Oh, my brothers. The shame. The all-encompassing humiliation. Not the blog I’d planned on writing just after getting married, but I am not here to be antidotal with you — only honest.
This may very well be the worst decision I’ve made to date. Perhaps my desperation may help even one of you reading not to repeat my mistakes . . .
My Best Friend: Elias
I have not written about Elias yet, but this boy became my best friend after my journey out West ended. My fiancée took another trip in her van across the country, and I fell in love with this boy while she was gone.
It was innocent and scary at first. We prayed a lot, cuddled a lot. He became the image of everything I wanted in a best friend. He was committed, sweet, and honest with me.
We had such similar stories, and I found myself deeply relating to his pain. We both had such shame from our male relationships, and we could be truly ourselves with one another — which looked thoroughly homosexual to everyone else.
People were very confused, but I was free.
Now, I must explain something. Whenever I step into anything at this point, I try very hard only to do so with prayer and hefty time in Scripture. I know that I am a fickle man, and so I cannot trust my own judgement.
Abba has always been faithful to answer in ways I could not possibly dispute. Usually, I wait for Him to say the same thing three or more times, or else I won’t step.
Is this testing God? Perhaps, but He has never not answered in this way, so this is where I am in my faith journey with Him.
In this friendship with Elias I asked, “Lord, should I really walk through this wilderness? Are You truly leading me to this?”
Then I stood up, opened my Bible blindly, and the first words I read were:
“And so the Spirit led him into the wilderness.”
This was just one confirmation. So, I was ready to figure it all out.
When my wife returned home, it was truly easier than I thought to balance the two of them. The three of us spent a lot of time together, my heart so full it literally felt like it would burst.
With my Jesus, the woman I love, and this boy, I felt truly full, more than any other time in my life. My fiancée lived across the street from Elias, so we often toggled back and forth. It was wonderful.
Elias and I talked a lot about our physical relationship. We deeply felt that if we crossed any lines sexually, it wouldn’t fulfill our longings for brotherhood. Additionally, I pushed myself to tell my fiancée every little detail so there were no questions.
Eventually, after much longing and deliberation, I asked my fiancée if she’d be comfortable with my kissing Elias platonically.
I know, that sounds insane. Truly platonic kisses, though, have been my heart’s longing for most my life. It’s completely separate from sexual affection for me.
I just have a longing to peck someone on the mouth, to brush my lips against theirs as a physical way of saying, “I love you.”
“Greet one another with a holy kiss.”Romans 16:16a (ESV)
After a bit of time, my fiancée decided to leave it up to me. I questioned it and questioned it and questioned it.
One windy day, I sat on a large rock plateau praying for a couple hours. I asked God to show me something to improve.
God said many times that I was slothful. I didn’t know exactly why at the time, but I remember His saying that.
I walked down the plateau to a rocky path and stopped. I felt like Jesus was standing right behind me. I turned and asked Him point-blank whether I should be allowed to kiss Elias.
I waited and read Scripture and asked Him to guide me to any passage saying no. I asked Him to tell me explicitly, because I was ready to abstain if that was His will.
After a good bit of time I looked up and said, “Alright, Lord, since you have not spoken against it . . . I am taking this as a yes from you.”
The second I said that, I looked up at the plateau and there was Elias — his silhouette with wavy black hair blowing in the sandstorm as the sun set, making the sky turn smoky yellow. I ran frantically up the rocks, held his face, and kissed him as the salty canyon winds whipped around us.
We just sat and held each other until the mountains turned black and the wind grew too cold. Every so often we placed another kiss on each other’s lips. This was one of the purest and most romantic moments of my life.
I had not stepped without the Father’s word, and when I received His blessing I bounded forward.
I know this may sound unbelievable, but to this day I still believe the Lord blessed these kisses. I do not believe it was wrong, and neither did Elias, nor my fiancée. There was complete peace.
After that kiss on the plateau, Elias felt more like my brother than ever before. It’s like the kiss was the punctuation mark, the last unanswered question. The last will they, won’t they?
Now that the question was answered, there could be peace. We could relax without worrying as much about pushing boundaries. We were content.
This was one of the sweetest times of my life. Everywhere I looked I saw people whom I loved deeply, and who loved me just as much, and I could even show them how much I loved them in a particular way my heart had always longed to do.
But I was slothful. I was gluttonous.
The night before my wedding, Elias and I shared a bed as we had done many times before. But this particular night a cruel sadness hung over us. A sense of finality to it all.
We both knew everything would change after this night. We knew there wouldn’t be any more nights of cuddles and waking up beside each other; we knew this was the peak of our physical relationship.
Throughout the night the length of our kisses grew and grew, and I didn’t even think about the fact that I had promised my fiancée this wouldn’t happen. Eventually, my friend said one longing sentence, not to coerce me, but simply to say what he felt in that moment.
