Michael Johnston lived the homosexual lifestyle for several years before yielding control of his life to the Lord. However, during that time he contracted the AIDS virus. He is the founder and president of Kerusso Ministries, which is dedicated to declaring the biblical truth about homosexuality and opposing the cultural agenda of the homosexual movement.
SBC LIFE What are the most prominent and destructive myths about homosexuality that are currently being spread in the nation?
Johnston One is that homosexuality is "gay," that it is happy and fulfilling. Now, we must be careful when we talk to folks about how miserable their lives are because the Bible says, "Sin has its pleasure for a time." But why are these men and women pursuing homosexuality? They're pursuing it because it's giving them something, whether it's sensual gratification or a sense of camaraderie. In reality, of course, misery loves company. What these folks are really looking for is something to fill their lives, and what they're missing is God's filling in their lives. Eventually, the consequence of sin is not only spiritual and emotional misery, but also physical misery. Many of these folks will experience some very tragic and destructive consequences to their sin.
A similar myth is that there are many "loving, committed relationships" in the homosexual community. We hear this a lot, but in my experience, living in the homosexual community for more than eleven years, from Alaska to Washington, D.C., knowing thousands of homosexuals, in all of those years I never once met a homosexual couple that was faithful to each other. Even among couples who held themselves up in the homosexual community as having loving and committed relationships, I was aware that one of them was cheating on the other. They were unfaithful because their relationships were not ordained by God - He never intended for them to exist - so those relationships could never truly satisfy these men and women.
Another myth is that homosexuals are not after your children. There are two errors here. Early on the public was led to believe that every homosexual is a pedophile, and that isn't true. In my experience, the number of those who have given themselves over to pedophilia is a small percentage of the homosexual community. On the other hand, it is absolutely true that homosexual activists, those who are pushing a social and political agenda, are after our children. They're after our children in this respect: they want to teach our children and convince our children at the earliest ages, from kindergarten on, that homosexuality is good, that it's natural, that it's appropriate, that there's nothing wrong with it, and that if a child experiences those desires it would actually be wrong for that child not to pursue them. We must not be misled by the claim that every homosexual is a pedophile. But we can't be misled by the claim that activists are not after our children, because they are.
SBC LIFE Tell us about the religious homosexual movement that has deconstructed and reconstructed the biblical teachings on homosexuality.
Johnston There is a vibrant, what some call "gay-Christian" movement in our land. One reason this movement is popular and growing is there are homosexuals whose consciences are still bothered. Some of these are unsaved but their consciences are not completely seared. Others have a true faith and they are being terribly convicted by the way that they are living; God is trying to draw them back, and they are looking for a salve for their conscience. One way they can ease their conscience is to find some form of religiosity. Of course, the Bible warns us about people who have a sense of religiosity but deny the power of Christ. That is the problem in the religious homosexual movement.
If you look at the movement, you find many of these groups will agree with most Southern Baptists on many issues. But on this one sin issue, where we disagree, they change the Bible. They twist and pervert the Word of God. We should remember that when people are dealing with sin in their life, they have only two options: they must either humble themselves before a holy God and repent of their sin, or they must justify and rationalize their sin. Until God brings that person to a place of repentance, he will justify and rationalize his sin. That's what the so-called homosexual Christian movement is doing with their twisted form of religiosity.
The difficulty for Christians is that many of the movement's leaders have significant Christian theological credentials. Unfortunately, they know the Bible better than a lot of folks in the Christian church today. They have knowledge, but they lack understanding. Many Christians don't know the Word of God well enough to confront them on their arguments. I think the best way to deal with them is to reach out with love and compassion to those caught up in this movement, and let them know that their church is not the church we find in the Word of God.
The Christian community must understand that the Body of Christ and those who stand on the Word of God are the nation's last road block to complete acceptance of homosexuality and pansexuality (the belief that everyone has the fundamental human right to have whatever kind of sex they want with whomever or whatever they want). God's people are being called to hold up, not just the Word of God, but the very character of God to a world that is increasingly rejecting Him; a world that will eventually turn against Him and war against Him.
SBC LIFE How do you explain the extreme, almost hostile, reaction to ex-homosexuals?
