What I Sat Under

When I lived in New York City, I attended Time Square Church. Like our friend, Marvin Bloom, I went to church every time the doors opened–Sunday morning service, Sunday evening service, Tuesday night prayer meeting, Thursday night Bible study, Friday night praise and worship step aerobic class (okay, I made that last one up).

The senior pastor, David Wilkerson, preached most Sundays either morning or evening with a message filled with dire warnings if we as individuals and a nation did not turn to God. For nearly five years I sat under his teaching, and the teachings of the other pastors, in my pursuit of holiness and nearness to God.

My personal struggle with my same-sex attractions kept me close to the front and in the choir, often at the altar for prayer and always looking for answers.

David Wilkerson has traveled widely in the world. Just today I spoke with a woman here in Sweden who heard him speak back in the late 60’s when he spoke to nearly a thousand young people in Stockholm. She said it was the first time many of them had ever heard the word homosexual (homosexuell).

He preached a lot about homosexuality, well, particularly against it. He warned that like ancient Rome, the US along with post-Christian Europe would collapse under the weight of its wickedness. And in saying that I always felt the weight of my own.

Here is a sample from a dramatic sermon (they always are) by Wilkerson given at Time Square Church in 2005.

Hell was spilling out, and Roman society had become one vast orgy. Homosexuality was a respected lifestyle, preferred among the intelligentsia. The entire culture was immersed in materialism, with the rampant pursuit of money, fame and pleasure.

snip

We are living in those last, terrifying days right now, and the signs are everywhere. Europe is becoming wholly pagan, with the institution of marriage being rejected, partners living together and family values vanishing altogether. In Sweden, 30 percent of the population lives together unmarried.

Here in New York State, we’re seeing a “great falling away” of the kind Scripture predicts. Some 410 pastors have enlisted for a homosexual agenda called “Pride in My Pulpit,” in which they hang signs in their churches bearing this motto. The message is, “We’re proud of the homosexual community, and we endorse it.” The numbers of these pastors are growing.

Well, you get the point. Week after week, I heard that message from the pulpit and used that message to help drive me to Jesus, to prayer, to the Bible and nearly to insanity and worse. I even spoke to a minister at the church about my struggle. To my shock he told me that he too had a similar struggle. He warned that it is a spiritual battle, one where I needed to bind the devil, do spiritual warfare and drive out the evil spirits in my life.

Eventually I left the church to go to a smaller house church in Yonkers, NY and then to the mission field in Zambia. When I finally returned to the Northeast of the US, openly gay and integrating my faith with my sexuality, I talked to a Time Square Friend about that minister who had counseled me back in my time at the church.

“Oh, didn’t you hear?” he replied, “Brother _______, moved back to _____ . Soon after he returned home, he killed himself! So awful. And such a man of God. No one knows why he would do such a thing.”

Sadly, I think I know why, knowing the weight of wickedness he sat under, wickedness heaped on him every Sunday. Perhaps it eventually crushed him.

This post has 11 Comments

  1. Daniel C on May 20, 2007 at 7:35 pm Reply

    It is intresting how people believe that roman “hedonism” (homosexuality) brought the roman empire to its fall. If anything, the roman were happily hedonic for thousands of year. It was even founded on the very hedonism base. Not good allways, for the slaves and women.
    The late roman empire, allthough, was very christian. Very much against homosexuality. Just before the fall of it.

    It doesn’t mean anything either way, the reason for the empires fall is far more complex and is an intresting chapter in history.
    But it is strange that the writing of history tends to like claiming the specific sexual immorality as a cause for it. It’s a wide spread belief without any historical base (except for Paulus letters in the bible wich by the way was written during the time when the roman empire was in its prime and was going to be that way for at least 300 more years. How long have USA existed?). I heard teachers claim this outrages things in Swedish schools.
    It’s stupid and it’s a bad way of dealing with history. It’s lies lies lies.

  2. Daniel C on May 20, 2007 at 7:38 pm Reply

    And sorry for missing the point!
    I like to focus on small things just described in one line.

  3. Steve Boese on May 21, 2007 at 12:46 am Reply

    Hey P…

    You got me thinking and writing.

    Writing too much to post as a comment, so I stuck it here.

  4. PW on May 21, 2007 at 1:36 am Reply

    One of my early attempts to cure myself of same-sex attraction was to become extremely religious. Long story short, I had a ‘religious experience’ in direct response to ‘a moment of truth’. As part of that I received some booklets meant to encourage me in my ‘new spiritual life’. One of these was by Wilkerson. Now I considered my religious experience to be a form of deliverance, a setting free from sin; so when I read Wilkerson’s booklet and it mentioned my situation and the need for repentance, it had tremendous impact. It was a confirmation that my choice to seek salvation was the correct one. So though it was a brief moment, I know exactly the impact this man has on the souls that listen to him. Because that was twenty years ago. Two decades walking with a weight of guilt and shame that steadily got heavier, stealing all joy and peace. And though I have survived, I cannot say the same of my faith.

  5. Willie Hewes on May 21, 2007 at 7:38 am Reply

    Why are so many Christian teachers so concerned with what people outside their own church are doing? Why are they hunting after the specks in everybody else’s eyes?

    It seems such a waste of energy…

  6. B.Ryan.F. on May 21, 2007 at 2:48 pm Reply

    so said…

    Ben F. (bryanf)

  7. Anna HP on May 21, 2007 at 6:26 pm Reply

    Gaah .. can’t take … all .. of this .. angre .. must fight .. with sleezy comment.

    Hey, P, nothing wrong with sitting in the front of the church, better then spending time in God’s bathroom 😛 .. sorry .. micke says two cups of coffee makes me cheeky.

  8. KJ on May 21, 2007 at 10:04 pm Reply

    David Wilkerson — There’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time. Boy, “Cross and the Switchblade” was quite the rage in the late 60s. Of course, I knew I was going straight to hell for finding Erik Estrada so cute in the movie.

  9. Eugene on May 22, 2007 at 2:39 pm Reply

    I remember reading David Wilkerson’s book “The Vision” as a kid, and being quite taken up in its predictions of all sorts of horrible things in America’s future. Of course, he’s since turned out to be a false prophet, not that many Christians seem to care about that tiny little detail…

  10. KJ on May 22, 2007 at 5:16 pm Reply

    Reading Eugene’s comment reminded me that at some point in high school (mid-70s) that I ordered a set of three books from the Wilkerson gang since one of them was about how to become free of homosexuality. Of course, the “recipe” described my spiritual disciplines (be involved in a church, study the Bible, pray, etc.), so I was unimpressed. On the up side, it was one of the experiences that kept me out of “conversion” therapy since I could easily see that nothing was being offered that I wasn’t already doing. I just had to learn to “be”.

  11. Anonymous on May 23, 2007 at 12:28 am Reply

    Peterson, sounds like you are writing my story…. 😉

    (Including the b’casting part!)

    Allan in Boston

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