dating, experience, friendship, Gospel, homosexuality, insecurity, loneliness, relationships, sanctification, sexuality
There sort of is. I’ve taken a wonderful young lady out on several dates in the last month and a half or so. I enjoy being with her and she seems to enjoy being with me. She not only endured watching Metropolis at my house a couple months ago–she actually seemed to like it. (Artsy and fun? Whodathunkit??)
I want to do right by her. I want to see if my affections continue to grow. She loves Jesus, is really smart, sensitive, sassy, and seems to be able to shoulder my opinionatedness. (I don’t think that’s a word, but if the Germans can take a bunch of words or word parts and string them together, I can too.)
I got a text message from a good friend of mine who has liked me for a very long time. I’d lay odds he is waiting around for my theology to change so he can date me. I told him that I was dating a girl and that I needed to explore this relationship. The response I received was something along the lines of we both know how this will turn out. I replied, Do we? I’ve been in love with a girl before…why not again? I didn’t get a response. I’m not here to psychologize why I did or didn’t get a reply to that; instead, I’m here to say that I’m getting some push-back from my gay friends now that I’m considering seriously dating a girl.
At the same time, some of my straight friends have really encouraged my dating this girl, including her brother. In fact, it almost seems like to several of my friends, this makes me a little less…intimidating? Scary? “Other”? I’m not sure what the adjective is there. Maybe I should say it makes me more accessible. I get that. That’s nothing terrible or strange. After all, I have another friend that told me that he’d had a physical relationship with his best friend a few years ago. That instantly made him more accessible to me, in terms of being able to relate.
Somehow, I’ve always wanted to fit into the ‘straight world’ anyway. Not that I don’t have many straight friends–most of them being straight guys, no less–I simply don’t feel like I really belong sometimes. This is a way to feel less strange and and more normal. But I don’t want to mess with a girl’s emotions and life just to feel more normal. I think my previous dating record bears out my good intention in these matters…I’ve only asked out two girls prior to this one, and one from college was a consistent, three-time “no” during a five-year friendship. (The other resulted in two dates in 2007 and then just never went anywhere.) But, dating record aside, I think it’s important that I be honest about the fact that dating will open up relationship doors with straight friends of mine that might otherwise be closed.
I don’t know where this journey will take me. I don’t feel pressured to date her; quite the contrary, I want to date her. She’s great. I wish my physical attraction would get in line, though. I’m hoping it will grow as I get to know her since that’s the way it happened with the girl from college. Most relationships carry with them a measure of heartache. Maybe all. Does the Gospel speak to my need–the need for reconciliation to God and to others–and answer it with the permission to date and succeed or fail? Is that too much of a stretch?
I don’t know of scripture referring directly to permission or denial of what we today consider dating. In the Bible much more of it was arranged and less involved choice on both sides, sometimes the man or the woman had some say, but rarely did both.
The Bible very much gives permission to us to enter into a lasting relationship with another of the opposite sex, the path that we in this culture use is dating. I often find that I dislike some of the liberties that people tend to take in dating relationships as if they were in a marriage, but feel free to leave the relationship whenever they see fit.
I think it is great that you have found a woman that you “want” to pursue a relationship and not just feeling like you “should”. I pray that God will lead you and help you grow through this experience.
Since our culture uses dating to find mates, it is required that we take the risk that success will not come about, but end in failure. However if we never risk failure we can never find success either. I am currently struggling a great deal with this particular idea.
I will end with this quote from C.S. Lewis, that I have often found encouraging when I am seeking the courage to take certain risks.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
Affirmative: the Gospel speaks to your need and answers it with the permission to date (assuming you’ve already concluded for yourself that dating is an acceptable thing) and to succeed or fail.
And this is the same whether one is gay or straight.
So be encouraged in that.
“This is a way to feel less strange and and more normal. But I don’t want to mess with a girl’s emotions and life just to feel more normal.” Couldn’t have said it better!
“I wish my physical attraction would get in line, though.” – and again, right there with ya!
