children, culture, dating, experience, homosexuality, loneliness, sanctification, sexuality, theology
Some of the thoughts in this post came from my reading of this article. I highly recommend it. The article’s author and I don’t share the same theological affinity, but I think there are some wonderful things he expresses in his post.
When it comes to dating women, I’m not terribly experienced. I’ve never been in a dating relationship per se… but I have taken two women out on dates. I’ve been turned down flat by two others. I’ve never dated a man.
I’m about to start my third year of seminary and am taking the summer to read and think. I opted not to take any summer classes–I’m convinced that my never taking summer classes prior to seminary is why I actually enjoyed school at all, so I’m testing that theory. So far, so good. 🙂
One of the things I’m thinking about is whether or not God is calling me to be an unmarried minister. I really don’t know, so I sought out some advice from close friends who have told me that one way God’s will is revealed in these situations is to date. That’s more than a little scary for me, honestly.
When I was in Junior High through college, I didn’t have any young cousins. There’s just me and my brother, who is only four years my junior. I’ve never been around a ton of kids, so they mostly scared me. I’ve always been the guy to have friends who are older than him and the idea of relating to people who were younger was scary.
But the more I’ve worked with kids, the more I’m open to having some of my own. I’ve had friends who have elementary age children. I’ve worked as a music teacher in an elementary school…and kids need godly role models who are men. Sorry ladies…not that what you do isn’t important, but it makes me sick that more guys aren’t involved in children’s ministry and elementary education. I think I was in Junior High before I ever had a male teacher, with the exception of my gym teacher. I certainly didn’t have a male Sunday school teacher until the same age. Why is discipleship of children women’s work?
But I digress. In having taught children, I’ve developed a love for them that I didn’t previously have. I’ve wanted not only to educate them but maybe to have some of my own. The trouble is without a wife, I can’t have a family in the sense that I can have a child who is really my offspring. I have no desire to raise a child by myself and deliberately rob that child of a mother. Two dads, as popular as that idea is now, simply don’t make up for the absence of a mom.
Moms are not simply an incubator for sperm, after all. Father and mother are not interchangeable concepts or roles. I want to disdain the hypocrisy that says “I was born this way–it’s natural” with one breath and “A mom and a dad, though natural, is too narrow a definition for a family.” Holding the two opinions together is simply not consistent or helpful.
What is consistent and helpful is for me to ask, “Should I date?” And then, having asked that and gotten thumbs-up from friends of mine that they think it would be wise, dating women. Maybe at the end of the day I’ll still be single. That’s ok in my book; God has sustained me now for thirty years. He’s more than able to do the same for the next thirty and longer. But for me to paint myself in a corner simply because my primary attraction is toward men seems foolish and a possible outright denial of the transforming power of the Gospel.
I have more thoughts on attraction, but I’ll save them for another post. Maybe my desire for a family is simply something that won’t be fulfilled. God is not the giver of my every whim. But maybe my budding desire for a family is his way of changing my heart toward women. And I’d be a fool to turn God away.
Clare Flourish said:
You poor man. “It is not good for the man to be alone”. But will you tell a woman you date about how you are attracted to her? It does not sound like you will “become one flesh” in a spiritual sense. You could, with another man.
Of course I would tell a girl I was dating how I felt about her. But I wouldn’t ever ask her to marry her unless I were physically attracted to her. Otherwise, as well-meaning as your final sentence is, I would have to disagree. The sense in which two men become one flesh is not in the way that the Scriptures use the term and it’s certainly not what God has laid down from the beginning at creation, nor is it a concession for our hardened hearts (like Moses giving us divorce, for example).
If I got to the place where I married a woman, it would be because I had a desire to know her intimately…physically, spiritually, everything.
A gay man marring a woman? Been there; done that; don’t recommend it. Granted, I love my children dearly. But ultimately I found that women don’t give me energy; men do. Depriving myself of that energy for years put me into severe depression — and my marriage imploded. Looking back, I don’t think it’s right to marry someone if you aren’t head over heels passionate about them. I’m sad that I caused her pain and heartbreak by my naivete, expecting God to make me straight. Well, I’ve tried that for most of my life, and it doesn’t work. Maybe because being gay doesn’t need to be cured?
As for your scriptural references, I am a Christian too. But I don’t see the scriptures as some kind of rule book from which to make absolutist boxes for all reality to be crammed into.
I mean, are you a vegetarian? If so, congratulations for being biblical, since Genesis 1 clearly ordains that. “Oh, that was changed after the flood” — true, which means Genesis 1 is not immutable, and I will remind you that *we* are given authority by Christ to permit, to loose (Matthew 18:18-20). Many churches are beginning to do just that, and allow for same-sex unions.
As far as I can see, all supposed scriptural prohibitions against same-sex activity deal with idolatry and same-sex temple prostitution (Romans 1 is clearly reminiscent of the cult of Cybele); with child molesting (that’s how Luther translated 1 Cor. 6:9, and early writers seem to associate it with sexual violence); or with gang rape as at Sodom (Genesis 19 no more condemns all homosexuality, than Judges 19 and the men of Gibeah condemns all heterosexuality).
Listen, the reason there is a Southern Baptist Convention is because, 150 years ago, folk in the Old South believed scripture proved that God authorized slavery — and believe me, they knew how to quote chapter and verse on that! The trouble is, they couldn’t get beyond the words to the Spirit — and as we realize now, they were dead wrong. Christ had more to teach us, but we weren’t ready to listen (John 16:12-13), and I believe one of those things is found in Galatians 3:28, which not only refers to slavery (hint, hint), but also actually quotes Genesis 1:27 “male and female” to overturn it! — for we are no longer under the old order of creation but are a new creation in Christ.
I hope you find your mate someday, my friend. Adam was actually involved in looking for a mate, turning down some possibilities, and God was working with him to get just the right one for him. God is able to work with you, too. In the meantime, I’d suggest that love is what God looks for (Romans 13:8-10), and that while humans look on the outside (including “male and female” gender), the LORD looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
It breaks me to see you so torn. You’re my brother in Christ Dave and we are to share each other’s burdens, If you need to talk, I’m here.
Josh Goeke said:
It is astounding to me how quickly some people judge you and belittle you on this blog, Dave. I admire your courage to continue posting.
Also, in response to your desire to see more men involved in Kid’s Ministry, may I give you a “Hallelujah preach it brotha!” ? That being said, what with the RCC and Sandusky sex scandals, people are rightly concerned about strange men being alone with their kids. If a kid’s ministry is adequately and appropriately staffed, it should be the case that men can serve alongside other men and alongside women. When I worked at Camp Barnabas it was the policy for adult staff and volunteers to NEVER be alone with a camper. PERIOD. Being above reproach and all that. If church kids’ ministries adopt similar policies, I see no reason why more dudes can’t be a part of the action. But it’s hard to staff kid’s ministry because people are (a) irrationally scared of kids or (b) rationally want to carry on adult conversations, and most children are incapable of those. Most parents aren’t concerned with leaving their kids alone with a female, but are concerned (reasonably) about leaving them alone with a dude. Hence, women can do something that men can’t do in this instance–appear safe.
Not the way it should be, but those are the realities as I see them.
Hello dude, as an openly gay male and devout Methodist, I have always known a Christian atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance for gays. I think you need an immersion into gay culture to connect. I hang out with straight friends a lot such as my weight lifting partner, but ultimately you will seek those with whom you have common life experiences. May you be receptive to how God uses you as a means for His grace.