As a Side B Christian, it’s obvious that I am attracted to other dudes; trust me, I wish it weren’t so. As I consider my attractions to other men, what isn’t so obvious is the fact that it’s not always sexual.

Of course, I do have sexual feelings toward other men, but that’s only part of the story. For example, take my friend whom I’ll call Dave. I text and talk with Dave daily. We try to meet several times a month for dinner. I’ve never really thought of Dave sexually. Honestly, his physique is almost the opposite of my sexual desires.

Yet, for some reason, I go nuts if a few days pass without talking with Dave. This is mostly because Dave and I have the same interests and quirky sense of humor. We are both Christians, and neither of us has a strong theological stance but rather enjoy talking about theology and philosophy as more of a mental exercise, similar to how friends in olden times played chess.

If ever there were a doubt in my mind that I wasn’t physically attracted to Dave, this point was driven home five years ago when he underwent an emergency bypass. I was so concerned for him at the hospital where I sat with his wife and others from our church and prayed. Thankfully, he pulled through the emergency operation.

I noticed something in the days following Dave’s surgery. As just the two of us sat in his hospital room (his wife and all of his friends took turns sitting with him), not only was I not turned on seeing him in various states of disrobing, but also, honestly, I was appalled! Believe me when I say being “turned off” here was actually a major answer to prayer, for I certainly had a fear I would have an “unwanted physical response” and make all of us feel uncomfortable in a very difficult situation.

I’d label my attraction to Dave as intellectual attraction. I am truly attracted to what he finds interesting and his thoughts on a wide variety of topics, and (hopefully) he’s also interested in my own intellectual side.

Another friend I’ll call Rick is attractive to me in that he is incredibly venerable. He’s the classic jock type, “married with 2.5 kids”; you know what I mean. I shared my story with him the first time he came to our Bible study. I didn’t really want to share that quickly, but others in the group were asking for my opinion on some LGBT+ news matters at the time, and I could tell Rick was a bit confused as to what I was. I mean, gay celibate guys aren’t the topic of many conversations.

Rick didn’t say much his first night in the Bible study (who does?), and over the next few weeks he got to know each of us better as we learned about him as well. One night I was standing in our worship service and felt a tap on my shoulder; it was Rick just saying “hi.”

After our small group meeting that night, I headed to my car. As I fastened my seatbelt, I heard a rap on my window. It was Rick! He told me that he had been moved by my sharing about being a gay celibate Christian and that he knew of others who had struggled and not always had the best outcomes. He said he didn’t want to see me go that way too and that the Lord had put it on his heart to touch base with me.

We have since become very good friends and keep up with each other regularly. I’d call this attraction to Rick a strong Christian brotherly attraction. Rick’s favorite line for me seems to be, “I’m sure it’s difficult, Sam, but we both know you’re doing the right thing with your life.”

Finally, I’ll mention my friend John. John is probably my closest, longest friendship. We do life together and have done so for many years. He’s straight and knows my story.

When I first came out to John many years ago he said, “Man, that is a problem,” and promised to hang in there with me as we went through this together. Oddly enough, he’s not a Christian but the Lord certainly has used him in my life for the good.

While I don’t know a lot about emotional intelligence, I imagine John’s is pretty high. He has a true gift for helping me stay balanced when my emotions run from one end of the spectrum to the other.

I’d call this emotional attraction in our friendship. John has a great talent of keeping me balanced between extremes.

It will be a good day for all people when we learn in our innermost selves that attraction is not always sexual.

I doubt whether humans have even been at that level, except possibly in ancient times when love and attraction were understood in completely different ways from today.

Perhaps Side B Christians can motivate such a change in this distinction.

What sorts of attractions beyond the sexual do you experience for other people of the same sex? How have you felt distracted or uplifted by these other forms of same-sex attraction?

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  • Sam. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your post … your honesty and openness are truly valued, especially as I relate and empathize with you. In offering your beautiful words, “I tend to think the Lord has used both my disability and my “gayness” for His glory. It seems as though the Lord has blessed me with both so that He may teach more people His love through me,” I find a beautiful solace in knowing that I am not alone in struggle. Abundant blessings to you, my brother!

  • Thanks for expanding on this notion of attraction, Sam. It wasn’t until we did an attraction podcast that I even had language for “intellectual attraction” as you described here. Now I see it everywhere I look in my life. It’s helpful to put words to why we find ourselves drawn to certain people (or repulsed, in another sense). I’m also grateful to know now that “attraction” doesn’t mean “lust” or “sin.” Finding beautiful qualities in other people is indeed a beautiful thing.

  • I’m a bisexual woman, and I really resonate with this post. My attractions to women (and to men) are *rarely* only sexual/physical, but the intellectual/emotional/spiritual attractions are the first “dominoes” to fall when I find myself attracted to someone. It’s been helpful to think about attractions in a nuanced way; naming the nature of my attraction to a certain person helps me keep things in check.

    Thanks for writing this, Sam!

  • Sam, thank you for your insight and vulnerability. It is so encouraging to read your thoughts and hear some of your heart on this topic of the varieties of attraction. I can truly relate to experience many facets of attraction to men other than physical/sexual (although that is certainly my experience as well). One thing that has been so helpful in my journey has been learning to distinguish when my attraction to a particular man is more about his kindness, or vulnerability, or his confidence and sense of strength than about a physical or sexual attraction. So often admiration is tied in there as well for me. All of these attractions can easily get tangled inside for me, but the untangling (when I can get there, it’s still a struggle sometimes) helps me see not only what I’m really attracted to in the man, but also gives me a glimpse of what I might be needing to experience.

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