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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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”.
Just saw this article- It’s an interesting parlay to what we were talking about: https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/megasahd-the-lack-of-gentle-platonic-touch-in-mens-lives-is-a-killer/
Thanks for the article Anon. It’s a good read. I already passed it along to a few other online/blog “friends” that speak on the article’s very subject.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hm, that’s really hard man. I feel for you.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[…] my SSA friend Jeremy invited several 18-year-old guys to live with him in his new condo, things spiraled out of control. His younger housemates were the “bad […]
[…] deliberately kept his sexual encounter with the younger guy confidential because of the trust and loyalty I’d built as his friend. As I said earlier, the […]
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.
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.
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.