Want to support Richard going part time for the 4TS and the Church?

About 2 years ago I created a website called the 4TS and the Church.  The website is about The 4TS and the Church which are Touch, Time, Transparency, Teamwork and how Christians can practically care for other Christians who struggle with homosexuality.  

I created this site because I saw a fixable problem within the Church.  The Church wants to help Christians that struggle with homosexuality, but it doesn’t have a clue on how to do that and sometimes it ends up doing more damage than good, sometimes life threatening damage.

Since the topic of gay marriage seemed to be one of the main priorities of Churches in the last decade, it sort of forgot what was more important,

Loving and meeting the needs of its own that are in the church that struggles with homosexuality. 

Now that Gay marriage is legal, many churches are becoming gay affirming, and Christians that at one point struggled with homosexuality, are now accepting a gay identity. 

The Church sort of seems like it is losing.

It has been a rough couple of years. 

But now this is where the 4TS comes in. 

In my life, I have been blessed to have male friends go above and beyond “normal” friendship to meet the very complex needs that are in my life because I struggle with homosexuality. 

There have been ups and downs and lessons that have taught me very important truths about society, the Church, sin, redemption, and what it means to be a Christian that struggles with Homosexuality. 

And those truths get summed up within the 4TS and the Church. 

A couple of years ago at Biola University a group of gay affirming students started a community that was putting pressure on Biola to change its stance on gay relationships.  The editor in Chief of the Biola Chimes covered this group, but she also covered my story.

Here is the story.  Please read it.

http://chimes.biola.edu/story/2013/may/09/biola-student-same-sex-struggles/

She was such a good listener of my experience being a Christian who struggled with homosexuality she was able to identify 3 words my friends gave to me that were very important to me.

TOUCH, TIME, and TRANSPARENCY.

As passion started to build within me for the Church to actually be a place where Christians who struggled with homosexuality can get their needs met,  I wanted to start something for heterosexual Christians who want to help Christians that struggle with homosexuality.  A place where Christians can finally say, “Oh, I can practical meet the needs of another brother or sister who struggles with homosexuality. I don’t have to vaguely “love them,” I can actually love them, care for them. Give them the godly, healthy intimacy they need.“

This site isn’t directly for those who struggle with homosexuality, but I know it does help them. 

But my passion is for the “straight church.”  The Christian communities that want to get their hands and knees dirty and actually love and offer deep intimacy for those that struggle with homosexuality.  And it will get tough.  Caring for a Christian who struggles with homosexuality isn't a walk in the park. See it as you being Jacob wrestling the Angel of the Lord and you end up getting hurt in the process, but this hurt increases your faith and trust in God. 

I thought of the importance of TOUCH, TIME, TRANSPARENCY, and TEAMWORKand how these 4TS gave me hope that I can be a Christian who struggles with homosexuality and have my deep longing for male intimacy met in healthy godly ways.

I can still be a part of the church and care for the Church as the Church cares me.

It is my home.

Since I have started this site, it has been taking off.  I receive emails every other day.  People from Italy, France, South Africa, Australia, and of course the United States.   I have been able to talk to 3 churches and a men's small group (all that attended that group struggled with homosexuality) about the 4TS. 

Even though these words seem so simple, I actually dive into the very complex realities of these words.  For some Christians, the 4TS will be very challenging, sacrificial, it may show them their own selfishness, and for some, it might bring up pain and sadness in their own lives as they realize they may be lacking the 4TS in their life, even if they don’t struggle with homosexuality. 

I talk about how long periods of touch from men are important and healthy for a Christian like me, so we have to talk about touch.  Ways to touch, experience touch.

I talk about wow quality time is important.  This gets complicated because we then have to talk about how Christians use their time, especially when it comes to marriage and family. 

We talk about transparency. Spiritual and emotional transparency, and the most complex, physical transparency.  I talk about the importance of the locker room experience and how humans need to be known physically in nonsexual ways.  It is this area of conversation that we talk about what it means to be attracted to another same sex peer.

And I talk about how helping those who struggle with homosexuality needs to be done with teamwork or church community.  To some extent, everyone needs teamwork.  Even married folks.

The 4TS will stretch some Christians and take them to very uncomfortable areas they haven't been before.

Some of the blogs I have written are very detailed in regards to what same sex attraction is and how the desire of wanting to have sex with your friends actually plays out in my mind and why it does. 

Christians do not always have the most accurate understanding of this sin or fallen nature.  It isn’t just a sexual perversion, but a lack of communication on how Christians that struggle with deep same sex intimacy bond with the Church.

I have been able to do some writing, podcasting and one video.  Since then the site is becoming a little well known!

Here are a couple of emails I have received from readers and listeners

"Dear Richard,

Hey, I just stumbled across your blog and read a couple of your posts. As a college student who also struggles with homosexuality, I'm really thankful for your honesty and transparency. I've read a number of blogs, watched tons of videos, and listened to some podcasts, but your blog is the first I've seen to present such a unique solution to helping SSA guys in the church. I've never considered that it's actually alright (and even biblical) to seek affirmation/ affection from another man (especially physically!). I've always distanced myself from any situation that would involve physical intimacy with other men for fear of intensifying my homosexual desires and adding another scenario for me to later sexualize and fantasize over. My greatest desire has always been to just be "one of the bros," to engage in physical and emotional intimacy in a non-sexual way. Reading your blog has really encouraged me that my desire could become a reality.

That being said, if you're willing to respond, I had a few questions regarding this viewpoint and your thought process:
Do you find yourself only seeking help from guys you consider attractive? Would you ever ask for a hug from an unattractive man? Why/ why not?
Would you ever seek confirmation from a man who also struggles with homosexuality? Why/ why not?
How do you not sexualize/fantasize about physical closeness with another guy? Does it get easier the more you do it? Do you ask God for help?
Do you ever feel convicted about your interactions with other men? Do you ever feel like you went too far with someone?

Here is another email

I'm currently 49 years old. I am a mostly same sex attracted Christian man who grew up with a great father and mother. I had my first experiences of the locker room when I was 30 years old. I guess the thing I had feared the most all through high school and college was the very thing I had needed. Since then I've had many great experiences with men in all the 4Ts, but especially in transparency. One thing I try to get across to people is that pursuing transparency and the locker room is not only valid but important; even something to be excited about. It is basically filling in a gap left in lots of men's lives regardless of how they experience attraction.

I believe in traditional morality and sexuality from a Christian point of view. But I also believe men need other men and they need a comfortable and safe place to let their hair down and be intimate with room for awkwardness and goofups. The lockers provide this. I wish more OSA men knew the power they had in this regard. They could initiate tons of healing by creating experiences where SSA men could enter into to real communion. The locker room when approached naturally has such normalizing effects.

It's important to note that the 4Ts don't manifest the same way in every friendship. I have one friend for instance, I have some friends who are more Time or Touch, but not both. I have others who are mostly just one T to me. And one of my closest friends, the guy I do art with, is all 4Ts all the time.

And in closing, a quick message for you OSA/straight male friends. Thanks so much guys for being open and vulnerable. Thanks for your invitations to do life and intimacy. Thanks for seeing people like us as possibilities for friendship and not people to push to the edge. And thanks for sharing the 4Ts with us. You guys are the best!


I can't tell you how happy I was to hear the podcast on transparency.  I'm sure you are inundated with emails so I'll try not to be a bother, but if you or your podcast mates would ever want to share stories or hear mine I'd love to meet you guys. I realize it would be an email or social networking scenario, but I'm open to sharing. Also, for the record, I don't see men as gay or straight, just as men.

One more email

Hi Richard!

I just found out about your blog/site and have listened to a couple of the podcasts.  I totally relate to what you and the other guys are saying.   The 4 t's make so much sense.  It's really cool you have straight guys also speaking and sharing.  I'm an ssa guy who is 56 and only "came out" back in 2012 when my ex-wife left me.  I've had attractions to men since I was a teen but back then it was totally NOT ok to mention them at all." - (identity hidden)

Richard-
I came across your blog through Facebook and "Your Other Brothers" yesterday.
I listen to the podcast on the locker room and read through your writings.
I am 59 years old and it has taken me to this age to understand all the things you correctly share about ssa, men and the church. It has been a lonely journey for me.
I have always had ssa...had counseling for it... got married...raised a family...stayed married..never have been with a man...yet the attractions have remained. I am a Christian and have been active in the church and in a serious relationship with Jesus all my life. You are the first Christian guy that I have come across that speaks like he knows the me inside.
It was refreshing and encouraging for me to review your blog. It is like you know the me I keep hidden because it seems no one of my generation gets it.
Thank you for your transparency and courage to speak up with such directness (older Christian)


So...

 I can’t keep up with the writing, podcasting, videos and the many more creative ideas I have to give the church the necessary tools to love those that struggle with homosexuality because I work full time and have two other part time jobs.

I have been wondering for the last year if I should do this full time or part time. 

And now, I know I need to try this as least part time for at least 9 months. 

And I can only do this with the support of the Church, my friends, my brothers, and sisters. 

My desire is to cut my full-time job hours in half, do less valet, and stop being an uber driver in order to give 20 hours a week to this site and make this into something bigger and useful. 

I am hoping for at least 50 people to be committed to giving 30 dollars a month for 9 months starting in September and ending in May.  If I actually get more support than needed, I may go full time.

I will be reporting to 2 friends of mine. 

Matthew Hooper, who is the Dean of Students at Biola and walks alongside many men and women who struggle with homosexuality.  And my friend Kolby Atchison who is an Assistant Principal at a private school in Wheaton who has walked alongside me and has contributed intellectual dialogue, advice, and constructive criticism on how to improve the 4TS website and content.

And really, I talk to most of my friends about the 4TS so I am surrounded by many men and women who are always interested in how the site is going. So I have a lot of support and accountability taking place concerning this already.

At the end of the 9 months, I want to reevaluate the 4TS and the Church and see where it will be. 

If I should continue this or not.

Within the 9 months I want to create different content that explains the 4TS, hold at least 2 small conferences with Pastors and Church leaders,  write, and podcast more, especially with pastors and professors and start networking with Churches and Christian Professors to help them incorporate the 4TS into their church culture and lives. 

The reasons this will take a lot of time is because the 4TS is counter cultural.  There are a lot of conversations that need to take place in order for churches to understand homosexuality in a better way than just a sex sin.

Topics of friendship and marriage need to take place.

Topics about the human body need to take place.

It gets complicated and so this needs to be done well. 

I don’t assume God is behind this, but I pray and hope God blesses this.  With the amount of traffic and emails I am receiving, it seems to be touching many men. 

So I am asking you if you will be willing to journey with me on this. 

But there is a catch, I don’t want you to just donate and hope for this success.  I want you to be a part of it. 

I want you to write at least 4 blogs throughout the 9 months concerning each particular T.  It can be however long or short you want it to be and I will guide you on what would be the best topics to talk about when you write.  The reason for this is that I want the 4TS and the Church to be talked about, debated on, shared with as many Christians as possible. 

I want to use social media as one of my main platforms, but I would love for the Church to be the main platform for this conversation. 

The 4TS will only be successful if people take it to their local churches and bring it up, talk about it, teach it, discuss it, debate it, etc.

I will publish your specific blog post on the site and social media.

This is all I got for you right now.  If you decide you want to support me for 30 dollars (or more) for 9 months, please email me your concerns, questions, challenges etc.  I want to hear anything you have to say.

This is serious stuff.  I’m not just raising money to pay my bills and be lazy.  I realize the importance and potential of this conversation and the need the Church has for something like this.  I plan on contacting every Pastor and Christian Professor in the So-hcal area during the 9 months. 

Many people are killing themselves over this, getting diseases over this, crying in agony at night alone over this, accepting a gay identity over this. 

I want that to change.  I want the Church to be a place where humans who have deep same sex longings can actually experience that in healthy Christian brotherly and sisterly ways. 

I want the church to offer them TOUCH, TIME, TRANSPARENCY, and TEAMWORK. 

“Many men who have high same-sex needs eventually decide: “Being in the gay lifestyle is better than being in the church, Because in the gay life, you go into a bar and everyone hugs and kisses you. You go to a church, you don't get hugged and kissed by anyone. Some of them, the more artistic, the more politically astute, or maybe the more sensitive ones will do it......Christians are talking heads or praying heads. They can't get down to where you really need to be. Your skin is your largest organ in your body and they are afraid of it. They are afraid to touch, they are afraid to love, they are afraid to sacrifice, afraid to get messy. “Oh my god, what do you mean it's going to take 10 years for you to get better? I don't have time that kind of time.” So the gay life appears to be a whole lot more love, acceptance, and laughter.”- Tim Timmerman, A Bigger World Yet.

For those of you that have decided you can support me, I created a PayPal account that you can donate monthly too.

I asked those who want to support me if they can donate 30 dollars for 9 months from September to May.  

Here is the account email for PayPal the4tsandthechurch@gmail.com

If you are not comfortable with making a transaction through PayPal just email me back your concerns.  We can work out another method for your donation.  I would like to keep all the transactions in one account so I can keep track of it for taxes (that's right, I’m paying taxes for this) which is why I want to use PayPal.

Paypal is a safe monetary transaction company that my current job uses for its own transactions.  

If you feel comfortable donating to me please let me know if you haven’t already.

If you are comfortable, you can find the account on PayPal.  

If you can donate by the 15th of each month that would be great so I can know how much time I can invest in the 4TS before I add more valet shifts or Uber shifts to my life.

Again, thank you so much for the support you have given me.  It means a lot.

In the next week or two, I will be emailing you the specific plan I have on where I want to try to take the 4TS and the Church and how you can be involved as well.

I am excited for where this can go, hopefully, it can change the narrative of the Church and its relation to Christians who struggle with homosexuality.

Please email me if you have any questions, concerns, etc.

Your brother in Christ - Richard Padilla

When you struggle with homosexuality, and friends that love and know you move away

“Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies … the pain of the leaving can tear us apart.
Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking.” - Henry Nouwen

The 4TS and the Church are something I have been writing, talking about, and sharing with others in order for them to help anyone that will come into their life that struggles with homosexuality.  Often times I write because I am inspired by events that are literally taking place in my life at that time.  

And this summer has been a summer of sorrow and sadness.

Last year two of my closest guy friends got married and I was able to experience so much fun, love, and acceptance through their weddings and marriages.  

 Getting kissed by the bride and groom, Lindsey and Jeremy.

Getting kissed by the bride and groom, Lindsey and Jeremy.

 living up to my shortness

living up to my shortness

I actually wrote a blog about it.

Throughout this past year, I have become closer to another friend and his family. He has an amazing sharing and caring wife and 3 fun kids!

 Matthew and I at a coffee shop on a Friday night

Matthew and I at a coffee shop on a Friday night

Three couples have been giving me hope marriage can bless others and include others.  

They have given me hope Christians can actually open up their home, their lives, their dinner times, their family time, their family vacations and extend these moments to those outside their immediate family so that others can be known.

Jeremy and Lindsey offered me a chance to move in with them their first year of marriage, which most responses I heard from other Christians were, “I would never do that.”

Kolby and Bethany have continuously reached out to me, called me, let me visit them over and over, let me take them to my favorite place in the world, Zion! They have heard me vent and get mad at whatever I get mad at.

