A former anti-Christian gay rights activist has described how he met Jesus in a pub – and turned over his homosexuality to God.
David Bennett is among those who welcomed the decision by the Church of England bishops to hold fast to biblical standards on same-sex relationships.
Until he met Jesus in a pub in Australia, David Bennett was an active campaigner for gay rights. He took part in Sydney’s annual gay rights parade, Mardi Gras.
Bennett, who works as a speaker with the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and is currently studying postgraduate theology at the University of Oxford and hope to continue on to an MPhil in Christian Ethics next year, is inspired by Psalm 45: “Grace has annointed your lips.”
He told Christian Today: “I have always had this strong sense that God has called me to speak out, in a way that’s loving but still truthful. That is the difficult part in this whole thing – what is Christian truth?
“People have quite different views on what that looks like.
“I really understand how gay experience is so important, and how the Church has not taken that into account.”
He emphasised that his sexual orientation has not changed. He is still gay and is not linked to the ex-gay movement. But he is no longer sexually active.
Bennett grew up in an agnostic home but attended a conservative evangelical Christian school.
He “came out” as gay when he was 14. He completely rejected Jesus and the Bible. He experienced homophobia. One formative incident was when a man threw a brick at him when he was with his boyfriend in a park. He got involved in politics and the Labor Party in Australia.
When he was 19 and at university training to be a journalist, he interviewed a film maker and asked her what inspired her. She said it was God.
“I said, ‘I’m homosexual, I don’t think God is interested in me.’ She asked if I had experienced the love of God and offered to pray for me.”
She did, and he had an incredible experience of the Holy Spirit coming upon him. “This was the love I had been reaching for my whole life. I just felt God breathing me his breath. I said, ‘What is happening to me?’ She said, ‘It is the Holy Spirit. You are being born again. Finally I heard a voice say, ‘Will you accept my son Jesus as your Lord and Saviour?’ I had this long deliberation. I finally said, Yes.”
The love of God turned his whole life upside down.
But he still wasn’t entirely convinced.
He asked God for a sign that He was real. And then, at a film festival, he bumped into his friend again. And she said: “God is begging me to tell you that he exists.”
At first he remained convinced that gay marriage could be sanctified by God.
“It came down to a moment where God said to me, ‘You need to give me your homosexuality completely.’ I said, ‘Lord, your son died on the Cross for me. I will give you anything.’ So I gave him my homosexuality, and felt that call to celibacy.”
He admits this was a sacrifice of “profound proportions”.
By studying scripture, he then reached a point where he no longer saw marriage as simply a life-long commitment between two individuals like in a secular or gay marriage. Rather, he came to believe that marriage in the Church had to be between a man and woman, as reflected by the image of God in which men and women were created in Genesis.
His testimony is among those shared by Living Out, a church website run by three evangelical Christians who experience same-sex attraction but live according to Bible standards.
He is now writing a book about his life so far, and hopes to go on to a broader Christian ministry.
Watch a video of David and his story here