn’t age appropriate. I was six, not twelve; lacking the emotional maturity to process the information. And that unintended curiosity tidal waved me into years of sexual exploration, with both male and female peers. But it didn’t take long for experience to teach me the lie—boys are more interesting than girls.
Compounding these emotionally permeating facts and personal response, was a boy’s natural curiosity. Coming alongside our God-given need for male bonding—friendship. While other boys were rough housing and learning how to be boys, I felt different.
Artsy, not athletic… Awkward, not attractive… Afraid, not assured…
When boys decided to hang out, I was left out. I just didn’t know how to fit in. They played, while I wanted to play. They joked around, while I wanted to joke without being the blunt end of their jest. They had a confidence, I only pretended. While guys were bonding and learning to be guys, I was withdrawing into myself and my own imaginations—a blend of superheroes, imaginary friends, and the real boys I dreamed about. Every pipedream sexualized. By the latter years of elementary, I was teased. The name-calling only made it worse. Cissy. Girly. Fag. Queer. Then I was caught fooling around with some boys at church; so, even my Dad asked if I was a homosexual. I don’t think I even knew what the word meant, but I remember knowing it was bad by the tone of that conversation; so of course, I said—NO! Then, Dad followed up with the TALK, very different from Mom’s account. Accurate, but less interesting; lacking any emotional connection. Of course, Dad had no idea that I had known about sex for years, but I wanted to explore as much with Dad as he would allow. Dad’s response was to give me an age-appropriate book entitled, ‘Wonderfully Made’. More about how babies are made, than sex. Interesting, but unrealistic for a sexual curiosity that found boys more interesting than girls.
So, during the years a boy bonds with other boys; I sexualized the bonding. I was too young and immature, to recognize those longings for what they really were. A deep desire to bond with my peers. So, the normal affection a boy has for his friends exploded into SSA.
Puberty arrived early. That volcano of hormones intensified desires already fixed as same-sexed. Lust overcame all sense of right and wrong. And if Dad hadn't held the reins so tightly, I would have dived full-fledged into gay sex as a teen. Fortunately, Dad’s boundaries and restrictions kept me away from predators, and held my own perversions in check. Even so, I was a predator on the prowl for a ‘friend’ to seduce. And whenever my rebel soul found that ecstasy, I felt the most powerful cocktail of masculinity, power, and significance. So, I took possession of the land, as often as I could.
However, there’s one thing that didn’t happen. I never experienced gender confusion. I always knew I was male and wanted to be. Though lusts circled around qualities I felt missing from my own person. Attributes I often saw in other boys. Features I longed for, and the guys who possessed them. The ones who were good at everything they did. The ones everyone liked. The significance, the competence I felt they had, became my deepest yearning. As I came to believe I would never own that kinda masculinity, fantasies became more and more sexualized. Then I learned, while engaging sexually with a male peer, I could possess what I was missing and find the-overlooked-me. The strong, confident me. The person I desired to be. Finding the recognition, I longed for.
Communicating what took place in my boyhood and adolescent mind, seems far more fluent from hindsight and with the maturity of age and experience. Truly, I was in search of the real me, but what I found was a false ID.
BORN GAY OR NOT: PART 2—DESIRES IN CONFLICT
Looking for acceptance. Tittering over the abyss of rejection. My world was in conflict—Christian & Gay. Two communities that couldn’t be reconciled. What a conundrum!
My Christian world was a community of church goers. Some true believers (i.e., real followers of Jesus), and others not so genuine. I suppose that’s life. Some are true, some twofaced. Some both. My early professions of salvation at ages 6 or 7, then 9 or 10, then 12, and onward about every three years into my teens and young adult years were guilt driven, yes. But often festered from a manipulative heart that burst into attempts at lies and exploitation. Trying to make friends and influence people; so, I could get away with my inappropriate secret life. Desperately in search for significance. Acceptance. Belonging. But unwilling to give up my depravities.