His longing was too much for me to handle. I cared too much about him and felt terrible that I was abandoning him with my marriage.
Thoughts rushed through my head: If this is our last night together, I want him to know how much I love him. If he has to remain single and celibate for the rest of his life, I want his last kiss to be from someone who truly loves him. Just this one kiss.
In that moment, I gave in and gave him as much as I could with my mouth, and he reciprocated fully. This continued off and on the rest of the night.
I hold to the fact that I did not start making out with him because of sexual temptation.
But once we started making out, it became very apparent what we were doing with our mouths was everything we wished the rest of our bodies could do.
There was a very “get it out of our system” feeling to it — and it did not, in fact, get anything out of our systems, thank you very much. Our making out only reawakened everything that had been put to death in me over the past couple months.
The strangest part was how absent from my mind any thought of this being wrong was — a violation of my commitment to my soon-to-be-wife. Even when we woke up the next morning, reality still hadn’t dawned on me.
But when I looked in the mirror, I noticed my eyes looked different. I focus on eyes a lot, and usually if I’m confused about how I’m feeling I can just look at my eyes to figure it out.
My eyes looked sad that morning, like they did in high school when I was insecure and in a constant state of terror lest someone find out about my sexuality.
I did not like that look. Especially to start my wedding day.
As I showered, I collapsed on the floor in tears. I yelled at God, because from my perspective He had led me into this. Why was I feeling so much shame?!
I kept it together well enough for most of my wedding day. People congratulated the happy couple, and we had a lot to do for the ceremony that day. But as the remaining moments of my single life dwindled, I found my dread growing and growing.
Jonathan, Elias, and I went to the venue to finish up some things for the wedding, and I told Jonathan about what had happened. Elias held me in the back seat of the van as I tried not to melt down and run from it all.
The last thing I wanted in that moment was to get married. I had this sick feeling that I had already failed too much. I hadn’t even been able to write my vows yet, so that was another looming failure.
As we were all getting ready for the ceremony, I just needed a moment with my bride — who I wasn’t allowed to see yet. I knocked on the door, and she gave me her hand.
As our bridal party continued frantically getting ready all around us, we prayed, and she could feel the heaviness in my heart. Then we left for the venue. I wrote my vows on the way there, and some of the heaviness lifted as I looked at the setting sun.
The vows went differently than I expected, as I had been stripped of any promises I could make other than the promises of Jesus, and His promise is this:
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)
Thankfully, the Lord blessed us with a perfect ceremony and meal that we will always remember fondly.
A moment I will remember less fondly was that ensuing wedding night, followed by the next morning when I told my wife what had happened. No secrets.
When you are one with someone, you must give up the luxury of secrets. You must.
My one stupid decision before the wedding derailed our honeymoon, brought us both rivers of tears, and made our first two months of marriage nearly unbearable.
When I look back, the way I have to view it — even with all my “pure” reasons for kissing him — is as an affair. Even though we hadn’t had sex, every bit of my emotions were turned toward him, and his were turned toward me. And that is sex. The same unbridled intimacy.
If Jesus says that a man who looks at a woman with lust has committed adultery, then I absolutely had. I began my marriage by being unfaithful, because I’d given myself an inch.
I trusted myself too much. I also trusted him too much. It took me a long time to stop blaming only myself and to remember that blame is shared.
I now understood why God had told me I was slothful. It wasn’t my lust, my past, or anything else that caused this problem; it was my slothfulness.
I was not vigilant. I didn’t think, and I fell.
Oh, my brothers, how I wish I had a different story to tell. How I wish I could say it all worked out, and that Elias and I are still friends, and that my wife is completely over it.
I wish a lot of things were different.
But this is the hand I have been dealt. This is my story and my cross. It’s no use complaining, because at the end of the day it was my own decision that brought me this pain.
So, my brothers, all I can say is this: know thyself. When you are the best version of yourself — that is when you must trust yourself the least.
Our enemy is crafty, and he is waiting to turn all our mountains of joy into rivers of sorrow. But the power is in your hand. Our King stands by with His universe-forming hands, pierced and bloodied, outstretched, ready to guide you.
I do feel lost right now. Nothing is simple. No one trusts me, many don’t like me, some vehemently hate me, and I am broken in a deeper way than I can type.
But I have been broken before. And I know how this story goes.
There is a third day. A day when all sorrow and death is flipped on its head, and light pours through you like living waters.
My brothers, overwhelmed by pain and sorrows too many to count — I see you. I am broken alongside you. Come cling to this hope with me, for it is all I have left:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (ESV)
Do you regret any physical, emotional, or sexual encounters with another man, particularly a dear friend? Has God redeemed any of your mistakes, or do you feel lost or overwhelmed by them?