June 2009 Issue
A Tale of Victory
by Mike Goeke
When I was in the sixth grade at
a Christian school, one of the boys called me a "fag."
I was standing with some girls, and he was standing with some
boys, and the boys laughed and looked at me like I was not one
of them. I did not even know what a fag was, but I knew it wasn't
good. When I finally did find out what it was, I wondered myself:
"Am I a fag?"
I was a good boy, raised in a Christian family. I certainly
didn't want to be gay, but I also had to admit that for as long
as I could remember I did not feel like I fit into the world of
boys. My friends were girls, and my interests were more like their
interests. I had a good relationship with my parents and a happy,
secure home but I identified more with my mother and felt
very different from my dad and my younger brother.
My church clearly taught that homosexuality was a sin. I believed
that to be true, but I couldn't distinguish between homosexual
behavior and these strange, scary feelings and desires that I
had. When pastors spoke of homosexuality being an abomination,
I felt like they were saying that I was an abomination. I did
not want to be gay, and I never acted on those feelings. I dated
girls and did everything I could to hide my sexual feelings. I
also did everything I could to be "perfect," as if I
could somehow make up for the feelings that filled my head and
I went to Baylor University and followed Baylor with law school.
My Christian activity increased in direct proportion to the intensity
of my homosexual desires. I still kept from acting on my feelings,
but inside I grew more and more disgusted by who I was, and more
and more fearful that God was disgusted by me. I graduated from
law school, met a girl named Stephanie, and at age 28 decided
I better get married or people would continue to speculate about
my sexuality. I married to protect my image and with a deep hope
that somehow marriage would change me.
Marriage did not change me. In fact, my feelings only intensified.
Not long into our marriage, I discovered AOL. On AOL, I found
many men who were just like me professionals, married men,
and Christians who were all gay and who all seemed to be
OK with being gay. I was hooked. I began, for the first time,
to entertain thoughts of pursuing a gay life.
I began to research gay-affirming theology. If I could convince
myself that being gay was okay with God, I could justify what
I wanted to do. I was what Paul talks about in 2 Timothy 4:3.
I was no longer willing to endure sound doctrine. I wanted my
ears tickled, and I found teachers who taught in accordance with
my feelings. In November of 1996, I left Stephanie a letter on
the door telling her I was gay, I had always been gay, I would
always be gay, and that I wanted a divorce. I left Stephanie and
jumped into the life that I had avoided for so long.
I was surprised at what I found in the gay community. My friends
were nice, professional, kind-hearted people. Most went to church
and had grown up in homes not unlike my own. They accepted me,
and for the first time in my life I felt like a man. I began attending
a gay church and decided to fully accept an identity built around
my homosexuality. Stephanie, meanwhile, refused to pursue divorce.
Her world was rocked by my revelation, but she truly believed
that God had joined us together and that He could work in this
situation. She was no doormat. We communicated very little during
that time, and most of our communication was not pleasant. But
she never backed away from her belief that divorce was not the
answer and that God had something more for us.
The initial euphoria of my new life began to wane over time.
I left the gay church I was attending and began to feel a distance
from God. Everything I read blamed those feelings on my fundamentalist
upbringing, and I resolved more and more to make the gay thing
work. I truly felt I had no other option. In my deceived mind,
I believed I was doing what God wanted me to do.
My parents invited me home at Easter, and I reluctantly agreed
to go. As I was leaving after a tense weekend, my dad tried to
give me a book. I had no interest in his "right-wing-Christian
propaganda," but I finally took the book just to get him
off my back. The book was called You Don't Have to be Gay,
and as I flew home, I literally could not help but read the book.
It was the story of a man who had left homosexuality. It was the
first time in my life I had read a story like that, and I could
not argue with this man. He spoke to everything I was feeling
and every struggle I had experienced.
As the author shared from Scripture, I saw a picture of Jesus
I had never seen before. He wasn't some soft-spoken, benign, shiny
white guy with his arms in the air He was a powerful man
who was willing to die for my sin and who would provide the hope
and power to overcome the feelings that dominated my life. He
offered forgiveness for my sin. He loved me just like I was
but it was that same strong love that would not leave me there.
I trusted Him then to do it. I sensed that God was calling me
home to Stephanie, but I just could not see how that could ever
work. How could I go back? I argued with God, and to every argument
He responded to my soul with three simple words: "I love
you." I knew somehow I could trust Him, and I knew He would
walk with me wherever He was calling me to go.
I moved home, and Stephanie and I began the arduous process
of rebuilding our lives and our marriage. We both had personal
issues to work through, and our marriage had to be reconstructed
from scratch. I was angry with the church angry that I
was 31 years old before I ever heard of hope for someone like
me. But we knew we needed to be in the local church. When First
Baptist Church of Midland, Texas, planted a new church, we became
part of the new church's core group. That church became Stonegate
At Stonegate, God opened the door for us to start a ministry
for people impacted by homosexuality and to share our story publicly.
My healing and change were exponential in the community of Stonegate;
a place that was not only safe for us, but that walked with us,
celebrated with us, believed in us, and loved us unconditionally.
After a couple of years, I left the practice of law and joined
the pastoral staff of Stonegate. We are living examples of the
power of Jesus Christ to use the local church as a true agent
of life change.
My homosexual struggle has not been zapped away, but I know
from God's Word that He allows struggles in our lives so that
His power might be displayed in us and so that He will receive
glory. I can think of no better life than to be a vessel for God's
glory and power. I thought it was all about me, but I have realized
it is not about coming to grips with who I am. It
is about coming to grips with who HE is. That is
a life worth living.
We would not trade the struggles we went through for anything.
Our "real" marriage is so much better than the marriage
we dreamt of for ourselves. God has blessed our family with three
beautiful children and has grown in Stephanie and me a pure and
beautiful love for each other and for the Lord. We know we have
not arrived, but we also know that the end of the journey will
be beyond our imaginations.
Mike Goeke is pastor-counseling at Stonegate
Fellowship in Midland, Texas.
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