And Matthew and Sheela have allowed me to visit their house about 3 times a week, eat dinner with them, hang out with them, talk to them late at night, I can go on.

When it comes to these 3 men, Jeremy, Kolby, and Matthew,  I have been extremely blessed by their friendship.

Jeremy was there when my life became shit for a couple of years.  Jeremy literally became friends with one of the neediest, emotionally unstable, angry, bitter person that was attracted to him.  For a good two years, I was a mess and Jeremy stood beside me and helped me up.  He would let me come over super late at night crying in pain. At times he would hold my hand when I just needed a hand to hold. He would give me lots of hugs and affectionate touch. He would make me dinner (because he knows I eat out a lot) and drink some wine with me (but he would make fun of me if I put ice cubes in my wine glass).  He introduced me to soccer which has been such a fun sport to play.  He has lived life with me.  We had some ups and downs in our friendship, but most of the time they were ups filled with laughter.  I can honestly write a lot about all the great things Jeremy has done in my life, especially when it came to the 4TS. Jeremy walked alongside me as we both navigated what it meant that I was attracted to him.  That attraction has turned into a great friendship.  One of my closest friends in my life.  

 Driving up to a wedding together, please excuse the leg.

Driving up to a wedding together, please excuse the leg.

Kolby has been a friend of mine for years.  He was there when life got super heavy.  He was put in the middle of a very complex situation in my life and throughout this time he has shown me love, care, and dignity.  He listens to me, debates me, we can get mad at each other.  I learn from him concerning theology and philosophy, but I also know I get to push against his fun conservative views a little.  I have been blessed to have a friend who really wants me to be a Christian that is following Christ with all my heart. We both care for the Kingdom of Jesus and we have lots of talks about that.  Our friendship has been difficult at times because we were both learning what it meant for Christians to struggle with homosexuality, specifically me, at the same time navigating college break ups, friendship break ups, and our passionate beliefs. Kolby has given me his full attention when it comes to understanding what it means to struggle with homosexuality and hearing my views on how great friendship is.  Kolby is also another friend I am excited to have for life!

Matthew Hooper was a surprise in my life.  We met because I wanted to hear the pain him and his family went through as their church split up over the topics of homosexuality.  We met up every couple of months the first year I met him, which has now turned into a phone call every other day and a visit to his house 3 times a week.  He and his wife gave me an open door policy to their home.  One I wish I actually took more advantage of.

 Having late night talks and snacks with Kolby Bethany, Matthew, Sheela, and their kids.

Having late night talks and snacks with Kolby Bethany, Matthew, Sheela, and their kids.

These 3 men and their wives have impacted me in big ways.  

They have each given me the 4TS.

They have given me TOUCH(long hugs, even when I pull away).

They have given me TIME (Probably the most important of the 4TS in my life right now).

They have given me TRANSPARENCY.

They have given me TEAMWORK, belonging, a home.

But this summer I have been experiencing some pain over these friendships.  

I got to hang out with Kolby and Bethany for about 2 weeks and we had a great time, but when they left back for Chicago, my heart was reminded we don’t live by each other.  I can’t grab a coffee, beer, or dinner with Kolby and Bethany whenever we feel like it.  I can’t play spades with them on a weekly or monthly basis.  I can’t live in community with them.

And this past month I had to deal with Matthew and his family moving up to Nor Cal,

and I also had to deal with Jeremy and Linsey moving to Oregon.

I am experiencing loss, pain, sadness, and what Henry Nowen calls, love.
 
My heart starting hurting today.  

I realized I have lost 3 families today that have loved me well.  

3 families that have known me well and let me know them.

 Flying together to Chicago

Flying together to Chicago

I get to see them still.  I will get to visit them and get to see another part of this country and have fun doing that, but it doesn’t take away the fact that I can’t go over their house anymore and watch a movie.  

I can’t go to their house anymore and cry about my pain in my life.  

I can’t go to their house anymore and eat dinner with them.

I can’t go to their house anymore and get a hug from them.  

I can't prank Jeremy.

 Lindsey and I did an April's fools post it note joke to Jeremy, it was fun. 

Lindsey and I did an April's fools post it note joke to Jeremy, it was fun. 

I won’t get to live around them as they have kids and experience that new journey.
I won't get to know them as much and they won't get to know me.

I will be missing out on a lot.

Struggling with homosexuality sucks, especially when the church still doesn’t know how to love, care, know, and include us in their life.  

 Matt and I at Disneyland

Matt and I at Disneyland

But losing the families that know how to love, care, know, and include you is just as painful as struggling with homosexuality.

There exist an emptiness in my heart right now.  

Not a dark emptiness, but more of a house you call home and one day you come home and all your furniture is gone.  

I think C.S Lewis says it well when it comes to grief in one’s life, ““And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn't seem worth starting anything. I can't settle down. I yawn, fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.”
― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

It is still your home, but your furniture is gone and so you need to get some new furniture.

I still have friends around me that know me and will let me know them.  

Some friends still have a hard time caring for me because they are not willing or haven’t learned how to open their heart to allow someone like me to be accepted fully in their lives.  

and that is okay.  

I pray God helps them and shows them I can love and know them and be a part of their family the way my 3 dudes and their families have allowed me to be.  

But at the end of the day,  I am in a season of hurting as my friends move away.  

I have been trying to embrace this pain.  This pain that demonstrates the love I am experiencing.  The love I have been blessed with.

I love my friends and making that choice to love them means embracing the pain that comes along with that.  

I have friends today that cause me pain, yet their love barely touches the love these couples have shown me.

This shows God has given me new friends to experience love and pain as my old friends move away.

Part of the 4TS is teamwork.  Teams change every once in awhile.  

We need to adapt, trust the management.

Trust that God meets the needs we have through the Church just like he is meeting the needs of Christians all throughout the world that are being killed for the love they have towards God.

I love my friends.  I know I will get to see them throughout my life.  

I hope Christians that struggle with homosexuality get to experience friendships like I have. I hope they get to experience the 4TS by married folks.

I hope married Christians remember their marriage isn't about them and they can love and give others the chance of being known just like God gave humans the chance to be known. 

 Hanging out at their engagement party!

Hanging out at their engagement party!

 Chilling out with Mickey Mouse and that is Bethany's brother.  He is really cool.  Glad I get to make new friends through my friend Kolby's marriage!

Chilling out with Mickey Mouse and that is Bethany's brother.  He is really cool.  Glad I get to make new friends through my friend Kolby's marriage!

But when you lose the people in your life that don’t just love you, but know you and want to keep on knowing you, life can get scary.  I have friends that seem like they don’t want to know me.   

Tim Keller says, “To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

To some extent, I am losing that now.

I don't feel as known by people right now.

but I have to trust if God is real and loves me, cares for me, he is going to meet the deep needs in my life,

so what do I do now?

Well, as C.S. Lewis wrote during the time he was mourning the loss of his wife and was processing his grief....

“I know the two great commandments, and I'd better get on with them.” - C.S. Lewis

 Walking towards fulfilling the two great commandments.

Walking towards fulfilling the two great commandments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teamwork: Pastors, talk about Blood Brothers so you can help Christians who struggle with Homosexuality.

The church will fail at meeting the needs of Christians who struggle with homosexuality if it doesn’t value friendship the way it values marriage.  

During the past 20 years, Christians felt they were in a war for marriage.  They felt they needed to protect it.  This indirectly excluded Christians who struggled with Homosexuality because the Church didn’t focus on meeting the needs of those members.  The Church used energy to politically defend it’s idea of marriage and didn’t save any energy for meeting the needs of these particular Christians.  

    When the U.S Supreme Court was listening to the arguments concerning Prop 8, both sides arguing their case referred to marriage as an ancient historical institution created by humans for the reproduction and creation of a family and where love can be experienced. This human connection has been in existence since the beginning of human history.  

    The Church also keeps this human interaction called marriage in place and believes that God created this human relationship.  The Church has created multiple theologies concerning this topic.  

    But one human interaction American society and the Christian Church has ignored that has been in human civilization since the beginning of time is the relationship of Blood Brothers .

    As a Christian who struggles with Homosexuality, I look to the Christian Church and the scriptures for guidance concerning my life. As I have studied to understand a Christian ethic of sexuality, I realized my Christian evangelical community’s theology of sexuality is more influenced by Disney eros and Western American eros rather than a Biblical Christian tradition eros.

    At the same time, I was studying about this eros love, I ran into another love, one called Phila love, a love that seems to be lost in the Church.  A love I think can solve the issues of Christians who struggle with homosexuality. This is called Brotherly love.  And this brotherly love has been known throughout human history as a

Blood Brother.  

And the Church starts with this love.  

It started with Abraham and God making a blood Covenant as friends.  (James 2:23)

And it was reaffirmed when Jesus made a Blood Covenant with humans(all the New Testament)

Blood Brothers, depending on it’s lived in context, can be the greatest expression of male friendship.  All throughout human civilization it has been celebrated and praised in myths, art, legends, ancient stories, and is still practiced in remote areas of the world for thousand of years, just like marriage. (look up the book called Blood Brothers by Jack Donovan, it is a book that is filled with 100 to 200 stories of rituals and cultures that celebrated blood brothership. Look at the author's multiples sources, it is amazing.  Also, just google it and do some research)

“The desire to create blood-brotherhood seems to be a natural outgrowth of male friendship, an acknowledgment of the simple fact that men often develop bonds with men outside their biological family just as they do with their own kin. It is an answer to the question, "Why should we, too, not be brothers?" Blood-brotherhood extends the biological family; it creates a meta-family- a family beyond family. It borrows from the emotional range natural to brotherhood-Loyalty, camaraderie, mutually understood trust, and a sense of mutual empathy and attachment based on sharedhistory, experiences, and interest.” - Blood Brothers, Jack Donovan

We see these male friendships at times exist within our own lives.  I know a couple of male friends that have this kind of connection and actually celebrate it.  Since our society and Christian churches don't know how to celebrate these certain relationships anymore, we have words for these friendships that help us deal with the awkwardness.  We call it bromance.  

Historically, the church used to celebrate it and even had a ceremony in which the two males would take communion together and make a covenant with each other for life.  

Wesley Hill talks about these covenants in his book called Spiritual Friendship.  

The love between friendships is great! They can be better than marriages, they can be more intimate than marriages, and it was also created by God. The Church was so concerned with fighting for the value of marriage, it forgot to fight for the value of friendship.  

The concept of a blood brother is remarkable.  If you had a blood brother, anything they had was yours, and anything you had was theirs.  You would defend each other’s honor, family, resources.  You would celebrate with a ceremony that involved both of your blood (sounds similar to what God did with Abraham and what Jesus did with the Church) in front of a group of witnesses.  You knew you can count on this person for anything.  It was a covenant for life!

Christians who struggle with homosexuality have a hard time being in Church communities because we don’t know if people are committed to us for life.  Church leaders like to say trust in God for your needs because it takes the burden off of them to actually sacrifice their idea of family.  

If Christian churches incorporated an ancient historical Christian idea of covenants between people of the same-sex like they incorporate covenants of people of the opposite sex, then our idea of Church community will be way more intimate and committed which is an environment that will bless and meet the needs of many more humans that need to experience love and commitment.

The gay marriage debate was about people of the same sex fighting for an idea that they want someone to commit to them for life and meet their needs.  Besides sexuality, I see gay affirming humans asking the question that blood brothers answered, “Can someone be committed to me for life?” “Can others celebrate with me this covenant I am making with someone of the same sex as me?”

The answer to these questions is yes!

Let’s make blood brothers in the Church!

God did it with Abraham and Jesus did it with his Church.

Why can’t we?  

This is basically what those that struggle with homosexuality are asking for,

“Can someone make a covenant with me?”  

“I promise to be there for you, defend your honor, protect your family, give you what is mine?”

“Can you do the same?”

“Would you want to do this?”

“Would you want to be my blood brother?”

Pastors and Church leaders, the burden is on you to transform our Churches and create a more intimate and committed community of friendship and marriage.  

If you can create, encourage, and celebrate an ancient idea called marriage to meet the needs of those who are heterosexual in the church.

Then you can create, encourage, and celebrate and ancient idea called Blood Brother to meet the needs of those who are single, lonely, and longing for deep intimate friendship.

Pastors and Church Leaders, talk about Blood Brothers, let’s do it.

The Church: Don't affirm Matthew Vines or The Reformation Project's Gay Affirming Theology

For awhile I didn’t want to oppose gay affirming Christian organizations.  That alone can cause hours of debate and boring conversations in my life.

But as I think about the 4TS and the Church, I can’t help but think about the complex idea of what the Church is.

It is supposed to be the leader of truth on Earth in regards to the New Covenant it has with the world’s Creator.

And since the 4TS and the Church are dedicated to Truth at times I need to call some narrow perspectives out.

And I want to call out Matthew Vines and his organization The Reformation Project for some false and weak arguments for gay- affirming theology.

They not only teach something unhealthy and against God’s design for friendship, they give weak arguments for why it is okay to be in a gay romantic relationship.

Matthew Vines is the founder and Executive Director of The Reformation Project. He wrote a book called God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. In 2012, Matthew taught in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, at a church making the case Christians should approve of gay Christians and their marriage relationships. The teaching went viral. In 2013, Matthew created The Reformation Project which is an organization that helps Christians advocate for gay theology in their Churches.

On their website, they have 10 reasons for why Christians should accept gay relationships.

and so I want to respond to their 10 reasons and explain why they are wrong.

1. Condemning same-sex relationships is harmful to LGBT people. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that good trees bear good fruit (Matthew 7:15-20), but the church’s rejection of same-sex relationships has caused tremendous, needless suffering to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people.

Response: Approving same-sex relationships is harmful to humans. Jesus’ teaching on the sermon on the mount was about becoming good students and followers of his. I will affirm the Church, in general, handled Prop 8 and other gay movements the wrong way, but that doesn’t mean it is bad fruit. It means the Church needs to get with the program and learn how to love and meet the deep needs of Christians that struggle with homosexuality. Many gays and lesbians suffer heavy emotional pain, but it isn’t because of their sexuality, it is because their basic needs of being loved and cared for by the Church is not being met. This is why I created the 4TS and the Church, so the Church can actually get down to our skin and actually love us and meet our deep needs. So to my fellow Christian who may think Matthew Vines is correct here, he isn’t. The church is bearing bad fruit because it isn’t practically meeting the needs of those that struggle with homosexuality, but it isn’t because of their theology. If you want to know how to meet the needs of those that struggle with Homosexuality, follow the 4TS and the Church.

2. Sexual orientation is a new concept, one the Christian tradition hasn’t addressed. Many Christians draw on our faith’s traditions to shape our beliefs, but the concept of sexual orientation is new. Before recent decades, same-sex behavior was understood along the lines of gluttony or drunkenness—as a vice of excess anyone might be prone to—not as the expression of a sexual orientation. The Christian tradition hasn’t spoken to the modern issue of LGBT people and their relationships.

