Keeping Healthy Boundaries with Another SSA Guy

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This is Part 1 in my series about my friendship with Jeremy. Check out Part 2 and Part 3.

I’ve told my stories of friendship with my gay brother, Brad, and my straight friend, Brandon. I will continue my stories on friendship by telling another about my long-time friend, Jeremy, who also deals with same-sex attraction (SSA).

When I joined the church I now attend, I started volunteering to help in several practical ways. I noticed Jeremy also helping at the church often. He was older than me, single, and I could instinctively tell that he was also attracted to guys — while fighting temptation like me, too.

We became friends with no apparent effort, probably because we shared so much in common and spent a lot of time together at church. It also helped that Jeremy is an outgoing, ENFP personality. I have always had an affinity for ENFPs.

Jeremy and I mostly hung out during church activities, and we were always careful to keep appropriate, healthy boundaries even though we knew we were not sexually attracted to each other. I think we were just cautious of others gossiping if we appeared to be too close.

Unfortunately, churches like ours are especially prone to gossip about SSA guys.

At first Jeremy seemed to be doing very well spiritually. He shared with me about his struggles, as well as his hopes and dreams, and I would do the same. Eventually, though, I started noticing him gaze at passing attractive guys a little too long.

I don’t know how to describe this, but I could somehow feel the attraction he had for the guy. I called him on it, but he kept assuring me that he was still fighting his SSA and actively following Jesus Christ.

Jeremy started befriending some of the senior guys in our church’s Christian high school, particularly the “bad boys.” These guys were sneaking around behind their parents’ backs to do whatever was forbidden, often successfully deceiving everyone that they were good little church kids.

When Jeremy moved into a new condo, he asked some of these guys to be his housemates. As soon as he told me, I told him it was a very bad idea.

Their parents would never approve, so all the guys planned to disappear at the same time from their parents’ houses and move into Jeremy’s place before anyone could figure out what had even happened.

I urged Jeremy to back down, but he was determined to let those guys move forward. I had been tutoring several of those guys in math and science, so I knew the parents well. He did not want me to tell the parents, and I reluctantly agreed to keep quiet.

On the big day, several families noticed their sons missing, and they eventually figured out they were at Jeremy’s place. They called me, thinking I could persuade their sons to move back home since I knew them from tutoring. I told them I had already tried to stop the nonsense weeks ago but couldn’t change their minds.

When the parents found out I had known about this weeks prior without telling them, the nastiness really hit the fan. Eventually I was able to calm the parents and regain their trust, and the high school guys also trusted me. I became a negotiator who tried to resolve the conflict between both sides.

It wasn’t pretty. Jeremy’s condo soon became the party house for all the “bad kids” at our church. Jeremy often updated me on what was happening, and he was clearly enjoying it: substance abuse, sex, and more.

The pastors from our church got involved but could not stop what was happening.

At one of Jeremy’s high school parties, one of the guests told Jeremy he thought he was gay and of legal age. Jeremy couldn’t resist. They stopped before having sex, but they’d both regret what they’d done. When Jeremy told me the story, I stopped him before he could give me the name of the guy.

I knew Jeremy was straying from his faith, and I urged him to call out to God for help.

To be continued . . .

Do you have a Christian friend who deals with same-sex attraction? How do you maintain healthy boundaries? Have you ever had to face sexual gossip about a friendship?

* Photo courtesy Mike Pickard, Creative Commons.

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  • Ashley Lavergne

    This is actually something I’m quite curious about. I only have one other SSA friend in person, but right now she lives far away so boundaries are easy.
    But we met in ywam when she was one of my students and we lived in the same house for nine months. We hit it off almost immediately – we have a lot of common interests and so forth and at the time we were the only Americans on the base. I knew about her SSA but she only suspected mine – we never really talked about it til she had already been gone.
    Anyway, my question I guess is this: isn’t it irritating when you and this person have clear boundaries and nothing is going on, but everyone else is paranoid? Im mostly in the closet, but the few people that knew were always “seeing” things and coming to me all “concerned.” Is this almost paranoia healthy? Necessary? Reasonable even? Why does everyone always have to assume that something might happen and almost hurt the chance of friendship forming. I’m not saying I want a ton of SSA friends, but having one or two I think is good; to have someone who understands you on that level.

    • Steven Michael

      People (myself included) read way too much into everything. Even with a boy and a girl that are friends, we try to make everything into relationships. It’s very damaging.

      I think in the case of SSA this results in concerns for spiritual welfare and such.

    • mistaken identity

      Yes, it is irritating, Ashley. No, most of what I see is not healthy, though there are a minority who truly care and are hoping to help a friend avoid a trap.

    • Anon

      I think it’s our culture’s unhealthy obsession with sex? And the church’s counter obsession with repressing sex.

