Dramatic title, I know, but I tell no tall tales. Following my intro blog, this is the next chapter in my story of healing.
“Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil.”My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers
David & Jonathan, Part 2
I told my fiancée about my struggles with SSA (same-sex attraction) on our first date. We were both so fed up with others pretending to be people they weren’t that we just bulldozed all the walls we’d have usually kept up.
In that same conversation she brought up Jonathan, her ex-boyfriend. He had ghosted her for months, and then he’d kissed her brother.
I hated him. To me he was a seedy and impulsive child; that was it.
My fiancée often told me that we would be friends one day, but I rejected it because I couldn’t forgive him for what he’d done to her.
My life radically changed during quarantine this year. I found myself out West with my fiancée, and for the first time I wasn’t under any pressure from school, work, or even my peers.
I was free to learn who I really was among the red canyons of the West.
A few days into my stay out there, I took a camping trip with my fiancée. I found myself alone on a red cliff I had climbed while praying and worshipping.
I think every Christian needs to spend time alone in the wilderness. I felt God pressing into my heart that I needed to talk about Him to others.
I came down from that mountain with a fire to speak His name to someone new. I rushed to my fiancée to tell her, but before I could start she stopped me and said, “Guess who is going to be at the hot springs today?”
I knew it would be Jonathan, her ex, along with his best friend, Anna. They had made it up only a few days earlier – and I was ready to see how uncomfortable it would be for me to finally meet the ex I hated.
We certainly felt some distance between us when we first met, but everything changed when Anna said the name, Jesus. An excited shiver ran through all four of us hippies.
I looked around and saw the same sparkle in each of their eyes. We were like children who all shared the same favorite teacher.
Jonathan shared with me a dream he’d once had about Jesus, and as he did so I looked into his eyes and felt something deep and illogical: This boy and I are the same person.
I felt it deeper than with any other friend, deeper than with any other brother in my life. It was complete and settled, unlike a crush, unlike the unhealthy emotional attachment I was used to.
On the contrary, this bond felt settled and true. I realized how badly I had misjudged Jonathan. How could I judge someone so alike myself?
I talked to my girl after Jonathan and Anna left us, and we both shared a giddy sense of the Spirit. She was not all too surprised I had felt this connection with Jonathan. We laughed about her having such a strong “type.”
The next morning, I asked Abba and felt very clearly that He wanted us to speak with Jonathan and Anna again. I reached out, and our friends got back to us saying they felt the same way; so, we planned another two-day camping trip with them.
The first night we abandoned our campsite and piled into their van, affectionately named Peter, because there were far too many unrecognizable eyes and noises in the woods.
Jonathan and I sat up in the middle of our piled belongings and talked clean through the night. I was worried about falling asleep beside him, so I was thankful we just talked. He is openly bisexual, and we argued a whole lot about Scripture and what exactly God’s words are on sexuality.
But halfway through our conversation things shifted. I looked deep into Jonathan’s eyes and saw the same crippling pain I had lived with my whole life. He was lonely in the same way I was, or at least had been.
From that moment on, my mission became clear: I wanted nothing more than for my new friend to experience the same freedom I had felt. The same washing of my spirit and filling with the Spirit of Christ that had made me whole.
Our talk ended long after the sun and the two women had woken up. I took Jonathan back to the tent and prayed and cried over him that God would remove the burden of pain upon him.
Our originally planned two-day trip turned into five days. One night it was cold, and we heard loud noises coming from the river. So, we piled into Peter once again, this time side-by-side-by-side-by-side like sardines, the four of us.
We laughed long into the night. My fiancée and I lay on opposite sides of the van because we didn’t want to wake up together until we were married.
So, that left Jonathan facing me. I faced away from him because I was afraid.
The last time I’d been this physically close to a man, I’d had sex with him. I was so afraid.
This was truly a wild situation, and the stakes were so high. I knew my commitment to my fiancée, but I also knew my sin. And I was afraid.
But as I lay there I felt a small voice in my head, not one of lust, not one of loneliness, but a separate voice saying, “Turn to him,” like it was further saying, “He needs this from you, and you need this from him.”
I now think this was the Holy Spirit telling me to stop running from my fears but to turn toward them instead.
So, I turned toward Jonathan, and we slept with our foreheads pressed up against each other, my hand running through his tangled curls, and his hand running across my cheek.
I still believe the only reason I could have been in that situation was because my fiancée was sleeping two people away, and I was off-limits to Jonathan because he couldn’t imagine hurting her more than he’d already done.
It felt like the situation was perfectly ordained so that I was both fully confronted with my temptation and held in a place where even the depth of my desire to do what is wrong could not actually thrive.
Even if I wanted to try something, I would have gotten caught.
