I have been well supplied with years. There was undoubtedly a period soon after my reaching adulthood when I battled against my homosexuality. But that has long gone. Then there was a long period when I battled against the teachings of those who `professed and called themselves Christians’ who told me all sorts of things to do with the error of my ways. Many stories of my living as a Whosoever are there. Excommunicated by the Bishop of Willesden, London, and thrown out of more denominations than most people have belonged to. When you are well past your three score years and ten, your life story is long, far too long to tell it all here.
Let one example suffice. The time: in the late 1970s. The place: in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. I had a conversation with several students on the subject of Transcendental Meditation. (I was the departmental technician and responsible for the equipment they were using for their researches.) I wanted to know how TM differed from Christian meditation. None of the students knew what I was talking about. Now I had in the past used meditation as a help toward composing sermons, in the days when I used to preach. But I had had nothing to do with any churches for years, and wanted nothing to do with any of them. However, a short experiment supplied me with all the makings of a sermon. That I felt, was something of a joke. Since there was no way I was going to be asked to deliver it.
Shortly after that, I must have been on leave, for it was a week day, I decided to take my car on a two hour drive from the central plain where I lived, over a high range of hills to the east coast and spend the day on a beach known as a cruising area. But when I reach the top of the hills I could see that down on the coast it was raining. So I decided to go instead into the city of Tauranga and have lunch. When I got there the restaurant I intended to visit was closed for re-decoration. So I went round the corner to another. As I came to toward the end of my lunch I realised that a most gorgeous young hunk was drinking a coffee a couple of tables away from me. He obviously had noticed that I was looking at him. After a few minutes he got up from his seat and came over to me. I suspected that I had been looking just a little too long for his comfort, and although I didn’t imagine I was going to get beaten up in public, and he looked too well dressed and behaved for that, I thought perhaps I was going to get advised as to my future behaviour. I was wrong.
“May I bring my coffee over to your table?”
Of course he might.
Rather, to my surprise, he then started to talk to me about my eternal salvation! Here was a young fellow, perhaps just in his twenties, telling a middle-aged man about what the middle-aged man had been steeped in from his childhood. I let him carry on for awhile. I was wearing round my neck on a chain a lambda. I pulled this up and asked him if he knew what it was. Yes. He did. And he knew why I was wearing it. That was why he wanted to talk to me. I can’t now remember if his story was that he “had been gay, until he took Jesus into his heart,” or if that referred to someone else he knew. But that information told me who my sermon, the theme of which was `Your God is much too small,’ was meant for — him. So I started. He was all ears. It turned out that he had had his car stolen, and he was due to catch a bus to Wellington, where it had been found, to pick it up. I had to go with him to the bus station, otherwise he would have missed it. He was fascinated by being told by someone of obvious age and experience that it is okay to be gay and Christian, that when his church told him otherwise they were wrong, and he wanted to hear as much as possible.
I was in a town I did not want to be in, and in a café I didn’t want to be in with a sermon I didn’t know what to do with, because that young guy was there. Make of that what you will.