      I’ve experience that many times- as oppression and hypocrisy. People feeling concerned, but not interested in seeing your heart.

      They don’t really believe in change, or healing. Instead they see the stereotype, and believe the worst. And their best solution to your problems, is to repress.

      They don’t see brokenness as a gift, nor do they see the grace of God and his healing. It is as they say, “those forgiven much, love much”.

    • Ashley,

      I have found that I benefit from having SSA friends as long as we do have clear boundaries. My closest friends are straight and I believe that is best. Straight friends are tougher on me when I need it, but some issues are better to talk through with others who have been through the same battles as I have.

      Unfortunately there are often paranoid people who think there is something sexual going on when it isn’t. I don’t let people like that stop me from benefiting from healthy friendships. I do my best not to let rumors negatively affect me either.

      Sorry to hear that people have affected you because they misunderstood.

  • The Daily Ground Hog

    Marshall…Jeremy needs a leash. He seems like a predator to me, so maybe a shock collar. My experience with SSA friends at church is different. I have one friend that says he’s same sex attracted and we talk quite a bit. He is also married and has six kids. I told him jokingly that I doubted his credentials. Anyway, I find I steer clear of the other SSA’s at church. We seem to know who we are, but there’s never more than a polite greeting. They are all safely in the closet. I am the only one that is out at church anyway, so it’s probably hard for them to be seen talking to me. Whatever.

    My policy is to avoid physical contact with men. All of them. A hand shake or maybe a brief hug is OK, but I cannot deal with anything more than that. I process affection differently than most people. I get attached very easily. I have to keep distance to keep sane.

    Jeremy though….he seems to be a real piece of work. I’m thinking he should have been reported to the authorities immediately. I don’t know where this story will go and maybe it will go there but he needs help. Something professional.

    Single men known to be SSA should not be involved with younger, impressionable, inexperienced men in anyway that is not public and open. I realize this is my opinion. Others may think otherwise.

    • DGH,

      What Jeremy did was very wrong, sinful, and destructive. I would never defend his actions, but I do want to point out that I could not report him to authorities because the guy he got involved with was actually of legal age and consented. In other words, what Jeremy did was wrong on many levels but not illegal.

      When I relate to other SSA guys at church my approach is to show healthy Christian love in a way that varies according to what seems best for each individual, but never anything close to sexual. Some guys prefer handshakes, some bro-hugs, and others more affectionate hugs. I don’t force anyone to talk about their SSA, I just let each one bring up the subject if he wants to. I certainly don’t want to “out” anyone who wants their sexual temptations kept confidential.

  • Brian

    Good lord, Jeremy doesn’t sound like a fellow SSA guy trying to figure out boundaries, he sounds like a total pervert.

    • Brian, as I said above to DGH, I won’t defend Jeremy’s actions at all. Also keep in mind that I haven’t told the end of the story yet. By the way, he and I kept good boundaries in all of this. I don’t believe either one of us behaved inappropriately toward each other.

  • mike

    Interesting story Marshall. Thank God for boundaries!
    At my church I have no SSA friends/acquaintances/etc. It is by choice. But I do mentor SSA’d guys through our church’s mentoring network. Setting strict boundaries is critical. I only meet them in public places such as Starbucks, never one on one privately, but do invite them occasionally to our home for family celebrations such as Thanksgiving etc.
    The thing is I am a wounded healer. Boundaries are difficult (understatement) for such as me. While it may be easy for me to avoid sexual sin whether overt or covert in my heart it is more difficult to not become emotionally entangled/enmeshed with the other guy’s issues. These are the issues of transference and counter-transference taught in psychiatry though they happen in all relationships are particularly prickly in SSA ones. It is too easy to hook into our similar areas of brokenness and find connection and solace. What I mean is that it is too easy for me like others here have said here to think only SSA guys can really understand me. That thought is dangerous because it is false. No one even my spouse can really understand me because they have no reach into the depths of my soul. Life is lonely except for intimacy with God. No matter how hard I try to explain what I see in a sunset my wife can try but she will never see what I see. She is a different soul who experiences things differently. Only God can who lives in me understands the real me. So with relationships the boundaries for me is yes I can share difficulties but the other person’s response should not be to try and solve things for me but to enjoy the journey with me by leading me to depend on God for comfort, strength, and wisdom for the journey. For wounded healers like me it is too easy to want comfort elsewhere which forms an idol. And SSA guys for me are an easy idol because they too easily understand or think they do what it is I’m going through!

    • Anon

      I know what you mean- it’s very hard, almost dangerous, to connect with someone who has the same desperation that you have.

      It’s good to feel understood, but the risk is that you may become entangled in your friends struggle- or worse, that your friend will pull you into the pit. Not saying this just about SSA, but any struggle.

