Touch, Time, Transparency, and Teamwork, 4 words that defined my experience at Biola University! As I walked along the long hallways of the best floor ever, HEAT! And lived in the best dorm ever, HART! I experienced the joy of seeing so many of my friends day in and day out. It was a blast. God showed me the very meaning of what it means to live in community as we walk alongside each other in our brokenness.
At the age of 18 I already knew I needed to share with others I struggled with homosexuality just like the scriptures say to do so you can be loved, forgiven, and healed.
I was able to share with my friends Jordan, Derick, Ryan, Geoff, and some others my first 2 years at Biola.
Eventually, my community expanded and I was able to share with Ben, Kolby, Geoff, James, Sith, Anil, Kris, Jeremy, Christian, Ryan, Jaken, David, Nate, Josh, Levi, Matt, Stevy, Tank, Campos, Matt, Matt,…
If you don’t get the point, I was able to share with my community, my friends, my brothers, that I was sexually attracted to men.
I was accepted into the team of Christian brotherhood, although the team wasn’t perfect, I was loved and treated like a normal brother.
It was great. It was love. It was trust. It was a community.
At times, life got really hard, but you have to expect that in life. I was happy life got really hard in the safety net that Biola was and is.
So here are 4 reasons I believe Biola University is a great place for a Christian Student who struggles with homosexuality to attend and belong to.
Reason 1: You can receive a lot of healthy TOUCH.
One of the deepest needs in our lives as humans is touch. Especially for someone who struggles with homosexuality. We don't want sex, we want to know our bodies, who we are, are accepted and loved because we are also made in the likeness of God, just like your boyfriend, girlfriend, wife or husband. Touch is a way of being known, loved, and liked.
Because of the social narrative American males are going through in regards to touch, especially for me as a Hispanic male who struggles with homosexuality, touch isn't something that is regularly available to me.
But for this next generation, men and touch have been more accepting of each other.
Especially in the University.
Here is a great article about the change in how men have been experiencing touch.
“According to a new study out of Britain on the changing social habits of heterosexual males. Published in the Journal of Men and Masculinities in March, the study revealed that 98 percent of the study’s participants — all white, college-age male athletes — have shared a bed with another guy. In addition, 93 percent also reported having spooned or cuddled with another man.”
And all humans need touch,
We long for it,
I was longing for it.
to some extent, I believe that is why a lot of men get into relationships with women, so they can experience very pleasurable touch.
But I was blessed to receive oceans of touch from friends at Biola. Even now when I step on campus, I pay attention to the students and I love to see so much joy and friendship taking place as they give each other platonic touch.
Hugs, kisses, arms around the shoulder, etc.
The Biola Community offers it.
I had friends jump in bed with me as I was sleeping in the morning. I had friends give me hugs upon hugs. I loved sitting by all my bros on the couch in the dorms as we watched movies and episodes of the office. A couple of times, out of necessity because we were cold as we camped, we even cuddled. It was great. It was friendship, it was a brotherhood.
And most of my friends that knew about me were completely fine giving me touch. Even the ones that knew I was attracted to them.
They were not afraid of me.
They hugged me.
Reason 2: You get to experience precious amounts of Time together.
The time at Biola to enjoy friendship and community is unbelievable! This time is extremely rare outside of a Christian University context. Plenty of Christians who struggle with homosexuality deal with loneliness and are asking the question, "Who is going to live with me as I use this time that God has given me?"
Growing up I longed for brotherhood and to live on a floor with 50+ of your closest friends was awesome! We got to play ultimate frisbee, soccer, debate theology and politics, watch new episodes of lost and the office, go to class together, travel around the U.S. and have great road trips visiting each other’s houses and national parks. Reading the scriptures together, worshipping, evangelizing, crying, praying, going to lectures together. Going to the library to talk and laugh. Trying to stay overnight in the library or going to the library dance parties.
The list is huge of all the types of Time you get to experience with your friends and community.
One of the struggles with homosexuality is loneliness. Sometimes loneliness is the heart of struggling with homosexuality. Remember, "God said it wasn't good for humans to be alone."
We need time together.
The Biola experience gave me an idea of how far and how much friendship can have in regards to time.
Time, friendship, and community are synonymous in my vocabulary.
Reason 3. You can experience the intimate act of Transparency ( emotional, spiritual and physical transparency).
Christians who struggle with homosexuality long to be connected emotionally, spiritually, and physically with their Christian family.
In regards to transparency, that depends on your friends and community how transparent you want to be with each other. I was blessed to have a community that pursued transparency. It is hard work to do especially for young men.
