What are we asking older Christians to do?

I was once a part of a group for men who talked about their same-sex attraction experiences week by week. It wasn’t an ex-gay group; it was a group where we could talk candidly about our wives (most of the men were married) or our temptations or attractions or broader life-issues. It was very helpful for me in that season of my life, before I was more forthcoming about my attractions to people in general.

The face-off…

There was a bit of age divide in the group. Most of the under-40 set were unmarried (there was one exception to this that I can remember) and most of the over-40 set were married (there were one or two exceptions to this). The over-40 set never wanted to be referred to as “gay Christians.” The under-40 set (especially the under-30 set, of which I was a part) had no trouble whatsoever with the title “gay Christian;” for us, it was saying “We’re same-sex attracted and we love Jesus.” To the older guys, it was tantamount to bringing everything that would fall under the heading of “biblical sexuality” into question and to being two steps away from finding a boyfriend and giving up on Church.

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A Person Synonymous with Controversy

In this article at the Spiritual Friendship blog, one bisexual student at a Christian liberal arts college describes what it is like for him to follow traditional, biblical sexual ethics.

One snippet:

Online, I was discovering there were gay celibate Christians who believed the Church could really “Be the church for the homosexual Christian” (as one of the first articles I read by Wesley Hill said). “Why did we never hear this?” I wondered. My short-lived mission to bring such dialogue to my campus began.

I was not always noble in my attitude. I fluctuated between the most genuine heart-felt concern and, at my worst, self-righteous indignation at the community around me. I felt trapped and in the one place I thought that such dialogue, about being gay and chaste, about spiritual friendship, could occur! If there was any good to a Christian education, I thought, it was that it cared for the whole person: their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual self. And I did not feel fed: I was starving.

Thinking or Loving?


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Liturgies aim our love to different ends precisely by training our hearts through our bodies. (James K. A Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, pg. 25)

Several years ago (2008ish, I think) my parents and I embarked on a small group at the church that we were attending at the time which was working its way through The Truth Project, a curriculum designed by Focus on the Family for use in churches to expose adults (primarily) to worldview issues and good teaching on a Christian worldview. The strength of such curriculum is that, as thinking beings, we need to think consciously about how we think and what we accept uncritically.

The problem with such programs (and yes, I saw most if not all of the DVDs and participated in maybe half of the discussions in the group–so I’m speaking from some measure of experience) is that they don’t aim at the heart. Christianity is reduced to a worldview in abstraction.

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Fair and Sensible?

It’s the day after Christmas. The new phone case I got from my brother is on my phone, the new peacoat and scarf I got from my mom & dad are on the back of my chair, the new book on the music of hymns which a mentor and friend gave me is on my shelf and I’m making good progress on a book about the Eucharist.

What does it mean to be reasonable? Google’s definition says,

(of a person) having sound judgment; fair and sensible.

That seems fairly straightforward…”fair and sensible.”

What happens when someone you know holds the opinion that they are, in fact, reasonable–when in truth, they are not? Is it loving to confront them? How often? To simply navigate the situation so that the fewest people are hurt?

What happens when the person accuses you of upsetting the way things are due to the fact that you’ve sought advice and/or counseling about them in the past? How does one love that person well?

Put on your happy face. Now.

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Exhaustion from…emotions?


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In my counseling class at seminary, we’ve been talking about family dynamics. It’s been a tough discussion, what with all of the talk about abuse, narcissistic families, borderline personality disorder and digging into one’s own story.

It’s especially tough when some of what the class dredges up is your own story, your own anxiety, your own muck.

I see a counselor regularly. I had a two hour session today. It was one of the hardest two hours I’ve ever experienced. What I didn’t exactly anticipate was my utter exhaustion after the session.

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When I look in the mirror…


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That gay men are often vain is nothing revelatory. The latest styles of outer or under-wear, designed to make the most of whatever God’s given us body-wise tend to fill our closets and hang on our bodies. There’s nothing quite like the feel of a new pair of shoes or a well-designed suit on one’s body…not merely seeing a photograph of it, but actually wearing it.

I’ve loved clothes for a long time. I remember when I went to college, my goal became to own clothes that I really loved…a goal I finally achieved after college when I had my first ‘real’ job.

But one of the reasons I love clothes is that they hide a body of which I am ashamed.

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Talking about Spiritual Friendship at Calvin College

Originally posted on Spiritual Friendship:

Last week I spoke at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My talks were part of an ongoing series of Faith and Sexuality events they’re hosting, and it quickly became apparent that the campus is having a much deeper and more nuanced discussion of these matters than I’ve seen in similar places, which was encouraging. It was a wonderful visit. Here’s one student, Ryan Struyk, with his take on the kinds of conversations we had, and here’s the campus newspaper report on my talks.

Video recordings of the talks are also available at Calvin’s website. The first one was titled “Between Presumption and Despair: Practicing the Virtue of Hope as a Celibate Gay Christian,” and the second was called “Spiritual Friendship: A Gay Christian Perspective.” As always with this sort of thing, I immediately noticed some places where I wished I’d put things differently, and places where I wished I’d…

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The Consolation of Seeing Jesus’ Friendships


Seeing Jesus’ friendships and really considering them carefully will no doubt help me in the days and weeks ahead. I’m particularly interested in the distinction of “love of neighbor” and “friendship,” in that friendship requires reciprocity. One error I’ve made over the years is considering those who do not reciprocate to be friends, even though in practice they are not.

Originally posted on Spiritual Friendship:

A friend sent me an email this week with the text of a homily from several years ago by Fr. Raneiro Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household, on friendship between men and women. The text is from Luke 10, on Jesus’ relationship with Mary and Martha. After noting the usual exegesis—that the passage is about the active and contemplative lives—Fr. Cantalamessa goes in a different direction:

I think, however, that the more evident theme is that of friendship. “Jesus loved Martha, together with her sister and Lazarus,” we read in John’s Gospel (11:5).

When they bring him the news of Lazarus’ death he says to his disciples: “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but I am going to wake him up” (John11:11).

Faced with the sorrow of the two sisters he also breaks down and weeps, so much so that those who are present exclaim: “See how much he loved…

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