Can the true homosexual change? A number of experts including—homosexuals themselves—say No. Colin Cook, director of Quest Counseling Center, in Reading, Pennsylvania, and codeveloper of Homosexuals Anonymous, says Yes. In a far-ranging interview with MINISTRY Editor Robert Spangler, Cook addresses such questions as What should the pastor do when a member of his congregation reveals that he is gay and wants help? What do those "proof texts" have to say about homosexuality? How are we to assess the explanations offered by the gay theologian? What really is the cause of homosexuality, and how may the church most effectively minister to people who want freedom?
The editors of MINISTRY believe that even the Christian minister and counselor who is used to working with homosexuals will learn something from the exceptionally candid and knowledgeable insights offered by Cook. While we recognize with Cook that his experience is personal and individual and may not necessarily be normative for all, we endorse the principles stated, realizing their application may vary in each situation. We also believe these principles have an element of universality and may be applied to nonsexual problems.
Spangler: Homosexuality is a condition that has come to the forefront nationally as the gay community has become more vocal. What is a beginning point in understanding the homosexual and ministering to him?
Cook: It is important to distinguish between homosexuals committed to a gay life style and those desperately trying to resolve what they believe to be an emotional and moral problem. The gay liberationists are the vocal element, the one most featured by the media. But there is also the homosexual privately suffering his problem. He has not shared it with anyone and has a hard time believing there is hope of a normal life for him. He feels condemned, lost, and isolated.
Spangler: Is the gay Christian who practices homosexuality a significant segment of the homosexual population? And why this sudden phenomenon of homosexual churches?
Cook: There is an increasing belief that homosexuality is an acceptable way of Christian living—though my impression is that homosexuals who believe this are a minority. I believe they have emerged as a result of church neglect. Where could they go for help? Most churches could not believe that homosexual people had any spiritual longings and simply condemned them. Finally the explosion came.
I must say that I don't think our own church ministers effectively to homosexuals—or to those with troubled emotions in general. We have many Adventist doctors who minister to the physical man, but almost none who deal with the emotional, and then only in a secular way. Surely the gospel speaks to the whole of man.
Spangler: Let me get the kinds of homosexual people in mind. I suppose the largest segment of gay society consists of those who couldn't care less about Christianity. They are practicing homosexuals, and God or religion doesn't enter into the picture for them.
Cook: No. I don't think that is the largest group. It is the loudest group. I have a feeling that the majority of homosexual people do care deeply about religious questions and try to resolve them in various ways.
Spangler: You are speaking of those committed to the homosexual way of life within the framework of Christianity? I have noticed that this group gets considerable support from several authors . . .
Cook: Yes. Derrick Sherwin Bailey's book, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, is one of the recent major works that gave impetus to this concept. Since then, John McNeil, a Jesuit (The Church and the Homosexual), and John Boswell, of Yale (Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality), have added support to proponents of a gay life style. Both are self-affirmed homosexuals, and many frustrated homosexuals seeking peace and equilibrium have accepted their thinking, as well as many heterosexual individuals who are sympathetic to their life style.
Spangler: And that is?
Cook: That so long as a homosexual union is responsible, monogamous, and committed, it's OK.
Spangler: Are these three books writ ten within the Christian framework?
Cook: The last two are written within the Christian gay framework.
Spangler: But what about those who are longing for deliverance? Are there many of those?
Cook: Yes, I believe so. But you have used a controversial word when you say "deliverance." Many don't like that word, and many believe it's impossible anyway.
Spangler: But you will go on record as believing that many gays want to change? I've been under the impression that many have no desire to change.
Cook: Thousands would get out if they knew how. There's a constant stream of requests coming into our center and others like it across the country.
Spangler: Would you say there is a similarity between the problem of homo sexuality and the problem of, say, alcohol ism? I know alcoholics who would do anything to be different, but they feel trapped.
Cook: There are similarities. Both problems express a struggle to cope with the world and a desire to escape from reality by the exclusiveness of the respective habits. But the similarity ends when some homosexuals come to accept their problem as a life style and live fairly comfortably with it. If an alcoholic did that, he'd be dead.
Spangler: Which kind of homosexual person is most likely to suffer?
Cook: The homosexual by orientation who really wants to change but doesn't know how. From the time of puberty he's had desires for the same sex. We shouldn't confuse him with the sailor or prisoner who may have sex with a man because he is deprived of females. The fellow I'm talking about suffers deeply in adolescence. He feels estranged, different. He feels frightened by his sexual urges and wants to change. He is ridden with guilt, and he doesn't have—and doesn't even want— girlfriends, when his peers do. They're all talking about girls, commenting on their shapes and how they'd like to "explore" them. He doesn't feel any of that. And when he recognizes that the captain of the football team appeals to him more than the cheerleader, the fear is unimaginable.
Spangler: Do you think this kind of homosexual person is born this way?
Cook: No. The theory that homosexuality finds its roots in one's relationship with his parents has the most solid support among psychiatrists (Irving Beiber, Lawrence Hatterer, Lionel Oversey, for example). Within the past ten years, however, there has been a new emphasis in the behavioral sciences on a hypothesis that includes a prenatal, hormonal cause, but it's not so much the findings them selves that are important as the interpretation given to them. There are predispositions to sin in all of us. It's a question of whether we direct them, and how, that counts.
I believe the ideas of a harsh or distant father and a dominant or binding mother are correct, but as a primary cause they don't go far enough. Since most psychiatrists do not operate within the Christian framework, they fail to see the deeper causes. The parent-child relationship (of which there are about a score of variants) is important, and it must be worked through in the counseling relationship if a homo sexual person wants to change, but it is a secondary cause, not a primary one. The primary cause, in my opinion, is the spiritual shame that all mankind experiences as a result of the Fall. The psychic damage from this is immense, and has affected the sexuality of every man and woman.
Spangler: Aren't psychiatrists wary of single-cause theories? They see them as oversimplified and reductionistic, don't they?
Cook: True, though I sense that there is a fear among them, as among the rest of us, that simple theories might appear unscientific. We do have to guard against the danger of reductionism, as you suggest. It leads to pigeonholing and false solutions. Nevertheless, the Christian has access to a source of knowledge that a psychiatrist operating outside the Biblical framework does not have.