I know several people who are/were in mixed-orientation marriages. Without exception, all of those acquaintances have been through some pretty rough patches. Some stayed together, some did not. I definitely believe that with God’s grace it would be very possible to make such a relationship work. However, I also question if its a desirable option (at least for myself anyway).
As you mentioned, you’ve ‘been in love’ with a woman before. Likewise, I can confidently say I’m capable of emotionally engaging with women on romantic levels. I’m guessing, at the end of the day, that friendship and the shared emotional bond (along with a love of and submission to God) is what enables such couples to commit and remain maritally faithful to each other.
In struggling through these questions myself, my biggest hesitation with pursuing a member of the opposite sex is the lack of physical attraction. I’m not saying I don’t find women attractive; to the contrary, I think they can be incredibly breathtaking creatures. Sometimes, I’ll even find myself contemplating a woman’s beauty and thinking to myself, “you know what, maybe this could work. May this is attraction.” And then inevitably some random attractive dude will cut through my line of site and before I realize it, my mind has exploded in a completely different way and I’m frantically controlling my eyes and curbing my thoughts. So here’s a question you might consider asking. How important is it to her, that you find her sexually desirable? Would it bother her that you would find other men more attractive than her? And for yourself, are you okay with the fact that perhaps you will always find men more attractive – that even on a honeymoon with your new radiant bride, you may be more distracted by shirtless men passing on the beach than the incredible creature in front of you?
But then its also possible that you are graced with a level of bisexuality that would allow you to “do right” by a woman in terms of desiring her sexually. I wish I could say the same for myself. More and more, I’m finding that if I never reach a place of confidence and peace with regard to Affirming theology, I will most likely end up living out my life as single and celibate.
Aaand I think I’m rambling now.
I guess I’m just saying be careful. As you noted, by entering a relationship, you would be bringing another persons heart on the line as well. Recognize the unique challenge that a mixed orientation relationship would create. Pray and challenge yourself to examine your motivations for a relationship. Be honest with her form the get-go should you decide to pursue her.
You are so awesome. Such honesty is rare, especially when it comes to “uncomfortable” topics like sexuality and spirituality…especially when those are in the same conversation! I’m praying for you. Whatever God wants for you, whether it’s a heterosexual relationship or celibacy, I pray that He guides, provides, and comforts you in that journey.
The real question is whether or not she will be able to adequately make fun of you, and if she can i think you should steer clear because that would steal some of the MLPWarrior thunder, and we don’t want anyone, male or female, interfering with our fun.
Will be praying for you, and for this. Btw… send me some sermon notes again, I enjoyed reading over them the last time.
Ryan Gill (@ryankgill) said:
I will point out… that the attraction should line up… because she is mighty cute.
It could line up. I hope it will.
Wow! A friend showed me your blog today. I commend you for writing about this stuff as you work it all out in your mind and in your heart.
You know, you’re being partially honest, and that’s great. Partially honest, I say, because you have at least acknowledged that you know you’re not sexually attracted to this woman and that your dating her could lead to a broken heart on her part (and quite possibly on yours, as well, which I doubt you’ve considered)… but the bottom line is that you’re gay.
Buddy, I have been down this road myself. I’m a bit older than I think you are, and I speak from experience here. You are trying to talk yourself into something that is — and your heart will tell you this is true — inauthentic. That’s the same as being dishonest, in fact it is a deeper dishonesty, because it is not just a lie of words, but of actions. I know whereof I speak, because I did exactly that. I wasted years of my life — and of another’s — trying to prove something to myself: that I could become heterosexual. I couldn’t. I can’t. And, what’s more, I know now that God didn’t want me to. It took me many years to understand this and come out of the darkness of my fundamentalist past to embrace the truth that God loves me exactly the way I am.
You are gay. There is nothing you are ever going to be able to do to change that simple fact. Nor should you. Your theology hasn’t got a thing to do with it. God loves you the way you are. You can’t earn more of his love by “being straight” nor can you lose a single iota of his love by “being gay.” He made you and he understands you. And he loves you. Period.