We cried together, shared our sin struggles with each other such as porn, sex, drugs, idols, friendship insecurities etc., We argued and confronted each other. We lived together. We told each other how much we cared and loved each other. The emotional and spiritual affirmation I longed for in brotherhood that I received and gave at Biola was such a good experience for me.
I was even able to share with some friends that I was attracted to them and we processed what that meant for our friendship.
When it comes to physical transparency, that was interesting.
When I first moved into the dorms, my lust levels were pretty high, not by my own choice, but because I didn’t really know how to be so close to so many males at one time. Living together, walking around naked too and from the showers, guys having morning wood, guys doing funny naked stuff. Eventually, my closes friends would walk me through some normal healthy naked experiences that guys go through and it helped me see these men as my brothers instead of just bodies to sexualize.
This was probably one of the most transforming experiences in my life at Biola,
To finally see men as my brothers.
that is what sanctification looks like in regards to struggling with homosexuality.
It doesn't mean becoming attracted to women, and if that is something anyone is teaching, it is flat out wrong. Heterosexual attraction is filled with sinful desires and goals too.
When you struggle with homosexuality and you experience forms of normal healthy nakedness with your buddies, like the locker room, showers, changing etc. , it teaches you to be content and confident with your own body, it teaches you to say no to your heart when your heart wants to turn your brothers into idols, it teaches you to just calm down with the body and see beyond that, the person made in the likeness of God.
Reason 4. The Teamwork at Biola is amazing!
For Christians that struggle with homosexuality, teamwork or community or brotherhood or friendship is very important! We want to belong to something bigger than ourselves. We want fidelity, we want to give fidelity. We want to be one with others the way the New Covenant says we are.
And you don't need sex or marriage to be one with someone and sex and marriage isn't the most intimate experience humans have together. It is one relationship of many Christians can experience together.
The New Covenant Jesus made with the Church is the most intimate and loyal relationship a human can experience this side of Heaven.
That is what you will receive at Biola. From the Professors to the therapists, to your RD’s, your friends on the floor, from the staff, ministries you become a part of, and even the President of Biola.
You are part of the New Covenant with them.
I was able to find a great therapist to talk to about the complexities of my life. From sexual abuse, my sins, how to handle living with guys, what did it mean to be attracted to my best friend etc.
I was able to develop great relationships with professors as I sought out truth in my struggles such as Dr Lunde, Dr. Petitfils, Dr. Strauss, Dr. Grace, and many other professors I shared my life with. Recently Dr. Thoeness and I have connected and he is really cool. I was able to vent to them about the hardships of struggling with homosexuality.
I was able to share my life with my RD Ryan Low.
I was able to develop a great relationship with Danny Paschall and Matthew Hooper who were the dean of students at Biola, and some other Biola staff members. During the very hard times, with Danny I was able to text him, call him, cry in his arms, not just cry, but sob in his arms. With Matthew Hooper I have been able to develop an amazing friendship that is still going on. We have both been able to process this topic with each other as it affected both our lives differently.
I was able to have a chat with President Dr. Barry Corey about where he was going to take Biola in this discussion concerning students who struggled with this and I was pleased with him.
But most importantly, the community of brothers that I lived with in the dorms is what changed my life and showed me that God loves me and cares for me, a Christian who struggles with homosexuality. Those are the hands and feet of God that have transformed my life into the person I am today. I would literally die for most of my friends. I'm sure they know that. I can't even give to them what they have already given to me, especially Jordan and Geoff, I would be dead without them. They were there along with all my friends at the times when I went crazy and become suicidal because of the pain this struggle causes in my life and how it messes up my friendships because of the complexities it creates in me.
Geeze, life can be real shitty sometimes.
But these are 4 simple words that I know Christians who struggle with homosexuality value and need in their life.
We long for these words as we see the Church and its leaders fight over the topics of marriage and homosexuality disregarding what friendship is and how deep and intimate friendship can be.
If you are a student that struggles with homosexuality at Biola, I hope and believe you can find the support you need there.
It really is there.
Let me warn you, outside of Biola it can be a little rougher walking alongside a local church because Churches are still trying to figure out how to love those who struggle with this. This is why I am writing about the 4TS.
But Biola really is a safe place. I would argue for my life it was the best place.
It isn't perfect. I had my times of great pain and sorrow there, but I also had my time of great joy, growth, intimacy, love, fun, adventure, oneness.
I once met a student who struggles with homosexuality and decided not to live in the dorms because he was afraid of lusting after all the men.
My response was this,
"Dude, you made a big mistake! It is in a community that God shows his love and redemption, his hands and feet. God's will for you to be sanctified to see your brothers with love instead of lust, is more powerful and graceful than your struggle with homosexuality."