When Adam sinned, one of the first things affected was his sexuality—not his sexual desire, necessarily, but his whole idea of himself as a man. The record is that he felt shame, a certain strangeness about his nakedness, that led him to cover himself. Obviously there was nothing wrong with nakedness, because he was naked before he fell and he felt no shame. But there was guilt there now, you see. There was a shame and fear that led him to some very different perceptions of the world. He began to hide his true self because of his shame. He put God and his wife at a distance, as beings alien to"him. Now we have all the root causes, the ingredients, of homosexuality—alienation from God, from self, and from the world. I'm not saying that Adam was homosexual! Please don't quote me as saying that! What I'm saying is that Adam's distorted view of the world—that God was angry, and therefore he felt condemned and anxious; that self was shamed, and therefore his manhood was now inferior; and that the world was now something to conceal himself from—set the predisposition for homosexuality. Once the secondary causes enter the scene—an alienation of the father, for instance, or domination by the mother, and a manipulation of both by the child—man's distortion of self and the world is worsened to the point of homosexuality.
Spangler: We could say, then, that homosexuality is an expression of man's distorted view of the world?
Cook: Yes, provided that that is under stood in its fuller, spiritual extent. And particularly a distorted view of the world of women. Once Adam fell, his female opposite, Eve, was no longer viewed as his complement but as a threat. He hid his body from her and demeaned her in order to exonerate himself. Adam manipulated Eve by placing blame on her in order to put himself in a better light. We pay a price for that, and the price is diminishing respect.
Spangler: That's a very subtle form of contempt in male and female relationships that involves the whole world, not just homosexual people.
Cook: Yes, and once the secondary causes are there, it takes a particular form in homosexuality. We all experience the guilt and isolation of the Fall. Protection against it is often expressed in a mother's close, binding relationship with a child (particularly if the father is emotionally distant or absent) and in the child's subtle manipulation of that relationship. The result, years later, is a diminished respect of the world of women.
I well remember adolescent impress ions—unspoken at the time—that women were not as intelligent as men. That they knitted and gossiped and giggled a lot and were weak. That kind of distorted view limits emotional sharing with women and true sexual intimacy, because when we feel insecure in ourselves, we look for strength in our partner and feel put off by weakness. It's the very opposite view of what God said of women: "'I will make a helper suitable for him'" (Gen. 2:18, N.I.V.).* It's only when the gospel heals our distorted view of God, self, and the world of the opposite sex that the power of manipulation and contempt is broken and we find freedom from homosexuality.
Spangler: I am inclined to listen carefully to your convictions, because I know you speak not only as a counselor to homosexuals but also as one who had a homosexual problem and who found recovery through the Lord Jesus Christ. Would you want to share more evidence from your own experience?
Cook: In my experience, the homosexual identity—this distortion of the world—was there from the age of 10 or so and began to break up from the mid-30s. My father was not a distant man emotion ally. He was warm and friendly. But he had to be distant physically. He was a commercial fisherman who was away ten days out of every twelve. So for long stretches of time there was no role model in my life through whom I could see myself as a more secure male in the world. And I had polio in my right leg. Any physical defect has the potential of increasing inferiorities in childhood, particularly when there is either absence of involvement or deep tension in the parent-child relationship.
This combination, coupled with my already broken self-image that we all experience as a result of the Fall, led me to distorted perceptions of my sexuality. I was not good enough for girls. Even while I involved myself in the world, I began to isolate my inner self from it, particularly the world of women. I remember feeling that girls would not find me attractive because of my game leg. And as I continued this isolation from them, they lost any intimate appeal they could have had for me. By the time I became a Seventh-day Adventist Christian at 15, my homosexual orientation was fully formed. Unbeknown to myself, I was rejecting my real self, my true identity, and the world God had made for me and was trying to find a substitute in this longing for other men. I was so desperate, even at that time, that I asked my minister for an anointing.
Spangler: Do you mean that you were anointed specifically for the homosexual problem?
Cook: That's exactly what I told my pastor I needed anointing for. But he didn't seem to know what was going on and thought I was really struggling with masturbation. Anyway, I was anointed, but nothing seemed to change. Yet looking back, I think the Lord did answer my prayer for healing, but twenty years later. My problem was compounded when I took theology in college and got into perfectionism. Even though the cross was being presented regularly in our courses, I was blinded by perfectionism to its real meaning. I came to believe that I must reach a state of perfect moral obedience to the law of God. And this had to happen before I could have any certainty of final salvation. I wasn't a legalist in the ordinary sense. I believed this perfection could be accomplished only by the Holy Spirit. But theologically speaking, I totally confused the work that God did for me in Jesus Christ with the work that He does in me by the Holy Spirit. You can imagine the result. I was always looking inward for assurance, as if the Holy Spirit were my Saviour. The cross of Jesus was out of focus. Salvation was never present for very long. It was always precarious and dependent on my internal progress. I could not see my perfection in Jesus. I was what I have since come to call a "religious neurotic."
What I didn't understand then was that my perfectionism was one more distorted view of the world and of God and of self. I think I was a perfectionist not because of the Biblical data that. I thought was there but because I needed it psychologically. Guilt was one of the strongest motivators I knew at the time. It seemed only right to condemn myself. And isolation from the real world was my major way of coping with temptation. Perfectionism provided me with ample guilt and ample isolation. One thing became certain to me: perfectionism created so much cryptic guilt and fear that it only worsened my homosexual problem.
Spangler: So while you were going through all this, you'd stumble and fall?
Cook: Yes, and feel rejected, feel that salvation was so uncertain unless I got through to a sustained perfection.
Spangler: And then you felt the Lord would accept you?
Cook: Yes, and I would pass through the judgment by virtue of what He had done in me through the Spirit.
Spangler: Did you actually serve as a pastor?
Cook: In England for four years and in New York for three. But I decided to quit; I just couldn't control the habit. I felt I had to find a Biblical-faith solution, or I would never have confidence in the Bible again. How could God possibly have overlooked a problem so filled with suffering! I now know that the Scriptures do offer an answer.
Spangler: Did you believe that the Bible condemns the homosexual life style?
Cook: Oh, yes. That understanding was what constantly motivated me to desire change. But guilt doesn't create change, only the desire for it. That motivation is only destructive in the end if you don't discover the grace of God. The law can only kill, and it had been killing me for twenty years. I mean, what do you do with guilt? Unresolved guilt leads only to despair or to the protectiveness of perfectionism. But the law against homo sexuality at least did one thing for me. For twenty years it restrained me from total abandonment, so that when the gospel became clearer to me, I was ready for it. But before that I felt constantly frustrated by God. I saw the Biblical call to the homosexual. I sought to repent and trust. But in the end the homosexual anxiety always overpowered my faith.