Johnston The reaction is coming from two different groups within the homosexual community. First, it comes from those who have no sense of God in their lives. They are completely given over to homosexuality - they believe it's right. They genuinely believe ex-homosexuals are lying, and that what we are saying is truly harmful to homosexuals. The other response is coming from individuals who deep down in their hearts know what we are saying is true. Perhaps they have a true faith and have been saved, or perhaps they are not saved but the Holy Spirit is working on their hearts and drawing them to salvation. They respond this way because it bothers them so much; it really convicts them.
The reality of someone who has successfully left the homosexual lifestyle destroys one of their justifications. They think, "Hey, I kind of believe that homosexuality is wrong. I've experienced some conviction on this, but I can't change, so I've got to keep living this way." When someone like Michael Johnston comes along and says, "Wow, I've been there and experienced that, too! But I made a commitment to God. I walked away from this, and God has changed me," it takes away that last justification. That puts them in a very uncomfortable position.
I understand that position. When you're living in sin and God is working on your heart - you're under conviction and you're holding on to that one last excuse and someone takes it away - it's very uncomfortable. You're left with two choices again. You face the reality that you're either going to continue to live in sin and reject what you know to be true, or you're going to have to give this up. But your flesh doesn't want to give it up - that's a tough spot to be in.
But I thank God for those people in that spot because they are the ones we can reach. We need to reach out to them with humility and compassion and present the message that God loves them, and that He's willing to forgive them. But they've got to make a choice. They must decide, "Am I going to gratify my flesh, or am I going to bring honor and glory to God and humble myself and repent of my sin?"
SBC LIFE What are some of the victories and defeats in the culture war about the normalization of homosexuality? Are we losing, gaining, or struggling along in the middle?
Johnston People don't like my answer to this question, but humanly speaking I believe we have already lost on this issue. I believe this because of the battles in our courts and legislature, but also because of what I hear from our young people. The position among college and high-school kids is absolutely contradictory to the position that your generation and my generation would take. The homosexual community has been targeting the next generation for years and frankly, they have been very, very successful, unfortunately. The culture as a whole has already accepted homosexuality. The amazing thing is the speed at which this has happened, not just in Western culture but globally.
Yet, while I believe we've lost this issue culturally, I also believe that we need to continue to take a stand against wickedness both in the legislative arena, and in the judicial area. But we've got to do it with the realization that our main objective is not to turn the culture around, but to proclaim the gospel to a lost and dying world. Jesus is coming back and we are commanded to bring souls into the kingdom of God. And those of us who believe the Word of God, who hold to the inerrancy of the Word of God, are the ones God is calling to do that in the midst of a very dark world.
I talk with a lot of people in the "pro-family movement" and I find them in despair and frustration because we've lost many of these battles. My encouragement to them has been, "You've gotten off focus. You've gotten wrapped in this idea that our goal is to win this, and to win that, when really our goal is to win souls." We are losing many of these issues, but what would God have us to do in the midst of the losses? We're to be doing what we were always to be doing, and that is proclaiming the gospel of Christ, because that's the answer. That's where our focus needs to be. If we lose that focus we're going to be ineffective as the body of Christ in doing what God's called us to do.
SBC LIFE You don't see yourself as a culture warrior as much as an evangelist, do you?
Johnston Absolutely! The reason I engage the public policy issue is not because I believe that's where the answer lies. I do it because it gives me a platform to reach out and proclaim the gospel to communities and people whom I would otherwise never have the opportunity to address. That's my motivation.
SBC LIFE Some believe the first two chapters of Romans teach a culture's approbation and acceptance of homosexuality marks the death a nation.
Johnston That's a good reflection even on the Sodom and Gomorrah story. Sometimes we go overboard in using the Sodom and Gomorrah story as condemnation on homosexuality. God didn't destroy Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality, He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of their absolute pagan hearts. Homosexuality was merely a reflection of their acceptance of absolute paganism. J.I. Packer makes the point from Romans that homosexuality isn't what causes God to pour out His wrath. Homosexuality is actually part of His wrath. I hear people all the time saying, "If we don't clean up this country on the issue of homosexuality, then God is going to pour out His wrath on this country." No! The increase in homosexuality and the acceptance of homosexuality, I believe, is evidence that God's judgment is already beginning to fall. This country has turned away from God - the hearts of the people have turned against God. Homosexuals aren't the reason God's going to pour out His judgment, but the increase in homosexuality, and the increase in acceptance of homosexuality is evidence that God's judgment has already begun to fall on an ungodly nation.