I see lots of C.S. Lewis quotes on your blog here. Lewis is one of my favorite authors going back to my childhood in a major fundamentalist college. I can say with some assurance that Lewis understood what I have said to you above, because it was his writing which first set me down this liberating train of thought as a young evangelical fundamentalist. I would encourage you to read his book “Surprised by Joy” if you haven’t, and re-read it, if you have, to see for yourself what his own reaction to homosexuality was… and you’ll find a whole lot in there about a joyful life, too.
Something else you need to consider, carefully: as a gay man, you are never going to be sexually fulfilled in a heterosexual relationship. It’s quite possible you may be able to bring yourself to “go through the motions” with a woman, but there will be someone else in that room with you — someone you actually desire, inside your head — and because you are not going to be sexually fulfilled, it will be impossible to truly fulfill this woman (or any other) sexually. If you believe, as I do, that God created sexuality not merely for pro-creation, but also for the deep-seated need we all have for companionship, love, intimacy, vulnerability, joy and fulfillment, then you would be doing this woman a great disservice by pretending to be something that you are not in order to become something you were not meant to be. Don’t make the same mistake I did. It ruined a wonderful friendship and wounded her very deeply. THAT is not what God wants. I John 4: 7-14
God loves you and he wants you to be happy. Really.
Certainly, God loves the people He’s redeemed from death through His Son’s blood. And I respect that a heterosexual relationship is one that you did not find fulfilling. I’m not trying to become heterosexual; I’m trying to see if I can love, truly, a lovely young lady with whom I enjoy spending time. At present, I’m not planning on marrying anyone, or even getting involved because someone in the Church tells me that I must.
I do think you’re blurring categories and equating “I’ve been this way since I was born” and “God created me this way.” I don’t believe the two things to be synonymous since Scripture teaches that in Adam, we all fell. So the way I was born doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how God intends me to live. If I could I ask, I’d love to hear how you would apply the act of repentance in your relationship with Christ, since repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Christ form the basis of the Christian life (Luke 24:47), which is why Christ commands us to spread that good news.
I must admit that most of the Lewis quotes on my blog are found in the com-boxes because I’ve never read very much of Lewis at all. I will check out the book you mentioned. Thanks for commenting!
JH — are you POSITIVE that YHWH created marriage to make you HAPPY, and not HOLY?
I also have a story to tell from my own life.
I seriously dated a beautiful and deeply spiritual girl years ago for about six months and I knew she was everything I could ever want in a wife. Thankfully, she was also very discerning.
When we started talking about marriage she pointed out that I was a great friend but there was “something missing” on a romantic level and she wanted to get to the bottom of it. Well, I just told her my whole story, that I was attracted to guys but that I loved her and was praying for a stronger attraction to her, an attraction strong enough to sustain marriage.
Um, well…I will just say that she couldn’t handle that and wanted to end the relationship immediately. I convinced her that we should be apart for a few weeks and seriously pray so that we would not make a hasty decision. When we met again we BOTH knew we were not “meant for each other”.
Within a year she married my best friend. This may sound crazy and I can’t fully explain it, but God gave me the grace to continue to love them both as friends. I was best man at their wedding and I was honestly happy for them. We are all still in the same church to this day. I love them still. I am still single. Their children are now in their teens and I have to be careful about what I say around the kids…if they only knew…
Anyway, I learned much through this experience: much about me, women, attraction, friendship, loyalty, love-motivated sacrifice, and the right role of emotion vs. logic. I experienced some of the most powerful emotional excitement of my life and some of the most devastating disappointment. It took me YEARS to think it through, but now I am able to live much more joyfully, wisely, and confidently because of it.
I am glad I dated that girl and I would never remove it from my past if that were possible.
Thanks for sharing that, MR.
james Reggio said:
Be it known that this gay friend of yours offers nothing but his heartfelt support.
(Let me know if any of our mutual friends are giving you trouble.)
So far, I haven’t gotten any grief from mutual friends. But I’ll keep you posted if they do. 🙂
It was nice reading.