      That’s why it’s good to have friend diversity- community- because where one is weak, the other is strong. The only catch is that there has to be love- because love covers over a multitude of sins. Love is what binds us together, gives us compassion, and causes our hearts to change.

      I’m not saying to avoid SSA guys. But rather to guard yourself from temptation.

      • mike

        Anon, you’re right. There is a lesson to be learned from the failed Exodus movement where seasoned leaders despite sometimes decades of ministry ended up joining the gay way and even ‘marrying’ their gay clients.
        Like you I also am not saying avoid SSA guys BUT understand what you are doing and don’t think it won’t happen to you. Have a non SSA mentor to be accountable to so that you can confess any waywardness even in thinking about your SSA friend because as a wounded healer your wounds may be bigger than you thought! My wife and my mentor are that for me.

    • Yes Mike, I understand about getting emotionally involved with another guy in an unhealthy way. I have done it before and I eventually intend to tell that story on this blog. The way to prevent that is to do exactly what you said: never idolize a guy. Idolizing is wrong even if there are no sexual feelings involved! Instead, I seek to keep Jesus Christ first in my heart and at the center of every friendship. The goal of any friendship is to point the other person to Jesus and to be a blessing to them, not to meet some need in me.

      • mike

        Absolutely agree: “The goal of any friendship is to point the other person to Jesus and to be a blessing to them, not to meet some need in me”.
        Please do a post on true friendship because few understand that.

        • Mike, I talk some about true friendship vs. emotional dependence on the podcast that will be posted a week from now.

  • Steven Michael

    I’m very in the closet and my SSA friends are all out of state, so gossip isn’t much of an issue.

    I met all of my friends online first, and spent years talking with them before actually meeting them in person. I was so afraid that physically being around other SSA guys would be a huge source of temptation. I was admittedly awkward and reserved when I first met them in person, but then all those fears subsided.

    I love my friends too much to do questionable things with them. And honestly I have a better handle on myself that I give myself credit for. If I really wanted to be intimate with someone, there are so many easy avenues these days.

    • Steven Michael, I appreciate your words, “I love my friends too much to do questionable things with them.” I feel the same way!

      If I really value a friendship with another guy, why would I mess it up with sexual stuff or idolatry? Either one will destroy a friendship.

  • Michael

    It wasn’t till about a year ago that I began to open up with others about my SSA. When I did, I shared with my straight friends because at the time I did not have any connections with other SSA individuals. I eventually found other men like me. Men who loved the Lord and wanted desperately to be obedient to his will. I met one young man and we hit it off immediately. It was nice to finally have someone to talk to that understood my story, who did not underestimate my struggle. As wonderful as our friendship was, we were forced to end it. We became emotionally dependent on each other. When we were together, is was a high. I never felt so close to anyone as I did him, he was the best friend I had always wanted / always prayed for. But when we were apart, my heart ached. It wasn’t love, it wasn’t romance. We both had a need for connection. Ending the friendship was the hardest thing I have ever done.

    • Anon

      Hm, that’s really hard man. I feel for you.

    • Eddie

      That is a hard pill to swallow. If I was in those circumstances, I’m not sure I would be able to break it off especially if we both were giving and receiving the kind of desired intimacy from each other. Not talking sex here, but what we misconstrued as love. Sometimes I hate myself that I can’t love so madly and deeply as others, but I can eventually detach and move on to other relationships.

    • mike

      Michael, I’m sorry to hear of your pain. What “forced” you to end it and do you see each other at all? Why do you say “it wasn’t love”? Have you recovered and what did you learn that might be helpful for us here? Were either of you attracted to each other or not?

      I have been in a similar situation. I thought I was going to die and did emotionally for a long time. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done and NEVER want to repeat it! That’s why I’m so into boundaries as Marshall cautions us here.

      • Michael

        It was a combination of factors. I am married and our friendship ended up taking priority (emotionally) to my wife. He is a writer and blogger, his life is built on that ministry. The emotional aspect was so intense that it often created a lot of struggle for him. For his sake and the sake of his ministry it had to end. There was no sexual or physical attraction between us, but for two SSA men it is very easy for emotional connections to cross over into something more, we were both very aware of that possibility. No, we have no connection at all anymore. We blocked each other on FB so as to not be connected, he moved to a different city (not because of this, it was already in the plans). It has been 7 months since I last spoke to him and it still hurts. He was the only person that I could speak openly and honestly about my struggles and temptations. I tried to build other relationship with other SSA mean, but those ended up going into a very wrong paths and had to be ended. My straight friends who are aware of my struggle are awkward to speak to, they don’t understand and would really just rather ignore the topic all together. The people I built into my life for accountability never call or message me to see how things are going, I have to initiate all interaction and TBH I’m just tired of being that needy friend.

