DISCUSSION THREAD: Healthy Intimate Male Relationships

 (Bumped to the top:  I’m working on my entry for this post.  I want to keep this conversation going.  I want to see others post their stories because I think there is so much healthy and good and righteous for us in how we’ve learned or are learning to develop healthy emotionally intimate relationships with other men.  I’m even considering a blog or website to deal with this subject.  So keep those thoughts coming. — Formerlygay)

James and I had a recent conversation and I thought I’d bring this up for discussion here, except that I’m looking for a slightly different response than usual.

James and I were talking about intimacy in our relationships with other men.  If it’s a given that at some point we have been affected either by the lack of or our inability to engage in healthy intimacy in our relationships with other men — and if God has gifts for us in that sort of redeemed ability to relate to other men on a healthier, non-sexual manner — then what does that look like to you?  I keep taking Rik’s admonition to look a little further into the future to see what healthy looks like, and I am looking to my relationships and wondering what “knowing and being known” really means for me.

So here’s where the discussion part gets a little weirder than normal:  instead of detailing what you think healthy and ideal should be, show me the closest thing you have in your life to a blessed, healthy relationship with another man.  Paint us a word picture of that person and how you relate.  Doesn’t have to be THE healthiest relationship in the world — who has that? — but someone that you can hold up and say “Yeah, I think this is close.  I think Jesus is really in this.”

I’m gonna meditate on this one and be back later today with more thoughts on this, including my own candidates. 


~ by WriterRand on March 9, 2008.

7 Responses to “DISCUSSION THREAD: Healthy Intimate Male Relationships”

  1. To tell you the truth, I think have the healthiest relationship imaginable with my brothers Phil, Dave and pastor Dave (who is also my counselor). With these three mature Christian men I am transparent and we have a “friend that stick closer than a brother” relationship. (Proverbs 18:24)

    I have been friends with pastor Dave for 12 years (where did the time go?). We met while in seminary and I am an adopted member of his family. I am “Uncle Rik” to his 6 kids. Pastor Dave is modeling for me what it is to be a Christian father and husband. There is nothing that he doesn’t know about my personal life and he can ask or tell me anything. I spend one night out of the month at his house with his family. Sometimes I cook dinner for them. During that stay we only talk about my SSA & wanting to get married for a couple hours. The rest of the time is spent talking about theology, shooting guns, going wine tasting or I help him out with something around the house. He is closer than a brother and yet there are no emotional attachments other than that of Christian brothers. I hug him and his entire family when we meet and when I depart.

    I have also become a member of the other Dave’s family. Once a week I have dinner with his family and I always bring the wine, sometimes a salad. Dave is also modeling for me what it is to be a Christian father and husband and we frequently talk about “how to” issues of being a dad and a husband. There is nothing that he doesn’t know about my personal life and he can ask or tell me anything.

    I spend more time talking to Phil than I do the other guys and as singles guys we probably relate to each other a little more. Phil comes over to my house once a week for dinner and we usually attend church together. Like the two Daves, there is nothing that he doesn’t know about my personal life and he can ask or tell me anything.

    What is significant about these brothers that makes our relationship bond is our maturity of faith, common theological convictions, willingness to be open with each other and a lot of time getting to know each other over years. Relationships like these are developed over time and require vulnerability. It also means having times of disagreements and times of having to humble oneself to ask for forgiveness when we have wronged each other. It is in the process of growing together through tough times and good times that creates the “glue” between us. Through experiences we develop trust, faith and respect for one another.

    I know most of us would really like a King David & Jonathan brotherhood with another guy. Well, I have been blessed with three such brothers and I’d take a bullet for them any time!


  2. First, I wanted to say that I have spent time with Rik and Phil together, and it sure looks like a healthy friendship to me. The majority of the time the two of you were talking about your relationships with God, theological issues, and other things that mattered eternally. Of course, there was also talk of wine tasting, church politics, and other casual conversation, as there should be. It is just a regular Christian friendship. The main thing that stood out to me was that you included me in the conversation and fellowship between you two. Your friendship is non-exclusive.

    One VERY important aspect of a healthy relationship with a man is that it is NON-exclusive. In other words, I should relate to men as friends, NOT boyfriends. I should be willing to include someone else in conversations and activities and not go on “dates” all the time with just one guy. Also, any hugging or other touching shouldn’t go beyond the limits of “just friends”.

  3. For my example, I want to describe my healthy friendship with BC which illustrates the fact that a relationship can be emotional but not sexual. There was a lot of drama between us even though he is very straight and I was not acting on my attractions. He and I met when we were roommates in college. We were living in a very crowded room in a very crowded house near the college campus. The hot summer night I moved in to that A/C-free room we had an argument over what speed we should set the electric fan. Very quickly, things degenerated to the point that every conversation we had turned into an argument. We were both Christians living in a house full of Christians, so we soon realized that we needed to change. We asked each other’s forgiveness for our behavior that was so lacking in Christian love. What we did then is what turned everything around: We agreed to pray together whenever an argument started. Needless to say we prayed together a lot over the next few months and that brought us incredibly close as friends. Yes, we discussed my battle against same sex attractions, too.

