So much has been written about how evangelical churches haven’t helped — and have actually hurt — those who struggle with their sexuality. Many men dealing with same-sex attraction (SSA) have told stories of being coldly rejected, while men who struggle with heterosexual sins are given compassion and support.
My church, however, has actually helped me follow Jesus Christ, allowing me to be happy while fighting homosexual temptations.
Although my church has left me feeling marginalized at times, overall I am very grateful for all I have received from these people with whom I have followed Jesus Christ for more than thirty years!
My church has helped me most significantly with genuine Christian love and friendship, things that have always been practiced here.
Sadly, one of my longtime church friends, Robin, died recently from a stroke at the age of 60. I went to her funeral, attended by about 100 people who loved and appreciated her. She was a single woman who never married and had no living parents or children.
Clearly, she had a large and supportive spiritual family that made up for the lack of a conventional one.
When I looked around that room of 100 people, I saw fifty I had known for over thirty years. I thanked God for them! First, Brandon, my friend of forty years about whom I wrote a series of posts.
I saw Alan, who used to carpool daily with Robin, Brandon, and me to work in DC. That brought back thoughts of his son who also trusts me as a friend and even asked me for advice on the relationship with his fiancée.
I saw Greg, who let my brother and me live with him thirty years ago when Brad was dying. That also reminded me of my in-depth conversations with his son about his own personal struggles with his faith.
I could go on and on about all the love I feel from all the enduring and genuine friends who surround me from my church. I feel very connected with them and their children, too.
These friendships from church very effectively take the place of a biological family and significantly help me fight homosexual temptations, like having sex with guys.
As a never married 60-year-old man, I have no children and only a 90-year-old father and a distant sister. I thank God that my spiritual family is so strong and numerous!
I believe every older man dealing with SSA who is facing a future with no natural family would benefit immensely from a spiritual family like mine!
One of my missions in life is to help lonely guys find that loving spiritual family. I think many would gladly accept that kind of love rather than the empty, destructive substitute of sexual sin.
I’ll soon talk more about my Christian housemates and the brotherhood I’ve found with them . . .
Have you found loving, non-sexual connection with brothers from your church in the fight against homosexual temptations? What can the church do differently to meet our need for male friendship?
I’m glad you found that support. While most of my church has been supportive of me, even nurturing, there still in no intimate connection with them. I guess I am too old to start worshiping the god of football, which is what all anybody seems to care about here, or the occasional proTrump comment or antiAOC comment. Recently a member of our church died, and the whole church was filled with people coming to remember him (why isn’t it that full on Sundays?). It leaves me to wonder if anybody will notice when I have gone Home. Will I have to be dead for two weeks before somebody comes to check on me? I suppose it doesn’t matter.
I’m a stroke survivor of seven years. I am grateful to God just to wake up each morning. Already I have outlived my expectations of survival and many doctors marvel that I continue to live. My time is short however and now I live each day as it was my last, feeling joy that I am back in the Lord and my place in Heaven is assured.
Bradley, I’m sorry your church has been such a disappointment. I agree that it is just wrong for other church members to center their friendships on the worship of football instead of God!
I have approached friendships in my church as centered on our shared love for Jesus Christ. That has helped us overlook other differences and care for each other as brothers and sisters.
Keep thanking God for each day you are alive. That attitude will go a long way toward making you happy!
Wow brother…I feel so sad reading your comment about wondering if anyone will care…I feel, in many ways, the same way. Most of the people I have known are gone…whether older or younger. I have already said I don’t want a viewing service or funeral service as I would be embarrassed if I knew that no one would come. I’ve known countless people in my life from various “chapters.” But, then again, I’ll be in a far better place where I will be reunited with those I have known on earth and I will feel the embrace of the Saviour which will make it all worth it.
Bless you, dear brother, in these days…we will no doubt not meet here on earth, but we are promised a reunion in heaven…and I’ll take that to the bank.
