Becket Cook, A Change of Affection: A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption (Nelson Books, 2019)
Christians like a good conversion narrative – the more dramatic or unexpected the better. Many of us need to confess envy of the more exciting testimonies of fellow believers who have had their lives turned around in a ‘road to Damascus’ like way.
Becket Cook has such a testimony. A chance meeting with a group of Christians studying the Bible in an LA coffee shop led him, a gay man, to church and a new relationship with the God-man Jesus. His conversion was sudden and dramatic:
‘All of a sudden, a giant wave of God’s presence came crashing over me. A flood of intense warmth, emotion, and power coursed through me’ (p.19).
One week Cook was living his life without reference to God, the next he is in a living relationship with him. One moment he is a stereotypical gay man living and working in Hollywood, the next he is a stereotypical born-again Christian wanting to quickly introduce all his old friends to his new friend Jesus. It’s quite a story and one that will appall and attract in equal measure.
Cook starts his book by telling of his dramatic conversion. It is an encouraging tale of how God uses a public Bible study in a café, a conversation with its leader, an invitation to a church meeting, and a simple gospel sermon to transform a life forever. It reminds us of how intriguing people, being open to talk with strangers, being confident in inviting them to church, and preaching clearly can all be significant steps in bringing someone to Christ. It is a helpful rebuke to any who think that members of LGBTQI+ communities are the unreachable – even in one of the most secular cities on this earth.
It is a helpful rebuke to any who think that members of LGBTQI+ communities are the unreachable.
But what follows is not a book for others like him: an evangelistic book that connects with unbelieving sexual minorities (which is a book that desperately needs to be written). Instead, what follows reads like a reassuring book for Christians: confirming some popular theories as to how someone becomes gay and what the ‘gay lifestyle’ is like. Cook is careful not to universalize his own experiences, but some will have unhelpful prejudices confirmed by what he shares.
The autobiographical opening is followed by Cook’s answers to frequently asked questions and several chapters that read like a series of talks he has given on various Bible passages. These are relevantly applied to the decisions that both gay and straight Christians are having to make in our cultural moment. The book ends with ‘A Call to Love’ in which a lot of good pastoral advice is quickly shared, including this moving account of his evangelical sister-in-law’s behaviour towards him in the years before he became a Christian:
‘She did two key things throughout … she loved me unconditionally and she prayed for me without ceasing’ (p.184).
For any Christians seeking to do the same for a gay family member or friend this book will be just the encouragement they need to keep going. For many who think that the traffic between Christian and gay communities is all one way, this book will be a good corrective. Others will be left wanting more from Cook: how is he navigating his new life as a Christian who still experiences same-sex attraction? And how can he help us all more effectively love the people still living his old life?