Andrew Kepper - A Be Free Story

My name is Matt Truett. I’m from Louisville, KY and this is my Be Free story.

I have been in church since I was 3 weeks old. I was raised in a charismatic tradition which shaped my views of Christ, non-Christians, and myself. From the pulpit I often heard how others were so depraved and undeserving of human respect, but most especially I felt that Enemy Number 1 was the Queer Community, specifically gay men. This began a general sentiment that still permeates my thoughts of the future which was, “How can a perfect God love me as a gay boy/man if Christians can’t even stomach the presence of men like me? Certainly God would have higher standards than humans?” Because of this fear, I became a perfect legalist who learned to have all the right answers with regard to traditional Christianity and biblical hermeneutic. Ultimately, in high school, members of the church exorcised me twice in order to deliver me from the “demon of homosexuality” which caused a great social divide between me and the others in the youth group which bred loneliness, fear, and contempt towards Christ and His image bearers.

After graduation and the death of my only childhood friend, Kayleigh, college became an environment for exploration: both physically and intellectually. For the first time, I was asking the questions that were banned at church such as, “Why does God make people that He has to hate per Scripture?” “Why does Christ present Himself in a certain way in the Gospels, but Christians present themselves differently whilst referencing Christ’s words and life events?” “Why am I gay? What did I do to make God hate me so much by allowing me to be born?” I was used to abusive father figures because both my biological and “spiritual” fathers had abused me mentally, emotionally, and physically throughout high school, but I had hoped that maybe God was different. How could God say things like Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1, and 1 Corinthians 6:9 but still say things like John 3:16-17 and Jeremiah 31:3? Everything seemed to conflict so I turned towards weed, porn, sex, and the like to try to numb the aching questions that were too painful to contemplate. After college, my heart began to burn with pure hatred for “straight, reformed, evangelical Christian men.” They served as the symbolic epitome of all of my pain and problems, so I allowed fear to blossom into raging hatred. I allowed my intellect to be my greatest defense; I learned all the “clobber verses” better than the straight Christians so that I could create a rebuttal to their arguments. This served as my survival in the harsh world of No Man’s Land between cultural Christianity and cultural Gayness.

I quickly became exhausted, so I turned once again to substance and men to try to assuage the nagging, ever present need to defend myself as a gay man amongst Christians, that is, until one day. On a quiet February night, I met the Man that I had convinced myself I knew better than anyone. The Man that I thought would have my back if I only knew enough biographical facts about Him. He sat me down and revealed to me a critical truth: despite my strivings, learning, knowledge retention, and Christian labeling, I had never surrendered to Him. I had never surrendered to Christ. Not only was He inviting me to come to Him for rest and a source of infinite love, He was urging me to give Him my sexuality. I didn’t want to give Him my sexuality because that would mean that my entire worldview would go with it, but Christ used the story of the Rich Young Ruler in the Gospel of Mark to encourage my surrender to Him. Jesus showed me that the point of His command to the Rich Young Ruler was not an indictment against rich people, rather His invitation
to surrender an earthly identity for an eternal one. Just like the Rich Young Ruler who left devastated by Jesus’ command, I felt the same weight and devastation to give Christ my whole heart including and especially my gayness. In a seemingly insane move on my part, I took the initial steps of surrender to Christ as He swooped in to be near me and to hold me on the one stipulation that He keeps all of His promises.

Now, 8 months later, I feel like I am still in that No Man’s Land. Now I am looked to by Christians as some representative of the entire Queer Community, while the gay guys that still talk to me (I lost a great deal of friends from the club scene) are incredulous of my intentions and often choose to not hang out with me anymore. The beginning of this new spiritual life has been devastatingly hard because my initial perception was that God, in some definition of “love,” was taking away my gay identity for the sake of Him. However, as I press forward I am realizing that God is healing my sexuality not taking away my gayness. I needed to heal from all of broken hearts and marred memories, but what I am realizing with great relief is that He is not “healing” me from being gay.

This journey is difficult because I am in constant awareness of my need for a Savior, but this journey is rewarding and beautiful because for the first time I am not alone in my questions, strivings, fear, and fragility. Christ holds me up when I have no strength left in me. He whispers my name when so many choose to not associate with me or yells against me for my choice to love Christ. He cheers me on in my small victories because my victories are only possible by His Spirit living in me. He holds me when I am brokenhearted and questioning if this journey is even worth it anymore.

Regardless of the pain or the beauty, Christ is there. Christ will always be there because He promises to be. This constant presence of Christ and His radical love for me does not change the past, dissolve all of the fear and anger, or encourages me concerning the future. But it doesn’t have to because the past is fixed, fear and anger are normal, and the future is unknown which (for me) will always be a source of unease. Christ didn’t invite me to detonate my life and worldview so that I would live a perfect easy life. He aligned Himself with me because He loves me. He loves His gay
son just the way I am.