Hello, my name is Richard.
When I was 14, I used to google, "how to struggle with homosexuality and be a Christian." I don't remember getting any good advice. But hey, you can't blame a 14 year kid, who was already experiencing sexual encounters with another dude, to google the correct questions right? Especially a topic like this. It's to complex to just google. But what else could I have done? I was 14, I was attracted to other boys, and I was getting pleasured already by another guy. I wanted answers. I wanted to know what I was suppose to do (I didn't understand at this time that I was also dealing with sexual abuse, but now what I deal with is not sexual abuse). What do I do with my attraction to the same sex?
I already believed homosexuality was sinful, maybe I was conditioned to believe that because of my religious background. Now I really believe that for many physiological, psychological, anthropological, and theological reasons. Give me any ology and I will side with homosexuality being immoral, unhealthy, and demeaning of friendships, which I believe is the worse!
But when I was 14, I sincerely believed it was wrong, but I also knew something else about me, I loved friendship. I would rather be in a community of friends, men and women, than be married having sex.
But I wanted to be touched by men, I wanted time with men, and I wanted to experience "feelings" with men. As a 14 year old kid, I didn't know this consciously, but as I look back at my teenage years I see myself chasing after it in so many ways. My church didn't have any education concerning this topic and my church was a political community that spoke out passionately against gays and their want for marriage. That even influenced me. One time I made shirts with my buddies that said "Marriage equals one man and one women" and I wanted to go to Disneyland and wear it during the gay pride weekends. I'm happy I never had the chance to do that.
But I was lost, I wasn't confused though, I was just in the church halls and sanctuary walking around trying to figure out what I was suppose to do. Who do I talk to about this? As I was getting older, my want for men was increasing. My google searching was increasing, my book reading was increasing, and my want for deep male friendship was increasing.
By the time I started attending Biola, I had good male friends, and I also met new friends. And boy was it a joy. To live in a dorms with all your friends is a blast. It's like a never ending sleep over, but it was also a struggle. I had to deal with seeing naked men, experiencing touch from men and not knowing what to do with it, and wanting more from them. But I was also learning a lot. I was starting to experience the joy of living in Christian Community. Having theological discussions about love and friendship, God, grace and justice. Biola was an amazing experience. But I also had some very deep low points.
I became best friends with someone and that went down hill. I didn't know how to handle that friendship as transitions were taking place in our life. I didn't know how to handle my friends that were only studying theology and trying to fix my homosexuality with only that, their theology. Living in a christian community can get really tough. It's not always easy. But it is worth it. It is the Church. It is what Christ came and died for.
I'm still alive. I still have friends that love me well. But they are not perfect. And I am not perfect. I still have nights when I don't feel like living, but I also have nights when I am in great joy. I have friends that touch me, spend time with me, and are extremely vulnerable with me. Some of these friends I hurt too. I am a bad friend believe or not. For how much I desire friendship and good friendship, I realize I am a very bad one compared to my friends. And they still love me.
For those of you who are attracted to the same sex and believe it is sinful to act on your attraction, I get it. It sucks and it hurts. And it's worse when the Church doesn't understand. They don't get it. And on top of that, you have needs. You need to be intimately loved by your same sex friends, and thats great! And so, I end with this.
Let your friends into your life. Share with them your pains and joys. It is a risk. They will hurt you and you will hurt them. They will not understand you at times and they could be afraid of you at times. They will retreat to theology and throw it at you because it makes sense to them and it feels safe for them, can you blame them? Give them grace. God already has your life in his hands, go with the ride. It will be painful though. But it will be worth it.
And if you are a teenager, tell your youth pastor or parents that you are attracted to your buddies. Your youth pastors want to hear your struggles. They want to hear whats going on in your life. And you can trust them. You don't have to feel alone. You can cry in their arms and everything will be okay. You don't need to be alone in your room on google trying to find out answers.
And I promise you, God likes you, He doesn't hate you
Also, your friends like you too. And they want to hear from you. You can be the first leader in your community to share a vulnerable part of your life with them and others will follow you and be set free from their shame and darkness. Some can handle it and others can't. But that is the risk of being in community.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” - C.S. Lewis