        • Brian

          I have to ask, why couldn’t you guys just work through your emotional dependency issues together rather than ending the friendship completely? That seems far more emotionally damaging than being overly attached.

          I had a similar experience myself. I met an SSA guy from an online group who lived near me and we planned to meet one day. We chatted on the phone a lot about things like vulnerability and intimacy among male friends. Then one day when we were chatting he dropped the news on me that he didn’t want to meet up nor stay in contact. His reasoning was that it was better to be intimate and vulnerable with someone you knew for a while rather than someone you just met. I understand that but I feel there was more to his decision than that excuse. Either I had said something wrong or it was becoming sexual for him or something else. It still emotionally devastated me as I cried for hours and got sick the next morning.

          • mistaken identity

            Good question, Brian! Have you been able to work through such issues successfully?

          • Brian

            I haven’t really had a chance to do that. But I think if the problem arose, I could definitely work through it.

          • mistaken identity

            And then you can share your success here and help the rest of us. Tom, make room for one more writer.

          • Brian

            hahaha Well I’m flattered!

          • mistaken identity

            Calm that ego, son (wink). You have to work through it first, but I think you will.

          • Michael

            Brian, great question!! I believe that his struggle was more intense than it was for me. The day he announced we needed to step back, we agreed to pray about our friendship and seek counsel from others. In the course of three day, we exchanged a lot of messages on how we felt and grieving the possible loss of our friendship… but as we talked about our situation with friends, the more we were encouraged to go our separate ways. I wish more than anything, that we could have worked it out and I am hopeful that one day our paths will pass again.
            I’m sorry to also hear of your own loss. I have to keep reminding myself that I am not fully aware of all the situations and circumstances that haunt someone life. What I can manage may not be what someone else can handle. Maybe that was part of the situation for your friend.

          • Brian, I had one friend that I became emotionally dependent on. My selfishness and jealousy destroyed our friendship, but it was eventually restored to a healthy one. We did work through our emotional dependency issues instead of ending it. I will tell about it in a future post, but also in the podcast that is coming out next Friday.

    • mistaken identity

      That does sound very painful, Michael. I’m sorry. I had two emotionally dependent relationships over the years that ended abruptly and painfully. There was never any physical attraction on my part, but they were “what I had always wanted/always prayed for. I was much less self-aware and wise then, so I learned little if nothing from it apart from the false take away that I needed to avoid men more than I already was doing. Prayers that God would minister graciously to your pain. He does delight in rewarding excruciating decisions that are made for the sake of the kingdom.

      • Michael

        Thanks for the encouragement. I know it is healthy to have great and intimate friends, but I’m learning more and more about boundaries. Following the end of our friendship, I made several mistakes with other men that I tried to forge friendships with. I ended up hurting and betraying some men that needed my encouragement and support. I know I caused them pain when also abruptly ended the friendship. It was after that, that I really began to understand the importance of boundaries. I still search and pray for that friendship , trusting that God will delight in providing that.

        • mistaken identity

          I know God delights in that trust, especially when there seems to be evidence to the contrary. That is the stuff of the Abrahamic Covenant.

    • Joshua Johnson

      I had something sort of similar (AFTER my *salvation experience* in 2013) happen with a younger Christian guy and we were barely friends. He totally pulled away from me after only a very short friendship. Have not spoken to one another since then. Took me God’s grace and six months – yes, months – of crying to cope with that strange experience. I am still left with questions.

      • Michael

        Joshua, I get it. Our friendship was brief but it impacted me in ways I did not expect. I too cried for months and still today it does hurt to think about what was lost. I know the decision was the right one at the time. As I have reflected I came to realize that many of my actions in my pursuit of walking in Godliness were really just efforts to please this friend. My motives were not right.

        • Joshua Johnson

          Thanks, brothers. Same @ Michael. When I met him, it definitely was not a physical attraction until we started speaking and getting to know each other. Then the infatuation came, and my motives were not very pure. I’d crossed a line at one point, and let him know. He freaked. I had to seek his forgiveness, and confronted him with an apology. He forgave me, but made it clear he didn’t want anything to do with me. He left town unexpectedly and I was convinced I’d never see him again. Well, I had a hunch I would, and sure enough he came back. We never spoke to one another after that even though we’d run into each other. I still have a strong hunch we’ll meet again, but more so on the Lord’s terms, rather than on my own sinful ones, and thank God that He knows the beginning and ending of ALL things.

      • Joshua, I understand the pain. I have also cried those tears. Take them to God He actually will help you!

