By Mark Ellis –
He grew up in a Christian family in Dallas, the youngest of eight children. At about nine-years-old he began to experience same-sex attraction.
“I didn’t know where it came from or what to make of it,” says Becket Cook, author of A Change of Affection: A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption. “It was an odd sensation. I knew I couldn’t talk about this. It was a secret I held for many years.”
Cook led a double life as a child, “where I pretended I was a normal kid but on the inside I was dealing with ‘the love that dare not speak its name.’” He thought the feelings would eventually go away.
But at a Jesuit all-boys school, he met another gay student and they “came out” to each other. The two teens began exploring the gay culture of Dallas, visiting gay bars.
“It was quite eye-opening. We walked into the Starck Club designed by the famous French designer Philippe Starck. There were straight people, gay people, drag queens, all these different people.”
Wow, these are my people, I feel at home for the first time, he thought.
In college, he continued to explore gay culture with another close friend and confidante. God was far removed from his thoughts.
“Even though I was raised in the Catholic Church, God was not an option. The older I got, homosexuality became my identity. Christians were the enemy.”
I’m gay and I could never be a part of that club, he thought. I’m not going to think about God or even consider God. That’s off the table.
After college Cook went to Tokyo for a year to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He fell in love for the first time and decided to stop hiding his secret.
When he told his parents he was gay, his mother began to cry. “Mom, it’s not a big deal,” he told her. “This is who I am. It’s normal; it’s fine.”
“Are you angry about anything from your childhood?” his father wanted to know.
“No, dad, it’s fine,” he replied.
He says his mother got over the news quickly and both parents treated him with kindness. “My other siblings had their strong opinions, but let me live my life.”
Cook got accepted to law school, but two weeks before school was scheduled to begin, he abruptly changed his mind and decided to move to L.A. to pursue a career in acting and writing.
He found a like-minded group of friends, mostly from the East Coast that had attended Ivy League schools. “They were whip smart, hilarious, fun, very ambitious, we all just had the same goals, to make it big in Hollywood and find true love. As the years went by all my friends were selling screenplays and making films that became huge films.
“That whole group of friends now run Hollywood,” he says.
Cook was having the time of his life. While initially pursuing writing and acting, he fell into set design for fashion shoots. He attended movie premieres, the Oscars and Emmys, Golden Globes, the after parties, and met many celebrities.
This is what life is about, he thought, achieving things, and having these amazing experiences.
He was satisfied with his dreamlike lifestyle for several years. “I went to Cabo San Lucas with Minnie Driver for her birthday. I was going to Nia Vardalos’ house and having dinner with Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. I went to Arianna Huffington’s house for cocktails,” he recalls.
In 2009, something strange happened at Fashion Week in Paris. Cook went to fashion designer Stella McCartney’s after-party. “I was drinking champagne and everyone there was dancing and having the time of their lives,” he recounts.
“I looked at them and felt this overwhelming sense of emptiness. What is going on? he wondered. This can’t be my life. I can’t keep going to parties. This isn’t doing it for me anymore.
Cook quietly left the party without telling anyone. “I went back to my hotel and I was up all night in a panic about the future. What is the meaning of my life? he asked.
“It was not like I hadn’t thought about the meaning of life. I had read so many Russian novels, and gone to so many plays in New York and London, by serious playwrights like Tom Stoppard, Eugene O’Neill and Harold Pinter.”
These guys are so smart; they will give me some answer to the meaning of life, he thought. “Every time I went to one of these plays I would get so close to truth and then it would evaporate. I left the theater every time frustrated. I did that for years.”
He went back to L.A. in a funk, but got busy with work and tried to ignore his feelings of disquiet.
Six months later Cook was at a coffee shop in Silver Lake with his best friend, also gay. He glanced over at the table next to them and noticed something akin to an extraterrestrial encounter — five young people with Bibles on their table.
“It was strange because I had never seen a Bible in L.A., ever. It was a sighting.
“We just thought it was so odd; we were intrigued. My friend urged me to turn around and talk to them. He liked to stir things up and engage in crazy conversations.”
Cook pivoted and asked, “Are you guys, like Christians? What’s the deal?”
Several said yes.
“What is your faith?” Cook asked. “I grew up Catholic…What do you believe? I don’t even remember what religion is. Tell me what you believe.”
“We are evangelical Christians,” one replied. “We go to this church in Hollywood called Reality LA. This is what we believe…” and proceeded to share about Jesus.
Cook felt compelled to ask the $64 question. “What does your church think about being gay?”
“We believe it’s a sin,” one said.
Because of his “moment” in Paris where he felt a profound emptiness, he listened to what they said respectfully, instead of erupting in anger, throwing his coffee at them, and leaving.
The Christians invited Cook and his friend to visit their church the following Sunday. “I had the whole week to process and decide if I was going to go…I wasn’t sure when I woke up on Sunday.”
