The Unexpected Story of a Gay Activist Discovering Jesus image

The Unexpected Story of a Gay Activist Discovering Jesus


As subtitles go, this has got to be one of the best and most intriguing. It’s the subtitle of A War of Loves by David Bennett which releases later this month (or today in the States!) I had the real privilege of spending some time with David at this year’s Newday event. He is one of the most humble and most funny Christian speakers I have spent time with, and the story of how he encountered and became a follower of Jesus is amazing. A War of Loves tells that story and shares some of the lessons David has learnt along the way.

If I’m completely honest I approached the book as just another thing on my to-do list, another book I should be aware of and ready to recommend, but as I read it I found God stirring, encouraging and deeply challenging me. I would encourage every Christian to get a hold of this book, to read it, and to let God speak to you through it. To whet your appetite, here are 20 key quotes from the book. (My initial list of great quotes included almost 80, so this is only a minor sampling!)

‘As a nineteen-year-old agnostic gay activist who felt rejected by Christianity, I had very little reason to believe in God. Then I encountered Jesus in a pub in the gay quarter of Sydney, Australia, and my life changed forever.’

‘I felt like Christians were explaining me away, not entering into my experience. That was bad enough, but their explanation wasn’t even any good! I found it frustratingly hypocritical that Christians, who worshipped a saviour of transparency and truth, couldn’t deal with my being honest about my humanity. Their obvious prejudice toward gay people only pushed me farther away.’

‘Wait, I realised. My sexual orientation has nothing to do with my righteousness before God! I was completely accepted by him because of Jesus Christ, not because of my moral performance. I didn’t have to earn it. My chosen sexual behaviour, just like for a heterosexual person, was a different story. But my orientation? It was not a barrier. It was just me.’

This was radical, beautiful grace. Suddenly, my identity no longer centred on what I desired sexually, but on Jesus Christ himself.’

‘The Church had historically dealt with moral issues like homosexuality by focussing on “sin management,” rather than emphasizing Christ’s transforming grace through the Holy Spirit. This only confirmed what many in the LGBTQI community believed: that God wanted to enslave them in an oppressive “obedience” of hopelessness.’

‘My church never compromised their views of sexuality and the priority of God’s presence, even though sometimes that made me angry. I am eternally grateful. Without these clear boundaries, I would have found it far harder to stay on the narrow path of righteousness I now attempted to walk by the grace of Jesus.’

‘Even in my church, friendship seemed secondary to romantic love. It seemed like everyone had been spending more time reading Jane Austen than the New Testament, or watching ‘90s Rom-Coms more than the work of the Spirit’

‘It was as if the message to Christian singles was, “If you just get married, have kids, and buy a property, you’ll be truly happy.”… Both in the gay community and the Church, what seemed to matter most to people was fulfillment in a partner.’

‘Not many believers had warned me about costly sacrifice in the Christian life. In my experience, the Church barely talked about what Scripture said about being “living Sacrifices.” Instead, they settled for a comfortable, easy Gospel, offering what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.” That means there was no need to surrender our choice sins, our closely-held dreams, our deepest desires that went against God’s revealed will.’

‘Jesus taught that both the worst sin and the most sacred worship originate from the same place: the heart. Think of that revolutionary concept! What does that mean? Simply, that it is God’s love that should displace all others, and occupy the primary space in our hearts. It is, simply, what we were made for.’

‘So why do most Christians seem far more concerned with romantic love, than that great story of God’s? In fact, in many congregations, when an engagement or wedding is announced, there is often greater enthusiasm than when God is worshipped. In contrast, when someone commits themselves to celibacy, there is no celebration. The person is regarded as an abnormality.’

‘Hear me well: homosexuality is not an evangelistic issue, it is a discipleship issue … Gay or same-sex attracted celibacy must be a response to God’s love, not a legalistic bottling up of our human desires. It is about the redirected affections of a transformed heart.’

‘To employ the Apostle Paul’s language, I truly believe celibacy to be the “better” option for desires that lead us outside of God’s original intention for marriage. I would never trade the depth of intimacy and freedom I have experienced in celibacy for a gay relationship, and long for the day that the Church celebrates what I have been given.’

‘The Western Church, however, has often failed to resist idolatry. In the last century it has worshipped family above God and His Kingdom, putting pressure particularly on “sexuality.” In the post-war 1950s, the Church made the nuclear family the idolatrous centre of middle-class life. The 1960s reacted to this idolatry by throwing off the repression of desire and pursuing free sexuality. It brought its own set of idolatries.’

‘The gay community is made up of people who are loved by God, and need to be told about the love of Christ and the gospel. Are we willing to reach out to them and enter their world to share and connect with them?’

‘God has called me to trust that He knows best and He knows the eternal story he’s writing. In the meantime, he’s shown me I can give my same-sex desires to him, and find a deeper satisfaction and love in knowing and worshipping him than I ever could through pursuing my desires.’

‘A weak culture of friendship and fellowship excludes LGBTQI people, and forces them to look for intimacy in the wrong places.’

‘The question of whether a gay or same sex-attracted person can be saved reflects a complete misunderstanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Of course they can be saved! The real question is, will gay or same-sex attracted believers live the way the world encourages them to? Or will they give up their plans and desires to follow Jesus in celibacy or another arrangement he provides, even to the ridicule of their friends, family or some members of the Church?’

‘When we look at the covenant friendships of David and Jonathan, Jesus and John, we see that marriage is not ultimate or even the greatest form of intimacy that can be experienced, as is often wrongly communicated by the Church and our society at large. Rather the love of friendship is the greatest of the loves…A life of celibacy as a gay man does not, as I thought originally, cut me off from the intimacy I was made for.’

‘Denying same-sex desires simply to obey a law or to belong to the Church not only fails but also is a miserable existence leading to sin. However, by understanding my desires actually point to my desire for God in Christ and the Holy Spirit, I have come to a place of satisfaction and joy in my celibacy.’

The UK release date for A War of Loves (Zondervan) is November 29th. You can find out more and pre-order at

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