By gay I mean, a community of friends with LGBT values. Friends who approved of me, and my known and legit sexual choices. The reoccurring problem wasn’t my sexual orientation, rather, my profession. You see, everyone I met—gay or not—became ‘a mark’. As a chronic liar and a professional thief—really, a con-artist—I was always looking for my next $10-to-$50K or so; only to be found-out and exposed. So, I had to always keep moving, to avoid the consequences. It doesn’t matter who you are or how you live. No one—straights nor gays—likes being deceived. Manipulated. Conned. I used people to get whatever I wanted.
As I reached my twenties, the pull between these two worlds—Christian & gay—collided in a marriage of pretense. At age twenty-two I married a woman. I wish I could say, the woman of my dreams. But really, it was a con. My hope at finally being straight. An adult man with a little-boy’s mind, convinced that I could be both husband and father. What a fool, I was!
Few knew about the passions in conflict haunting my soul, and if they did, they weren’t talking about it. So, I wasn’t proving anything to anyone; because the biggest con—yes, that’s right—the biggest con was played on me! Yet I lived out that pretense in heterosexual marriage for a while; only to find myself overwhelmed by an uncontrollable lust for men.
Porn kept the tidal waves at bay for a bit. I wouldn’t risk being outed, by engaging adult gay men. Fearing exposure, my curiosities turned toward adolescent boys. And since I was an emotional adolescent myself, it just felt more real. Wrong, but safer. Less risky. Baiting the developing hormones of teens and grooming the curiosities of preteens seemed like easy prey for my narcissistic greed and raging lust. Then my first wife discovered my dark secret and divorced. Now, that’s a no brainer! But this crisis in community—rejection—propelled me out into an open gay-life with men of an appropriate age; in which I would have continued living happily-ever-after, if God hadn’t intervened. But for a time, I was happy.
A DREAM COME TRUE
Being outed turn out to be a dream come true. No more hiding; at least not over sexuality. Living in several resort towns, I immersed myself into local hospitality and gay communities. Where naturally, I setup a con—a life story with a lot of lie and just enough truth to not get caught. Always with a plan to score big and get the hell out of dodge before I was made. Or worse, apprehended.
Sex. Money. More sex! More money! (Violence nor drugs were my vice.) But the high from sex and money kept me on cloud nine for years. Where I had lots of friends or for what I took as friendship. The con, the setup was such a way of life, engrained and deep-seated. Well-established and fixed. Entrenched. So much so, that if I stopped running, I would get caught, and that meant legal consequences—jail/prison. Yikes! So, I stayed ahead of those repercussions. I ran for almost three years; living as a gay man, supported by whatever con I was pulling at the time. Until I met him… … …
There were four different guys that captured my heart between 1982 and 1994. A red head, two chocolates, and a black-haired fellow.
Red was a high school thing. We fooled around a little, but it didn’t really go anywhere, because he was straight. Both Brown hairs were delicious. The second was a five-year relationship; on and off, then on-again, etc.; until I became a fugitive of justice. Finally, Black was the one God used to confront me with—choose this day whom you will serve, a man’s body and comfort or God’s grace and truth? (Joshua 24:15, special emphasis mine).
My last gay lover believed I was guilt-ridden and double-minded. Unable to find peace, with so many desires in conflict. Causing our closest friends much distress and misery. He was right, of course. So, Black conditioned our relationship. There came a time, when he required me to choose between being a Christian and being gay.
Black made me—him or God! Using the people and events of my circumstance, God had drawn the line. I knew how rebelliously disobedient I'd lived. I also knew I couldn’t deny the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I’d heard it my whole life and knew it to be true. As I drove away from that drowning darkness, I realized I could never go back. God would not allow it! The gay life. The lying. The stealing. These were all things of the past. At the same time, I realized I could not stop sinning in such ways:
- Same-sex desires occupied every recess of my soul—i.e., my thinker, my chooser, my feeler.
- Lies diseased every thought and word, every reaction. I lied before I was aware I was lying. People. Places. Things. All were just a game of chess for me; a playground I strove to control; a means of personal gain. Lying was my game and my fame.
- Fraudulent theft provided a lifestyle I felt I deserved and wasn’t sure I could ever give up.
But that day, something was different. God had done something inside me. Holy Spirit spoke from deep within my spirit into the heart chamber of my soul, saying—
I (God) will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.
Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.
I will give you a NewHeart, and I will put a new spirit in you.
I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.
I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow My decrees
and be careful to obey My regulations.
And you will live in (peace)… You will be (Mine), and I will be your God.
(Ezekiel 36:25-28, NLT… emphasis mine)
And you know what? There was a new desire igniting a real desire for purity. For right living. So, I did whatever every good-intentioned fellow would. I started making promises to live pure, even if my struggle with SSA never changed. To live right, even if it meant being poor. But very quickly and with a loud fiery tension, Holy Spirit showed me how shallow my vows really were. He showed me almost two decades of trying to change, but of complete failure. The evidence was clear, I would fail again. Driving away, I cried out with an angry broken heart:
‘I CAN'T DO IT!’
And a swelling deep inside, I've come to recognize as God's voice, crescendoed like THUNDER, whispering—
‘RON… I CAN DO IT FOR YOU!’
It took right at three months to drive away from that old life. Literal driving, up and down I-95 and across I-10 with a little northern stretch on I-17—from Gatlinburg over to Savanah south to Miami, back north to Jacksonville… west to Phoenix, and finally a little north to Flagstaff. God spoke. I argued. Who do you think won?
It really wasn’t an audible conversation, you know; it was more impressionable, suggestive even. As God spoke and I wrestled, the Lord began to fill my emptiness with the reason of His presence, and I believed—repentance igniting a Life of saving faith. Eternal Life flooding the void of my sin-dead spirit, making me alive with Jesus’ Life. Forgiven and free. Jesus began to change me from the inside out. He took my dirty, ugly, immoral life and made me clean!
He. Set. Me. Free.
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed! (John 8:36, ESV)
The gay life had served as a filter for my thinker, chooser, and feeler for two decades (from age 6 to 28). Yet, Holy Spirit lead me graciously into Jesus’ Life, shifting the paradigms of my heart. Using the stress, the paranoia, the consequence—the fugitive years, the four-and-half years incarcerated (over the course of a decade and across five states)—to change me from the inside-out (1994-2004). Using these emotional tensions, Holy Spirit crowded me to the Cross, where I met Jesus—the Savior—for the first time.
He gave me a NewHeart!
tender & responsive
He gave me a New Spirit!
with new & right desires
He made me a New Creation!
all of grace; faith in Christ
And the most amazing journey began!
A NEW LIFE!
BORN GAY OR NOT: PART 3—NEWNESS OF LIFE
My journey out of homosexuality’s pursuit began that week of October 31, 1994. Sins that once occupied my heart no longer did. Finally, I was justified by faith and found peace with God (Romans 5:1). Hallelujah!
The old passed away, and I was reborn into a new Life. It’s the great exchange—Jesus’ righteous Life for my sin-dead-life (John 5:24; 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21). By grace through faith, I received Jesus as my Lord and Lamb, my Life and Liberator (Romans 5:6-11), and so much more. My sovereign Lord gave me a NewHeart and a new spirit (Ezekiel 36:26). And that salvation journey has lead me to learning how to overcome sin's hunts, haunts, and habits—i.e., the lying, the stealing, and the gay thinking, choosing, and feeling—the enemy had smothered me in for so long. Hallelujah!
God's salvation is immediate—I was changed from sin to righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). And God's salvation is a journey (Romans 6; 1 John 2:12-14), and has a learning curve. A journey from the depths of deceit—the lying & the stealing—into Jesus' Life of truthfulness and generosity. From gay thinking, choosing, and feeling into Jesus' Life of pure and faithful living. To a Life characterized by a tender responsiveness and the freedom of obedience (Romans 6:15-23). To a Life encountering Jesus intimately again and again (Philippians 3:7-11). To a Life of Holy Spirit’s ongoing help and healing. Hallelujah!
God truly saved me and I was really born of God (Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:3-7; 1 John 5:13). With a new nature. A new identity. A new destiny. All because Jesus came to live His Life in me (Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27, 3:1-4). Empowering me to walk in newness of Life—His Life (Romans 5:19-6:4). I was set free to learn to live free (Galatians 5:1). Saved! now and forever!! Hallelujah!!!