  • Michael

    Hmmm OGA?? Not sure what that acronym means, other than it probably relates to straight guys. I do believe you are right, all men need that special spiritual type of relationship that build honesty and vulnerability. I find thou, that a lot of men have that type of relationship with their wives / girlfriend. I think our younger generation (18-28) is more accepting and open to this type of friendship, but men my age (37) are more reserved and guarded. It can be excruciatingly painful to try and open up to other men about my struggle with SSA. In the past year, I have shared my story with about 6 other men. Most have reacted with love and acceptance, but I feel so discouraged when I try and relate with them.

    • mike

      Hi Michael, sorry, OGA = other gender attraction.
      I agree many married men will share deeply with their wives. To share with my wife a recent struggle with porn or same gender attraction may be inappropriate. It will be hard for her to be objective. Very hard. I need objective help. Many men go to therapists/counselors or their pastor if they are brave and mature. But a friend could do. But the friend I would pick is one who will not seek to fix my problem or lavish me with oozy pity and false comfort. That friend needs to understand boundaries. He needs to ask me what I really desire in my heart and ask what I’m prepared to do about it. He needs to challenge me on my walk with Jesus. Where is it? How am I doing with the daily disciplines? Do I need professional help? He must pray and then ask me what I’m prepared to do about my issues.
      I’m not sure you need to open up to straight men about SSA. They won’t understand it. Instead, what they will understand is common ground: lust. OGA lust and SSA lust are equally difficult. They will understand lust. You will relate on that common ground and be able to challenge them about their fight with that and they with you.
      I belong to a church men’s group where we value authenticity and transparency. I talk about my issue with lust. They talk about theirs but no one gives details which are not necessary. What is important is the journey of the struggle connected to others. So we enjoy this journey with each other and with Jesus in our midst.

      • Michael

        I hear what you say, but how can you really be authentic and transparent when the core of your struggle is so tightly wound around your sexual identity, Nothing infuriates me more than when a straight guy tells me my struggle with lust is no different than his. I get his intention in the comment, but there is a vast difference. For our straight friends who are struggling with lust, God provide a redemptive and sanctified way to combat……marriage. That is not the case for men with SSA. Yes, we cling to the love and mercy of the cross, but the emotional and physical force of our attraction can not be met, only denied. There is deep unsettling pain in that realization, a pain that most men OGA will not get unless we explain and open up about it.

        • Michael, “Deep unsettling pain” I feel those words deeply. I can’t come up with better words right now to describe what we feel facing a life without sex. I HAVE found straight guys that also get this, but they are usually dealing with other issues of their own that prevent them from marrying.

          I do believe that we can be happy and have our emotional needs met despite the SSA. I have had some deep and emotionally satisfying friendships with straight guys, but it took time and effort to build the trust to have that kind of friendship. Also, I can never get there if I am trying to meet my own needs, only if I love God more and care more about the other guy’s needs than my own.

        • Anon

          It’s interesting that you say that. I have thought the same way many times.

          But, the older I get (34), I have found that my sexual attraction to men decreases when I get quality time with my guy friends. That is, the more close time I have with guys, the less less I feel sexual towards them.

          I think it’s because most of the time, I feel sexual because I want connection- I feel lonely, isolated. And having a beer with a buddy makes me feel less alone, more understood.

          Of course there are those times where I’m just plain horny- just want to touch a guy, for the sake of the body. In those times, I just want a physical release. I think this is what guys typically call “lust”.

          Do you find that your desire to have sex with men is at all impacted by the amount of connection you get with them? Is it different for you?

          • I can’t answer for Michael, but I definitely have diminished lust when I have emotional connection with a guy. I don’t want to let sex into the friendship because sex will destroy that deeply valued friendship.

          • Michael

            I think like you, the more contact and interaction I have with my male friends, the less drive I have for intimacy with men. That type of connection does meet a need.

    • Brian

      I’m 27 and its been impossibly hard to find male friends and even when I’m friends with them its been impossibly hard to become close to them.

      • Michael

        Sometimes I wonder if our definition of friendship is different than most guys. In at least 90% of the stories shared about SSA guys and friendship, it is something that we desperately long for. We dream of that Johnathan / David ideal of friendship. I have to be careful for the friendships that I pursue, because I know that I have the tendency to let them be an idol per se. Its also what make the gay community so attractive, they are a community that depends and supports each other (or at least that is what I have head).

        • Brian

          The thing is, they should be the Jonathan and David ideal. It used to be socially acceptable for men to be extremely close friends back in the days before the gay rights movement arose. It is true though, I do try not to idolize my male friends, but you really shouldn’t idolize anybody because it will always lead to disappointment.

      • I feel for you, Brian! Don’t give up. The way to become close friends with a guy is to love God more than him, and to be there for him in rough times, considering his needs more important than your own.