Spangler: So you are living proof that a homosexual may desperately want to be a Christian and live in harmony with the Biblical ethic of sex?
Cook: Yes, but all the while, it appears to the homosexual person that his very nature is opposed to the commands of Scripture. So he is faced with this seeming dilemma: Does he give up his Christian faith and accept himself? Or does he deny his true self—as he thinks of it—in order to live the faith?
But there's something more to say about this, Bob. I was already a Christian, a babe in Christ, struggling with homosexuality. I was converted at 15. I have been an Adventist for a quarter of a century. The atoning work of Jesus has meant very much to me. But in those early days I just couldn't understand how it applied to homosexuality. I was one of those people Paul speaks about who needed their faith "mended," as it says in The New English Bible (1 Thess. 3:9).t The Greek word there is "to round out," "to make whole," "to knit together." Ministers need to realize that thousands out there need their faith mended in relation to homosexuality.
Spangler: That's quite a challenge to the ministry! Referring to that dilemma you mentioned, it seems, then, that before the gospel solution comes to light, a homosexual is faced with a double bind: either try to live the Christian life and deny his supposedly true self, his homosexual self, or accept himself as homosexual and give up being a Christian. That's a terrible conflict. What about the homo sexual, though, who resolves his problem by becoming a gay Christian?
Cook: He has become a gay Christian because he has not seen the third alternative that would release him from that double bind. It is a false dilemma that he finds himself facing, not a true one, for there is deliverance from homosexuality. Nevertheless, we must treat him with understanding. He has had to struggle in isolation. Was the church there to show him the true alternative? He has had to resolve a conflict with almost no guidance from the Christian community. At least he tried to hold on to his Christian faith, even though it is now compromised. He is in error, I believe. Yet the error is not 100 percent his; 50 percent belongs to the church. The presence of the gay Christian in our midst is half a result of pastoral neglect by both ministry and laity. The church simply was not there, emotionally, when the homosexual struggler needed guidelines, fellowship, and care. It is tragic and very, very sad.
Spangler: You say you believe the Bible speaks of homosexuality. But the gay theologian takes the same texts you read and finds no reference to homosexuality in them.
Cook: You have to understand that there is a basic presupposition underlying gay theology—that true homosexuality is unchangeable, natural, "inverted," as Bailey started calling it. So God wouldn't condemn the expression of something that is basic to some people's nature, the gay theologian says. What God does condemn, he explains, is the abuse of homo sexuality, as in homosexual rape, or the exploitation of it, as in homosexual cultic prostitution.
Spangler: So the gay theologian interprets the homosexuality texts on the basis of these presuppositions?
Cook: Yes. Sodom and Gomorrah, for example, were not destroyed for homosexuality, the gay theologian explains, but for pride, gluttony, and inhospitality, as Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jesus point out. The Sodomites' desire to "know" these men was not sexual, the gay theologian says, but for the purpose of demanding to know who these people were who had entered the city without the proper cultural courtesies of introduction to the elders. Other gay theologians accept that homosexuality is referred to, but argue that its abuse in rape, not the condition itself or its proper use, is the thing condemned.
The Leviticus proscription against homosexuality is explained by gay theology to refer to pagan cultic homosexuality, with which the Israelites were to have nothing to do. Boswell sees these same proscriptions as ceremonial and thus no longer applicable in the Christian dispensation.
Gay theologians consider 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:9, 10 to be obscure since, they say, the Greek word arsenokoites could refer to numerous things other than homosexuality and since these sin lists lack the necessary context for evaluation.
Finally, the reference in Romans 1 is viewed by the advocates of gay theology as homosexual rape and exploitation, not true "inverted" homosexuality. These people condemned by Paul were not homosexuals by nature, says the gay theologian, because they exchanged a relationship with the opposite sex for one with the same sex. Thus they were "perverts," not "inverts," it is argued.
Spangler: So the gay theologian is saying that these men and women were first straight, then turned to homosexual acts, and thus became "perverted"?
Cook: Yes, that's what he's saying.
Spangler: So an oriented pervert who continued his life style would . . .
Cook: Not "pervert," but "invert." He has always been like that, therefore it's natural to him, says gay theology, and not evil as long as it's used responsibly.
Spangler: What do you think of this gay theology interpretation?
Cook: Well, in the first place, it's important to point out that many sanctimonious heterosexuals have thumped away at these texts as if there were no sin in the world as bad as homosexuality. If condemnation against sin is preached without the admixture of hope and the gospel, a preacher's work is nothing more than a "ministration of death," to use Paul's term (see 2 Cor. 3:7). These texts have definitely been overdone, there's no doubt about that.
Spangler: It seems, then, that there really was much more to Sodom's problem than homosexuality.
Cook: Yes, even though homosexuality is clearly, in my opinion, included in the text. Homosexuality was merely a symptom of the deeper problem of self-indulgence in Sodom. Nor should we pour contempt on the gay theology view that the sin for which Sodom was destroyed was inhospitality. Although it is not a totally satisfactory explanation of the text, in hospitality was considered a grave offense among the Israelites, as shown both by Biblical and extra-Biblical sources. It is poignant that homosexuals, who have suffered such inhospitality and ostracism at the hands of heterosexuals, should be the ones to point this out to us.
Spangler: Do you think that if these texts had been explained more objectively in the past, the homosexual might have been more willing to seek help without fear of condemnation?
Cook: Yes, and the heterosexual would have been better equipped to give such help because he'd be more inclined to see homosexual sin as one among many—his own included.
So then, I think the texts have been overdone. But still, the gay theology interpretation is strained and implausible. When I hear somebody interpreting pas sages in this way, I can hear myself thinking, Is he really serious? How can a person understand passages of Scripture on the basis of linguistics only, while ignoring the wider theological questions of the Biblical framework of sexuality? When we look at that picture, we see a unified framework of heterosexuality. God made man in His image, male and female, the Bible says. Genesis sets up man's identity. Man was made to be fully himself only when he identifies with one who is the same as he is, and yet opposite from him—that is, another human of the opposite sex (see Gen. 2:10-24). There's a mysterious drawing power between man and woman as sameness and opposite. And Genesis presents this as the inner structure of man's sexuality, deposited in him at Creation. If you take note of the unusual wording of Genesis 1:26, 27—it departs from the earlier wording of expressing how God created things—you get a strong sense of the writer's attempt to parallel the male-female union with the unity and diversity found in the Godhead. The union we have in love and marriage with another who is like us, yet opposite expresses something of the truth and beauty in the Godhead, it seems.
