Hi, my name is Jeremy Driggs. I am a Christian, married to Lindsey Driggs for about 2 years, and I have been friends with Richard Padilla for 6 long years. The 4Ts have been foundational for my experience as a pastor, husband, friend, and son. I really believe there can be freedom, joy, and hope when these 4Ts are embodied by a local church. I hope to be able to share some of those thoughts with you, but for now, I would like to introduce myself and offer some hope.
I grew up in the Bay Area and started following Jesus when I was 15, I spent the next 6 years following a road to pastoral ministry, serving at a church, studying theology, ultimately I found out how little I actually knew.
Click on the Picture to see more pics of Jeremy's Pastoral days over the College Ministry
By 22 I was interning at a church and on my way to a pastoral position. Before I turned 23 I was serving as a young adults pastor, again realizing how I did not even know what I did not know. While it was humbling, it was extremely grounding for me, much like being friends with someone who struggles with same-sex attraction (SSA). *Disclaimer*: these labels are simply to distinguish our Christian family’s unique experience in this life.
Richard is a persistent guy, so he relentlessly pursued me as a friend. Note, friendship is important and should be a two-way street, but sometimes you have to humble yourself and be the pursuer for an extended season, this is what Richard resolved to be.
Before meeting Richard, I was naive to the way SSA Christians experience life within the church. I thought being SSA was a choice, so by faith and grace, God could make you not gay or SSA. I also had not met someone who was so honest with his true self; his longings, his anger, pain, selfishness, hopes, dreams. In short, Richard was a lot to handle, but luckily I just graduated college, had quite a bit of free time and had time to get to know Richard.
That first year of our friendship we spent a lot of TIME together. This was foundational for building our friendship. We also hugged each other a lot, although Richard is a really awkward hugger. I learned to trust that my friend Richard needs TOUCH, and it is up to him, to be honest with what he can and cannot handle. Touch is an easy one for me because I grew up in an Italian family that was always physically affectionate. Over a long period of time, we pursued TRANSPARENCY, as we shared our hearts with one another, prayed, shared our dreams and even went to the Korean Spa together. The nudity one was easy for me because I think being naked is hilarious and liberating, but I know that is not true for everyone, as this is one of the most sensitive and controversial subjects in the 4Ts.
Lastly, while my friendship with Richard has had its ups and downs, it has sustained itself because Richard has pursued a TEAM to surround him and hold him. A mentor of mine always taught me that every person needs a web of support so that if one strand breaks, they can still be upheld. Teamwork has kept me from throwing in the towel on my friendship with Richard because I know that I am not alone.
My friendship with Richard has taught me how little I know about the human experience, especially with those who are SSA. While it has been a humbling and frustrating process, it has kept me close to the main things, forcing me to trust in Christ as the cornerstone.
One thing I have learned is that as a Christian that has been invited into this New Covenant, I have a lot of liberties, but my liberties are not my cornerstone, Jesus is. I have the liberty to get married, be single, drink alcohol, dance, watch movies, make stupid jokes, have children, adopt kids, save my money, give my money away, etc. However, I find myself often embracing the liberties I have as the source of life, instead of allowing the source of the universe to be life for me.
When it comes to all relationships, we as Christians have liberties to be in or out of a lot of relationships. When it comes to marriage, friendship, blood family, and neighbors we can choose to pursue those things or not. However, we must all be careful to not make the pursuit of any of those relationships our central source of hope, life, and joy. Ultimately, those things become the cornerstone, instead of Jesus, because our hope is in the vibrancy of those relationships instead of in the Resurrection.
I invite you, as we journey to walk faithfully, to ask yourself, where is my hope? Why am I so willing to sacrifice for something other than Christ? What might it look like if I embraced my hope, loosened the grip on my liberties, and looked for ways to love those around me? There is grace as we walk by faith.
The Father is patiently waiting for us to believe that he loves us. The Father is patiently waiting for his children to walk in love with hope.
May you have HOPE where you are today.
Sometimes the relationship between our SSA family and the church can feel hopeless, complex and confusing. It may feel like our SSA family is too needy for us heterosexuals. As if the SSA followers of Jesus are the pinky toe of the body that needs to grow, but we can do without the toe.
May I ask my heterosexual family this question:
What if you are just as needy, but you have a space for those needs to be met in a “traditional” system?
What if our SSA family has the same needs but can’t satisfy them in the “traditional” way?
What if you could do something about this?
When we allow ourselves to be loved by the Father to greater depths, we may be able to offer this radical grace to those around us. Maybe the 4Ts is a pragmatic application of Jesus’ promise that the world will know we are his disciples by our love for one another.
I want to end this post with a scripture verse that came to mind as I was writing this.
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God. My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!”
1 John 4