At the time, I knew two girls who were seriously dating each other. One was training to be a Lutheran minister. I wanted to know how they could reconcile their lives with Jesus and his teachings. They assured me that any appearance of conflict rested on historic misinterpretations of Scripture. They thrust a packet into my hands, and I ran back to my room to discover what the Bible really says about sexuality.
The packet had a neat internal consistency. It pleased me greatly. But as I looked up the verses it claimed to be expounding, I grew frustrated. These revisionist interpretations just didn’t line up with the plain meaning of the Bible’s words. Feeling duped, I threw the packet on the floor in disgust. Clearly, I had been foolish to hope that this old-fashioned religion had any room for me.
A few days later, I was in the room of a lapsed Catholic friend when I noticed an orange book spine bearing the name Mere Christianity. I knew nothing about C. S. Lewis or this book, but the title intrigued me—I quietly slipped it into my bag.
I read and read. One day, as I read between classes in the library, I set it down, mid-chapter, as it dawned on me: There was a God—my heart and my head could no longer deny it. Yet along with these glorious certainties came a panicked admission of my own wickedness. I had lied and cheated; I was cruel—I had even stolen that book from a sweet, unsuspecting friend! How would I face a pure and holy God?
But when I considered what Jesus had done—how he endured separation from God so that I could be joined—I knew I would be a fool to reject his offer. As my heart swelled with thankfulness, I clenched my eyes and prayed, surrendering myself to Jesus.
A Question of Trust
The following Saturday, Yale Students for Christ hosted a Valentine’s Day party. I still felt embarrassed about accepting Jesus, so I arrived late and pretended I had come by accident. When a sophomore girl asked why she hadn’t seen me before, I mumbled that I had just become a Christian two days earlier. She was a little stunned. She walked me over to some other freshmen, who invited me to freshman prayer Monday morning.
I showed up. They gave me a paperback Bible, answered my obnoxious questions, and invited me to Bible study the next night. I went, paperback in hand. Two juniors led us through a passage in Ephesians. This was amazing: real people, really examining the Bible and applying it to their lives.
Over the course of that semester, I followed these students around like a duckling, observing everything they did and said. But choosing Jesus didn’t answer all my questions. In particular, how would I deal with my natural, unshakable attraction to women? I knew the Bible was clear: What I wanted was off-limits. But I didn’t understand why. How could love, intimacy, and companionship be forbidden by this loving, intimate, companion-seeking God?
Thus I had to learn my first lesson of the Christian life: how to obey before I understood. My whole life had taught me to master a concept before I could assent to it. How could I possibly agree to something so costly without grasping the reason?