The Day My World Got Bigger - By Kolby Atchison

My name is Kolby, I’m a 27-year-old married man, and I’m on board with the mission of the 4T’S: to help the church practically love men with same-sex attraction in the 21 st century. Once in a while, I plan to write on this site to offer my perspective, not as someone who struggles with SSA, but as a friend of those who do. In my friendship with Richard over the past several years, it has become more and more apparent to me that those followers of Jesus who courageously strive to live according to what the Bible teaches on sexuality, but find themselves attracted to the same-sex, need fellow believers to come alongside them and openly support them. It is my hope and desire to be one of these supporters and, more importantly, friends.

Chilling out in Chicago when it was about 12 degrees.

Chilling out in Chicago when it was about 12 degrees.

Eating some great Chicago deep dish pizza.

Eating some great Chicago deep dish pizza.

In this blog, I’m going to take a walk down memory lane as I recall the moment I discovered that my new friend Richard was same-sex attracted. I was nineteen and a sophomore at a Christian college in southern California. I had grown up in a strong evangelical Christian home where I was raised that sex was a gift from God that came with one key perimeter: it was reserved for marriage between one man and one woman. This perimeter was admittedly fine by me as I had only ever experienced attraction toward the opposite sex and, as a believer in Christ, I was committed to saving myself for marriage.

In high school, I didn’t have any gay friends (that I knew of) or Christian friends that claimed to struggle with same-sex attraction. All I basically thought I knew about “homosexuals” was that they were human beings who needed the gospel like everyone else…and perhaps an introductory lesson on biblical ethics. I honestly didn’t consider them worse sinners than anyone else but that was probably because of a deeper problem: I didn’t consider them at all.

Within the first two months of college, I had made a good group of friends, one of them being a particularly enthusiastic guy named Richard. Richard was a ton of fun to be around—he was smart, funny, opinionated, and competitive. His passion for the gospel, heart for ministry, and enthusiasm for life in general was exhilarating and we hit it off as friends immediately.

That game you play with salt and sugar at a Denny's when you're 18 and 20 years old.

That game you play with salt and sugar at a Denny's when you're 18 and 20 years old.

After a year and a couple months of being friends, I remember one fall evening my sophomore year when Richard approached me and asked if we could talk. We went on a short walk and as we did, he went on to tell me something that no one had ever told me before: he, Richard, was sexually attracted to guys. At first, I was taken back. We were alone on our night walk and I wasn’t sure what would happen next. I had grown up hearing about people who had this attraction, but I had never met anyone personally who did. Admittedly, I was pretty cautious at first. Questions began to reverberate in my mind:

Was Richard attracted to me?

What would he do next?

Was he going to try anything?

I’m ashamed to admit that I had these concerns in the first few seconds of hearing the news, but fortunately, I recovered quickly.

Richard continued to talk, sharing about his life, including some abuse he had gone through, and explained more about the struggle. The whole time I listened silently, taking everything in and trying to process it as best I could.  After just a few minutes, it dawned on me that although I learned something new and important about Richard, he was the same Richard standing in front of me. I didn’t view him as lesser, weird, or someone I didn’t want to be friends with. On the contrary, I felt that I now knew Richard on a deeper level and that our friendship had become that much stronger.

That evening my world got bigger, my views on homosexuality became nuanced, and my appreciation of Richard grew. Having learned that Richard didn’t choose to have these feelings of attraction, but simply found himself with them, I experienced compassion and empathy for what my friend had to battle on a daily basis.

After our conversation, Richard and I went in for a hug. This was the true test. For the first time in my life, I was knowingly embracing a man with same-sex attraction. It was a formative moment for me. At first, the thought hit me that I could potentially be putting him in a tempting situation, but this thought was immediately supplanted by a stronger one:

Richard is my friend and I trust him.

I want to keep being his friend. I had nothing to fear and so much to gain. Richard had been a great friend to me my freshman year and this new information about him couldn’t change that.

As we finished up the hug (it was a good one), we walked back to our dorm and parted ways for the night. Little did I know, this night would be a pivotal moment in our friendship—and for my life. It was that night that my world truly got bigger and my understanding of the mission of the church expanded.

When we went on vacation together to Zion National Park and climbed Angels Landing.  The fun lady in the pic is Kolby's wife Bethany and the other dude is Tyler, Bethany's brother. 

When we went on vacation together to Zion National Park and climbed Angels Landing.  The fun lady in the pic is Kolby's wife Bethany and the other dude is Tyler, Bethany's brother. 

This happened 5 minutes after Kolby told me if I wanted to switch with him.

This happened 5 minutes after Kolby told me if I wanted to switch with him.

Eight years later, Richard and I are still great friends and I have seen first hand how touch, time,
transparency, and teamwork can provide greatly needed intimacy for SSA men in the church…the sort of intimacy Christ talks about in John 15 when he tells his disciples that they are no longer his servants, but his brothers.

I, as a straight man in the church, am so excited about the exciting work the 4T’S is doing today and look forward in anticipation to see how it continues to gain ground in the future.