    When he left school and joined the military, I was the only one with BC at the bus station saying good bye. When he finished his military commitment I had moved to Maryland and he called me and asked if he could move in with me and other guys there. He valued the friendship so much that he decided to leave his friends and family in Florida and start over where I lived. BC and I shared many joys and sorrows over the next few years. I got into a relationship with a girl that ended very badly when she discovered my same sex attractions. (I should tell that story some day.) BC helped me through that, then he ended up dating and marrying my ex-girlfriend!

    I am still friends with BC and his wife. Could that happen anywhere but among followers of Jesus? I was best man at their wedding and I have been at their house many times over the last few years as they have matured and had 4 children. I have talked through their career and parenting issues, they have cared for me through deaths in my family and lots of SSA issues. BC and his wife have no hesitation to let me around their kids. They trust me and understand my strengths and weaknesses. BC and I always greet with very heartfelt hugs. I think we will always be friends.

  4. As I was working on my entry for this topic, I noticed that the hits on this post are going through the roof. I think we’ve hit a nerve here, folks.

    So feel free to comment away on this. Even if you’ve never posted anything before on this blog. I have a feeling this may be one of the most important topics we’ve ever discussed.

    Busy day for therapy, but I’ll see if I can’t get mine posted by tonight.

  5. I re-read this post and MR’s comment about “non-exclusive friendships” and the importance to “relate to men as friends, NOT boyfriends.”

    What is key important to accomplish this is to expand rather than narrow your circle of close guy-friends. I started with “coming out” to two friends (Dave & Phil) and I felt really “needy” all the time as I wanted to talk to them constantly. But then I expanded that circle by “coming out” to a pastor-friend that I went to seminary with. Now the circle of those who are “in the know” expanded and I could talk to anyone of them. But now recently I have included ANOTHER pastor-friend Steve and I’ll be joining his church this Sunday. IN the next few weeks I’ll “come out” to the other elders and Steve has assured me that I’ll have all the elder’s support.

    The tendency towards exclusive friendships often comes from wanting to feel assured and secure in a male relationship. But when the friendship is a small circle or just one to one then an emotional dependency is developed which is not healthy.

    Here is what is important – it takes time to develop friendships. If you are bouncing from city to city, from job to job, from church to church how are you going to have any stability in developing friendships? Also, you need to learn how to communicate and how to “open up.” I know that can be difficult for many people and as a trained teacher, preacher and counselor I may be a little better at it than most. But developing friendships involves risk as well as time and you have to enter them know that there will be times of disagreements and conflicts. The important thing is knowing how to humbly resolve them, confess sin and ask for forgiveness.

    The bottom line is, we need more friends so that we do not idolize one friend. Exclusive intimate friendships at its heart is really idolatry unless the other person is your wife.

  6. I think Jesus is in — and always has been in — my relationships with my father and older brother. They are both very different men. My father is, well, my father. He is artistic, mild-mannered, caring, energetic, fun-loving, and always, always compassionate. He’s the kind of guy that likes to give big hugs and crack jokes. He certainly has his faults (who doesn’t?) but as far as I’ve seen he’s always been a wonderful husband and Christian. When I “came out” to him, he was shocked — more so by the fact that I had kept something from him than what I had been keeping. It didn’t change anything, though. He’s treated me just the same. Every time I come home, I can always expect a big hug as soon as I walk in the door. It’s good to have that.

    My older brother is a lot like my dad, but he’s a bit more of a “man’s man” too. He’s stronger, much less mild-mannered (but no less compassionate), and a natural leader. He inherited my mother’s quick wit and sarcasm (so did I, for that matter), and isn’t afraid to use it. He also has a strong sense of right and wrong, and as a school principal, he uses it on a regular basis. He’s immediately trustworthy and when I first decided to “come out,” I had absolutely no fear — none — telling him. I didn’t have to; he’s my brother, after all, in every sense of the word. He’s also an excellent father and husband.

    My relationship with these two men has kept me strong. They don’t know about all of my struggles. They know who I am and how I’ve decided to live my life (celibately), and they’ve both expressed concern about me ending up lonely. I always brush if off with a joke, but it feels so great to know that people are concerned. When my father, brother, and I are together, it’s wonderful. I can feel Christ right in the room with all the laughter. When I do feel lonely or “on the brink,” in addition to calling on Christ, I think of my father and brother. They are my best friends and I have always been blessed to have them around.

  7. Wow. Each of these responses has left me teary-eyed. I just graduated from college, am living in Los Angeles, and am looking for a church where I can find brothers like the ones I read about on this page. Praise God for this gift of fellowship and intimacy. I pray I will soon experience the same.

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