Response: Sexual orientation may be a new phrase, one the Christian tradition hasn’t addressed and never really needed too. It is true orientation wasn’t talked about because traditionally, gender roles lead society. It didn’t matter if you were attracted to the same sex. Marriage was something most humans were going to partake in. That is a historical fact that the Supreme Court addressed in the Prop 8 Hearings. The Church indirectly addresses orientation by following the natural order of sexuality. Now, this is where things get tricky. If you see the Bible as an instruction book, then you are looking for rules, to some extent I call that legalism. As Christians, we are called to follow the Spirit of the Law. When Jesus was asked about marriage, he went back to the Genesis story and said what “God made let no one take away.” The Christian tradition has seen a marriage between male and female as the primary experience of sexuality and the raising of children. Evangelicals have gone wrong by making marriage an idol in place of the Church and by using sexuality the way they want to using birth control and other forms of anti-contraception. Everyone wants to follow “God's way” until they run into sex. I believe the Catholic Church has a better historical theology on sexuality than Protestants and the apostles when asked about what guidelines should new converted gentiles follow in regards to Christian sexual ethics, pointed to the sexual ethics in the Jewish Law. That should make for some interesting discussions.

3. Celibacy is a gift, not a mandate. The Bible honors celibacy as a good way of living—Jesus was celibate, after all—but it also makes clear that celibacy must be a voluntary choice made by those who have the gift of celibacy (1 Corinthians 7:7-9, Matthew 19:11). Requiring that all gay people remain celibate because their sexuality is “broken” is at odds with the Bible’s teachings on celibacy.

Response: I completely agree with this statement on Celibacy. But where Matthew Vines and The Reformation Project go wrong is when they believe since celibacy shouldn’t be forced on people, that gives someone permission to enter into whatever romantic relationship they want. But first I want to add, Celibacy is a gift. It is a calling Gay affirming Evangelicals and Non-Gay affirming Evangelicals don’t want to teach in their churches, but being single is what you are if you are not called to Celibacy and if you are not married. As a Christian we need to learn how to live as single people in intimate community so our relational needs get met. Sexuality in the New Covenant is not needed, it is not required and it isn’t a need. That is old Covenant theology. Whether you are a heterosexual or homosexual, your attraction doesn’t mean it is godly. I Know the Church doesn’t address this well, but many heterosexuals get married making marriage an idol. The same goes for gays. God requires his followers to be committed to his sexual ethics regardless of your circumstance. If you are called to be a Celibate, which is a lifestyle different than being single and married, then awesome! I wish evangelicals understood the precious gift that is. But as Christians, we need to learn how to be single and understand what it means to be single until we get married or realize we are going to be single in a community for the rest of our lives. Again, celibacy is different than singleness.

4. Sodom and Gomorrah involved an attempted gang rape, not a loving relationship. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is commonly assumed to have been the result of God’s wrath against homosexuality, but the only form of same-sex behavior described in the story is an attempted gang rape (Genesis 19:5)—nothing like the loving, committed relationships that are widespread today. The Bible explicitly condemns Sodom for its arrogance, inhospitality, and apathy toward the poor, but never for same-sex behavior.

Response: I agree with this so there isn’t anything else to say.

5. The prohibitions in Leviticus don’t apply to Christians. Leviticus condemns male same-sex intercourse (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13), but the entire Old Testament law code has never applied to Christians in light of Christ’s death. Leviticus also condemns eating pork, rabbit, or shellfish, cutting hair at the sides of one’s head, and having sex during a woman’s menstrual period—none of which Christians continue to observe.

Response: Now to some extent I agree with this statement, but I also think they are missing a part of the biblical sexual ethic narrative in regards to the New Covenant, the Leading of the Holy Spirit in the lives and leadership of the apostles, and the Law of Moses. In Acts Chapter 15 the Apostles prayed for the answers on how to handle Gentiles becoming Christians and this is what they ended up with.

“The apostles and elders, your brothers,

To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia:

Greetings.

We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things.

Farewell.”

Since the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath, the apostles used the law to some extent as guidelines for sexual ethics for the Gentiles, not for their salvation though. So we can’t skip this part of the Christian narrative. Which I think this statement number 5 is missing.

6. Paul condemns same-sex lust, not love. Like other ancient writers, Paul described same-sex behavior as the result of excessive sexual desire on the part of people who could be content with opposite-sex relationships (Romans 1:26-27). He doesn’t have long-term, loving same-sex relationships in view. And while he describes same-sex behavior as “unnatural,” he also says men having long hair goes against nature (1 Corinthians 11:14), and most Christians read that as a reference to cultural conventions.

Response: Paul doesn’t address a lot of sins. That doesn’t mean it isn’t sin. This is scripture legalism at it’s best. Abortion isn’t addressed by Paul, child molestation isn’t addressed by Paul, open marriages are not addressed by Paul, stealing movies and music isn’t addressed by Paul, doing drugs isn’t addressed by Paul. This is a weak point to use to affirm same-sex relationships. The Bible isn’t an instruction manual. It is a storytelling the Church uses to show the world how Jesus is King, how the Father is redeeming the world, and how the Holy Spirit is moving all around us. Stop making the Bible into a legalistic document Matthew Vines! You are contributing to the confusion of what the Bible is. Read some Rob Bell or Peter Enns or NT Wright about what is scripture.

7. The term “homosexual” didn’t exist until 1892. Some modern Bible translations say that “homosexuals” will not inherit the kingdom of God (depending on the translation of 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10), but neither the concept nor the word for people with exclusive same-sex attraction existed before the late 19th century. While the Bible rejects lustful same-sex behavior, that isn’t close to a condemnation of all gay people and relationships.

Response: Again, you are being legalistic with the scriptures again. I agree the word homosexual wasn’t a word or concept used in language, but I disagree on the idea Paul, other Greeks, and Romans didn’t understand what we call a gay man. There are many stories in the greek and roman world that talk about men and women, especially women, that lived together and performed gay sex. It wasn’t called marriage though because marriage was between a man and a woman and procreation was a big deal to the ancient world. The Supreme Court affirms this history of marriage. But Paul wouldn’t affirm gay relationships because it didn’t follow the narrative of God’s redemptive plan. He didn’t even have to address it because it really didn’t exist. Just because there is an absence of a specific behavior in the scriptures doesn’t mean that behavior is permissible. Paul was obsessed with the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus, not every specific sin that exists.

8. Marriage is about commitment. Marriage often involves procreation, but according to the New Testament, it’s based on something deeper: a lifelong commitment to a partner. Marriage is even compared to the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:21-33), and while the language used is opposite-sex, the core principles apply just as well to same-sex couples.

Response: Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! This is probably the most annoying thing I have to hear all the time, especially from my straight Christian friends. I hate this idea so much. You give no evidence the New Testament says marriage is based on something deeper than procreation and lifelong partnership. You sound like someone who has watched a lot of Disney movies. You would get along with my straight nongay affirming Christian friends. You are missing the whole narrative of Jesus’ work by saying this. Marriage in the Old Covenant was God’s way of using Israel to be a light to the World. He wanted them to be fruitful and multiply so they can spread the truth on Earth about his love and grace. Since they didn’t go through with the plan, Jesus comes into the picture. Now Marriage is no longer needed in this New Kingdom and New Covenant because the procreation of God’s people is now through one of Spiritual faith. Being Reborn. The early Church had a hard time with this idea and that is why many started to give up marriage for the sake of the Kingdom. Also, if we just think logically as 21st Century Christians, America is known for being the most disconnect lonely society. We can use our time as single Christians to spread the truth and include the lost in our lives. Marriage takes a lot of time, even if it is just between two people because we have allowed marriage to be the ultimate form of intimacy and it literally is destroying the churches opportunity to create community. Let's think about this, if we want the lost to know the Gospel, let's accept Paul’s wisdom and accept celibacy and singleness as better ways right now to spread the truth in America instead of believing marriage is the way. Many Christians don't even think about getting married in light of the New Kingdom, they see something that is attractive and they want to marry it, that is what gay affirming and nongay affirming Christians have in common, they don't align marriage with New Kingdom goals. It is more aligned with Disney goals.

(rant) I don't understand why this so hard for Christians to understand, fucken let go of the idol called marriage damn it! I’m sick of this idol. It really is destroying the Church opportunity to create deep intimacy.

9. Human beings are relational. From the beginning of Genesis, human beings are described as having a need for relationship, just as God himself is relational (Genesis 1:26-27, 2:18). Sexuality is a core part of what it means to be a relational person, and to condemn LGBT people’s sexuality outright damages their ability to be in relationship with all people—and with God.

Response: Humans are described as having a need for relationship, just as God himself is relational, but sexuality is not a core part of what it means to be a relational person. I don’t know where you get this Christian idea from. In the New Covenant, the Church is a core part of what it means to be a relational person. Matthew Vines, I really think you need to study a lot more about what the New Covenant means to a Christian and stop using the Bible for legalistic ideas. You sound like my reformed Christian friends. We are more than our sexuality. We are Christians. That is our identity. Not what we are attracted too. If someone really needs to experience sexuality to be in connection with God, that is ridiculous. Many prophets, teachers, followers of Jesus had their sexuality taken away from them by being castrated and being made into eunuchs and they still were connected to God and their “core” part of them was not taken away. We are more than sexuality. But I do affirm the idea we are relational. The Church has done a bad job creating environments where singles and those that struggle with homosexuality can experience intimacy. This is why I created the 4TS and the Church. To help the Church go in the right direction.

10. Faithful Christians are already embracing LGBTQ members of the church. From denominations like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Presbyterian Church (USA) to increasing numbers of evangelical churches across the country, Christians across the country are already putting their commitment to LGBT equality in action. They’re showing their fellow believers what it looks like to be a faithful Christian who fully affirms LGBT Christians.

Responses: Majority of Churches and the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church are not affirming of gay relationships. This is a false narrative.

Matthew Vines, I hope to one day meet you and have coffee or wine. If your heart is to lead others to the truth and love, I can handle that. But you are leading them the wrong way. I hope you stop.

What inspired the 4TS and the Church?

http://chimes.biola.edu/story/2013/may/09/biola-student-same-sex-struggles/

4 years ago today someone wrote this article about me at the Biola Chimes and she was such a good listener she identified Touch, Time, and Transparency as 3 experiences I desired from my Christian guy friends. Two years later I added Teamwork and that is where The 4TS and the Church came from. Give this a read! Because she listened and had an open heart to my story, I was able to see how the Church can meet the needs of those that struggle with homosexuality. If you have the chance to listen to someone's story, you should! This post isn't about me, it is about how each person has a story worth hearing and we can use those stories to tell how God is working in the Church. God has given me great friends! Please share this and see how God is using friendship to meet the needs of those that struggle with homosexuality.

The Burden of Jesus telling you, "You can't have an orgasm with your guy friends"

As we were talking and having an intimate experience of friendship on the beach, I found my heart wanting more.  I wanted to give my friend a hand job or blowjob.  I was inclined to express my love for my friend in a sexual way that can make him feel good and feel loved.

This happens on a weekly basis.  Sometimes daily basis.

It isn’t anything new.  This is the walk of carrying a certain cross.

I pray God will take this desire away from me, but he doesn’t.  So I just deal with it.  Jesus is daily telling me I don't have to follow him.  "You don't have to carry this cross," he says.  "You need to count the cost before you decide to follow me.  Don't complain either."

I tell most of my guy friends I have this desire to do something sexual with them whenever I do feel that longing in me.  And they listen, pray for me, and still hangout with me.  They carry the burden of my wanting to connect with them in ways that are sinful, but they also understand that I want to connect with them in deep godly ways.  

As most Christians are debating gay affirming Christians on their theology, men like me are trying to figure out how to live under the tyranny of Idolized marriage or the Emperor called the orgasm.

As I have to listen to sermon after sermon on how great marriage is, how every example a pastor preaches is related to his marriage, how Jesus loves the church like a marriage, I am trying to deal with the fact that I can’t give my guy friends hand jobs or blowjobs.  

And this is painful. 

It hurts. 

I cry. 

I feel the pain in my chest. 

I feel the longing in me to connect with men in what feels natural to me, but God says it is wrong.  It is disrespectful to him. To his creation.  To what friendship is.  I sit there and wonder, “Can I ever show my friends that I passionately love them?”  

It is so annoying to hear what women say about men.  Sometimes I feel like responding, “Hello! You can have sex with them! Fuckin calm down! Get over yourself. If you don’t want to be with them, no one is forcing you. You don’t have to get married.”

And this is the difference between those that struggle with homosexuality and those that don’t.

We are forced to be in community with people we are attracted too. And all our sexual longings we have towards men, these longing that we don’t chose, have to be controlled by us.  There isn’t an outlet.  This isn’t about an orgasm. It is about connecting a certain way that we are not allowed too.

Yea Heterosexual’s have to control who they want to have sex with, but they can eventually pursue those relationships.  Those of us who struggle with homosexuality don’t get to do that.  

It isn’t the same.  Don’t compare both wants of sexual desire.  

And this causes extreme dissonance within us.  We are going crazy about this.  This makes us do things that we don’t want to do.  It makes us needy and trapped.  

Sometimes I would rather die than deal with this dissonance.

I can be hanging out with a friend and all of a sudden I just want more in that situation.  I want to touch him, experience him, express this deep passion in me that I love him.  I want to give him pleasure.  I want to give him a handjob, a blowjob, but I can't.

Imagine dating someone for two years before you get to have sex (for Christians that is an eternity), you get engaged, get married, but then you remember you can't have sex with them.  Then you hear how they can still have sex with another person, but not you.  That situation would suck right? 

I think the correct response should be, "Fuck that!"

That is pretty similar to how us Side B Christians feel.

On top of it, we feel an indirect rejection because our guy friends don't want us to do something sexual with them anyways.  Double burn. I used to wish I was a female so I can be wanted a certain way by men.

But there exist questions that someone is consistently asking me.
 
“Can you be transparent with my Church and share with them your sinful burden’s of wanting to give them hand jobs and blowjobs?”

“Can you grieve with them the heaviness of struggling with homosexuality?”

“Can you give up wanting an orgasm with them, and embrace the truth that it is a sinful desire?”

“Can you trust they will love you and take care of you as they include you in their family?”

“Can you trust not experiencing an orgasm with them doesn’t mean you are not connected to them in deep profound ways their marriage can’t offer?”

"Can you realize they are worth having in your life, despite this pain?"

“Can you be there for them as they talk to you about their marriage, sex issues, and good times of sex?”

“Can you look at them naked and not lust after them as you guys go skinny dipping and streaking?”

“Can you help them process dating, seeking my Kingdom first, being in their wedding, being okay with the lost of time you will experience as they get married?”

“Can you handle they will not be having sex with you, but they will be having sex with their wife?”

“Can you work on not getting jealous?”

“Can you handle they will at times idolize marriage, their family, and put you on the back burner and then come back to you because they finally understand you are important?”

“Can you forgive them, as I have forgiven you?”

“Can you be like the giving Tree”? ( I am not sure if the Giving Tree had good boundaries though)

“Can you make healthy boundaries and communicate your healthy needs and expectations and hold them to that?”

"Can you handle the topic of Singleness as the Evangelical Church avoids it?"

"Can you handle the church treating you like a child molester when I know you are not?"

"Can you trust my cross has brought justice to your situation and that I will settle this soon?"

“Can you cut off friendships that need to be cut off? Even if you want to have sex with them?”

