Face to Face With the Author of Love
Becket Cook, a highly successful LA set designer, spent his free time reveling in the parties and galas attended by the rich and famous. As he moved through one relationship after another, he never remotely considered that God might be the answer to his restlessness. It wasn't until a chance encounter with a Bible study group at one of LA's hippest coffee shops that Cook began to take an interest in spiritual matters. Cook remembers what happened when he accepted an invitation to a local Sunday worship service, and tells how his encounter with God that day changed his life forever.
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As Becket Cook moved through one relationship after another, he never remotely considered that God might be the answer to his restlessness. Cook tells how his encounter with God changed his life forever.
Face to Face With the Author of Love
Bob: Becket Cook was a gay man living in Hollywood, involved in the entertainment industry, who found himself at a coffee shop one day and noticed people having a Bible study at a nearby table. He decided to approach them.
Becket: We talked about their faith. They told me they went to an evangelical church in Hollywood. I, of course, got to the $64,000-question; and I said, “Well, what does your church in Hollywood believe about homosexuality?” They said, “Well, we believe it’s a sin.” I loved how frank and just blunt they were.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 18th. Our hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson; I'm Bob Lepine. You’ll find us online at FamilyLifeToday.com. That conversation in that coffee shop was the beginning of a remarkable transformation that was about to take place in Becket Cook’s life. We’ll talk more with him about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I have to think there are parents, who were listening yesterday, who said, “We have to listen tomorrow.”
Ann: “I’m kind of the edge of my seat—like, “What happens next?”
Bob: Right; we’re talking this week to Becket Cook.
Dave: I mean, yesterday, I almost tried to keep us going. I was like, “We can’t hang it here!” [Laughter] It’s like a teaser to an Episode 2. So here we are—Episode 2.
Bob: We have Becket Cook joining us again on FamilyLife Today. Becket, welcome back.
Becket: Thank you!
Bob: We didn’t even explain when we introduced you earlier the fact that you’ve written a book called A Change of Affection, which is your memoir; it’s your story. The subtitle: A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption.
You worked and lived in Hollywood—you still live and work in Hollywood—but for years, in the entertainment industry, as a Hollywood set designer—
Bob: —movies—and lived throughout that period of time in the gay lifestyle until, more than a decade ago at a coffee shop, there was a change that happened.
You’ve already shared with us you grew up as the youngest of eight kids in Dallas. You sensed same-sex attraction when you were in late elementary school. You were sexually abused as a young child. You started acting out during junior high and high school. Eventually, after college, you came to a point, where you said you were going to own your identity and say, “I am a gay man.” You were in a relationship with somebody that you’d fallen in love with; came home; told your parents, “I’m gay, and I’m moving to Hollywood,” and “This is who I am.”
You probably felt some sense of relief and liberation. It’s kind of like, “My new life has started, and this is going to be glorious.”
Becket: Yes; when I moved to L.A., it was this very liberating experience for me; because I immediately fell into this group of friends. They were all from the east coast, from Ivy League schools. They were smart, and ambitious, and hilarious, and witty, and clever, and fun, and funny. They all worked in the business—producers, actors, directors, writers—it was this kind of magical time for me in L.A. in the ’90s.
In my friend group, people were suddenly becoming famous overnight. I moved to L.A. to be a writer and an actor, and I struggled with it. I ended up doing a ton of commercial acting. I really succeeded in that a lot, but that never really fully took off. Then I was, you know, a struggling writer. I was able to write a couple of TV pilots that sold to production companies.
I wrote a lot of spec screen plays; and I thought, “Okay, this is where it’s going to happen.” Then I wrote these two spec screen plays for movies; and one of them—or both of them—came super close to getting actually made or getting green lit, but then they fell apart. I was like, “What is happening? Why do the doors keep closing and closing?”
Now, looking back, I see that God was kind of protecting me from that kind of success; because, if I had become a successful actor or writer, I would have just gone off and—
Bob: You’d have been farther out on the edge of the galaxy—
Bob: —a longer way back to Christ—
Bob: —if you had gone in that direction.
Ann: —which, at that point, what [was] your view of God? Was God in the picture at all? Did you have any belief?
Becket: No; I mean, I never really connected with God as a kid. I went to mass devoutly with my family, and I never felt a real connection to God or thought He was real. I thought it was just kind of this religion.
Then, by the time I was in L.A. for all those years, I just became an atheist. It was this unspoken thing. We didn’t even have to say it; we just all knew that God didn’t exist and that Christians were just people in the Bible belt. Never once did any of us ask the other person, “Is there a God?” We all just assumed it was all a myth.
Bob: Never any sense of: “Maybe the lifestyle I’m living is wrong in some way”?
Becket: I never felt like it was wrong. Maybe deep, deep down there was a kind of a sense of: “Something’s a little off here”; but I wasn’t even aware/cognizant of that at the time.