Then, when we come to the New Testament, Jesus confirms man's hetero sexual creation: God "made them male and female" (Matt. 19:4). And so does Paul. Throughout Scripture heterosexual families are the norm of reality. The New Testament is replete with counsel on heterosexual relationships in love and marriage. But nowhere do we find Biblical counsel on homosexual union. Are we to say that God simply ignored the needs of homosexual people? That would be an intolerable thought that would make God out to be heartless. Far better to under stand that homosexual people deep down are the same as the rest of us—heterosexual people, but with a homosexual struggle. Then God in mercy speaks the same to them as to everyone else: "Know your true identity in My Son. Know My power to deliver you. Know My love for you." This is not to say, of course, that homosexual deliverance must necessarily include marriage. Freedom from homosexuality may involve either a single or a married life.
Spangler: So the homosexuality texts should be interpreted in the context of this wider, Biblical framework of heterosexuality.
Cook: Yes, not to do so is another form of proof-texting, no matter how sophisticated the linguistic and exegetical technique. If proof-texting can't be used to condemn homosexuality, neither can it be used to condone it. We have to look at the wider perspective. We have to discover the underlying structure. And when we do, we just can't find a presupposition that says, "Homosexuality is OK as long as it isn't exploited." It's simply not part of God's plan at all.
Now when we take this unified Biblical view, the Sodom account makes sense without clubbing it to death. The same goes for the Levitical proscription (Lev. 18:22; 20:13). That is, homosexual activity is sinful not because of its association with pagan rites but because of its basic disharmony with the internal structure of creation.
Then, when we come to Romans 1, there is particular significance. The con text present homosexuality, along with many other fallen conditions, as a result of the breakdown of man's relationship with the Godhead, of which his heterosexual structure was once part. I think this makes more sense than the narrower concept of homosexual exploitation. By the way, this is not to say that if a man is struggling with homosexual desire, it is because he has no relationship with God. Paul speaks in general terms of the effects of mankind's departure from God. Individual Christians may still be experiencing those effects while continuing to grow in Christ, it appears to me.
And finally, Boswell gives a lot of space to demonstrating that the words maialcoi and arsenokoitai, which appear in 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:8-10, apply not to homosexuality, but to immorality in general and possibly to homosexual prostitution in particular. But what has he proved? That we must go elsewhere for counsel on sexuality—to the unified structure of Biblical heterosexuality. In the light of that, homosexuality is merely one sexual distortion among many others that are subsumed under the general terms malakos and arsenokoites.
Spangler: That's a very different conclusion from the one gay theology would make.
Cook: Yes, it is, because it doesn't take as a starting point the presupposition of "inversion." That presupposition is a distorted view of nature in light of the wider Biblical framework of the hetero sexual creation of man. Richard Lovelace puts it well in his book Homosexuality and the Church: "An appeal to nature proves nothing in a fallen world." The victory of Christ breaks in upon nature and gives us the freedom to direct it rather than-be directed by it.
Spangler: Let's go back to your experience. You were speaking about being trapped in "perfectionism." How did you get out of it and with what effect on your homosexuality?
Cook: For about six years following 1968, the protectiveness that perfection ism generates was beginning to crack up. On and off during that period, I was studying Ephesians, Corinthians, Daniel, and Romans, from Dr. Sakae Kubo, Dr. Edward Heppenstall, and Dr. Hans LaRondelle. These men began to open up such a new world to me that I did a lot of intense private study on my own, reading Paul's letter to the Romans every chance I got. Luther's and Calvin's works helped me a great deal. So did commentaries by Anders Nygren and Charles Hodge. What emerged over those six years was a shift in focus from what the Spirit was doing in me to what God had done in Christ as the basis for my assurance before Him.
I can't tell you how this disturbed me! I felt uneasy believing it. I thought, What happens to the law, to holiness? I think I feared that if I ended all this spiritual self-concentration, all hell would break loose inside. But as this new focus on Jesus grew sharper, I began to sense awe over what it could mean for homosexuality. Yet I was both excited and frightened. Excited because maybe there was a way out of homosexuality after all. And frightened because if there was a way out, I'd be responsible if I didn't take it—and embarrassed if I did.
Spangler: Why embarrassed?
Cook: Well, something like: "If there is a way out of this by simple faith in Jesus, then why have I kicked up all this fuss and made such a big problem out of it?" Faith is humiliating, you know. Anyway, then a crisis came.
Spangler: That was when you left the ministry, wasn't it?
Cook: Yes; I hadn't yet learned how to apply this gospel to homosexuality. I just wasn't in control, so I decided to leave. At first it was exhilarating to have faced the issue head-on, but then the reaction set in. My job security was gone, along with my reputation, my financial base, and above all, the call to ministry that I had had in my teens. So much seeming waste. But I soon learned that this crisis was God's way of facing me with faith alone in Jesus Christ. There was nothing left but to throw myself on His mercy. I have since learned to respect a man's crisis; the Creator is at work building faith.
Spangler: How did you now see Jesus differently from the way you saw Him before?
Cook: Well, He was now head and shoulders above me. He was no longer the little Jesus in my heart, but the great sovereign Lord of the world. He was no longer merely my example whose victory I was to imitate. He was now my Victor, whose victory I could boast about and claim as my own. He was now no longer my means to righteousness; He was my righteousness. Before, I saw Him as the justification for all my past sins. Now I saw Him as my justification for past, present, and future sins. Before, I saw Him as the Author of my salvation and the Holy Spirit as the Finisher. Now I saw Jesus as both the Author and Finisher, the Alpha and the Omega. He was now no longer the means to the death of self. He was my death of self. And He was now no longer my means to the resurrection life, He was the resurrection life. Before, 1 saw Him dying for my sins; now I saw Him as dying for my sinful nature. Before, I saw salvation as dependent on the strength of my faith in Jesus; now I saw it as dependent on the strength of Jesus, in whom I placed faith.