“Can you love your guys friends you want to have sex with, want to give hand jobs too, blow jobs too, in a way I say you should love them?”

“Can you trust I am real, and I will meet your needs, and that you are in my Eternal Kingdom?”

“Can you speak against gay affirming theology and reject the unhealthy sinful nature you have and not give into your sinful desires?"

“Can you trust the pain you are experiencing cannot be compared to the glory you will experience when my Kingdom is fully present on Earth?”

“Richard, can you love your guy friends the way I love the Church?”  

A lot of men who struggle with homosexuality avoid friends they are attracted too or avoid situations in which brotherhood occurs because they are afraid to deal with these heavy thoughts and desires.  It causes to much pain.  They end up losing out on great christian friendship.

My plea to the Church is you will pursue us and carry the burden with us that Jesus is asking us to carry.

This is really heavy for us, we need men and women that will hear our hearts, thoughts, longings, and still embrace us and not be afraid of us.  

Give us a shoulder to cry on, a long five minute hug, a couch to sit by you on, a bed to share when we feel lonely, experiences of adventure and intimacy.

Please just help us, this burden is to much at times.  

Sometimes it feels we are just trying to make it until the New Kingdom comes.

Can a Christian man express his passionate love for his guy friends? Even if he is attracted to them?

One of the most difficult situations to be in as a Christian man who struggles with homosexuality is to be put in a box where you cannot express the passionate love you have for your guy friends.

Many Christians still think homosexuality has to do with just sinful desires, but many don’t realize the deeper issue is men like me are trying to figure out how to be connected to our Christian brotherhood.

We are trying to connect in a healthy “normal” way. Our desire to connect with our friends in a sexual way isn’t pure lust, but mixed in with love and deep Christian brotherhood.

We see the potential of how far friendship could go, but because the various factors contributing to our same sex sexual attraction, it is sometimes difficult to express that love.

And we want to passionately love our brothers. We want to be deeply connected to them and be a part of their life and have them be a part of our life.

Most friends in my life I consider attractive. I can write books about why they are attractive emotionally, spiritually, socially, and physically.

Where I’m at in my journey with same sex attraction is that I know I have bad lustful desires of having intimacy with my male friends and I have good godly desires of having intimacy with my male friends.

There is a split in me. God isn't redeeming me to be attracted to women, he is redeeming me to love my male friends and see them the correct way.

My sinful way of expressing my love for my friends is by wanting to show them passion through giving them hand jobs or blowjobs. Giving them anything they want without boundaries and making sure they are first in my life instead of putting the Kingdom of God first. I want to make sure they can have all the pleasures in the world without consequences. I want to experience sex with them and experience their heart beating rapidly as they are having an orgasm. I want to experience passionate lust with them.

But.....

I also want to passionately love my guy friends the way Jesus loves the Church.

Whenever I watch a soccer game I start to build up envy in my heart because I get to see these men on a team love on each other passionately whenever a goal occurs.

They are running all over the field. Hustling and battling as a team against the opposing team to score a goal. They are sweating, breathing hard, physically using their bodies to defend, attack and out play the other team. They know how each other work, they know who is fast, slow, and who can be there as they make the play to achieve the goal of scoring. They are yelling at each other, encouraging each other, trusting each other, building on top of each other’s hard work to make the play work and when it happens, when they score that goal, they celebrate that victory by jumping all over each other, kissing each other, hugging each other, experiencing the passion of victory and teamwork as they celebrate that goal. They don’t care they are sweaty, smelly, tired. They care about affirming their effort and teamwork through a passionate celebration.

I hope friendship can be like this one day. I hope men like me can express the healthy passion building up in us. I hope men like men can be accepted as normal men just wanting to connect with our fellow brothers in a deeper way than what the world understands.

Society allows passion to be expressed daily through art, cooking, sports, and most importantly romantic relationships, especially sexuality.

The church, in my experience, only allows passion to be allowed through sex, marriage, dating relationships, etc.

Can the Church start encouraging friends to show their passionate love for each other?

Can it teach passionate love of friendship is deep, meaningful, covenantal, and eternal?

Men like me, who have to separate our sinful passions and godly passion for friends, need an outlet for this godly passion we have. We were made to love and be loved. We are being re-created to love others the way Jesus loves the Church.

We need to be told yes about our passion rather than be put in a box and stored up for the coming of Christ.

If we can't express our passionate love for our friends, we will be trapped and be indirectly told our love, our being, our lives, our existence doesn't really matter.

The gay community is saying you can express that love by being in a romantic relationship. You can get married, have passionate sex together, and tell each other how much you love each other.

But I know that is sinful passion it teaches.

But I guess the next question is, Does the Church even want people like me to express this godly passion of friendship?

Would the church even accept it?

Will it only allow passion to happen through marriage? We know sex is passionate love at it’s best. Two straight people coming together with their bodies and passionately making each other feel good as they touch each other and get to experience an orgasm together.

There must be more ways of experiencing passionate love beyond an orgasm though.

I have seen enough porn and sex scenes in movies to see how most humans get to express their passionate love for each other, but I rarely get to see friends express passionate love for each other.

Can I kiss my friends (on the cheek or forehead) and tell them how much I love them and long to be connected to them?

Can I give them five minute hugs and feel their heart beat and tell them how important they are to me?

Can I write them letters and call them Beloved the way the Apostle Paul did to his friends?

Can my heart beat heavily at the thought of making them enjoy life by serving them in any capacity I can?

Can I jump for joy at the thought of hanging out with them and going on adventurous trips with them and tell everyone how fun we had together?

Can I brag about my friendships and tell everyone how great they are?

Can I teach them the joy and hope of the Gospel of Christ through spending long amounts of time with them reading scriptures and encouraging them?

Can I make them dinner and plan extravagant events for their birthdays, achievements, job promotions?

Can I mourn with them in sackcloth and ashes, and spend a week with them in silence as they ask, “why the fuck am I going through this?”

Can I show my friends Passion?

Can the Church allow this type of Passion?

Can the Church teach me how to love my friends with Passion?

Teamwork: The beautiful friendship of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee

“Come, Mr. Frodo!” he cried. “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

Besides the stories of Stand By Me and Good Will Hunting, Lord of the Rings is one of my favorite stories which tells of the glorious struggles, loyalty, and love friends have towards each other.

What a remarkable story of men so dedicated to the defeat of Evil and so loyal to their friends they will risk their life, deny their desires of power, step up to responsibility, and fulfill their individual and communal purposes for a greater purpose.

And the life-long, intimate, strong, eternal friendship of Frodo and Sam is one of the best ever told.

Frodo who is a small hobbit who decided to take on the enormous burden of taking the Ring of Power to be destroyed in Mordor is accompanied by his gardener Samwise Gamgee. This moment in time is the start of one of the greatest friendships in history. Samwise makes a promise to Gandalf that he will never leave Frodo’s side and is so dedicated to Frodo even Sauron can’t separate them.

As the story unfolds, we see them struggle with loneliness, darkness, and depression as they take a 6-month journey to destroy the ring. Throughout this journey, we see them cry with each other, risk their lives for each other, resist the power of the ring, fight for their friendship when someone they only know for a month (Gollum) comes in and causes strife between them. We see this beautiful friendship of two small hobbits survive the deepest of evils and it is this friendship that destroys the power of Mordor.

The heavy burden of the great, strong, beautiful, evil power of the Ring laid on the chest of Frodo and the heavy burden of great, strong, courageous, good friendship laid on the heart of Samwise Gamgee.

At a low point in Frodo’s personal journey, a great discussion takes place between the two in The Two Towers.

Frodo: “I can’t do this Sam.”

Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights, we shouldn't even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out of the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

Frodo: “What are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo…and it’s worth fighting for.”

Frodo and Sam are relatable to everyone's life.

Especially Christians that struggle with Homosexuality.

Frodo is like a Christian who struggles with homosexuality. The Ring of Power which is evil is like the very complex sin of wanting to have sex with the same sex.  Wanting a sexual relatonship inside the beauty and holiness of friendship. The Ring of Power is like sin. But the Ring of power is not the identity of Frodo, struggling with Homosexuality is not our identity either.

But the Ring of Power is a burden on middle Earth, especially for Frodo, our sins are also a burden.

Frodo needed a loyal, life-long, sacrificial, stubborn, fighter by his side to carry this burden to its end. And for those of us that struggle with homosexuality, we need a loyal, life-long, sacrificial, stubborn, fighter too! We need someone who is willing to dedicate their time, their life, their hearts to the bigger purpose of the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work as he is making us more like Christ.

And the Church and Christians can do that!

If you decide to walk alongside a Christian who struggles with homosexuality....

You will find yourself in darkness like Samwise did.

You will find yourself crying as Samwise did

You will find yourself sacrificing your time as Samwise did (Sam dedicated 6 months and beyond to Mr. Frodo).

You will find yourself walking in loneliness as Samwise did.

You will find yourself having to bring hope and courage to this friendship as Samwise did.

And when all hope is gone in someone who is struggling with this sin (which can happen a lot) you will find yourself saying to your fellow brother who struggles with homosexuality…

“Come on” he cried. “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.”

And to Christians who relate with Frodo, remember the wounds of this journey are deep. So deep that when life is good and the darkness has passed, you will still feel the memory of the wounds. But just as Frodo went through the worse of the worse and even gave in at times to the power of the Ring, at the end of the story he was privileged to travel to the eternal place of the elves for carrying such a burden in his life.

We struggle because we know it is good on this side of the Kingdom of Christ.

Our struggle with Homosexuality will one day pass. It is just one of our many stories.

The difference between our story and Lord of the Rings is that eternity has already come to us. Our wounds are like the wounds of Christ our King who reigns now.

And our story ends and begins with this statement,

“Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with this burden, now I will bless you. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

Teamwork: What Pastors shouldn’t say to Christians struggling with Homosexuality.

Local Church Teamwork is essential to the sanctification of Christians. Usually, teachers and pastors of local Evangelicals churches are the ones who guide the local Church culture. We know churches are good and bad at addressing certain cultural topics.

We are all growing and learning.

So let's start with what Church leaders shouldn’t say to Christians struggling with homosexuality. I don’t believe Church leaders have bad intentions, but I am learning most church leaders do not know how to communicate helpful advice to Christians struggling with homosexuality, and local Churches are expecting Church leaders to know the answers to this topic.

Here are some pointers

1. Don’t tell them to pursue a life of celibacy.

Celibacy is a lifestyle the Holy Spirit gives to someone for the sake of the gospel for the local Church. As Wesley Hill Beautifully Wrote:

“I suggested that celibacy is an important reminder that love isn’t reducible to what we do in bed or over a candlelit table for two. It is a reminder that love exceeds the boundaries of the nuclear family. Celibacy is not about a heroic feat of willpower. It’s about giving up one way of expressing love in order to be able to love widely, profligately, indiscriminately. It’s about foregoing a spouse in order to love a community. It’s about giving up the possibility of children in order to become a spiritual father or mother in the family called “church.” It’s about being a little less entangled in the life of the world in order to be a little more free to celebrate the coming kingdom of God, in which none of us will be married and all of us will be spiritual friends with everyone else in the new creation that God will usher in. In the words of Ronald Rolheiser, “Celibacy, if properly lived, can be an important way to keep alive, visible and in the flesh, that part of the incarnation which tells us that when one is speaking of love, the human heart is the central organ.”

Many Christians misunderstand the life of a Christian Celibate and mix it up with the command to abstain from sex before marriage. Telling a Christian who struggles with homosexuality they need to pursue a life of celibacy is putting a calling on them they may not be called too. However, they need to be encouraged to pursue righteousness and healthy intimacy within Church community (The 4TS). So, Pastors, you don’t need to tell Christians who struggle with Homosexuality they are called to Celibacy. You do need to encourage them in their decision to abstain from sex, but don’t focus on that as much as focusing on encouraging your church to love each other intimately. Encourage them to live life together like celebrating holidays together, living together as roommates (singles with married folks and kids), having dinners together, vacations together, giving each other hugs and kisses like the apostle Paul told his churches etc. Basically the 4TS. Don’t put the calling of celibacy on them, that is not your call. 

2. Don’t tell them to go to God for their needs.

Jesus established his Church on Earth to be the primary means in which the Holy Spirit will fulfill the Father’s will on Earth. The Church is God’s hands and feet. It is the light of the World! It is the Salt of Earth. It brings the flavor. When Christians who struggle with homosexuality are told to go to “God,” what is really happening is a feeling of being banished to an emotional, spiritual, and physical place of isolation. If God didn’t find it good for Adam to be alone with him, why should the church send people to “God” to be alone? We misunderstand the importance of the Church if we are sending people to “God” to get their needs met. The Church is the hands and feet of God. Let's do what hands and feet do. We can TOUCH people with long hugs, give affectionate kisses like soccer players give each other, we can make dinner with them, share beds with each other, lay in each others bosom like Jesus did with his disciples. When it comes to feet, we can move our bodies where they go. We can live with them, we can go on walks with them, we can travel with them, we can share the gospel with them.

We can give them the 4TS.

3. Don’t tell them, “I hope that one day you can get married.”

In the New Covenant, God doesn’t seem to make marriage a priority anymore the way he did in the Old Covenant. God stressed family in the Old Covenant because that was how he was going to show the World who he was. So the Old Testament (which is the Jewish narrative of how God was using them) illustrates how God wanted to use Israel to be a light to the world, but they failed, so Jesus came into the picture. With Jesus came a New Covenant and now God uses the Church to be a light, not the Jewish family. The Church is the family, and this family is made up of married and single people. And the Apostle Paul thought single people were able to do more for God’s Kingdom and I agree with him. So maybe you should say, “I hope we can walk alongside you as you fulfill the great commission in our local church.” Marriage doesn’t magically meet all the needs of a Christian who struggles with homosexuality. But it can help a person just like a strong church family and friends can.

4. Don’t tell them, “I hope God makes you straight into a heterosexual.”

Straight people are screwed up too, why would we want to be straight? Heterosexuals and homosexuals are both screwed up. Let's not elevate one screwed up people group over the other. I hope you say, “Let's pursue holiness together. Married, single, homosexual, heterosexual, let's hope we can all pursue a holy godly life together in whatever context you are in.”

5. Don’t tell them they cannot be in ministry!

They belong to ministry! They need to be in ministry! They belong to children ministries, middle school ministries, High School Ministries. Men's Ministries, Women ministries. Christians who struggle with homosexuality are not child molesters. Most straight guys I see in ministry worry me because they are teaching their male students really bad views of masculinity that screw up their lives. In general, I think local churches need to rethink what masculinity is for their church culture and community. But Christians who struggle with homosexuality are biblically not banned from ministry. If anything, a church that does this will harm them in huge ways that are far worse than struggling with homosexuality. Because what you are saying is their sin is worse than others. Why is an alcoholic or drug addict who is sober allowed to work with children? but those that struggle with this are not allowed? Lets not put sins against sins. Obviously, we need to watch anyone whoever works with kids, but those that struggle with homosexuality are completely fine working in Children's ministry.

6.  Lastly, don’t tell those that struggle with homosexuality to stay away from men they are attracted too, male locker rooms, male dorms, etc.