Bob: What about your view of long-term, monogamous relationships versus partying and promiscuity?
Becket: There was an article in the New Yorker I read years and years ago. This couple in the ’20s—this heterosexual couple—the husband said, “I hope you know that our marriage is going to be thoroughly modern, and it’s going to be open.” That’s kind of how I felt. When you live in a post-modern, relativist world—and there is no God—then there’s nothing to hold you back from doing whatever you want. It becomes very burdensome; because you never know what’s right, what’s wrong, what’s up, what’s down; you’re just kind of like: “Well, I guess I can cheat,” “I guess my boyfriend can cheat on me, and it’s okay. I’m not sure; because why couldn’t he, really?”
All of my relationships were two years long. I had five serious, serious relationships; they were two years long. They had the same sine wave; it was always really great in the beginning, and then it would always kind of become toxic and then taper off; and then we would break up.
That whole cycle was exhausting. I always wanted a long-term relationship, I guess; but I was opposed to convention. When you’re gay, and living in that postmodernist world, you don’t want anything to do with convention. The idea of a long-term relationship, with a picket fence and gay marriage, and all of that—that was the last thing I wanted.
Bob: Yes; but five breakups from serious relationships? That’s not just something you go, “Oh, well.”
Becket: No; they were very, very painful. What’s weird about that is—every time I met a new guy, and got into a new relationship, I always thought, “Okay, this is definitely the one. This one is definitely going to be lifelong,” or whatever. “It’s going to be a long-term relationship. Those past three guys—I thought they were the one, but this is actually going to be the real one.”
Bob: Never, in any of those dark nights of the soul—where a breakup’s happened; and it’s the fourth time, and you’re just feeling miserable, and going, “Is this all that life is?” and “I don’t know that I want to live anymore,”—you never thought, “I wonder if there’s a God, and if there’s a meaning in life”?
Becket: No; I never/during that time, I never thought those thoughts. I had a really bad breakup with a guy in Rome. I basically—I wrote a screenplay about it. I fled Rome; I had to literally flee for my life; that was one of the darkest times. When I got back to L.A., I was in bed for a month; I couldn’t get out of bed. But I never thought about searching for God. It was just kind of like, “Okay; I guess I need to find another relationship.”
Ann: So you were looking for other things to fill those gaps.
Becket: Yes, yes. There were kind of two—career or relationship—people kind of focus on one or the other to fill that void. For me, career was really important; but for me, the relationship was the really important thing to fill the void.
Bob: Did anybody ever try to talk to you about Jesus in those 20 years?
Becket: No; not a single person.
Bob: What do you think about that? I mean, as you think back on 20 years, and nobody ever said/no Christian ever came up to you and said, “Hey, Becket…”
Becket: I wasn’t even aware of Christians. I don’t know if there were—[Laughter]
Bob: You don’t know if you knew anybody who was! [Laughter]
Becket: —Christians in L.A.! I didn’t know one Christian, so I don’t even know who would have done that.
Dave: You walk into that coffee shop.
Becket: Yes; that was almost 11 years ago. I was with my best friend, and we did our usual weekend stuff. We went to brunch in Venice, California; and then we would go shopping in Beverly Hills or West Hollywood; and then we would go to this coffee shop, and we would hang out there. It was beautiful; it was always sunny and beautiful. Tons of people there, coming in and out.
But that particular day, in 2009, I was with my best friend. We were talking across from each other at the table; and suddenly, we look over; we notice there’s a table next to us. It’s five young people with Bibles on the table—like physical Bibles.
Bob: Now, this is best friends, not a boyfriend?
Becket: No; best friend, who’s gay.
Bob: Okay; alright.
Becket: He loved to kind of just get into sort of controversial subjects in conversations, so he urged me to talk to them. I was like, “No, I don’t want to talk to them!”
Dave: Wait, wait. He likes to get into subjects, but he urges you? [Laughter]
Becket: I was always the one that had to do the heavy lifting.
Ann: He’s egging you on.
Becket: Yes, he’s egging me on. I finally turned to this table—it’s like a Christian’s fantasy—like, “Hey, what do you guys believe? I’m an atheist!” [Laughter] I turned to them and I said, “Are you guys Christians?”
They said, “Yes.” I said, “Well, explain what you believe; because I grew up Catholic. I don’t even remember—like what’s your faith? Explain what you believe and why.”
Ann: Here, you guys—are you just kind of mocking them?
Becket: No; the reason I was genuinely interested was—six months prior to that day— I was at Paris Fashion Week. I’d gone to a bunch of the shows, and there are always after-parties after these shows. This was in March of 2009. I remember drinking champagne and looking out over the crowd; everyone was dancing, and there was music. I was sitting with these fashion people at my table.