Loved reading this. It’s definitely been hit and miss, but I love the surrogate family I’ve found in my church. This part really resonated with me: “These friendships from church very effectively take the place of a biological family and significantly help me fight homosexual temptations, like having sex with guys.”
The thing I loved most about this though is seeing the way you live out the mission you shared about helping others. You’re such a great example!
Thanks Bradley! I really love other people, especially the ones who are suffering most. Caring for people in need is really how I made so many long term friends.
It may work for you!
i appreciated reading your post Marshall. I struggle greatly with church right now.
I am from a more urban northeast region, and lived in DC for a number of years. Now, I live with my mom in a small southern town to be closer to other family. The church we go to is run by family we are “related” to by marriage. First of all, it has far more females in it than men. Second, the men tend to be farmers or related occupations. Their idea of manhood is a man who is physically strong, can fix things etc. etc. I don’t fit that bill at all. I am slender and not physically strong at all, can’t fix things and the like. i come from a more “yuppie” environment…an urban “city slicker” if you will. I like to use creams and lotions for example…which is frowned upon here.
One thing I have learned here is rejection is real…rejection for being from another part of the country…rejection for have a different abilities…rejection for just about anything, quite frankly. Gossip…whispering…innuendos are big in town…and as you might imagine, a person’s sexual orientation is a favorite subject of discussion.
Twice a year, I go to have my feet worked on. As part of the treatment, the owner will paint one’s toenails if desired. On a whim, I told them to do my toenails in different colors. Well…word has gotten out and I think I am being shunned. I don’t see this as a sin if one uses creams…lotions…has their toenails painted. I don’t flaunt it, but I won’t lie and deny it either. I would not be surprised if I am given the “left hand of fellowship” at some point. Add in reading the Bible from anything other than KJV is a big no no. I learned that the hard way.
Sorry for the rant…but I guess I needed to get this off my chest. As I see it, God’s family of believers are unique in their own way…When will the church learn that individual preferences and style is okay as long as it is not sinful? We need each other to learn and grow, I believe…even from us outliers!
WaveDave, you are right that it is not reasonable for the church to demand that every man fit the traditional American male stereotype. I understand that you probably can’t switch churches easily because of family pressure.
I know the kind of church you are talking about. I have many relatives from the South. The only way to fit in is to “act straight”. Unless you can leave that church you will have to just stop worrying about what people say behind your back and do your best to love God and love others despite the ways they hurt you.
Remember that Jesus said to love your enemies and pray for those who mistreat you. You may be surprised at how God works in your life when you obey that commandment!
He has given me real friends when I have done that.
Thanks…and I apologize for not getting back to you. This past summer, the church i go to has been through a lot of trauma. The pastor, who had been there a long time suddenly died, and his wife…now a widow, has been critically ill herself and in and out of the hospital. Add in several other deaths and the church has been through a lot. I don’t know what will happen in the long term…at all. Coupled with my mom’s illness and the church having to cancel much of their services, i haven’t been to church to much since March. In a way, it’s been a relief from the pressures there, but I know we need fellowship also. Perhaps God is using all this hard time in the church to bring people together and make them more loving and kind…I sure hope so! As I’ve thought about it all, in the end, I have to do what is right and as the song says, “Only To Be What He wants me to Be…how others act is on them! Thanks again!
I am glad that you’ve found supportive community. Despite what I wrote in my last post I’ve had some good people.
One of my greatest supporters in the midst of my pastor pulling me from ministry was the youth pastor, John. He was the first person on staff I shared my story with. He prayed for me and affirmed my calling into ministry, reminding me of all the ways God had already used me.
He is now the senior pastor of that church, and we are good friends to this day. Though we don’t live in the same area anymore, I still appreciate his encouragement on a regular basis. It is pastors like him that give me hope that there are churches that are safe spaces for sexual minorities. I think initially he was nervous wheniI shared my story, but he prayed and processed well, and listened to the Spirit of God. Were that more pastors were like him.
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