Men who struggle with homosexuality belong to male friendships (whether they are attracted to them or not) and male areas such as locker rooms, Bible studies, skinny dipping with the bros, any context in which healthy male nudity takes place. You should encourage them to see men the right godly way. They need to be told to let the Holy Spirit sanctify their views of men. Not to run away from them. That doesn’t help anyone. That isn’t dealing with our sin or waging war against it the way the apostle Paul encourages Christians to do. 

Obviously, there are many more topics we can address when it comes to church leaders counseling their fellow teammates who struggle with homosexuality, but here are a few that I thought were very common experiences that many who struggle with homosexuality have to hear from their church leaders.

 

 

Teamwork: We need help carrying our cross, so ask for it!

I got out of the church service, my heart beating fast, I was calling my friends, but no one was answering.  Then there was the last person I could call, but I didn’t want to call him because he is married, has children, has a life, and maybe he would say, “Sorry Richard, I don’t have time to hear your pain.” Or maybe he was about to have sex with his wife, so he isn’t going to answer my phone call because he knows it will cost him a very intimate pleasurable experience with his wife.

But I know I needed help and I was responsible to reach for help, so I called him.

And…………

He answered.

He heard me.

He talked to me.

He encouraged me.

His name is Matthew.  

I was in pain because I heard a sermon that really hurt me.  I wasn’t wronged, just felt extreme pain. I was screaming into the phone, sobbing, kicking the inside of my car, cussing really loud towards God because I was so angry, and Matthew just heard me.  We processed what I was feeling.  

I felt a lot of anger towards God because I was attracted to men and I had to hear a pastor tell me I needed to be celibate. I hate when a straight man thinks he can say that with authority to me.  Doesn't he know there is a difference between living/pursuing a life of celibacy and being single and abstaining from sex until marriage? You can't force a life of celibacy on someone, that is a calling and a gift from God for the sake of the Gospel for the Church.  Abstaining from sex until marriage is something all Christians are called to.  That is not a gift, that is a command.

You can't force someone's cross on them, you can only help them carry it. 

The cross isn't pieces of wood to put signs on telling others they need to die to their sin and be celibate.

Or worse......

The cross isn't a 45 minute sermon on how you tell others they need to be celibate.  The words of Jesus do that and the weight of the cross reminds them what they need to go through. 

You can only help them carry it.

Trust me, they don't need reminders on how hard it will be.

Although I know the solutions to a lot of the pain I experience, I still feel the pain because of the lack of intimacy that is offered to me through a local Church.  

At the same time, so many of my friends who are Christians, who are the Church, have loved me and offered me the intimacy that I need.  

And it is great!

I have friends who have held me and hugged me because I just need touch.

I have friends who have held me as I cried in their arms because I feel pain.

I have friends who woke up at 3am in the morning as I was knocking on their door because I thought I was going to kill myself and they answered the door.  They talked to me throughout the night, gave me a soda, offered me a place to stay for the night, and just loved on me.

I have friends who have trusted me and been vulnerable with me in ways that is not the norm, but they know I need intimacy in a way that isn’t normal.

The Church has been there for me.

And it is becoming more of a safe place for others who struggle with homosexuality.

Although the media and Christians who are pro gay romantic relationships paint the church as some evil place that discriminates against homosexuals, it isn’t true.  

The reality is that we disagree on this topic and think that gay relationships are ungodly.

So when I called my friend Matthew, he knows what I want, to be in a gay relationship, but he also knows what I need, Intimacy with males who are in the Church.

And my other friends know that too.

Jeremy, Kolby, Sith, Geoffrey, Tyler, Nate, Stevy, Ryan, Christian, Josh, Justin, Campos, Jordan, Tank, this list is quite long.

My favorite stories to hear from them is how they are loving others who struggle with homosexuality or how they are helping others understand how to practically love someone who is attracted to the same sex.  

It is a bummer people don’t understand our needs and don’t always think about how they can practically love us, but I’m learning that is what life is going to be about, how to handle curve balls.

It breaks my heart to see so much anger being directed towards the Church because of the lack of understanding the Church may have when it comes to homosexuality and other sexual topics the Church needs to address.

But the Church isn’t Heaven.  

It is human.

It will not be perfect and it will lack education when it comes to certain topics

And it will not agree with certain topics, especially when these topics have already been discussed the past 2000 years.

If you are a Christian that struggles with homosexuality, I urge you to be vulnerable with a group of friends that you can trust.  

They will not always understand, but they can try.

They might not always listen, so then you go to other friends.

They can give you a hug, and some might become afraid to give you one.

Others will ask you to move in with them and live with them, and others will stop talking to you.

Throughout all of this remember to forgive them.  That is the heart of Jesus.

Let’s not lose compassion, forgiveness, and endurance to strive for righteousness

Jesus wanted all his followers to be compassionate, forgiving, and seeking holiness as we pick up our cross and follow him.

Picking up our cross means we will feel pain.

Picking up our cross means we will die to our sin and evil desires.

Picking up our cross means we will die.

Picking up our cross means we will be resurrected with a transformed life.

Picking up our cross means we will be glorified like our brother and King, Jesus Christ.

Picking up our cross means at times it will be to heavy and at times someone will help us carry it to our death like what happened to Jesus.

When I called my friend after that Church service, I felt the weight of my cross, and he was helping me carry it.

He was being the Church, he was being the person the Holy Spirit was going to use to help me carry my cross.

He was being the Hands and Feet of Jesus - The Church

and the Church is doing great!

It is learning how to love those that struggle with Homosexuality

Transparency: Skinny Dipping, Nakedness, Homosexuality, Identitiy Crises

When Earth was created, man was to govern and care for it. It is told that man was naked and not ashamed. After man sinned against God, they hid in shame from God since their eyes were open and apparently “knew” they were naked. Nakedness is no longer a state in which man lives in. We are all clothed in one way or another. We're afraid to be transparent with each other, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. We hide in the dark. But Jesus came and changed everything. Through his life, death, and resurrection, he becomes the new Adam. He is not afraid of God. In respects to this Genesis account, Jesus now walks alongside with God as the perfect human in the new Eden, the New Kingdom, with ownership. He now is the man that will govern and care for people, sort of where Adam failed. In the letter of John, When Mary sees Jesus, she assumes he is the gardener, not the resurrected Savior. If I were there, I would say, “Lady! He is both! Because of Him, all things are new! Jesus is the new gardener, the man that Adam never was. The Man that I can never be. And through Jesus, we can now come back to God NAKED instead of hiding from Him.”

How does this story relate to homosexuality? I wondered for quite awhile, but then it connected with me after I experienced skinny dipping with some friends. One of the guys there was someone I was sexually attracted too. When I think of what it means to “burn with lust,” that term makes sense to me. However, I didn't have a choice to be sexually attracted to my friend or burn with lust for him. It was just in me. I wanted to be with him sexually, see him naked, and feel loved all at the same time by him. I wanted touch from him, affirmation from him, and I wanted to pleasure him so I can know he loves me and I can offer him something.

I want to define this word naked when it comes to males like this: A person that is exposed physically, showing their penis and balls, showing their emotions and heart, and showing their spirituality. I don't want the word naked to be a word that is blurry but has a picture.

As we're getting ready to go swimming, I had a feeling we were going to be getting naked. We were doing the causal guy swim thing, talking, laughing, jumping into the pool to see who can do the best flip. Of course, the way skinning dipping usually occurs is when someone gets out of the pool with their shorts off walking naked and then jumping really high and into the pool with everything all over the place. When a guy does this, all other guys laugh or look away as if its a gross thing to see. A man and his package apparently is not a pretty sight to straight men. But for me, I didn't want to turn away, I wanted to look. But it was dark so I really couldn't see and so I wanted more.

As time went by, I end up being the only one with my shorts on. Now, this is important to say, the guy I was attracted too knew I was attracted to him, and at the time I considered him my best friend. We had shared life together at that time and were very close. It was a tough relationship for me because I wanted him sexually and he was my best friend. I would never experience sex with him and having that tension in me sucked. I never saw him naked before or if I did, it was little glimpses but never like that night. As the night played out and I ended up being the last one with my shorts on, my friend that knew about me starts encouraging me to take my shorts off and join the fun,

join the brotherhood,

join the masculine world, 

join the vulnerable experience of being transparent

But I was scared!

I was afraid of my brothers

I was afraid of being loved

I was afraid of being a man

It is easy to assume I would want to join in the nakedness right? I'm attracted to men. You can almost compare me to a man who would want to be naked in a pool full of hot women. Well, thats what I thought as well. When he was telling me to take my shorts off, I wanted to say, “Dude, don't you remember what my struggle is?” The other guys didn't know, so I wasn't going to say it out loud. But when it came down to it, I couldn't join in the fun because I was afraid, I was hiding. I didn't want to be transparent in this way. I started thinking of myself as a little kid that is not tough. I thought I wasn't as manly as my friends were. They were so confident in their masculinity at this time and I wasn't. I saw them having something good and pure. Since they didn't struggle with same-sex attraction they were fine going skinny dipping. They had something I didn't have, normality. They had the proper sexuality when it comes to masculinity, I didn't. It is if they had the New Kingdom in their life, but I didn't. I was like Adam, he hid nakedness from God who loved him, I was hiding my nakedness from my friends who loved me. All because of my insecurities being a male. Being short and not having a muscular body like them. Not being good at sports. I didn't have a girlfriend. I maybe had the smallest penis out of them. Not having blonde hair and blue eyes. Even being Hispanic played a role in this. I was never comfortable being Hispanic. Going to Biola which is 70% Caucasian didn't help with that either. I had always been embarrassed to be Hispanic. I'm not saying this is right, it is just an insecurity in my life. Overall, my whole identity as a male was challenged and questioned. Who am I? Who is Richard Padilla? (just for the record I'm not claiming I had the smallest penis out of them, it was a thought).

Eventually, my friend who knew I was attracted to him started coming close to me in order to take off my pants and instead I ran out of the pool laughing but inside hurting because I really wanted to join them. I wanted to be like them, a man who was secure about who he was and not afraid to be transparent. I wanted to ask for touch, skin to skin, from my friends, but I always thought that it was just a gay thing. I wanted hugs and physical affirmation from my friends, but I couldn't put it in words to explain to them my needs and wants because I was afraid they thought it was gay, even though my motives were not to be sexual with them, but was mixed in with my sexuality. I wanted to be a part of the New Kingdom with Jesus who exposes himself and not with Adam who hides. I wanted my Identity to be under Christ the Brave and Vulnerable not under Adam the coward who hid.

My friend who knew all my shit was challenging me.  He was saying,

"Richard, can you join our brotherhood?"

He knew I wanted to join in, but I was too afraid.  He was guiding me and telling me that I belong with them despite my flaws.

Despite the fact that I am attracted to him.

Now, I am not saying everyone needs to go be naked, please don't miss the points I am trying to make, but don't avoid the questions that this article might bring up in your life. 

Identity is such a big part of the Homosexual community. There are labels for people who identify with certain sexual preferences and experiences. LGBT where the first labels for those who didn't have a heterosexual sexuality. (I'm not sure what's the most recent title so I'm going to use LGBT). Going to gay pride parades and The Gay and Lesbian Center for Orange County gave me perspective why people need to have a label. They want to feel they belong. They want people to understand them and love them for who they are. They want acceptance for being a sexual human being. They want to have an identity and not be someone lost in this sinful world. Heterosexuals don't have to question their sexuality. It just is. But those that are part of the LGBT have questions that come out of their inner being. Who am I? They look at society and see they don't fit. They become very introspective at a young age because they see something different about themselves. Those that are in today's LGBT community saw the way queers have been treated in the past and become afraid. Even in the Christian Church and at Biola it is still a scary place to say you struggle with this because you don't want to be treated different, even if they know you agree with them that homosexuality is wrong, you are still afraid. Now the LGBT community stands up for themselves. They will not be put down or be treated poorly. They want respect and they want to be accepted as a human because they are human. They want identity. They want to express their sexuality just like any other straight human being expresses sexuality. But then this makes me wonder. Am I suppose to be apart of this community?

Am I suppose to be in the LGBT label? I'm sexually attracted to men. I have experienced sex with men and like it. Am I interpreting the Bible wrong? Does God really allow same-sex relationships to be morally ok? Or worse! Am I an insecure male who has not found my masculinity and I'm searching for it in other guys who I define as masculine? When I see a guy that is everything opposite of me (tall, blonde hair, blue eyes, good at sports, muscular, a people pleaser, big penis, humble and gentle, respected by men) I have to ask myself, “Do I believe by getting in his pants and pleasuring him and him pleasuring me that I have attained that masculinity? That if I touch his penis I have it! Or instead of having confidence in myself, my masculinity, my body, my penis, my being, am I trying to fill in the holes of my being by looking to men sexually rather than looking to them in a brotherly way?

When I see a man I define as attractive, it makes me feel good to get in his pants and feel like I have him. When he touches me and I touch him, it feels like everything fits. It makes sense for the time being as we lay there vulnerable and naked that all is good. All the affirmation of making him feel good makes me feel loved,

but I'm I really being loved?

Am I really being vulnerable and naked, or am I just hiding all my pain and insecurities with this idea that being gay is really who I am in order to not deal with the deep pains and hurts that concern my masculinity and sexuality?

Do I really know who I am?

Can I simply just be who I am, a male who can skinny dip?

I think the most important questions to ask myself are these....

Am I under the identity of Jesus the brave and vulnerable?

Or

Am I under the identity of Adam the coward who hid?

 

The Beauty of Transparency: My Friends and their Penis

The reason I am attracted to men or attracted to their masculinity is that I am intrigued by the male body. 

Philosopher Maxine Sheets-Johnstone wrote, “ A male's body is not anatomized nor is it ever made into an object of study in the same way as female bodies.” 

The gay community has made the male body just that, an object, but an object that has not been studied but sexualized. When I experience nakedness with my friends, especially those I am attracted too, I have the chance to get to KNOW them and their bodies and not see them as objects. Can I choose to sexualize (Lust) them? Of course, but do I want to, no. I want to know them and accept them emotionally, physically, and spiritually as my brothers and I need to be accepted as well by them.

A friend of mine once gave me the experiences he had in the locker room that I had never had, which is why I thank him as well as my other friends that experience this (locker room, spa, skinny dipping, etc.) form of friendship with me. I'm grateful they are able to give me that type of experience, which is a need for me. They give me the chance to be part of the team, including the locker room.  I am not treated as a vampire thirsty for a penis.

Let's talk about the penis, obviously, men have penises. Throughout world history, the penis has been perceived in many different ways. In Ancient Greece, which was a culture that stressed a high masculine role, having large sex organs was not ideal. Greece was a place that stressed male self-control in sexuality. They saw large genitals as gross and ugly and were exiled to the lows of barbarians. The penis' that were huge were looked at as a penis absorbing all the sexual excess that the “civilized” Greek would not permit to have a place in his own self-conception.”

Obviously, our culture does not see it like that. Males feel they need to be the big man in the locker room. According to Susan Bordo, who wrote what I think is a fantastic book on the male body, says, “But many men, like women, get their ideas about how big (penis size) they should be from the bodies of cultural icons. (porn, magazine like GQ, etc.)”