He got dressed that Sunday, September 20th, 2009, and began to drive toward the church. Am I really doing this? he wondered.
He found Reality L.A. and was surprised to discover it meeting in a public high school auditorium. He was used to stained glass, smoke, and bells.
Cook walked in, heard the worship music, and cringed. “I forgot that Christian music was a thing”….then he thought, Wait, it’s not that bad.
He found a seat by himself, unable to locate the people that invited him.
The pastor was preaching from Romans 7. “The more he preached, the more I was riveted to the sermon,” he recounts. “Everything he said, every sentence, started to resonate with my mind and heart as true. Why?”
The pastor finished an hour-long message, then announced there would be an additional 30 minutes of worship music and invited people to come forward for prayer.
Should I go over there and ask someone to pray for me…I don’t know…that’s humiliating, he thought.
Cook finally felt compelled to go forward and told one of the prayer volunteers: “I don’t know what I believe but I’m here.”
“Let me pray for you,” the man said.
The prayer seemed intense and powerful to Cook. How could this random stranger love me so much? he wondered.
“His prayer was so full of love it was crazy.”
Cook went back to his seat and began to process the sermon, the prayer, and the music. Then something amazing happened.
“All of a sudden the Holy Spirit flooded my mind and body. God in that moment revealed himself to me. It was a road to Damascus moment.”
The still small voice of the Lord impressed on his heart: I am God and Jesus is my Son. Heaven is real. Hell is real. The bible is true and now you’re adopted into my kingdom.
Cook gasped for air, then started bawling, crying uncontrollably. “It was like Isaiah in the Temple when he sees God’s holiness and comes undone. I had never cried that hard in my entire life. I don’t think I cried that hard as an infant.
“I was crying over my sins. I also felt joy; I was overwhelmed that I had just met the king of the universe, Jesus. I was so overwhelmed by it.”
Cook left the church and drove home. “I could hardly see my eyes were so red,” he recounts. “When I got home I got into bed. I needed a nap I was so freaked out.”
Then the Holy Spirit fell on him again! “It was like Moses in the cleft of the rock. God said, Here, let me show you a little more of my glory. He passed by my bed. I jumped out of my bed bawling again.
“Oh my gosh,” Cook cried out. “You have my whole life! I’m done! That’s it!”
Suddenly, he was a new creature in Christ. “I knew in my heart of hearts that being gay was no longer a part of who I was. That was not part of me anymore. I was not going to live that life anymore. I knew it immediately. I didn’t care at all because I had just met Jesus, so I didn’t care.”
“It all happened in one day. It completely transformed my life and everything changed.”
Cook admits that telling his friends he had become a Christian was a “crazy time.”
When he told his best friend from high school the entire story, her first question was, “You’re not pro life now are you?”
“I just met the king of the universe and that’s your first question…what?”
Another friend from high school told him, “That’s wonderful for you but don’t ever talk to me about it or proselytize me.”
“Some people were more supportive and others were not,” he says. “It was a weird period. But a lot of them after seeing me walk in this faith for 10 years now are more curious and interested and loving and supportive of it.
Cook grew in his faith at Reality L.A., and then decided to attend Talbot Seminary.
He started writing his book before seminary started, feeling God leading him to help the church better understand the issues related to sexual identity.
“The culture has infiltrated the church,” he observes. “Christians don’t know what to believe anymore. Is it (homosexuality) a sin or is it not anymore? Lady Gaga tells me it’s not. Taylor Swift is saying it’s not, so maybe it’s not.
“I wrote the book for the church to understand that yes, this is still a sin. It hasn’t changed. The culture is lying.”
He believes Satan is twisting God’s Word in the church. “There are other sins, but this sin is taking over the world and our culture. It is different from other sins in that it is an identity thing. It is so important to understand it and understand how deceptive it is.
Cook has not had a romantic relationship with a woman since his conversion. “It’s not that I became suddenly attracted to women because I still struggle with same sex attraction. Before I got saved it dominated my thought life, but now it doesn’t.
“I am not attracted to women. God created the universe, so he could make me attracted to women. It hasn’t happened yet, but it doesn’t matter to me, because in Corinthians 7, Paul says it is better to be single.
“I am happy to be single and celibate, happy to be on mission for the kingdom, because that is what God has called me to.”
Cook has been sharing his story at churches and Christian universities. “I want people to understand this issue, and understand the gospel, how it can transform your life.
“It is not to win an argument. My main desire is to get the gospel to people.
“Jesus is infinitely more important and worth it than this momentary pleasure. Every relationship I ever had before that paled in comparison.
“When I was living that life for 20 years it was my identity for sure. I thought I would be that way for the rest of my life. I never thought anything would change. When I met God everything changed.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
For more about his book, click here