  • Michael

    I hear what you are saying and I agree with the point that we should not allow our struggles, either gay or straight to be our identity. Nor do hold that my struggle makes me unique or special. We all have our demons, our thorn in the flesh. All the examples you gave are true to be difficult and heartbreaking to the individual. But I would have to say those are more situational not causation.

    I’m not sure I agree that my SSA is just temptation, i mean it is and it isn’t. My identity is in Christ and I have to chose daily to reject the pull to have a gay identity. But our sexuality (straight or gay) says a lot about the way we view, feel and perceive love. I desire relationships in a different way, I desire intimacy in a different way. I believe to really know me, to know my heart my thoughts, my pains… then you need to understand my rejoicing and my pains. How else could you most effectively minister to me. Not everyone needs to know all the details of my life and if I wanted to be content with general terms of struggles of lust then I would for sure keep it general. I think different stages of our life and different community groups will require things to be handled in a more censoring way.

    Great discussion Mike, I appreciate the probing and challenge.
    .

    • The Daily Ground Hog

      I think you are right Michael. I would say, at least for me, that the SSA struggle is much more than mere temptation. The desire seems to be hard wired in my brain. I am confronted with an unfulfilled need every time I am around men and even so, I do love being around men. Guys are just fun. Strangely though, most of my close friends are women. It seems like it has to be this way since I cannot process my affection for the guys in any reasonable and ‘normal’ way. I have to distance myself in man/man relationships. For years I was angry about this. The Lord and I finally made peace when I was about your age. It’s tough. Being young and alone or with another that cannot possibly relate is one thing. Being old and alone like me is harder..

      This conversation has come a long way from Jeremy and his predilection for young guys. I guess Jeremy is a prime example of what can happen when we get too caught up in our own desires. I still want to ask Jeremy where his self control was and why he acted out in such an extreme way. Maybe Marshall will tell us in the next edition.

      • Michael

        I feel for you, I am sure it is difficult and lonely. I think for that reason, we need to be diligent in seeking out friendships. To the name sake of this blog post, I believe it is very important to set boundaries and make them know to other friends who are SSA, possibly even make it aware to straight friends to help hold you accountable. I know how easy it is to compromise boundaries!!! I would also mention that beyond just SSA friends, we need to seek out friendships with other straight men. Men that can pour into our life and invest themselves. This of course is a true test and as proven in this thread difficult and painful. But imagine the satisfying joy of discovering such a friendship flourish, if you give up.. you will never know.

      • DGH, Yes, I will tell more in my next post. I don’t want to speak for Jeremy, though. Since we are still friends, I should probably ask him and share in a post what he says.

        Please don’t isolate yourself from all guys! I know several guys who are genuine Christian friends who do give and receive healthy affection without promoting emotional dependence. They do exist. Don’t give up.

      • Anon

        A friend of mine recently said something that stuck with me. He said, “Why is wanting to connect with a guy, a SSA thing? Can’t it just be that you want to hang out with your friend?”

        He continued to say that straight guys also have the same needs- connection, love, companionship, friendship, approval, belonging.

        Straight guys may not talk about these needs as much. But these needs don’t have to be a symptom of SSA. They are just ‘human’ needs.

        At first I was offended- felt like my friend was dismissing my struggle. “Of course all the pain I feel has to do with SSA! It feels so connected, these needs make the SSA worse.”

        But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was probably the truth. “Of course my friends have needs… why wouldn’t they?”

        In the end, thinking about my main needs as ‘human needs’ has made me feel less alone, less like I’m an alien. The pain doesn’t hurt as much because it feels less unique to me.

        The flip side is that I still get turned on by hot guys, which my straight friends don’t experience. So that part is unique. But the longings for connection, love, acceptance, etc are common. They can relate. That gives me some solace- I’m not alone.

        You’re not alone, either.

    • mike

      The OGA examples reveal sexual physical and emotional pain. In order for me not to think I’m unique because of my SSA pain I’ve learned that pain is pain. For survival I need to connect with others and that common ground is pain that we all feel which is the level playing field for all humans. We can find true belonging there without thinking my pain is special.
      Michael you speak of SSA as if it is an “identity” but it is a fabricated one ONLY by the gay activists. The BIble speaks only of homosexual behaviour. Gay identity is a modern invention coming into existence following the APA declassifying that behaviour as a pathology. For me SSA is a mental disorder resulting in temptation. But I am more than that. Gay activists want to degrade God’s pinnacle creation: we are just animals such that if I feel SSA I should act on it irrelevant whether the behaviour is beneficial. Humans are meant to override fleshly temptation whatever its causation to live for the higher purposes that God intended. There isn’t a gay or straight sexuality. That is a modern gay activist invention!
      You want a friend to “really know you”. I relate to that. My view of a friend has changed through my understanding of boundaries. Sharing has to be appropriate and confined to boundaries. There are details of me I can only share with God. Never with a friend because that would be a boundary violation and would unnecessarily burden my friend making it awkward for him and even imperilling the friendship. I like how CS Lewis describes phileo love in his classic ‘The Four Loves’. It is not how I thought a male friend should be. I realized I was mixing up eros and phileo making them one. That was my mistake. Have you read it? Many have idealized the David/Jonathan friendship as a model. Is it 100% pure? They were both human and humans are never 100% pure.