I felt this overwhelming sense of emptiness; and I thought, “What’s going on?” I thought, “I can’t live—what’s—I can’t keep doing this; I can’t just keep going to parties.” I had been going to premiers and Oscars, the Golden Globes, the Emmys—all the after-parties. I knew everyone, met everyone, did everything in Hollywood. That night, I had that moment of: “Is that all there is to a fire? Is that all there is?”
Six months later—fast forward when I was at the coffee shop—that’s why I was open to actually hearing, because I was kind of like—I was in a weird, desperate state. I was like, “What do you believe? I need to know something. I need…” I was kind of tired of not knowing the meaning life; it becomes very exhausting.
Bob: You’d been with a counselor, where you had asked, “What’s the meaning of life?”; right?
Becket: Yes! I was at therapy for five years with my analyst; and yes, every week, we would have sessions. It’s just like we never got anywhere. Finally, at the end of five years, I was like, “Dr. Jones, what am I doing here? What’s the point? What’s the meaning of life?”
He just looked at me, as he always did, and he said, “Well, what do you think the meaning of life is?” [Laughter] I’m like, “Okay, I quit! I quit! I’m leaving! I can’t deal with this anymore!” [Laughter]
Ann: I think that’s a question, at some point, we ask/we all ask: “What is the point?”
Bob: Yes, three big questions, I think: “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “What happens when I die?”
Bob: Everybody is wrestling, at some level internally, with: “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” “What happens when I die?”
Ann: Yes; in the quiet of their hearts.
Becket: Well, see, that’s the thing—is I had so many shiny objects—
Ann: Yes; so much noise.
Becket: —for so long, and so many fun, crazy experiences and parties; so that kind of kept me from having those deeper questions; because I was like, “This is what life is all about. It’s about having these amazing experiences, finding true love, being successful in my career. That’s the point of this life.”
Bob: The coffee shop—you say, “What do you guys believe?”—and they’re like, “Are you serious?!” [Laughter]
Dave: “Do you really want to know?”
Becket: They told me, you know, about their faith, and—
Bob: What did they say? Do you remember?
Becket: I don’t remember exactly what they said. I think they just basically told me the gospel, but—
Ann: Did your friend go over, too; or was he still at the table?
Becket: He was kind of like behind me a little bit. He kind of stayed a little behind, but he was listening to the whole conversation. We talked about their faith. They told me they went to an evangelical church in Hollywood. I, of course, got to the $64,000-question; and I said, “Well, what does your church in Hollywood believe about homosexuality?” They said, “Well, we believe it’s a sin.” I loved how frank and just blunt they were.
In that moment, I had this thing of: “Okay, what if God does exist? I mean, there’s a slim, slim chance that He does exist; and if He does exist, what if this is wrong? What if homosexuality is wrong?” and “What if I’ve built my entire life on a false foundation, and I don’t know it?” This all kind of just flashed in my mind. I, instead of just storming off and throwing a drink on them, I just accepted what they said.
Bob: This is important; because every Christian is thinking, “If I get hit with that question, and if the guy who’s asking me is giving off any signal that he might be gay…”
Dave: Here’s the stock answer: “God loves homosexuals; He loves you; He loves me. You know, the sin question really doesn’t need to be answered right now,”—
Dave: —that would be what a lot of people would say.
Bob: People want to hedge; they want to obfuscate; and you’re saying: “Don’t do that!” Be straight with people.” You can do that in a way that still reflects grace and kindness; and say, “You know, we think the Bible says it’s a sin against God.”
Becket: Yes, and I was impressed with that. They invited me to their church the following Sunday. I said, you know, “I don’t know if I’ll go, but give me the address, and whatever; I’ll think about it.” I had a whole week to really think it—and I really did; I thought about it. I was like: “If I go, it could be humiliating and embarrassing if this is all a myth and it’s not real,” and “I’m really putting myself out there,” and “What if my friends find out that I’m going to this church? That’s a real scandal.”
But the following Sunday morning I woke up and I was like [speaking quizzically], “I guess I’m going to church today.” [Laughter] I don’t know; I just kind of—I got in my car; and it felt like a Tesla, like it just self-drove to church. [Laughter] I got to this auditorium where it meets. I remember thinking, you know, “I really like how minimal it is.” It wasn’t stained glass windows, and smoke, and candles, and bells, and vestments; it was very plain—I appreciated that—because I had never been to an evangelical church; I didn’t know what it was like.
Then I heard the Christian worship band playing. I immediately cringed; because I was like, “Christian music; I forgot that was a thing!” [Laughter] But then I was like, “Wait, it’s actually good; it’s nice.”
I walked in and sat near the front by myself. The pastor came out and started preaching on Romans, Chapter 7. He was in a two-year series on Romans, and he just started preaching for an hour. It was just full gospel, and he’s a very powerful preacher. I just remember thinking, while it was happening, every word he was saying was resonating as truth in my mind and my heart; and I didn’t know why. I was like, “Whoa.” Everything he was saying, I would be like, “That’s true!” I didn’t know why.