In her book she wrote a great chapter called, “Does size matter,” and she tackled a lot of topics men struggle with. She mentioned one story where a young man pierced his penis in order for him to gain confidence about his penis size and said in the locker room that attitude “the big-size thing” develops in the locker room when you are a kid. The big dicked guys send out signals that say, “we're better, Were more masculine than you,...” Some guys because of this struggle increase their penis size by getting plastic surgery so they can feel more confident in themselves. Which then begs the question, “Why do men identify so much of themselves with their penis?”

Think about it, men wake up and pee. We feel it when we sit down. When we play sports and get hit there. When we change in the locker room or take a shower we see it. We are afraid we can get an erection in public, we have morning wood, we have to make sure when we are having sex or about to have sex we are prepared and ready to have an erection, we have to make sure we please a girl and that we are firm and the right size for her. We have to be bigger then the next guy in the locker room so we don't get made fun of. I can go on and on about the standards of what a 21st-century penis should be and do. Bordo says, “We live in a culture that encourages men to think of themselves as their penises, a culture that still conflates male sexuality with something we call “potency” and that gives men little encouragement to explore the rest of their bodies.”

Whenever I go to the spa with my friends, especially the guys I am attracted to, they are vulnerable with me and I with them. Especially with all the cultural standards we apparently need to live up to. To experience nakedness with a buddy to me is true and brave. What is interesting is that the idea of what a penis is or should be according to our culture is that it should be hard and big. Bordo says,

“Most of our metaphors for penises are...stiff torpedoes, wands, and rods that never get soft, always perform. These metaphors may be a defense against fears of being too soft, physically and emotionally.....they(metaphors) also set up for failure. For men don't really have torpedoes or rods or heroic avengers between their legs. They have penises. And penises, like the rest of the human body, feel things.....The penis knows, too, that is it not a torpedo, no matter what a culture expects of it or what drugs are coursing through its blood vessel.”

Men are given this idea we need to be tough, we need to be hard, we need to be powerful, we need to be bigger. With how often we think about our penis and experience it, how can we not attribute being hard, tough, big, etc, to our penis? But a small, soft penis, that is a wimpy penis. It is not manly.

Nonerect, the penis can give a sense of vulnerability, fragility, and a true sense of security. The penis is not always big, tough, and hard. The penis is not just soft, it is really soft. When cold, it shrinks up. And when I experience nakedness with my buddies, and they are soft, small, nonerect, I'm experiencing them, I'm experiencing their bodies. I'm experiencing them being vulnerable with me. There is a risk I can make fun of them, they can make fun of me, I have a bigger penis than some of my friends, and some of my friends have a bigger penis than me. It is what it is. And if we accept each other and our bodies, it will help many men get over a lot of bigger insecurities in their life. They will not use women's bodies for their own insecurities.

I get extremely annoyed when men boast their confidence because they get a girlfriend. Stand side by side with another male naked without comparing your body and feeling you need to be bigger down there to be more of a man, then I will consider you strong, tough, big, and hard.

We need to learn to be comfortable with our bodies. I needed to learn that. Instead of trying to be like my attractive friends, who I think have better bodies than me, I need to learn to accept my own body. That has been the lesson I have had to learn when it comes to my masculinity. I hope my friends accept me and help me pursue the way I can be a man and I hope I can help them pursue ways they can be a man.

What is interesting about Bordo is that she is a female sociologist who wrote about the male body and did great research about how men identify themselves with their bodies. She brought up an experiment that an evolutionary biologist did concerning women and what they think of the penis and what he concluded was interesting. He reported that women when it comes to the sight of the penis, are not really attracted to it. “The ones really fascinated by the penis and its dimensions are men. In the showers in men's locker rooms, men routinely size up each other's endowment.”

What are some conclusions we can learn from our culture? Our culture wants us to define ourselves by our penis. And when we do and don't meet the standards that the media, porn, and others set, we feel like we fail. We are not big enough. So we hide. We hide from our wives, our friends, and ourselves. We are not okay with our bodies. Also, according to Greif, we can conclude some friendships are maintained at a physical and emotional distance because men fear emotional and physical closeness, which they can link to homosexuality. Because of this, some men can develop shallow friendships. According to Greif, he mentions that although men bond through sports, they hit each other and there is more physical contact with each other, it doesn’t mean deep emotional friendships are formed.

When I go to the spa with friends, I experience the opposite. I feel accepted, known, vulnerable, as well as I accept, and give my friends affirmation by not making fun of their bodies. One time I was with my friend Jack and my buddy Dave, Dave made a comment and said his penis was smaller than the average size and Jack responded saying, he had a good size. Now, this might be funny and even sound “gay” but what better way to lift a man's self-esteem and perception of his body by complimenting him. Instead of using girls to make himself better, a friend said one encouraging statement that can go a long way for him and his confidence.

Men don't be afraid of other men. Be vulnerable with other men. Don't make excuses. Accept your nakedness (spiritually, physically, and emotionally) as well as the nakedness of your friends.  It's not gay, but Christ-like. And that is why experiencing nakedness with friends, whether is spiritual, emotional, or physical, is healthy. It mainly pushes us towards the love of Jesus.

Now I understand there is a question that goes like this, “Richard if you are attracted to men and lust after men, is it healthy to be naked with them?” That is a good and an important question. I know men want to avoid lustful situations, so men stay away and “flee from the devil.” So now I ask this question, what happens when the community a man needs to be apart of includes men he is attracted too? Does he just move on? Go to a different church? What if he is attracted to the pastor? And the pastor's good looks cause him to lust? Should he leave the church? Some can tell me, “Richard, why do you need to be naked with your friends? Why do you need to see their penis?” And then they bring themselves in the picture and say, “When I struggle with lust after a girl, I leave the scene, or ask her to wear something that is not so “open” (I'm sure you get my point now).

I want to stress that a guy who struggles with lusting after women can go to a community of guys and talk to them about it and not worry about whether or not they feel comfortable about his lust for women because they all understand that. And that is a healthy, loving, and godly environment. And I believe those who are attracted to their male friends should also have that same environment. I don't have the option to run away from a situation because the very community I am in includes men that are attractive. Instead of running away from them, I run to them. The reason I do that is that these men are God's hands and feet in my life. And so I need to see God through them and experience God's love through them. And as I do that I no longer see them as sexual objects but my brothers, my friends! Seeing them naked and being with them naked gives me the experience of being known, knowing them, and gives me the opportunity to not lust after them but see them as they are, my brothers. It also solves the curiosity of their physical being. As I experienced nakedness with them my attraction for them goes away. I believe that happened because I was able to know them in a better and healthier way. I call this “locker room bonding.” The reason I do this is that I can't just run away from every Christian guy I am attracted too. I need to deal with saying no to the sinful unhealthy desires in my life. And it hurts and it is painful. But I need to do this because I am going to be living with men and be in a community with them my whole life. I need to deal with the fact that it is sinful to lust after men. This process is called sanctification. And it burns. It takes the sinfulness out of us. C. S. Lewis says something that refers to this process, “We are, not metaphorically but in very truth, a Divine work of art, something that God is making, and therefore something with which He will not be satisfied until it has a certain character. Here again we come up against what I have called the “intolerable compliment.”

I have a hard time when men want girls to wear certain clothing in order for them to not lust after them. Now the girls should be thinking about their Christian brothers, but guys need to grow a pair of balls and learn to say no to their lustful heart. Trust me, I know it hurts, but you have to do this. It is a command from God. Don't start putting your burden of lust on women by having them change clothes. You need to change your heart and say no to it and trust that God will provide you with what you need. Again. C. S. Lewis tackles this, “We may wish, indeed, that we were of so little account to God that He left us alone to follow our natural impulses- that He would give over trying to train us into something so unlike our natural selves; but once again, we are asking not for more love, but for less.”

When I lived in the dorms at Biola, I would see attractive guys with their shirts off every day. I would see naked guys every day. And I realized I needed to say no to the lust in my heart and see these guys for who they were, my Christian brothers, my friends, children of God, men. That is the higher calling God has for those who struggle with homosexuality. God wants to transform us into his perfect art.

Here are some writings from friends of mine that experience normal times of nakedness with me and the thoughts they have about it.

Ryan, how is it being friends with Richard as you experience physical nakedness with him?

Being naked around other men may not be a normal experience for every man in the US, but for a good portion of the male population, I would think that it isn't something farfetched. Most boys that grow up playing sports, spending time at summer camps, and male dormitories at college experience nude settings as a norm. Setting such as these may include locker rooms, communal showers, and even innocent pranks. For me being naked around other men is quite normal, even though as I get older these settings are becoming rarer. None of this changes with Richard being in the room, he is just one of the guys. Over the years he has earned my trust with loyal friendship. I understand that Richard did not have the same experience growing up as I had, but what I like to point out is that he is still a man. I can be naked around Richard because he is a man that I trust. - Ryan

Sith, how is it being friends with Richard as you experience physical nakedness with him?

It’s been a journey and a learning experience. I’m not even sure I’m doing it right, but I know that God sees my heart, that I love this friend and want him to feel whole. Concerning physical nakedness, I was first very hesitant. Not so much because of an insecurity of my own body but because the whole idea of being naked with someone who has same-sex attractions was so counter-intuitive to me. But Richard was a major catalyst for me to challenge my thought process, as he does with a plethora of issues in addition to same-sex attraction. Was it counter-intuitive due to a cultural, social format I was brought up into believing? Was it Holy Spirit driven? What if this harmed him? made things “worse”? But what if there was good that came about this? Would the benefit outweigh the harm? With many other issues I have wrestled over, I have sought the counsel of my trusted mentors. But I knew that this was not like any issue they have faced before, so I was on my own for this one.The question kept ringing in my mind, what is my part in helping my good friend with his particular needs? It can not be denied that intimacy is an essential part of human interaction and an enjoyable life. And intimacy can be met in varying ways, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. With my other male friends, we have, in a sense, found some sort of intimacy with one another on all these levels. But the aspect of physical intimacy, in question, has been limited. At most, we joke about it and do stupid things like moon one another or flash each other (friends do this when they are comfortable with each other in very safe and secure settings)... There may be some merit to the saying, “guys will be guys.” But anyways, I digress. I have never been fully naked with anyone of my male friends, let alone for the purpose of intentionally fulfilling a specific need. We know that there is healthy intimacy and unhealthy intimacy. The question of what is healthy vs. unhealthy intimacy was the key issue. And once I found what health intimacy was, why not explore that with Richard together. It was difficult for me to find that line. But it was obvious that there was something inherently different from giving a guy a blowjob versus spending time together naked as friends talking about life. And of course, an inherent factor in this situation is that I did not have same-sex attractions. Yes, there’s the physical nakedness, but to me, it was more than that. After deciding to experience physical nakedness with Richard, I came to the conclusion that it was a healthy vulnerability that came about. It can meet the needs of friends who may struggle with a flawed view of nakedness, that only being in the context of unhealthy sex. And this I mean also applies to those with heterosexual attractions, with unhealthy sexual desires. These were some of my many thoughts that ran into the mind, that yes, as one can tell, there are still holes in these thought processes. But I was not willing to wait until every hole was patched up while my friend was hurting. - Sith

Transparency: Coming Out as Gay or Coming Out as Straight

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day. I’m not sure if Christians even realized it because of the Presidential Facebook craziness occurring all over social media. Those who are GAY wrote a little about how proud they are about coming out and announcing to the world they are gay. They are affirming of same sex relationships and want to be in one.

I see it a little different. I see men and women announcing to the world they need to be loved by same sex humans.

Now when I hear someone say, “I am gay.” What I really hear the heart say is,

“I really need the love of another human that is the same sex as I am.”

I wonder how do Christians hear it?

Do they only hear this?

“They just want to have sex with the same sex.”

“They are just horny sinful humans.”

“They are not saying no to their sin.”

As I hear more and more gay affirming folks share their story, they all have one thing in common.  There was a point where they felt completely hopeless and thought they were going to kill themselves because they felt disconnected from the Church, their friends, their family, and GOD. "What is the point of living if I can't be loved, liked, pursued?"

Most GAY Christians have a question to deal with before they actually tell people they are GAY.

Is being in a same sex relationship sinful or not?

Once they decide it is not sinful, they announce to their community they are GAY!  Through that announcement they feel they can really be themselves, they are more open to being loved by the same sex, especially in a romantic way, and they find a Christian community that affirms that belief.

Or if they decide it is sinful, they keep their attraction to the same sex a secret until they can trust a fellow Christian about this. Even then there is no guarantee that they will be loved properly. Which a lot of these Christians are currently in right now, a state of darkness keeping a secret that weighs the weight of their humanity because they don't know if people would still like them or not.

I believe National Coming Out Day is a very important day for many Christians who deal with being attracted to the same sex.

They are constantly asking themselves “What am I suppose to do with my attraction and deep longing to be loved by the same sex through touch, time, transparency, and Teamwork.”

“What if my friends find out I am attracted to them. Would they still like me? Would they hangout with me? Would they treat me differently? Would they think I am always lusting after them because they are always lusting after girls.”

When someone says “They struggle with homosexuality” especially if it is their first time, they are doing one of the most courageous actions a human can do right now.

With Christians being aggressively against gay marriage, which indirectly creates homophobia too, and the gay community being aggressively against the Church, someone who is trying to confess to another Christian they struggle with homosexuality might see this tension as a sign to keep a very heavy burden a secret so they don’t upset anyone.

But we all know that is unhealthy.

It is painful.

It causes death.

Literally, people commit suicide over this stuff.

If you struggle with homosexuality, I encourage you to share this very important part of your life with a trustworthy friend, family member, pastor, etc.

I know it can be very scary, but it is so worth it at the end.

You don't need to “COME OUT.”

Find someone and just have coffee with them or something. Write a letter. Explain your feelings, the pain, and fear you may have. Especially the shame. Shame can really mess with your mind.

We all need to be loved and be taken care of. Surprisingly straight people need to be loved as well. They have deep sinful, painful, secrets of their own.

We need to be more transparent with each other. We need to share our insecurities, sinfulness, goals, ideas of pursing God's Kingdom, etc.

If you are married, don't buy into the lie your spouse is the only person you need to depend on. That is a very dangerous relationship.

You need to come out too!

You also need to be loved by people of the Same Sex.

You also need the 4T's.

You need Touch by people of the same sex. (hugs, long hugs, hugs again, kisses, etc.)

You need Time with people of the same sex. ( you need to be invested in by others, not just your wife)

You need to be Transparent with people of the same sex because they can call your crap out.

You need to be in a Team because marriage and being in a dating relationship is not what you are called to be in as a Christian. You are called to engage in your eternal covenant with your Church family.

If you are straight

YOU NEED TO COME OUT and say,

“I need to be loved by the Church”

“I need to be known by the Church”

“I need to be taken care of by those of the same sex at Church”

“Just like my brothers and sisters who struggle with homosexuality, I too need to be loved by my same sex Christian family the way Christ loves the Church”

"I'm coming out!"

 

Should we still care about Christians who struggle with Homosexuality?

I recently had the opportunity to interview 4 dudes who are friends about the topic of Homosexuality. I asked the questions concerning the method in which they would love and befriend someone who identifies as gay or someone who is struggling with homosexuality.