This is why I can’t give the advice, “Go sleep with a bisexual man; it’ll bring you all this healing!”
No, this was extremely God-planned, and His presence within that van is the only reason I could confidently turn toward Jonathan – though I still did so begrudgingly.
I did not desire to be in that situation, but HE ordained it.
I woke up early that next morning and just looked at Jonathan beside me. I was shocked by how much temptation had left me. I felt only kindness toward him, bereft of the darkness of my past.
I looked over and saw my and Jonathan’s necklaces dangling on a hook together, and it filled my heart with warmth.
Before parting ways for a bit, I grabbed Jonathan’s face and said, “There is a romance in our friendship, and it’s beautiful.”
He grabbed my face back and said, “I know, I love it.” We hugged tightly.
On the way back with my girl, I just started sobbing because I realized something:
For the first time since I could remember, I didn’t want to have sex with another man.
I felt this change so deep in my soul that I knew it was real. Like this great veil had been lifted over me.
I realized that with all the pornography I’d watched, all the sex I’d had, and every fantasy I’d replayed in my mind, all I’d wanted was this precious romance, this intimacy too deep for words.
To know and be known. Somehow I knew Jonathan knew me, and I sure as h*** knew him.
I had always feared that somewhere later into marriage I’d just fall and have an affair with another man; it felt inevitable.
Now, for the first time, I felt entirely free from that fear.
I said to my girl, “Love, I don’t know why . . . but I feel like I have to romance your ex-boyfriend.”
I felt deeply that his friendship needed to be solidified during this quarantine trip. I told her my affections may have been slightly more toward him this week, but not to fear, she held my heart and my soul. She understood.
This new dynamic was still hard for her, and there were moments where her mind was riddled with fear. I cannot sit here and tell you they were invalid fears.
Though this particular situation was pure, I have also taken it too far since then. I will speak more on that pain in the future.
We spent two more weeks with our fellow hippies. We drove many miles. One precious night, I was buried in deep, heavy thoughts as I sat beside Jonathan in the desert.
One solitary star sat just below a massive black cloud stretching across the sky, looming as if it were trying to close its dark arms over the little light to extinguish it.
I felt like the star that night, but Jonathan was there.
We lay down on a warm rock and stared at the stars as we told each other how we had this deep, wild feeling that we would be massively important in each other’s lives.
We were both in love in the purest way.
I was groggy that night and clung tightly to him because my half-dreams told me if I let him go the Chinese propaganda would get him. No idea, so don’t ask.
Each night of the trip, Jonathan and I grew a little more comfortable and a little less fearful. We said “I love you” by squeezing each other tightly or kissing each other on the cheek.
Our last night together, I sat with my arm around him in our ponchos while on a curbside under a big mural of a raccoon. I knew everyone passing by would think we were gay, but for the first time in my life I didn’t care.
The drive to the airport was sunny and melancholy. The four of us piled our hands together in the front seat as we sang through all the songs on the playlist we had created. We arrived at the airport the moment our favorite song ended, and we all sobbed and clung to each other.
Over the next couple months I woke up every day thinking I was back in the van and that Jonathan was still beside me. And then I’d realize I wasn’t, and he wasn’t.
This sadness morphed into another realization that I was just so happy he existed.
To this day, I have not desired men like I have for so much of my life. I can’t fully explain it, and certainly sleeping with other men is not the antidote I would give to anyone struggling with same-sex attraction.
But all I can say is this: I spent my whole life running from temptation, and it ran just as fast behind me. Temptation had waited for the one moment I’d get tired of running, and then it would pounce.
But then I turned toward temptation. I faced it. I charged at it. I turned completely in body, mind, and spirit toward my temptation, in the moment it was strongest, and this brought me the healing for which I’d desperately longed for years.
I think we feel we need to distance ourselves so far from sin that we never really learn to overcome it. We place sin in its own secret little box and hope it goes away.
Brothers, this was the inch the enemy held over me for years. I had to turn fully toward sin, just as I’d turned toward Jonathan.
Jesus had to be invited into every dusty corner of my mind. No locked doors.
I used to layer filter upon filter in hopes that I would change my heart by changing my surroundings. It didn’t work.
Now I realize the Scripture:
“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”James 4:7b (ESV)
This is a deep healing I don’t truly understand, but I understand that it is true. And yes, the opposing side is still present.
I’ve walked too far down this line of embracing temptation, and it has brought me pain. But this pain is better than the complacency I once lived under.
But brothers, the story doesn’t end here. I still haven’t spoken about my “season of asexuality,” my tragedy of a wedding night, or how I fell in love with my best friend just weeks before my wedding . . .
Have you experienced any sort of freedom from temptation, sexual or otherwise? What experiences have you shared with other men that stand out as particularly meaningful, if not life-changing?