The Gay Man who Met Jesus in a Pub

A War of Loves 2 David Bennett was a young man vehemently opposed to the Christian God, the Christian Bible, and to Christians themselves. So no one was more surprised than David Bennett himself when he became a Christian—and a Christian apologist at that!

In his memoir, A War of Loves, he tells the story of how he realized at a young age that he was gay. He came out to his family at the age of 14, and became radically involved in the gay rights movement in his hometown of Sydney, Australia. What he wanted for his life is what we all want: simply to love and be loved. He wanted to love someone, to have the right to marry him, and to raise a family with him.

But all his hopes and plans for himself were unexpectedly changed when, at 19, he met the love of Jesus in a pub in the gay quarter of Sydney. One might hardly expect Jesus to be in a pub anywhere, let alone in a gay section of town, though in truth such a place is exactly where Jesus reveals his love most powerfully. Certainly he did in David’s life.

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That God would reach out to a gay man isn’t what amazes me. God loves those who are same-sex attracted as much as he loves anyone. This is a given, not a point to be argued.

But that God reached out to man who was radically opposed to him, that he would break through the barriers of erroneous thinking, of intellectual doubt, of the anger and bitterness that came from David’s encounters with God’s own followers—this is what amazes me. David’s mother, a new believer herself at the time of David’s conversion, put it well: “David, I prayed that if he was truly the God of the impossible, God would save you, because you were so impossible to save! Now I know he can do anything!”

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Three things became evident to me as I read David’s story. First, he rejected God because he didn’t know who God really was. He envisioned God only as an “angry, distant deity,” a supreme being who created David as a gay man and then rejected him for being gay.

If this were true of God, then of course atheism would seem preferable. But when God broke in, he showed himself to David as he really is. As David wrestled to understand this unseen but overwhelmingly real Presence, he writes of a moment when “I realized…how tender and loving God the Father was! …He was close. He was kind. He was good and tender-hearted.” God, David discovered, was love. And his Word, the Bible, wasn’t an epistle of condemnation—especially for those who are gay, as David thought—but was instead a love letter, from a Father to His precious children.

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Second, David saw God as condemning because he was condemned by Christians. In this, the church has been very, very wrong. What can be more shameful than allowing our judgments to stand between God and the people He is trying to reach?

The task of the body of Christ is not to condemn but to love. Only love can point to Love, and only God, once He has captured a human heart, can begin the work of holiness. We can no more cleanse another person’s heart than we can cleanse our own. To try is at best a waste of time, at worst a tragedy in the making.

As David himself put it: “Homosexuality is not an evangelistic issue. It is a discipleship issue.” No one will ever revere and be changed by God’s holiness until he first experiences God’s love.

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When David Bennett encountered Christ, he became a new creation, but he did not become heterosexual. He remained same-sex attracted. As he studied the Bible, he came to the conclusion that he needed to live his life as a celibate gay Christian.

Those who think God should have made him heterosexual as part of the deal of salvation will be disappointed. To me, David’s choice is the triumph. And this is the third thing I took away from this book: In our humanness, so long as we are in this world, we are all broken in some way. Salvation brings forgiveness, but not perfection. Not yet. Our journey on this planet will always be a stumbling along on feet of clay. But God’s grace gives us the strength to choose sacredness over sin.

David will always be tempted by homosexual desires, just as the alcoholic might always be tempted to drink, the gambler to place a bet, the womanizer to cheat, the proud man to boast. We are all of us tempted to love this world more than we love God and to find our fulfillment in something other than him.

But David has chosen—with God’s help—to give up his greatest desire, earthly love and sexual fulfillment, in order to be in right relationship with God. And this is to me the height and the essence of living one’s life as a love story with God: choosing to love him above all things, no matter what it is we are tempted to love more.

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Quoted material taken from: David Bennett, A War of Loves (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2018), pp. 83, 80, 193, 165.

10 thoughts on “The Gay Man who Met Jesus in a Pub

  1. Love it Ann. Our church has been studying and has come to the same conclusion David did – to love the homosexual and help them to live a celibate life.

    Are you getting good response to your blog? I’ve been trying spasmodically with very little results. I have trouble finding a focal point to write about—and of course am still hoping that what I blog will show up on Twitter, Facebook and now Instagram to help sell my books.

    Blessings, Lorry

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  2. Wow. What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing this Ann. “In our humanness, so long as we are in this world, we are all broken in some way. Salvation brings forgiveness, but not perfection. Not yet. Our journey on this planet will always be a stumbling along on feet of clay. But God’s grace gives us the strength to choose sacredness over sin.” Amen!

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  3. Dear Twin, Beautifully written and could not agree more with what David says and you say. Homosexuality is not part of evangelism. Would any of us come to Christ if we had to get our act together first? Sadly, so many of us as believers have missed the whole point.

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    • Dear Twin Elizabeth! Thanks so much for dropping by and reading this post. We can’t even get our act together AFTER we come to Christ–Jesus has to do it for us. Thankfully, He’s willing. 🙂 I hope you had a lovely birthday (belated wishes…so sorry!).

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  4. What an amazing story.
    As a young man growing up I had considered all homosexual men as wimps and ‘queers.’ Imagine the eye-opening I received as a decidedly heterosexual male dumped into a prison where homosexuality was common and accepted, and even expected. I grew to know these men as men, some became close friends (but NOT that close…don’t be confused). It was especially interesting to get to know the lifers, men who were NEVER getting out. They would never again have the opportunity for female companionship, and yet the desire for that companionship still burned in them. So they found companionship with each other. Did that make them any less of a man? No. Some were among the finest people I encountered inside, and I was proud to call them friends. As I said, my eyes were opened. It is a far more complex issue than simply declaring all homosexuals are going to burn in hell. These are PEOPLE first, and we should never forget that.

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Awesome testimony.

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    • Kevin, I so appreciate your sharing these thoughts from your experiences in prison. Labels are poison, and can keep us from knowing who people really are as individuals. Thank God there’s not a label in the world that can keep the love of God from reaching a human heart. If we could only see everything as He sees it, how different this world would be!

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