DISCUSSION THREAD: What Do You Want to Say to Someone Who Wants to Walk With You?

A friend wrote this afternoon wanting some resources with which to argue pro-gay theology, but also websites that might help him walk with a brother or sister

Well, I gave him a book title that I use for my apologetics and invited him to check the blogroll for more information on websites that might be of some help.  But the more I’ve been thinking about it, the more this seems like a question to open up to you as well.

A brother or sister wants to walk with you while you’re thrashing out SSA issues.  He comes to you with an earnest heart and wants to know how best he can walk with you and support you. 

What do you tell him?

Me?  This isn’t a general observation, but here’s what I’m going through:

I would want asssurance that I was not a freak or a pariah for having told him this, that it is okay to be honest with him about this struggle.  I fear going back to being secretive and that regression could cost my soul.  If what I have to say is difficult to hear or inappropriate, please grace me.  I’m learning.

Look, I need touch.  I’m not feeling you up.  (You’d know, brother.  You’d know.)   The hug, as MR so rightfully put it, isn’t because I struggle with the SSA thing.  It’s because I’m celebate and human.  It helps me not to want inappropriate touching.

Look, the next time you go out and do a guy thing, invite me along, okay?  Sure, I’m living in abject poverty and the wheelchair business and nonstop obesity makes travel on the spur of a moment difficult at best, but it’s not impossible and it’d be great to feel like part of the group, just one of the guys.  Helps re-enforce my sense of masculinity and gives me a taste of the kind of life I struggle so hard to obtain.  And don’t do it out of a sense of pity or charity; I can smell that a mile away.  Be honest and be real.

Pray for me, and not just one of those spur of the moment prayers or saying that you’ll pray for me and never get around to it.  I mean pray for me.  Hold me up.  Tell God about me and my struggles.  Pray for clarity and guidance on your part and for mercy and love on mine.

I truly believe that we may be on the edge of something pretty spectacular in this country; I think as churches begin to deal with the fact that homosexuality is not an “us vs. them” problem, but a “them IS us too” sort of problem, more grace begins to surface.  I think some churches are becoming safer places to be “out,” dealing with the situation and it’s held as no greater or lesser sin than any other.  As we begin to really embrace the fact that we’re all sinners, and that there is no lesser or greater sin in the eyes of God, then we can readily extend more grace to those who struggle, because we recognize that struggle in our own lives.  It will never be an easy process; those who enter ex-gay ministries with the hope that they will never have to deal with those feelings again once they reach “success” need solid theological teaching on the nature of sin and redemption; plus, maybe, a deeper understanding of the struggle that’s created at the point where God circumcises the heart and separates the heart which is good from the flesh which still seeks to destroy.  Everyone has their life-long struggle, their cross to bear.  I don’t care what people say.  Ours is not that different from others.

I believe as more men and women like my friend choose to stand with and walk along side us, we will begin to see even more love, grace and mercy applied to the lives of everyone who struggles with same sex attractions.  It is up to us to tell them what this journey has been like and where our deepest needs still remain.

So talk to me.  Talk to them.  What do you want straight friends and brothers to know?

(This thread will remain open for your inclusion.  Even if you discover this days, months, years after it’s writing, feel free to continue adding to it.  As needed, I will bump this thread to the top once we’ve collected great ideas.)

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~ by WriterRand on August 4, 2007.

One Response to “DISCUSSION THREAD: What Do You Want to Say to Someone Who Wants to Walk With You?”

  1. I’ve been thinking about this guy ever since I first read this request, which I think was the very day it was posted.

    My first inclination is to immediately respond and give what I think is the best answer using my Biblical, theological, counseling training and experience as an elder.

    But, I didn’t want to be the first to “jump on” the problem at hand (as I so often do) but rather wait and see what others have offered. Well, nothing has been posted in the comment section. So, I think I have done my part to be “slow to speak.”

    The first thing I did was try to put myself in this guy’s shoes and understand what the challenges are:

    Challenge #1 – He is in a wheel chair and has problems with his weight.
    Challenge #2 – He struggles with SSA issues.
    Challenge #3 – These two difficulties (wheel chair & SSA) may or may not be emotionally tied together.
    Challenge #4 – Bottom line is he just wants to be loved as “one of the guys.”