Spangler: Was it the book of Romans that led you principally to this new understanding?
Cook: Yes, for the most part—plus the crisis. I mention the crisis again, not because I think there's any virtue in having a crisis. I'm not an ascetic about this. But I think it's helpful to discern God in a crisis. He's not pushing you away. He's leading you to Him during these times.
But, yes, the book of Romans showed me that the gospel provided me with a righteousness from God—the life of Christ (see chap. 3:21). I needed to know so desperately how to be righteous before God, and I found it written in Romans 4:3 that all of Christ's goodness was charged to my account. I was treated as righteous, even when I was wicked, as long as I clung to Christ (see chap. 4:5). I needed to know that He wasn't displeased with me any more, and I found that Christ was my propitiation (see chap. 3:25). He was my peace before God, a peace produced not by the depth of my surrender, which faltered so much through homosexual desire, but a peace created by His sacrifice that reconciled me while I was still an enemy (see chap. 5:1, 10). I needed to know that my sinful nature, with all its homosexual condition, would not be charged against me, and I read it there in Romans that my sinful body was reckoned as dead in His so that I need never feel condemned by the law (see chaps. 6:3, 6, 11; 7:4; 2 Cor. 5:14).
Spangler: So the change began when you believed God wasn't going to charge your sinful nature against you anymore?
Cook: I know that's an idea that frightens some people, particularly perfectionists, because they think it implies a person can do what he wants. But it's actually the very opposite of that. By faith we accept that God looks upon us as if our sinful nature had already died, and we say to God, "You mean You're not charging all my feelings and urges against me?" "No," says God, "I'm setting you free from the guilt and the fear of them." And you respond, "Well, God, that gives me freedom to get up and try again with dignity and to believe I'm accepted. Now, I feel I can walk more willingly with You in the right way."
Spangler: You know, the principle you are enunciating is valid in all areas of Christian experience. It is the faith element. You believe that your prayers are answered, and you act upon that faith.
Cook: Yes, there is a simplicity to all this, but I don't want the simplicity to make it seem unreal. There was a lot of struggle, a lot of failure, a lot of doubt, but without condemnation now, without feeling cast off. What was happening here on the psychic level was a changing of thought patterns. Negative rejectionism was being replaced with self-acceptance, as I kept thanking God for my new identity in Christ.
And I think that as much as anything else, I needed to know that all the troubles I had seen in my life were not gone forever into waste. And I discovered there in Romans that Christ's grace now reigns over the powers of evil because of His victory at the cross (see chap. 5:16-21). So since God is for us, nothing can be against us(see chap. 8:31,39). In fact, all that seems against us is actually in our favor. If the greatest tragedy—the murder of the Son of God—could be turned by this majestic Lord of ours into the greatest triumph, then my trials could be "the key not to the past but to the future," to quote Corrie ten Boom. She says in The Hiding Place: "The experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do."
Spangler: Well now, how did you begin to use this new understanding of the gospel?
Cook: Faith is God's gift, along with Christ. So when faith operates, things begin to happen. It's been my experience that faith produces altered states of mind, a kind of heightening of reality—what the Scriptures might call "the renewing of your mind" through the Holy Spirit (chap12:2).
So I began to use this faith. I knew that Jesus was everything that I was not—my Victor, my Righteousness, my Salvation. I now had an outside point of reference— Jesus. All His goodness was reckoned as mine. I defined my true self by Him. I was not only righteous in Him, I was also heterosexual in Him, because He was the second Adam restoring all that the first Adam had lost (see 1 Cor. 15:45). I saw myself now not only as heterosexual by creation—though it had been buried by the homosexual condition—but also heterosexual by redemption.
I began to fight back with this new faith-understanding of myself. And it made me realize that the early homosexuality of my teen years was partly a problem of what the Bible calls a "weak con science." We yield to our sense of insecurity and fear of the odd feelings inside until we realize that "I am a homosexual!" Most of us at that time do not know how to fight back with the authority of faith to give our emotions another direction.
Spangler: That certainty says some thing for the need of early training in faith and the gospel.
Cook: Yes, it does. But there's a great secret to the fight of faith. Since Christ has already brought in righteousness and victory for us, the first thing that faith does is to praise God for what He has done. I began a regular habit of praising God for everything Christ was to me and every thing He reckons me to be in Him. I began to praise Him for victory in failure, for righteousness when I felt sinful, for His triumph in trials. I praised Him for a strong mind when I felt depressed, for destiny in purposelessness, and for heterosexuality in homosexuality.
I know this sounds almost silly. But the faith that praises is the pebble with which we slay Goliath, the foolish thing that shames all our wisdom. Just look at the Psalms. They ring with praise. Those men knew that the joy of the Lord was their strength (see Heb. 8:10). And the mood of Paul's writings is the same. Righteousness by faith is a song.
Spangler: Are you saying, then, that praising God through faith for what Christ was to you began to produce new emotional responses?
Cook: I'm saying exactly that, Bob. You see, we have trained ourselves all our lives in guilt, fear, and shame because we sin and. are sinful. But now Christ brings forgiveness and righteousness. If we learn to sing with it, we will find ourselves responding differently to life. For me, over the months I sensed anxiety beginning to lose its grip. Depressions were not so intense or prolonged. The guilt that aggravated them was breaking. Temptations became milder and lost their addictiveness as my perceptions of men changed. And I noticed a growing ability to relate to men with diminishing erotic overtones as I learned to push back condemnation through faith in Christ and as I learned to see them as whole persons, and not simply sexual objects.
As time went on, I began to realize that I had been locked for years into a grand illusion about myself—what I call the homosexual lie. Gradually, a new confidence grew as I daily affirmed my hetero sexual identity in Christ. I began to claim the right by faith to have girlfriends, though I feared to do so at first. The personalities of women were kind of out of focus, but the more I reached out in faith to them, the more that focus sharpened, and their different personalities became distinguishable and attractive. Then emotional and physical responses began to develop as I went ahead in faith to express affection. I remember the first sexual arousal as I walked with a girlfriend through a summer field. I remember the first kiss.
I began praising God for my wife, whom I saw through the eye of faith four years before I ever met her. We have been married now for two and a half years. Sharon is God's most precious gift to me, next to Christ. She's full of beauty, charm, wit, and intelligence. It's delightful.