      • My identity is Christian, a child of God. My identity is not in the temptation to my favorite sin.

      • Michael

        LOL, well some of that is deeper that I really care to explore, maybe one day!. I agree with you on a lot of this. Yes, it is important to relate with people of on an even playing field. We all have pain and need to be aware of that. With the people that you are really living community with, I believe it is important to also identify the particulars of your pain. Per your example above …. the man who is married, but has found a special – more confirming relationship with another woman. If he just told me he was dealing with lust, then my prayers, concerns and accountability for him would be limited to just that, but if he told me the whole situation, then I would know I need to pray for his marriage, his relationship with his current wife (that the Lord would renew their love for each other and bring healing), I would know to pray for him to find a different place of employment so the temptation to be unfaithful would be less. The details matter…I’m not saying these are things that you would pour out to all your acquaintances, but would be reserved for those close to you.
        Why does sharing have to have boundaries? Yes, again if you are disclosing to groups or individuals that are not intimately involved in your life, but with those closest to you? God calls us to be accountable to each other, to confess our sins, to bear one another. Our church is our family, our support..the early church would sell all their possesions to take care of each other, pretty sure that would include this.
        I do not feel that my SSA is my identity, but merely an aspect of it. I’m gonna leave the whole mental disorder thing alone (best I not go there).

        • Joshua Johnson

          SSA being a mental disorder is something I’ve only recently been looking into. I was thinking to myself the other day as I was just dawdling around, I had a random thought: “Wow! My Father in heaven calls the things I desire (being with a man) an abomination!” That really got the self-pity juices flowing. I felt so low.

          • mike

            That SSA is a mental disorder is psychological heresy today! But prior to the seventies it began with Freud who blamed it on nurture (a dominant mother)!
            But, even the APA in the 1974 vote was far from unanimous that it be delisted as pathology and so they left some room in the DSM as ‘homosexual dysphoria’ for people like myself who have SSA and are conflicted about it.
            But it’s interesting to me that the Bible does not spend time identifying the specific reason for a particular temptation. But Jesus did refer to sin as a sickness needing a physician. “When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners? On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners “.
            That clobber verse Joshua is heavy especially when you study the Hebrew meaning of that word. Yikes!

          • Joshua Johnson

            Thanks for the thoughtful response, bro. From the Matthew Henry commentary on Luke 5:30 “5:27-39 It was a wonder of Christ’s grace, that he would call a publican to be his disciple and follower. It was a wonder of his grace, that the call was made so effectual. It was a wonder of his grace, that he came to call sinners to repentance, and to assure them of pardon. It was a wonder of his grace, that he so patiently bore the contradiction of sinners against himself and his disciples. It was a wonder of his grace, that he fixed the services of his disciples according to their strength and standing. The Lord trains up his people gradually for the trials allotted them; we should copy his example in dealing with the weak in faith, or the tempted believer.”

            I sometimes sit and ponder things like this, that someone’s mental disorder, here, the subject of homosexuality, and that simply following that iniquity (a bent towards a certain behavior) and acting and feeding it prevents one from the Father’s inheritance (eternal life with Him, aka Lake of Fire…). Of course, I know many Christians refer to homosexual attraction as “familiar spirits,” or some form of demonic possession that requires supernatural deliverance/healing/cleansing. I also ponder what Paul was saying: “…Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God….” in verse 11. He clearly didn’t go on to say what happens after that, right? They get married (1 Cor 7:32), or remain eunuchs…? Reading these profound teachings (yeah, I love God’s word!) hasn’t so much disheartened me, but rather it fascinates me!

          • mike

            But it isn’t “simply following that bent towards a certain behavior” that imperils. What saves is the relationship which begins with following Jesus. But following our own way like saying gay is good means not following Jesus but our own way. That’s why Jesus says to those “I never knew you” meaning you were never in relationship with me where you made me lord of your life and learned to love me by obeying me and trusting me.
            I think for those like us here on YOB who struggle with relationship due to past hurts and wounds even relationship with Jesus is hard and we often feel we have lost our way.
            But the One who lives in us is not lost and so therefore neither are we as He puts us back on the right Way.

  • Everyone, many of the topics we are talking about in these comments, like friendship, emotional dependency, and expressing affection will be part of the discussion I have with Tom and Elliott in the podcast a week from Friday. Be sure to listen.