    As I thought about this guy on my prayer walks and prayed for him (and all he other guys in bloggersville that I know struggle with SSA) I came to the conclusion that this guy has it the toughest of all the people I know. I thought my own issues as one who was sexually molested by a neighbor and beaten by his father was rough. But this brother has even more challenges. As I thought about him, I honestly began to get choked up. I wish I could be there to be his friend.

    Please forgive me if this response seem a little long, but I want to address what I see as the four challenges listed above:

    Answer to challenge #1 – He is in a wheel chair and has problems with his weight.

    The fact is most of the time I am hanging out with the guys I am doing some sort of physical activity: hiking, biking, shoot hoops, etc. We talk, discuss theology, our lives and so forth while doing some sort of recreation. But this brother can’t do those things so he feels left out of a large part of what guys do when they socialize.

    When I’m not hiking, biking, bungie jumping, sky diving, surfing and so forth with my friends we are either out wine tasting or hanging out eating dinner, having a barbecue and so forth. Eating together is a very social event. But if that is the only context in which you socialize and have fellowship then eating becomes equated with being accepted and a part of the gang. For a person with weight problems that is not a good thing. Food should not be equivalent with acceptance and brotherly love. Also, while we might be free to to chomp down on steaks or chicken and potatoes, a salad and a nice big glass of Cabernet, for a person with food issues and weight problems this type of social eating might be more of a stumbling block than an aid in meeting his desire to be part of the group.

    So, what is the solution? His true friends (not those who merely have pity on him) need to seek ways to engage him in godly social activities that don’t necessitate the consumption of food or require him to be able to walk. If he were where I lived we could go for a stroll in the nearby woods. Many of the trails are paved and I could get just as much (if not more) exercise in pushing his wheel chair than just walking alone. As we went along we could talk, enjoy God’s creation, take pictures of the scenery and together try to avoid getting eaten by mountain lions. Maybe he could even carry my gun (just kidding!).

    If we did eat lunch (even fat people have to eat) maybe I could help him make healthy choices, take an interest in him forming good eating habits and be his accountability partner on this issue. To be an accountability partner is not an act of intrusion into their personal life, but a demonstration that we all need help sometimes and we ought to love each other enough to take an interest in even the most difficult matters of their life.

    Answer to Challenge #2 & 3 – He struggles with SSA issues which may or may not be emotionally tied together with his feeling physically inadequate.

    There are many different root causes for why people struggle SSA.

    I have asthma and you may have asthma. But your problem may be related to an allergy to cats and dogs, dust mites or pollen. Mine may be related to chemicals I was exposed to in Desert Storm. We have the same symptoms but the root cause is different and hence the treatments may be the same or different. The difficulty is in trying to diagnose the root cause and find the solution.

    If this brother’s SSA is tied to feeling lonely and feeling undesirable by women because he is physically weak then spending time with him may help alleviate his struggle with SSA. But more than that, he needs to learn to be as self-disciplined with his thought life as he is with his eating habits. Self-control is self-control whether it is how we think and act with food and our stomach or our sexual organs.

    But because these issues are tied together and he may have a history of lacking self-control he is going to need twice the grace and twice the love of the “average” SSA struggler.

    This is going to take a huge commitment from a group of guys who covenant with each other to each take a part in helping this guy. One person should not attempt to do this by himself!!!! To attempt to help this brother by yourself will lead to a one-on-one emotional dependency. The result will be for him to develop a tendency to “cling” to one person which can become physically and emotionally exhausting for the other. The result would be that the one person who is trying his best to be a friend will get burned out, frustrated and will give up on the brother in need with the result that he will be worse off than when he started.

    Challenge #4 – Bottom line is he just wants to be loved as “one of the guys.”

    Feel free to joke with this guy, watch a movie with him, share CDs, talk to him about everyday issues and the Christian faith. Have a group of guys read the the Bible, or the same book and then get together to discuss it – AND NOT JUST BOOKS ABOUT SSA!!!! Do whatever you do with him as you do with other guys. If your “normal” friends are being a jerk, do you tell them so? Mine do. Then don’t let this guy get away with sin anymore than you would anyone else. Confronting a brother is an act of love. Let him know that you are treating him like anyone else whether it is encouraging or exhorting him. Let him know that as “one of the guys” nothing is out of bounds for discussion.

    Well, I could write more on this issue but I need to get on with my day. Let him know that Rik Fleming is praying for him. I hope others will chip in and give more Biblical advice.

    Grace & Peace,

    Rik

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