Spangler: Colin, you spoke earlier of homosexuality being an expression of man's distorted view of the world. The gospel heals that distortion, and therefore heals homosexuality?
Cook: Yes. Adam's shame drove him to put distance between himself and God. Shame is an awareness of being something opposite from what we should be. Adam saw God as holy, whereas he was sinful. He perceived Eve as opposite from him in a new sense, one to whom he could not fully disclose his shame. And so Adam hid to protect himself, and manipulated Eve before God to maintain that protection. Thus, when sin entered, Adam's view of God, himself, and the world was distorted, and increasingly so as he increased his self-protection and alienated reality from himself. Mankind has been doing this ever since and expressing it homosexually when the secondary causes come in.
But the entrance of Jesus changes our whole perception of reality and so heals the homosexual mind-set. He makes us feel safe with God by revealing His love. He makes us feel safe with ourselves by forgiving us and giving us new identity in Him. He makes us feel safe in the world by His Lordship over it. Now the homosexual person no longer views the opposites of God's holiness and his own sinfulness as threatening. Jesus exists as his holiness, so he may feel at home, learning and growing in God's holiness. He is open to it, and it becomes a beautiful thing to him. Now he no longer despises his weakness, opposing it to God's strength. He rather sees God's strength as complementing his weakness. He is able to praise God for it, since it becomes an occasion for God to reveal Himself through it (2 Cor. 12:9, 10). Paradoxically, his acceptance of his weakness as a thing of beauty when united with God's strength becomes for him a source of strength.
And with this inner strength-by-weakness he is able to perceive the world of women differently. He is open to observe, because he no longer has to protect his shame. And as he observes and involves himself, he becomes aware that the softness of women, which he once perceived as weakness, is now becoming a thing of beauty. He sees the softness as a complement to his own new awareness of strength. And being more at ease with his own areas of weakness, he perceives a woman's different strength as a welcome addition to his life. It is not an opposite to be resisted, but one to be welcomed.
So it is this new harmony with life, this relaxed openness, this safety with the world that breaks down his need to protect and manipulate and opens to him the new beauty that God has for him and delights to reveal.
Spangler: And this is what deliverance is?
Cook: Yes, but we need to clarify the meaning of deliverance. It is a deep-seated conviction of faith that you are heterosexual by creation and redemption; it is faith-knowledge that Christ has broken the power of homosexuality on the cross. It's also a releasing of the soul from guilt, fear, and shame by faith in the atonement of Christ, so that the emotions are released for heterosexual love and true affection for the same sex. And it's learning to live the new identity so that the homosexual habit is broken.
But it does not necessarily mean the absence of all temptation. In saying this, I would not want it construed that I am teetering on the edge of neurotic self-restraint, like the person Alcoholics Anonymous calls a "dry drunk"—one who has merely repressed his desire to drink, and badly wants to go back to it. I've met "recovered" homosexuals like that. No, the temptations of a person delivered from homosexuality are different. They are mild; they don't have the innate craving or longing because they don't have the same significance. They pass, and it's knowing how to let them pass calmly. When your new identity is established, your perception of men changes, and there isn't that psychic need to fulfill yourself in another male.
Spangler: I note that some psychiatrists say, Once a homosexual, always a homo sexual. For example, C. A. Tripp, in The Homosexual Matrix, claims there is not one case history on record of recovery. Is Tripp—a homosexual himself—one who simply defines cure as meaning a complete loss of homosexual urges? Or ...
Cook: This is partly a question of definition in which Tripp has fallen for the all-or-nothing of perfectionism. The Kinsey test of recovery is a subtle form of intimidation. If one has not shifted psychically from six on the scale (total homosexual) or five (near total homosexual) to zero (no homosexual responses at all), then one is not recovered or cured. This is absurd. It implies, "If I can't function as a heterosexual perfectly, then I won't function as a heterosexual at all." It is precisely this anxious unrealism that has prevented many homosexual persons (and heterosexual persons!) from making any progress at all. Our heterosexuality is not perfect, and it will not be until the kingdom. We are always learning to love more fully, more deeply. This is the very reason we seek to rest in Christ's perfect wholeness for us. When we hear God's call to live our lives heterosexually, then with every obedient step that we take we know that we are covered by the mercy of Christ's overarching righteousness.
In my opinion, Tripp and others who claim that homosexuality is unchangeable are following a dying cause. The issue of homosexual recovery today is at the same place the issue of alcoholic recovery was before 1935. Nobody ' thought it was possible short of creating a "dry drunk" and policing him for the rest of his life. But then Alcoholics Anonymous came along, and the bubble burst. Recovery was possible! It's the same in the homosexual area. There's a new groundswell that is leading thousands to believe in the possibility of recovery. I believe God will yet surprise us all with His mercy and grace, and if the world is still around in another thirty years, the question of whether a homosexual person can become heterosexual in his responses will sound like a discussion of nineteenth-century medicine!
Spangler: To change the focus a bit, Colin, what should a minister do when a homosexual person comes to him for help?
Cook: Well, of course we have to assume that the minister has a basic knowledge of Christian counseling skills, or at least has recourse to them. A very useful book is The Promise of Counseling, by C. W. Brister (Harper & Row). And an excellent sourcebook on various secular approaches, some of which can be used in the Christian context, is Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy (3d ed.), by C. H. Patterson.
But apart from these basic skills, I believe that a minister needs a grand compassion for people. I'm not talking about a maudlin sympathy, but a compassion that loves and is strong. And he should have hope that the gospel can positively help the homosexual person. He should be able to listen, too. There are a great many ministers who don't give the homosexual person a chance to get the burden off his chest before they are coming up with the solution. Active listening is what is needed.
You know, when the Bible says that Christ was numbered with the transgressors, there's a hidden structure there. It's the structure of identification. God's love is so deep that it fully enters into the human experience. It fully understands. I think that is what the pastor has to do too. He must so love and empathize that he enters into the homosexual person's experience. This builds trust and a willingness to reciprocate. But if he comes up with the solution too soon, the homosexual person will walk out of that office saying, "He didn't understand. He didn't even listen."
Spangler: That tendency to provide instant solutions often comes from anxiety, I think—a feeling that as pastors we have to demonstrate competence and do something as soon as possible.
