Christians who struggle with homosexuality know how this story unfolds. I have heard it countless times. Even from men I look up to like Henri Nouwen, Tim Timmerman, and Wesley Hill.
We long for deep connection to our brothers.
We feel as we are walking the dark hallways of a hospital because we are broken like everyone else looking for belonging. We pass by rooms looking through glass windows and we see rooms filled with family, laughter, pain, attachment, best friends, marriages, children etc.
We then ask ourselves,
“Do we belong anywhere? Does someone get us? Does someone want us?”
Then randomly, a Christian brother walks into our lives and connects with us. Attaches to us.
Hangs out with us. Loves us. Likes us. Includes us.
He gives us TOUCH. Long hugs, shares a bed, nut taps you occasionally, places his arm around you as you sit on a couch together.
He gives us TIME. Watches movies with us, goes camping, he lives with you. You guys are roommates. You get some pillow talk.
He Gives us TRANSPARENCY. He shares his life with you, talks to you about the girls he likes, his sin struggles, he changes in front of you and doesn’t care, he trust you, he makes you go skinny dipping with him. He trusts you even after you tell him you have an attraction towards him.
He gives us TEAMWORK. He plays ultimate frisbee with you, soccer with you, he does Christian community with you. He defends you, he supports you. He calls you his best friend. He includes you in his gang of close brothers.
He pursues us. We love it. We look forward to this. We get excited when he calls or text us and says, “Hey buddy, let's do something!”
He doesn’t care that we are attracted to him. He knows the complexity of our struggle. He feels it with us. He asks us questions. He wants to know what struggling with homosexuality is about.
We ask him questions. We want to know how the straight guy world is and how we can participate in it.
He offers the warm safe security we felt when we were 5 years old sleeping between our parents.
We cling to this friend and become joyful, loyal, we grow in our faith, we grow into a more healthy person. We learn from him about masculinity. We learn how to be a man. We are included in the locker room.
We start to become our own man.
Henri Nouwen describes this friendship like this,
“….Among my many friends, one had been able to touch me in way I had never been touched before. Our friendship encouraged me to allow myself to be loved and cared for with greater trust and confidence. ….it brought me immense joy and peace. It seemed as if a door of my interior life had been opened, a door that had remained locked during my youth and most of my adult life.”
Wesley Hill describes it like this.
“……my friend and I had become especially close. We liked each other from the time of our first meeting, and our friendship had deepened through many evenings, spent talking late into the night. I HAVE NEVER HAD A FRIEND WHO LOVED ME SO DEEPLY, OR WHOM IVE LOVED SO MUCH,…..my good lock to be loved like this.
we can become unhealthy.
We become like a parasite that can only survive with him. We get mad when he doesn’t hangout with us. We get super jealous when he hangs out with others. We wonder why he won’t move in with us, why he won’t have coffee with us or watch a movie.
and the worse
When he starts dating……..the gates of hell open up.
This is when our brothers stick it out with us
they walk out.
And this is when it gets super tricky. A loss of one of these friendships devastates us. Makes us question our existence. Not all the time it is because we are unhealthy, but our friends, the ones we thought would be there for us for life, walks away for whatever reasons they have, Good or bad, and it is pure eternal agony.
Henri Nouwen describes his experience like this,
“What happened? I had come face to face with my own nothingness. It was as if all that had given my life meaning was pulled away and I could see nothing in front of me but a bottomless abyss…..the enormous space that had been opened for me could not be filled by the one who had opened it. I became possessive, needy, and dependent, and when the friendship finally had to be interrupted, I fell apart. I felt abandoned, rejected, and betrayed.”
Wesley Hill described is experience like this, (this is when he realized he wasn’t going to be close to his best friend anymore after he started dating this girl)
“ I was unprepared for what happened next. My hands were shaking as I placed the phone on the desk. And the tears came almost immediately. I knelt down and folded my knees under my stomach. Gripping the side of the bed, I sobbed. My eyes stung, I cried so much….The next day I stepped into the shower. I couldn’t stop crying. I covered my face with my hands, feeling the hot water cascading over my fingers, seeping in with the tears.”
Tim Timmerman said this,
“I had a conversation with a friend who was like a brother to me that would split my life open as if with a hatchet…..the dearest friend in my life would begin putting an end to a brotherhood that literally had saved my life and that I had staked my life upon. When the conversation was over, we walked back down the trail along the craggy edge of the mountain with an uncomfortable silence. At the time all I could think of was how the stones down below would feel if I jumped and threw my body upon them.”
When we lose this friend, this friend that means so much to us,
life doesn’t seem worth it anymore.
Christians don't understand that 75% of struggling with homosexuality is just a very deep same-sex connection. Attachment. Inclusion.
This longing in us doesn't go away. It is our best friend. It is our eyesight. Our ears. Our skin.
It is our hearts.
And it doesn't plan on leaving us anytime soon.
But the New Covenant has room for this type of expression within the Church and within friendship.
But we are not there for many reasons.
And it is painful to walk with this everywhere we go.
We ask God, “Father, why can’t I just have this brotherhood? I am not lusting after him. I am not making him an idol. I just want to have a friendship but the way I connect with him is not the same way he connects with me. The way I connect with men, in general, is not the same way straight men connect. How did this happen to me? Why do I have to deal with this? Can you take this away from me? I didn’t pick this. I didn’t ask for this. Why do men in the Church get to walk away from men like us? WHy can they reject us and not have any consequences? Why does marriage get to be the only covenant practiced in the Church? What about friendship covenants? What about loyalty among friends? We want to love others too! We want to offer our love. We want to know them too and let them know us.
Father, can you just help us make it? I’ll give you whatever you want. I just don’t want this longing in me anymore if I can’t be given the space to demonstrate this love you have put in me.
Why are you silent about this deep desire in us to connect so deeply?
Maybe you are not silent. Maybe you have already spoken about this,
but we are ignoring you.