I chose obedience over emotions, says former homosexual
Coming out as gay at age 19, Matthew Moore frequented gay bars and dated many men before renouncing his lifestyle on a controversial personal blog entry that went viral in 2008.
"I was overall generally happy being gay," Matt says of his former life. "As time went on, I started drinking more heavily and frequently but I didn't view it as a problem, even when I flunked out of college due to my excessive drinking and partying.
"I was young, having fun and doing what I wanted to do."
Looking for romance, he recalls meeting men through gay networking sites, explaining, "I wanted somebody to be enthralled with the thought of me... but my feelings would always return back to me crushed and destroyed."
Making fun of people who feared God was a past-time for Matthew and his friends which did not stop even when a close friend became a Christian.
"I mocked her behind her back about how she was so 'God-happy' all the time. I thought her new beliefs were naïve and foolish," he admits.
However, as time went on Matt recalls that "the things she said and the way she lived definitely increased my interest in God, although I did not see this at the time."
Soon Matt's drinking became so excessive that he was blacking out for short periods, and would wake up with strangers. One morning he woke up next to a man who told him he was HIV positive.
The next day his mind wandered to suicide out of fear of being sick, being rejected and the partying coming to an end.
He decided to meet over a meal with his Christian friend and talked with her about reasons for her faith in Jesus. He told her, "I know that if I died right now, I would go to hell. But I can't give up my lifestyle and my friends."
Matt's alcohol consumption tripled in the following months. The black-outs lengthened to four hours and he frequently woke up in strange hotel rooms or stranded on the street, but he remained proud of his "out of control" reputation.
A few months later in September 2010, he remembers sitting drunk at a gay bar feeling unusually depressed: "I was overwhelmed with the emptiness of my life and of my heart."
Days later, a friend sent him a poem that spoke deeply to him.
"I was convicted by its message: that we never know when our time is up on earth and so often people come to God when they have issues in their life, but then ignore Him again when those issues are resolved.
"That person was me. Later that day I prayed something really simple, something like, 'God, I want to live for you. Please forgive me of my sins.'"
Having grown up in the south, the 'Bible belt' of the USA, Matt says he had heard about Jesus' forgiveness. "I just knew that I was a sinner and that I needed to be saved and only God could do that."
Matt says that "deep inside I always knew homosexuality was wrong;" and now believes that "homosexual feelings are a misuse of the gift of sex God gave mankind."
"Ultimately, I knew I had to deny those feelings and not give in to them – not because a book says it's wrong but because God tells me it is wrong."
"Idolizing my sex drive over the God I was created to worship caused so much destruction in my life. I was tested twice for HIV, both times were negative, praise God.
"God is not an evil dictator; instead He is a loving Father who knows sin will destroy me mentally, emotionally, physically and ultimately eternally."
Previously Matt had viewed religion as a list of rules, but since receiving God's forgiveness he now realizes that those who know Jesus are motivated by His love.
"The biggest way God has changed my life is that He has given me a love for Jesus and has opened my eyes to see the value of Jesus and the beauty of Jesus.
"My whole life I was looking in all the wrong places for the attention and love that I desired, but God in His goodness opened my heart to how magnificent He truly is."
Being a Christian does not mean he is perfect, Matt says, but he desires to honor God despite the many temptations he encounters daily.
Based on the Bible, he is also relieved to know he is free from God's judgment through faith in Jesus' sacrifice on his behalf, not by his own goodness.
"Sometimes I give in to sin. But I still turn from them to Jesus, and I credit that to the Holy Spirit, who lives in me. There is nothing good in my flesh that would cause me to choose God over sin."
Matt explains it is only through allowing Jesus and His Spirit to have control over his life that he can overcome sin and its consequences.
"I was saved and I am kept by God's kindness, which means I repent [turn away from sin] every day," he says.
"It's all God's power in my life, really. I owe Him everything. He is so much better than anything else the world could offer." •
Matt blogs on MattMoore.org