Surprisingly, they were very open to befriending someone who is gay and believes it is okay be in a same sex relationship. They would just explain to them their disagreements about same sex relationships and where they stand on the topic (they think it is sinful), but they would include them in their life still.

I also learned they were willing to be in close friendship with someone who is not gay affirming, but attracted to the same sex. These guys are on an athletic team and they said they would still include them in all aspects of the team environment including the locker room (that means showering naked together because they believe that is a team bonding experience).

I walked through every scenario in which they would have to deal with a teammate that is attracted to the same sex or might even be attracted to them. A couple of them were still open to being physically vulnerable with them in the locker room and some others still had some questions. But overall, it seemed like they would still care for a friend that struggled with homosexuality. It would be a learning process for them.

But what was surprising to me and a bit discouraging was that they didn’t believe they needed to know how to care for someone who is attracted to the same sex, until they came across someone who struggled with it.

Which gave me 2 thoughts -

1. People who struggle with this that are in their life are not being open about it (and there are people in their life that do experience this).

2. The Church isn’t emphasizing the importance of this topic in the right way. They are emphasizing how to love someone who is gay affirming, but they are not emphasizing that we need to know our brothers and sisters who struggle with this.

Now for the latter point, I want to address this first. I think the Church still doesn’t know how to practically love someone who struggles with this on a corporate setting like they do with family matters and other “straight matters” that are easy to preach on (I hope they follow the 4T’s), like marriage, education, theology, small groups, leadership, child development, etc.

The Church seems to still want to make sure it looks like we are loving the gays since the Church has looked bad publicly. What I am more concerned with is what are we doing about those in the Church that have chosen to see their desire to have sex with the same sex as sinful.

Are we loving them?

Are we meeting their needs?

Are we expecting God to come down and just skip the sanctifying process they need to go through with Church community and just zap them with the new resurrected body we will all get in the New Kingdom?

I would argue these Christians who are struggling with homosexuality are dying in the Church.

Recently, there was an article that said Christians who are Side B are doing better than what was originally thought.

https://spiritualfriendship.org/2016/09/23/issi-celibate-gay-christian-study-a-thank-you-and-an-update/

When I read this article it was quite frustrating because this doesn’t seem to be the case for many who are Side B.

They are still hurting and lost.

And what is a bit frustrating is that it seems like the Church doesn’t think they need to really get down to the practicality of meeting the needs of someone who struggles with this.

The perception I have of the general population in the Church is that it isn’t anyone’s specific job to love someone who struggles with this.

God will do it.

And that is how the Church loses. And it has been.

I pray and hope every Christian stops and rethinks their life in Christ and how God can use them and their bodies to love those that struggle with homosexuality for they are the key!

If you are a pastor, church elder, church leader, Christian, we need to start talking about this topic again, but in the context of how to have deep physical, healthy, godly, intimacy with our Church communities and Christians who are struggling with homosexuality in their life. Ask yourself this question, "Is my Church actually helping those that struggle with this? Am I?"

We don't need to talk about gay marriage anymore, or how “gross” it is. That was last season.

The way Christ used his body to love the Church, lets love each other with our bodies, and that doesn’t mean sex, it means brotherly and sisterly physical healthy affection.

God is now using His physical body (Christians) to meet the deep healthy, godly, longings of those that are attracted to the same sex and for those that are single and long for deep community.

God is using the body to meet the needs of someone who is attracted to the same sex.

If someone is attracted to you, you are literally the God answered prayer that Christian has been praying for.

God uses death, the very thing Satan was using to destroy God's people, to now bring resurrection.

God uses the body, the very thing that Satan is using to cause death in the gay community, to bring life and resurrection.

The 4T’s is one method (I would argue a great method) of loving someone in a healthy intimate way.

See if it can work in your context.

Love others the way Christ loved the Church. You have the power of the Holy Spirit living in you. The same power that resurrected Jesus from the dead.

Why isn't the Bible fixing the gays?

Many pastors and spiritual mentors in the church want to love Christians that struggle with homosexuality.  

Since Evangelicals really love the Bible and put a lot of emphasis in the importance of individual scripture reading, Christians get lost when they come to find out the Bible isn’t fixing the problem of "The Christian who struggles with homosexuality."  There is the crying high school student who confesses he likes men, the college student who is trying to decide his theology about homosexuality, the adult man that leaves his wife and family for another man, the many young adults engaging in gay promiscuous sex, the list goes on and on.

But why isn’t the Bible fixing this?

Why isn’t the Scriptures curing Christians that struggle with homosexuality?

Why isn’t God fixing this issue?

In the Evangelical Church, people feel they lost the battle for marriage (because apparently, it was a war or something), and are waiting for God to come and save them since this issue isn’t getting any better.

It is the “End of days, because of the gays.”  

High schoolers and young adults are coming out as gay and many young people are in support of gay relationships now.

And since Evangelicals really love the scriptures, we turn to it……

…But when we do,

does anything happen?

Does reading scripture meet the needs of that struggling Christian who wants to figure out how to serve God with this very complex attraction towards the same sex?

Does reading scripture provide them with the cure to stop liking the same sex?

Does the Bible give the emotional affirmation a human needs to hear from another human so they can know they belong and that they are valuable?

Does reading about sin in the Bible suddenly cause enough fear in a Christian’s life to not feel their feelings of attraction to the same sex?

Does the Bible give someone the long brotherly hug a fellow Christian can give to someone who needs a hug?

Does the Bible give a shoulder to cry on when someone who is attracted to the same sex feels the deep pain of loneliness and isolation?

Does the Bible give the long-term companionship every human needs, especially someone who is attracted to the same sex?

Does the Bible meet the intimate needs of a Christian who struggles with homosexuality?

I once asked someone what would they do if a friend or fellow Christian told them they struggled with Homosexuality.  He said he would tell them to go to God,  ask him for guidance, and to encourage him to read the scriptures to know he is loved by God.  

When I heard that I felt a little sad.  

He didn’t understand that he was God’s hands and feet.  He didn’t understand he was the answered prayer that many Christians who struggle with homosexuality are praying for, a friend.  

The warm intentional affection of a Christian brother can go deeper than a passionate moment of sex or a feel-good time of prayer with God.

We forget that God said it wasn’t good for man to be alone.

Humans were never made to be alone with God.

Why are Christians then pushing for some much “individual time with God?”

Understanding that God meets our needs has a bigger and more profound meaning than just reading the Bible and praying alone.

Most Christians who struggle with homosexuality are not disconnected from God, if anything they are Christians I know that pray the most to God, cry the most to God, yell the most to God, cuss out God the most, and sit with God the most. How do I know that?
 Well, we are alone a lot.  Christians just don’t know if God likes them or accepts them because they are asking if the Church accepts them and they have to deal with all the shame the Church has placed on this specific fallenness.  And the idea of acceptance, care, love, and human well-being is demonstrated by their needs being met.  

The affectionate act of a hug, a touch on the shoulder, a written letter, a homemade dinner, a surprise party, a time of vulnerability and emotional affirmation can bring the NEW KINGDOM of Christ into the heart of a Christian who is asking God,

“How can I be loved by you and by men?”

The affectionate friend can go deep within another friend and explain to them that they are loved, liked, and valued.  

An affectionate friend can sit with a Christian who is attracted to the same sex and say,

“I am not afraid of you.”

“I want to know you.”

“Can I give you a hug?”

“Here is a letter I wrote to you.”

“Come over for dinner.”

“Stay the night at my house.”

“Sit on the couch and watch a movie with me.”

“How can I meet your needs right now?”

“Tell me about your attraction towards the same sex.”

“Talk to me about your dreams and wants.”

“Tell me how you feel towards God.”

“I have a big bed, come share it with me.”  

“Let’s go camping.”

“Let's get coffee.”

“Let's spend time together.”

“Don’t give into sin.”

“You can call me or text me whenever you want.”

“I will be there for you.”

“Can you talk? I have been struggling with sin.”

“Let me be a part of your life.”

“You are a guy, and I will treat you like all my other guy friends.”

“let’s go change in the locker room.”

“Let’s hit the showers.”

“Let’s pray together.”

“Move in with me.”

“Move in with my wife and me.”

“Let me move in with you.”

“Let me give you the TOUCH you need.”

“Let me give you the TIME you need.”

“Let me give you the Transparency you need.”

“Let’s be a TEAM.”

The Bible cannot say or do what God’s hands and feet can do.

So it makes sense why the Bible isn’t fixing this.  That isn’t the purpose of it.  

The Church is supposed to fix it and it can. The solution to loving someone who struggles with homosexuality is simple, just include them in your life and be committed to them.  Meet their physical needs, even if at times it might make you uncomfortable.  Meet their spiritual needs, and meet their emotional needs. They are human.

And don’t forget, the Christian who struggles with homosexuality will be hurting, but they can also love and meet the needs of another fellow Christian.  

The standards Jesus has on them to love others still apply. 

The Church can love Christians who struggle with homosexuality the way Jesus loved the Church.

And Christians who struggle with homosexuality can love their same-sex friends and the Church the way Christ also loved the Church. 

 

How Marriage offers me the 4T's

 This year is the year of weddings for me.  If you attend a Christian University, the chances of you going to multiple weddings after you graduate are pretty high.  

During my undergrad years at Biola, I had a chaotic falling out with some friends which came down to the discussion of friendships and marriage within the Church.

Because the community I was a part of valued marriage as the ultimate form of intimacy between humans, I experienced myself being placed on the back burner of the lives of my friends.  I was fighting for a place to be loved intimately, my friends simultaneously were indirectly putting me at a place to be isolated.  I wasn’t equal in regards to my present Christian sexual vocation.  If being “single” is a vocation, it definitely was treated as a life that has to revolve around the vocation of marriage.  To some extent, this is taking place in the present Evangelical Church. Marriage runs the show, celibacy has to follow.  It isn’t a TEAM effort, it isn’t community.  It is a dictatorship with marriage being the dictator.

So, I decided for a couple of years I didn’t want to go to any weddings because there wasn’t any reason for me to celebrate something I saw that was harming the Church and hurting me.  

But this year was different.  I wanted to celebrate and affirm the marriages I knew were taking place.  I may not agree with all the views my friends have when it comes to marriage illustrating the love Jesus has for the Church, but it is enough for me to see the Holy Spirit working in the lives of Christians getting married and understanding community is essential to their marriage and that they need to include single people in their life.

And in both weddings I attended, I was loved by my friends in a very simple but profound way.  

When my friend’s Kolby and Bethany got married, it was a great week!  A lot of fun activities with friends and family took place.  A trip to the lake, lots of spike ball, bbq’s, wiffle ball, dinners, etc.  It was beautiful to see so many friends and family reign down blessings and surround Kolby and Bethany as they entered a calling to live a covenantal relationship with each other.

That week was a tough emotional week for me for various reasons, one being my homo erotic desires sky rocketed on a day when I was with Kolby’s guy friends for the day.  I was grateful I can text 15 guys processing with them what was going on in my heart and in my mind.

That is Community.

The wedding was very simple, eloquent, and beautiful.  

But it was when we were dancing that a very important moment took place for me that I know Kolby intentionally lead.

As we were having a great time dancing, the DJ decided to put on a "couple song," and said, “This is for all the couples out there that want to dance together.”  I stepped to the side not actually bothered by this because I saw a lot of older married folks that had the chance to dance together.  Then I saw Kolby tell Bethany something and then she was walking towards me and asked me to dance with her.

How cool is that?

The time when the Bride and Groom can be dancing together with everyone, the Bride danced with me.  

The Groom was making sure people were being taken care of at his wedding.  Especially the single folks. He expected his bride to meet others were they are at, and she did, she danced with me.  

Sort of like Jesus expects his Bride to love others on earth. Jesus has every right to just go on his "honeymoon," but instead he wants the Bride his Church to love others before the great day of his return takes place.  

I hope the Married Church knows they have so much time to give to the lost, even the gays or Christians struggling with homosexuality. 

This little dance session I had with my friend’s Bride meant a lot to me.  I don’t know if they knew how important this meant to me or how profound it was to me, but it meant a lot.

Here is the beautiful couple with me in the middle.

 Love these people

Love these people

Now three weeks after their wedding, my friends Jeremy and Lindsey got married. Here is the picture that makes me feel loved.

 We barely started drinking so it isn't the alcohol

We barely started drinking so it isn't the alcohol

Now my friend Jeremy is someone that has walked along side me for the last couple of years.  When I first met him I was extremely attracted to him.  Now that I have been able to process a lot of those feelings with him, my attracted towards him has changed into a deep care for him as one of my closest friends and a brother in the family of Jesus. 

Lindsey has been very open and accepting of our friendship and I am grateful she understands how important Jeremy is to me. 

I also love how much she loves her friends! She is awesome and is willing to learn about the lives of others and how to love them well.

This picture illustrates the love Jeremy has for me and the care Lindsey has for me.

We were taking quick pictures together making a toast and we wanted some other fun shots and I don't know who yelled it out, but one of them said, "Lets kiss him," and there you have it. 

The bride and groom kissing me. 

This picture reminds me of how valuable I am.

Before they got married, they asked me to move in with them, but logistically it couldn't work out. But even that was very important to me because they are willing to include me in their lives. 

I'm sure there will be future hurts that both my newly married friend couples will do to me, and hurts I may cause them.  We may even have theological disagreements about marriage which we already do, but one thing is for sure, they know how much love I need from them and how much love they need from me.

They know I need TOUCH

They know I need TIME (especially time)

They know I need Transparency (emotionally, spiritually, and physical transparency, Korean spas)

They know I need Teamwork (community)

I need the 4T's.

They know they need the 4T's as well.

Day by day I have more hope the Church is changing and understands marriage has more potential than what it is accomplishing now.  Marriage can really show the world how Jesus loves the Church. 

It can be a simple dance or a simple kiss that turns the heart of a sinner to the grace and justice of Jesus.

It can be a simple dance or a simple kiss that turns the hurt Christian that struggles with homosexuality to the Church.

It can be a simple dance or a simple kiss that proves to gays that Marriage isn't the most intimate relationship a human can have. 

It can be a simple dance or a simple kiss that proves friendship is deep, meaningful, and intimate. 

It can be a simple dance or a simple kiss that can show others we love them the way Christ loves the Church.

 

Am I my brother's Keeper?

Today was a rough day, I was tempted to sin against God in a way that is extremely disrespectful to the institution of Friendship or the Institution of the Church. So I turned to my Christian brothers for help. I asked my Christian brothers if they can encourage me and tell me to not sin. All of my close friends know I struggle with homosexuality and know this runs very deep into my humanity. They also know I love friendship!

My friend Dave told me, “Don't be a dumbass, and I love you and I'm proud of you.” (Don't we all need a friend who tells us not to be a dumbass? I know I do!)

Another friend told me to use my energy and exercise! That is very practical advice, especially if I need to watch my weight, but seriously, exercising can help men deal with their sex drive issues.

My friend John told me, “Imagine me on a horse naked.” My response was laughter and a “gross!” but then he said, “Bro, remember Jesus is your LORD (master, worthy of obedience) and he is Father (who loves you and wants you to stay away from that)

My friend Levi told me to not give in. What I will give into is just a shadow of the companionship I am looking for. Pursuing the real thing is worth it. Don't settle!