Cook: But it's a bad mistake, because homosexuality doesn't go away overnight. In fact, in some way, the minister needs to convey a commitment to the homosexual person that he'll work with him on a weekly or twice-weekly basis or whatever, for as long as he needs, maybe one or two years, if necessary. The minister shouldn't be afraid to admit that he doesn't know everything about the problem and that he's willing to learn. I recommend very strongly five excellent books for back ground and concepts: Homosexuality and the Church, by Richard Lovelace; Homosexuality: A Symbolic Confusion, by Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse; What You Should Know About Homosexuality, edited by Charles W. Keysor; The H Persuasion, edited by Sheldon Kranz; and Changing Homosexuality in the Male, by Lawrence Hatterer. This last one is out of print at present, but you should be able to find a copy through a bookstore that searches for out-of-print copies.
Spangler: What about confidentiality? I've heard some pretty awful stories about breach of confidentiality.
Cook: I'm glad you mentioned that. There are some tragic stories in this connection. I heard of a homosexual person who went to a pastor in confidence, and the pastor immediately called the man's wife and told her that her husband was homosexual.
Spangler: And she had known nothing about it?
Cook: Nothing. The same minister announced from the pulpit the following Sabbath that this man was being relieved of his church offices because of homosexuality. Another minister I know of stood over a man in a church business meeting, pointed a finger at him, and demanded, "Are you homosexual? Yes or no ?" Now, as a matter of fact, this man was not practicing homosexuality, although he had that orientation. But his usefulness and acceptance in that church were ended. I know not all ministers are like this. But it happens far too often, with the result that for many homosexual people a minister would be the last person they would go to.
Spangler: It seems that many ministers fear the problem as if it were a contagious disease or something.
Cook: Let me speak frankly. Face the fact that within the heart of every one of us lurks a hidden contempt for the gospel. This is our sin. We either club a homosexual person over the head with condemnation or we ignore him because we are embarrassed that we can do so little to help. Now in my opinion, both of these responses reveal a hidden contempt. Please don't misunderstand me. We are all in this together. We have to face our hidden betrayer or it will destroy us. We have to ask ourselves, Can I take the gospel seriously? Does it speak to all human conditions? Or has my respect for it diminished over the years?
Spangler: What other helpful pointers could you give a minister who's asked to help a homosexual person?
Cook: Do not pigeonhole. Learn that though some homosexual people are bitter and dominant, others are quiet and sub missive. Some are out of control; others are disciplined but unhappy. And still others are as happy as the average man. Help him to see that homosexuality is not primarily a sexual problem, but one of a distorted view of the world. The book The H Persuasion is very helpful here, as is the whole concept of aesthetic realism. If the homosexual person is a Christian, he'll be willing to see how the Fall has brought this distortion about and affected his view of God, self, and the world. And he'll be willing to consider how Christ destroys our guilt and shame and brings a new openness toward God, self, and world. If he's not a Christian, you can start him at the other end, examining, say, his distortions of parents, friends, work attitudes, and recreation. From either end, you work through these hidden self-protective manipulations we all engage in that lead us to diminish our self-respect and increase our contempt for the world around us. Whichever end you start from, the nonreligious man will gain a new respect for God and faith, and the Christian will gain a new respect for the world.
As the homosexual person's faith grows, encourage him to praise God through all experiences. Through your acceptance and God's acceptance of him, he will learn to resist condemnation and depression and gain a new confidence. Failures will not hit him so hard. You'll calmly work through them with him, and turn them into a learning experience. Teach him the beauty of the Biblical structure of heterosexuality. Teach him to memorize useful passages of Scripture. Encourage the art of friendships with men. If he's afraid, encourage him to go forward. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all. God loves him still. And one day he will try and not fail.
Slowly he may gain a new openness toward women. Encourage him to claim his heterosexuality and get to know women.. But do not lead him to believe that marriage is necessary in order to be recovered. He needs to understand that the possibility of love and marriage is open to him, but help him also to appreciate the very valid option of the single life, which when lived to its potential has its own kind of fulfillment. Marriage does not necessarily prove anything.
Well, there's a great deal I could say about all this, but the pastor who is willing to reach out in love will learn his way. You can make a thousand mistakes—and prob ably will—but if you persist in being loving, understanding, patient, and strong, then the Spirit of God will create the growth. In the book What You Should Know About Homosexuality two men state independently that the change came in their lives through two people who showed them unconditional love and with whom they could be totally open.
Spangler: What about the Homosexuals Anonymous program you are in the process of developing? Cook: At Quest Learning Center, we've copyrighted a program that helps homosexual men and women through group support to work their way through to freedom from homosexuality. The pro gram is quite new and will have been going for about a year by the time this interview goes to press. It's based on fourteen steps developed from Biblical truths and tested through my own experience and that of a member of the Quest staff, Douglas Mclntyre. I'd like to enumerate these steps:
1. We admit that we are powerless over our homosexuality and that our emotional lives are unmanageable.
2. We come to believe the love of God, who forgives us and accepts us in spite of all that we are and have done.
3. We learn to see that there is a purpose in our suffering and that our failed lives are under the control of God, who is able to bring good out of trouble.
4. We come to believe that God has already broken the power of homosexuality and that He can therefore restore our true personhood.
5. We come to perceive that we have accepted a lie about ourselves, an illusion that has trapped us in a false identity.
6. We learn to claim the only true reality about ourselves, that our identity is heterosexual by creation and that God welcomes us to rediscover that identity in the person of Jesus Christ, as our faith perceives Him.
7. We resolve to entrust our lives to our loving God and to live by faith, praising Him for our new unseen identity, confident that it will become visible to us in God's good time.
8. As forgiven people free from guilt, we make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, determined to root out fear, hidden hostility, and contempt for the world.
9. We admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs and humbly ask God to remove the defects of character.
10. We willingly make direct amends wherever wise and possible to all people we have harmed.
11. We determine to live no longer in fear of the world, believing that God's victorious control turns all that is against us into our favor, bringing advantage out of sorrow and order from disaster.
12. We determine to mature in our relationships with men and women, learning the meaning of a partnership of equals, seeking neither dominance over people nor servile dependency on them.
13. We seek, through confident praying and the wisdom of Scripture, for an ongoing growth in our relationship with God and a humble acceptance of His guidance for our lives.
14. Having had a spiritual awakening, we try to carry this message to homosexual people with a love that demands nothing and to practice these steps in all our life's activities, as far as lies within us
I can imagine nothing more beautiful than a minister with this grand compassion working his own personal way through these steps with a group of, say, half a dozen homosexual people on a weekly basis.