I didn’t want him to stop preaching; I just wanted him to keep going. I was literally on the edge of my seat. He finally left the stage. There were people on the prayer ministry on the side of the church who, during the second set of worship, who would pray for you if you needed prayer for anything.
I did the same thing—I was like, “If I go over there, it’s going to be embarrassing,”—and I was kind of going back and forth on my foot. I finally went over the side. I walked up to this guy, once again, and I’m like, “Hey, I don’t know what I believe, but I’m here.” He said, “Okay, let me pray for you.” It seemed really powerful, and it seemed really loving.
Then I walked back to my seat, and I sat down. Everyone else was standing and worshipping for 25 more minutes; they were singing. I sat down; I was sitting there, processing everything. All of a sudden, the Holy Spirit was like [rushing noise], and God overwhelmed me, and revealed Himself to me. In that moment, it was like, in my mind, God was like, “I’m God; Jesus is my Son; heaven’s real; hell’s real; the Bible’s true; welcome to My kingdom.”
I was like, “Whoa!” I just started bawling, and bawling, and bawling. I was crying over my sin, but also over the fact that I had just met the King of the universe, Jesus. It felt like the curtains had parted for the first time in my life. I could finally see reality and see the truth, and it was so cathartic. I couldn’t stop crying. I mean, I was hysterically crying, to the point where people around me were worried about me; they were going to call the medics or something.
Then I got home right after that service, and it happened again. I was in bed to take a nap, because I was so overwhelmed. It was like Moses, when he was in the cleft of the rock, and God passes by with His glory. God was like, “Let Me show you some more of My glory.” [Rushing sound] He just floods me again with His Spirit, and I jump out of bed. I’m like, “Oh my!” and I start crying again. I’m like, “You have my whole life! It’s Yours! I’m done!” And that was it; in the middle of my bedroom, I was like, “I am all Yours.”
I knew, in that moment, that homosexuality was a sin. I knew that I was wrong; I knew that it was no longer my identity or who I was. It was a thing of the past, but I didn’t care; because I had just met Jesus. I’m like, “I’m going with this guy, Jesus.”
Becket: That was September 20, 2009.
Dave: Wow! I mean, few people have a conversion experience like that.
Becket: Well, that’s what I didn’t know! I thought/when that happened to me, I assumed everyone had that same conversion experience. But I guess—I don’t know—yes.
Dave: Well, I mean, Scripture says we get the mind of Christ; and for most of us, it feels like that’s a—
Becket: —Road to Damascus.
Dave: Yes. For us, it’s over years and months that the mind of Christ—I mean, it is immediate—but yours was immediate. I mean, understanding sin, heaven, hell, your lifestyle—all in a download—you know?
Becket: I know. God had a ton of grace on me that day. I don’t know why, but He just did.
Bob: That meant that the next day was going to require some differences. This is one of the things you talk about in your book, A Change of Affection. I want to encourage our listeners—this is a compelling story of God’s transforming work in Becket’s life. Get a copy of this book. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get your copy of Becket Cook’s book, A Change of Affection: A Gay Man’s Incredible Story of Redemption. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also order by phone if you’d prefer; the number to call is 1-800-FL-TODAY—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, I love the fact that we get to tell these kinds of stories and share with listeners about God’s amazing grace and His amazing work in our lives. I just want to take a minute and say thanks to those folks who team up with us so that we can do this and so we can share this with hundreds of thousands of people every day via radio, through our podcast, through your Amazon® Alexa device—all of the channels where FamilyLife Today is now available—thanks to those of you who help fund this program by donating so that we can cover the cost of producing and syndicating FamilyLife Today. On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people, who’ve benefited today from this conversation, thank you for making that possible.
If you’re a long-time listener, we’d love to invite you to join the FamilyLife Today team and make future programs available for more listeners. Help us reach more people, more often, with practical biblical help and hope for marriages and families. You can do that by donating online or by calling 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. When you do, we’d love to send you, as a thank-you gift, a copy of a book I’ve just completed called Love Like You Mean It. I take a long look at 1 Corinthians 13, the qualities of love that are described in that chapter of the Bible, and talk about what a marriage looks like when people are patient, and kind, and not rude or unbecoming, don’t insist on their own way—all of the things that describe real love. The book is our thank-you gift to you when you donate to support the ministry of FamilyLife Today. You can do that online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call to donate—1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we want to find out what happens when somebody, who has been living a gay lifestyle for more than a decade, comes to faith and recognizes, “I can’t keep living this way,” and starts talking to his friends about that. Becket Cook joins us again tomorrow. I hope you can be with us as we continue our conversation with him.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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