My Friend Matt told me to call him, I did!

And my friend Stevy told me something that made me rethink the story of Cain and Abel.

“…....In Genesis God asks Cain where his brother was and he said, “am I my brothers keeper?” The answer is yes, we are our brother's keeper and I have felt like you have cared about me as a brother does!.....” That is what Stevy told me.

I love all my friends a lot. I know when I text them or call them for help, they will listen and try to comfort me and give me guidance. That is an amazing blessing. My friend's responses were encouraging, funny, and serious. But Stevy's response stood out to me.

I wonder, how many of us have Christian brother's who are our keepers? Or how many of us act like we are keepers of our Christian brothers?

As we read the Genesis story of Cain and Abel, we see God questions Cain and asked him,

“Where is Abel your brother?”

As if God expected him to know.

If God where to ask us that question today, what would we say?

Throughout the Old Testament there are stories of God holding prophets accountable for the truth they know and if they do not share the truth they are accountable for their death.

Ezekiel 3:18 - "So when I say to a wicked person, 'You're about to die,' if you don't warn or instruct that wicked person that his behavior is wicked so he can live, that wicked person will die in his sin, but I'll hold you responsible for his death.”

God told his prophet Ezekiel he needed to deliver a message to Israel and if he didn't deliver it, they will die because of their sins, and God would hold him accountable for it.

In the New Testament Scriptures, the Apostle Paul teaches Christians that in this New Covenant that we are all apart of, we need to hold each other accountable, pray for each other, meet each other's needs, rebuke each other, help restore someone from their sins,etc.

Basically what he is saying is

“Be your brother's keeper!

Most of my friends know I struggle with homosexuality. They know I have some deep shit I am dealing with in my life. They know I have been hurt from previous friends, I have walked the path of unhealthy habits, at times I am full of anger and bitterness, and they know I am a Christian trying to fight the battle of not giving into my gay desires for sex with the same sex. They also know I want a more healthy valuable environment for friendship within the Church.

These friends keep up with me. They are devoted to me. They try their best to help me and care for me.

I am one blessed Christian with brothers that are my KEEPERS.

I encourage you to ask yourself,

Who am I suppose to be a KEEPER of?

What Christian brothers need my help, love, guidance, rebuke, comfort, Touch, Time, Transparency, and Teamwork?

Let us avoid the ways of Cain the unrighteous person who killed his brother and forgot his role that he was a keeper of his Brother.

Let us be prepared to answer God when He says,

“How is your brother doing?”

“Have you been meeting his deep needs?”

Have you been giving your love, touch, time, transparency, teamwork?”

And we will respond with,

“Father, I am loving my brother and keeping track of him, the way Jesus loves the Church.

Look! He is over there sitting on my couch, laying on my bed, eating my food, taking my time, in my arms as I hug him, he is being taken care of Father. Just the way Jesus does it."

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Youth Pastors can care for students who struggle with Homosexuality

When I was a teenager, I didn’t have any trustworthy pastors I can talk to about my attraction to the same sex.  I didn’t talk to my parents, and I didn’t talk to my pastors. I went to a Hispanic church, which barely has good Biblical education, and I knew they wouldn’t know how to handle my struggle.  

Because of the grace of God, I was able to understand who I was as a young teenager and I had enough grace on myself to know I was a sinner like anyone else.  But I had a lot of fear in me that if I told someone they would treat me differently and feel uncomfortable around me.  Whether people knew I struggled with Homosexuality or not, knowing I didn’t tell anyone gave me comfort in my world.  Not until I was 17 did I tell someone about my struggle, and it wasn't a pastor.

But that isn’t how most teenagers live now.  

Especially when the gay community is more vocal about accepting that attraction to be in relationships with the same sex as something that you should pursue.

Teenagers can be a little confused or caught in this tension.

Should they accept this belief or should they “fight it” for the rest of their life?

So what should Youth Pastor’s do when students share this part of their life with them?

Well, here are a couple of pointers.

1.  Give them a hug!

What they just told you is a really big deal and it took bravery on their end.  This is a great time to draw close to them.  Don’t buy into the idea becoming closer to your students as they express this to you can cause them to stumble.  They need a good long hug where they can find a shoulder to cry on or just feel some safety in this chaotic world.

2.  Right away, get it out of your head they are always lusting after the same sex.  

Being attracted to the same sex is not the same as what heterosexuals deal with.  Instead, tell yourself that your student is looking for healthy intimacy and that you and others can give that to them.  If they confess this to you, that means they have been longing for an affirmed known intimacy between them and others.  When they keep this hidden, they are hiding their hearts from truly being loved as a sinner and child of God in need of HIS grace.  Now they can be fully loved in all areas of their life since someone knows more about their fallen nature.

3.  Understand that being attracted to the same sex is different than lusting.  

We are always going to be attracted to beautiful things.  It is not wrong to find males and females attractive.  It is wrong however to start fantasizing about who you want to have sex with and so forth, especially if they are not your spouse.  This is were the Church can do some real harm. We can’t change what we are attracted to, especially if it is good.  We need to embrace our attraction and understand what it means and how we can glorify God with it.  Since I am attracted to most of my guy buddies, I have learned to pursue deep friendships with them and point them to Christ.  Teach your students the same thing.  Yes, they might be attracted to their friends, but if they believe that pursing homosexual relationships is ungodly, then they need to know that pursuing Friendships is godly, and they will need help doing that.  This is where the 4T's come in.

4.  Understand they need TOUCH, Transparency, TIME, and TEAMWORK (all forms of intimacy)

These 4 Ts are what every human needs.  They are more heightened in the life of someone who struggles with homosexuality because they most likely havn’t given themselves the space to be loved in these deep, profound, healthy, Godly, ways.  They are starving and they need food.  But don’t give it all at once to them.  Process with them what it means to experience healthy intimacy with friends.  Just like a starving person can’t eat a bunch of food right away, a person in need of friendship needs to take it slow.  They can shatter their friendships if they don’t handle it well.  Remember, they are male and female, they are allowed to be in settings of their peers.  Just because they deal with attraction towards the same sex doesn't mean they are going to start hitting on everyone.  Remember, they have been dealing with this for years before you came into the picture, they can still deal with it now and they can still keep boundaries in their life. 

5.  Don’t ever be afraid of them and be Confident that you can love them.

You are a Pastor. There is a reason you are in their life. They have shared this with you. Don’t break their trust.  They will cling to you, want to talk to you a lot, cry, feel pain, go up and down emotionally.  You need to be consistent in their life and help them learn how to walk in the Spirit.  Draw close to them and remind them that what they are longing for (deep intimacy with their same sex friends) is healthy, godly, and the CHURCH is the BEST place to receive that.

Honestly, helping someone and loving someone who struggles with Homosexuality, isn’t that difficult.  

The Gay community and the world and even Satan are making this difficult.  

Satan wants us to think this is extremely complex.  When really it is just different.  

You can do this Pastor! I have faith in you! You are part of the Body of Jesus.   

Next time a student tells you they are gay or whatever language they use,

give them a hug, look into their eyes, and say,

“Don’t worry bud. We are going to walk through this together.  We will take care of you."

How the legalization of Gay Marriage reminded me that I am less than.

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were,"- Justice Kennedy.

It has been a year and a coupe of days since the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Constitution gave gays the right to marry.  For many conservatives and Christians, it felt like a battle was lost.  Of course there are gay affirming Christians that felt like this was a win for the gay community.  It became exhausting seeing all the rainbow Facebook and Instagram accounts.  I didn’t even want to address this topic because I just didn’t care, until I read Justice Kennedy’s explanation for the Judicial approval of gay marriage.

Before we get to it, I want to explain where I stand on this.

I believe that gay marriage is unhealthy and goes against the will of the Father for human sexuality.

I believe society needs to learn how to live with each other.  Sometimes we don’t agree on everything, and as Christians, we need to know that we can’t force people to live righteous lives.  That is up to them.

I believe anyone who pays taxes should have federal benefits and state benefits.  If gay married couples pay taxes, they should have the same rights as straight married couples.  

Politically, I support Gay Marriage.  

Spiritually, I don’t support it.  

Socially, if Justice Kennedy’s explanation is held as the reason for why Gays should have the right to be married, than anyone who holds his view has a horrible view of marriage.  

If you are a gay affirming Christian who supports gay marriage, I hope you don’t believe what Justice Kennedy wrote.

Here it is again.

"No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were,"- Justice Kennedy.

As I was seeing the response many Christians had concerning this topic on that Friday, I was a little shocked to learn not many people read or listened to the whole hearing concerning this legal battle.  And no one talked about this small little sentence.  

As a Christian, this sentence caused pain and sadness in me.  

First, that fact that Justice Kennedy says “No union is more profound than marriage,”  as a Christian, the most profound Union a human can have is with the MANGOD Jesus through his Church.  Unity in the Church is the most profound relationship any human will have on Earth.  

The Church embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.  And lets not forgot how intimate and committed friendships can be! My God I love Friendship!

The fact that gay affirming Christians and non gay affirming Christians didn’t get upset about this makes me extremely sad.

What it points to is that marriage is the end goal for most humans.  

Christian and non Christian.

Gay or straight.  

But since I am a Christian and I am only going to address Christians, I am sad and angry towards Christians that we got angry and sad for the wrong reasons.  

The Church isn’t seen as the Body of Christ.  

Does this bother anyone?  

Dear gay affirming Christians, does this bother you that the Church isn’t the primary example of love on Earth?

Apparently marriage is.

What is your theology of the Church?

Also, what is your theology of Friendship? Of covenants that friends can make with each other?

Does friendship even matter to you?

Then, the next sentence goes like this,

“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

Well, for us single folks, we can’t be greater than what we are now.

Which can I say is straight up/gay up.......

............fucked up.  

I want to argue against this idea Just Kennedy represents.  I know many Gay affirming and none Gay affirming Christians do believe in this idea, that marriage is the most important relationship.

Jesus says in order to be in HIS family, you need to do the Fathers will,  

What is more family than being in Jesus’ family?

What is more “profound” than that?

And Jesus requires his family to be the most selfless, loving, dedicated, loving family of all.  

As a single person, being in the family of Jesus is profound!

I become greater than what I was.  

That means, I am in a covenant with married folks, single folks, old folks, babies( depends if you are free will or not), anyone who does the Father’s will.  

Isn’t this exciting?  

I know this idea of love and sacrifice is different than what Disneyland taught all of us concerning "the one."

Marriage, love, commitment, cannot compare to what the Church is!!  

Married people can learn how to be married through the Covenant the Church has with Jesus!

So for you Christians who are gay affirming and none gay affirming that teach that marriage is the closest union humans will have with each other, please stop!

You are making me less.

You are excluding me!

As someone who struggles with homosexuality, it already is tough living in the Church, but bad theology of marriage drags me on the ground for miles and does more harm to me than my sins.

Please Stop it!

Loneliness is drowning a lot of us in America and your beliefs of “the one” is the main cause for that right now.

Marriage right now is an idol! It is dangerous!

It doesn’t matter what the hell an orgasm means.

What matters is what COMMUNION with Christ through the Church means!

The BLOOD of Christ is more Unifying than SPERM and EGG! SPERM and SPERM, and EGG and EGG.

More Unifying than two bodies having pleasure.  

Justice Kennedy,

YOU ARE SIMPLY WRONG.  

Stop leading Gay affirming Christians and none Gay affirming Christians to believe that Marriage is what you think it is.

Justice Kennedy, I think you should say this.

"No union is more profound than the Covenant Jesus has with the Church, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a new Covenant with Humans, humanity becomes something greater than once they were, they can love all!

The Church is human and it loves me.

I got out of the church service, my heart beating fast, I got in my car and starting crying a lot. I was calling my friends, but no one was answering.  Then there was the last person I could call, but I didn’t want to call him because he is married, has children, has a life, and maybe he would say, “Sorry Richard, I don’t have time to hear your pain.” Or maybe he was about to have sex with his wife, so he isn’t going to answer my phone call because he knows it will cost him a very intimate pleasurable experience with his wife.

But I know I needed help and I was responsible to reach for help, so I called him.

And…………

He answered.

He heard me.

He talked to me.

He encouraged me.

His name is Matthew.  

I was in pain because I heard a sermon that really hurt me.  I wasn’t wronged, just felt extreme pain. I was screaming into the phone, sobbing, kicking the inside of my car, cussing really loud towards God because I was so angry, and Matthew just heard me.  We processed what I was feeling.  
I felt a lot of anger towards God because I was attracted to men and I had to hear a pastor tell me I needed to be celibate. I hate when a straight man thinks he can say that so easily to me.
Although I know the solutions to a lot of the pain I experience, I still feel the pain because of the lack of intimacy that is offered to me through a local Church.  

At the same time, so many of my friends who are Christians, who are the Church, have loved me and offered me the intimacy that I need.  

And it is great!

I have friends who have held me and hugged me because I just need touch.

I have friends who have held me as I cried in their arms because I feel pain.

I have friends who woke up at 3am in the morning as I was knocking on their door because I thought I was going to kill myself and they answered the door.  They talked to me throughout the night, gave me a soda, offered me a place to stay for the night, and just loved on me.

I have friends who have trusted me and been vulnerable with me in ways that is not the norm, but they know I need intimacy in a way that isn’t normal.

I have friends who lend me money. (that is a big deal)

The Church has been there for me.

And it is becoming more of a safe place for others who struggle with homosexuality.

Although the media and Christians who are pro gay romantic relationships paint the church as some evil place that discriminates against homosexuals, it isn’t true.  

The reality is that we disagree on this topic and think that gay relationships are ungodly.

So when I called my friend Matthew, who knows I want to be in a gay relationship, but also knows what I need, intimacy with males, it is comforting to know there is someone who will listen to me as I am in pain.

And my other friends do that too.

Jeremy, kolby, Sith, Geoffrey, Tyler, Nate, Stevy, Ryan, Christian, Josh, Justin, this list is quite long.

My favorite stories to hear from them is how they are loving others who struggle with homosexuality or how they are helping others understand how to practically love someone who is attracted to the same sex.  

It is a bummer people don’t understand our needs and don’t always think about how they can practically love us, but I’m learning that is what life is going to be about, how to handle curve balls.

It breaks my heart to see so much anger being directed towards the Church because of the lack of understanding the Church may have when it comes to homosexuality and other sexual topics the Church needs to address.

But the Church isn’t Heaven.  

It is human.

It will not be perfect and it will lack education when it comes to certain topics.

And it will not agree with certain topics, especially when these topics have already been discussed the past 2000 years within Church Scholars of old.

If you are a Christian that struggles with homosexuality, I urge you to be vulnerable with a group of friends that you can trust.  

They will not always understand, but they can try.

They might not always listen, so then you go to other friends.

They can give you a hug, and some might become afraid to give you one.

Others will ask you to move in with them and live with life with them, and others will stop talking to you.

Throughout all of this remember to forgive them.  That is the heart of Jesus.

Let’s not lose compassion, forgiveness, and endurance to strive for righteous lives.

Jesus wanted all his followers to be compassionate, forgiving, and seeking holiness as we pick up our cross and follow him.

The Church loves me. 

I need to love the Church the way Christ loves the Church.