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  • At Peace

    I met this guy a good month and half ago. He answered an ad that i had put on Craiglist, for friendship without benefits. He isn’t a Christian at all, quite the opposite in fact. But I have come to know him and he me. We do a lot of things together and we talk all the time. We both have zero desires for women, though he was sexually molested by a woman in his younger days and I was molested by my older brother for 3 years. But, I do not carry any of the pain or sorrow that I used to carry regarding my past. That historical biography of who ever that child was back then, is now apart of the Annals of our family history. When I met Chris, he is and still remains a broken man. However, I have been celibate for over 15 years that the emotional aspect of our friendship has spilled somewhat into the sexual. I am not torn between two lovers, because God is first my number One guy that i want to please, but also, Chris is someone who has a sex drive that is high and his needs are incredible. We have not only felt each other, but I also feel his mind and heart. I don’t mind the touching, but what I don’t like is what is common among the gay world of the common things that men do with other men. THAT I can’t do. We have talked about it before and he has told me that he respects my decision. Last night we got hugging and embracing and enjoy a good bonding session, then he wanted more, and I should have have stopped, but I too enjoy him wanting to be with me, which is not common at all for me. I have never had anyone save Jesus Christ Himself, that someone wants to be with me. I never had that type of experience in being wanted. Like I said, the bulk of our friendship is clothes on, doing things together. I am very much aware of the fact that I am unequally yoked with an unbeliever. I meet with him again this Thursday and he wanted to do more of what we had yesterday. But, I am going to go for our drive and I am going to tell him again, that I am my own worst enemy, and I need to stop allowing the liberty of what I have to close so many years ago. I am in a trail and I know it. I see the Joy that is set before me and I must endure this and get beyond the infancy of our friendship so we can get beyond the need to have sex with each other, which I believe I can. I just need to tell him once again. What he is feeling is the fact that he has come out of his shell since we have gotten together and he feels more confident. And he is so happy being with me that he wants to please me. And he already knows that I am pleased just being with him, with our clothes on, with our outings and our deep talks we have and understanding our feelings. He won’t be mad when I tell him that we can’t have sex together, I just need to fall heavily on God’s grace more and more to keep me from going where I ought not.

    • It’s hard to comment on this situation, AP, without knowing this guy or especially you firsthand. I would caution you about moving forward with this friendship, though. I’ve been in hard spots with other SSA believers and have had to draw some hard but clear boundaries — I can only imagine how to do so with somebody who doesn’t profess a relationship with Christ.

      I feel for you if you’re struggling with friendship and connection these days. I really do. Thanks for opening up to us.

      • At Peace

        Dear Thomas, Thank you for your words brother. The best advice is always this, say nothing. Sometimes the best thing for people who struggle is to let them talk. I have found that all the advice I had given over the years for married couples was a complete waste of time. They never wanted counsel, just an ear to vent. Through their venting, they were able to think clearly so the LORD could speak to them. It’s difficult for anyone, including the LORD, if there is so much clutter in the mind.
        I have prayed and still talk to the LORD about this. I tell Him everything, I mean everything. I don’t candy coat nothing. He sees all and knows all, who am I to run and hide with my words and feelings.
        God has given me a fear some 16 years ago to keep me from p*netration. It’s something that I have done many times before and I can’t go there. But some other practices, though lawful for me, I don’t find expedient any longer to continue therein. I find s*x to be unpleasant. I am in complete working order, but I still don’t like that aspect of doing that with other men. However, When I am lonely for four or more days, sometimes I consult the porn channels. i have gone for many weeks after that. But since I have been with Chris, that has subsided. Anyway, I don’t wish to bore you with common trivialities brother, thanks again for your kind words. Take care

  • Many people at the church I go to know of my past experiences with SSA. In fact I have asked many of them to hold me accountable, because I don’t want to back into the gay lifestyle. But at the same time I had few friendships in the church, and certainly would have never exposed myself as SSA before January of last year. I was that gay guy at church. It came as a big shock to me when a guy said he loved me. He was totally straight and he meant it in Christian love. Still I was suspicious, because I didn’t want to go back into the life. A week later another guy told me he loved me. He too was straight and I was suspicious. What was going on? I discovered that I was so focused on trying to present myself as being straight, that I hadn’t loved anybody. Like a straight non-Christian man, I was confusing sex with love. I was in error. None of these men meant anything by their statements other expressing Christian love. I have learned to love myself and that God didn’t ask me to be straight. I have learned to say ‘I love you’ as a Christian man.

    • Bradley,

      Yes! I have that kind of friendship with several guys, including straight guys, where we often say, “I love you!” It makes a huge difference to me emotionally and there are no sexual feelings attached.