But this is only part of a global perspective. The worldwide acceptance of homosexuality is evidence that God's judgment is already beginning to fall on the world. It is evidence that time is very short.
SBC LIFE Can individuals in churches help prevent the nation's movement toward normalizing homosexuality?
Johnston Oh, I think we can have an impact. That's why I don't believe we should throw up our hands and disengage. But as we're fighting those battles we must realize the real impact is spiritual in nature. In fighting those battles we will share the truth with some, we will see some saved, and we will help to hold back wickedness. We can, in some respects, slow down wickedness. But we must keep in mind, lest we fall into despair, that the story has been written, that we have the Book. The Bible very clearly tells us that as we approach the return of Christ, men's hearts will grow cold and they are going to act worse and worse. This world is not going to get better it is going to get worse. If we get caught up in this idea that we are somehow going to turn that around, we're simply ignoring what the Bible teaches about the last days. Jesus is going to turn this world around, we're not. What He's called us to do is to win souls and to change people's lives one person at a time. We've got to keep that focus as we engage those issues.
Myths about Homosexuality
by Michael Johnston
Homosexuals represent 10 percent of the population.
The 10 percent figure was derived from flawed research done by the late Alfred Kinsey in the 1950s. Although Kinsey's formal training was actually in entomology (the study of insects), his research went unquestioned by the intellectual elite and helped to pave the way for the sexual revolution of the 1960s. The inflated figure was important to homosexual activists because the greater the numbers they could claim to represent, the greater clout they had when advancing their social and political agenda.
Much of Kinsey's research has since been brought into question or completely refuted. Current studies generally agree on a figure of from 1 to 4 percent. Most activists have quietly conceded the lower figures without the fanfare that accompanied the larger estimate.
Homosexuals are born that way.
While homosexual activists often claim science has proven they are born that way, there is no current evidence to support the theory that homosexual desire is either biologically or genetically predetermined. Without exception, recent studies claiming to support the "born that way" theory have been shown to be flawed in their methodology when scrutinized within the scientific community. Some actually support the opposite conclusion. The issue is important to activists who conclude if homosexuality is innate, there can be no justification for treating homosexuals differently in society.
From a spiritual perspective there is actually a kernel of truth in the statement. Homosexual desire is just one of many manifestations of the sin nature; a condition that plagues all of mankind from birth. We are born sinners and sin is natural to us. Regardless of our makeup when we are born, Jesus concludes the matter by saying we must be born again.
Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.
Jesus never said anything about pederasty either, but few would use the absence of such a recorded statement to support the morality of the act. Jesus certainly would have been aware of homosexuality as it was clearly condemned in the Law and was not uncommon in the Roman culture in which He lived. Without exception, when Jesus spoke regarding marriage, divorce, and sexuality, He never provided for a homosexual alternative and always affirmed the exclusive covenant union of a man and a woman as God's intent from the beginning.
You can be "gay" and a Christian, too.
This statement is often made by those who have little or no understanding of what historic Christianity really represents. It becomes more difficult to address when the statement is made by an individual who has been raised in a "good" Baptist home, has made a profession of faith, and has been involved in the local church for years. The Bible does not teach sinless perfection for the true believer; Christians are sometimes involved in sin. However, no believer can continue in sin without experiencing the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the chastisement of God. One may be "gay" and religious, but it is impossible to be "gay," Christian, and at peace with God. An individual claiming to be in such a position has good reason to question the validity of his faith.
Homosexuals "choose" to be that way.
Few statements have harmed the ability of Christians to reach out to those struggling with homosexuality more than this one. When the statement is made, homosexuals assume we are saying that they are responsible for having homosexual desires. While many have been exposed to homosexual temptation because of poor choices regarding other areas of their lives, few have ever chosen to experience homosexual desire and many have fought those desires for some time before giving into them.
Christians must take care in distinguishing between unwanted desires and willful actions to satisfy them on the part of sinners. However, this does not relieve the individual from his responsibility. God does not hold us accountable for the temptations we face, but we are accountable for how we respond to those temptations.
For information on Kerusso Ministries, call 800-584-5630 or write: Kerusso Ministries, P.O. Box 2399, Newport News, VA 23609.