Spangler: Those are simply beautiful steps, Colin. Everybody, homosexual and heterosexual, can learn something from them.
Let me ask you a question that I'm sure will occur to some people. At a Homosexuals Anonymous meeting, wouldn't you have a built-in problem of attraction between participants? Couldn't this create more problems than it solves?
Cook: Our experience has been the opposite. There is a great deal of loneliness in the homosexual life. Homosexuals need the experience of nonerotic friendships. When people come together in a group committed to such high ideals as this, there is a sense of safety that creates an openness toward good relationships and a closure toward bad ones.
Spangler: These meetings could be held in churches during the week, just as AA does in many cities, couldn't they?
Cook: Yes. Some church members might be uncomfortable with that, but this is where it is necessary to educate the membership and make a dual call for repentance not only from homosexual people but from all of us. There is such a strong sense of malice among many Christians when one suggests a ministry in this area that one is compelled to question their spiritual experience. Such persons have a tendency to define sin in shallow legalistic and behavioral terms, totally unaware of the roots of humanity's sin problem. Once again, spiritual perfectionism rears its head—that tendency to find our own human solution to sin and to protect self by putting distance between ourselves and the needs of others. This also allows us to create an illusion of holiness. If we do not break away from this tendency, we shall never have anything to say to this generation.
Let me put it to you this way: Our own church has struggled hard to come to a more adequate understanding of the great truth of righteousness by faith in Christ over the past decade or so. Is this merely an aerial dogfight? Are we all searching for a precise way of saying things that will please all sides, so that we can sit down with a sigh and say, "Very good, we've got it right at last" ? Or do we realize that the gospel is the greatest news since the Fall? News that frees the oppressed, breaks yokes, and delivers captives? Let me say this because I feel it in the depths of my soul: There are homosexual people out there, the product of broken homes and other painful experiences, some of whom have never known the love of a father or mother? I ask you, How are they ever going to know the love and mercy of God unless the community of believers act it out for them in their attitude toward sinners? The great message is that God, who treats me as righteous when I am, in fact, a sinner, calls on me to do the same for others. We are to be the new fathers and mothers, the new brothers and sisters, making visible again the love of God.
Spangler: It's going to take some training to help members to understand this ministry of healing to others.
Cook: There's a work for the ministry to do here. A very interesting example of such healing fellowships is reported in an article by Drs. Mansell and Myrna Pattison, in the December, 1980, edition of the American Journal of Psychiatry, entitled " 'Ex-Gays': Religiously Mediated Change in Homosexuals." It reports on a church group that had a hot line for homosexual people. Once these people contacted the hot line, they were taught the gospel and invited to accept Christ and join the church. They were lovingly accepted, just as any other sinner would be. No demand was made upon them to change their sexual orientation, although it was explained unjudgmentally that homosexual acts were immoral and that they would be expected not to engage in such acts.
They were further taught that their homo sexual condition was simply a Christian immaturity and that they would learn how to be heterosexual as Christian maturity developed. They were invited to engage in nonerotic relationships with the men and women of the church and also invited into Bible study groups where they learned about expected patterns of mature life styles.
Now I think here is a pattern that many Christian communities could learn from. Think how many could have been saved from homosexuality if this had been a consistent way of acting in Christian communities.
Spangler: One final question. What many church members fear, I think, is that an outreach to homosexual people is going to result in church acceptance of the gay life style. What's your thought on that?
Cook: If we understand our faith, it's impossible. This fear is one more example of our hidden contempt for the gospel. Our desperate need to protect ourselves limits our perceptions of Jesus until we instinctively sense that those perceptions of Him are inadequate.
What do we face? A claim that homo sexuality is unchangeable, that one cannot make the psychic shift from 6 on the Kinsey scale (total psychic homosexual response) to 0 (total psychic heterosexual response). Therefore change is impossible. There is tragic irony here. People who follow gay theology have fallen for a new secular perfectionism that says, It's all or nothing. If I can't change completely, I won't change at all. It is one more system of self-protection from reality. We place ourselves in boxes and say, "I'm in here, and I can't get out. So don't touch me."
But change is not the issue, even though the fact that change is possible gives us hope and encouragement. No, the issue is elsewhere. There is an inward heterosexual structure to the world given to man at Creation. There is a structure to all of life. Men have discovered it in other areas. Noam Chomsky's studies on the "inner language" of the brain, for instance. Leonard Bernstein's concepts of a universal principle to all music. Claude Levi-Strauss's philosophy of structuralism—all hint of a structure that could be very suggestive of divine law.
As Adventists, we have recognized that divine law, that great structure, was firmly established in the creation of the world of mankind. It was restated at Sinai and confirmed by Jesus our Lord. It is broad and wide and deep, holding together the very planet on which we exist. As long as we keep this law separate from our assurance of salvation, as long as we do not allow it to encroach on our peace, we shall be able to see the law comfortably as a vehicle through which man expresses the fullest potential of his new Christ identity. Christ releases us for love. His law directs how love shall be expressed.
The call to homosexual freedom is grounded in the law of God, not in the possibility of change. The possibility of homosexual freedom is grounded in the cross, which leads to change. The issue is this: Is homosexuality right or wrong? The issue is faith that obeys the call of God. When God calls us, we are not permitted to ask, "But will it work?" We are called to move forward in faith. If I had waited to know whether a total shift could be made by me from 6 to 0 on the Kinsey scale, I would never have moved.
It does not embarrass me to say that I still experience temptation from time to time. But as I said earlier, I am not teetering on the edge of neurotic self-restraint. That would be mere repression by the iron force of fear. When one's distorted view of the world is broken up, he perceives men and women in a new and different way, and temptation does not have the same meaning anymore. Jesus alone is my true righteousness and hetero sexual identity. We never graduate from Jesus. Freedom starts with faith and ends with faith in His wholeness. As Paul says, it's "from faith to faith" (Rom. 1:17).
Even though this side of the kingdom our heterosexuality is imperfect, we walk forward in obedience to the law of God, not frightened by our inadequacy. Jesus is our perfection. There is nothing hanging over us. So we have the boldness to live our imperfection courageously.
* From The Holy Bible: New International Version. Copyright © 1978 by the New York International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
+From The New English Bible. The Delegates of the Oxford University Press and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press 1961, 1970. Reprinted by permission.