On Attractive Friendship Between Celibate Gay Christians
I’ve been thinking about this post at Spiritual Friendship for the last few days. The focus in the brief post is whether the attraction between two celibate gay men necessarily constitutes lust, and whether those friendships should undergo repentance. The author recounts a platonic friendship with another gay man that was constantly under scrutiny and suspicion from their community. As an example of a quality friendship, the author tells of a time this friend flew across the country to visit him, just for the sake of their friendship. The author laments that a non-sexual friendship between two gay men, characterized by non-sexual love, was demeaned and viewed incredulously.
I think one of the tensions that exists here stems from how evangelicals, including Reformed Christians, consider friendships between men and women who are married, but not to each other. There is wide acceptance of the quote attributed to Oscar Wilde, “Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.”
There is an overriding concern that if close friendships develop between men and women it will oftentimes, if not inevitably, end in lust or adultery. I cannot imagine evangelicals being happy if a married man flew cross-country to visit a woman who was not his wife. Even if a single man flew across the country to visit a single women it would of course be viewed as part of a courtship and not merely platonic, no matter what the couple said. There would be disbelief and scoffing from his friends if the man in this scenario said he found the woman attractive but was not interested in her. Since the man-woman marriage relationship is seen as archetypal, and since man-woman friendships are viewed with incredulity and suspicion, the man-man friendships among men who are gay are going to have that same framework imposed upon them.
A heterosexual man visiting his buddy is not going to elicit the same reaction as a gay man visiting a gay man. Same for two straight women. So gay Christians are going to have their relationships to other gay Christians viewed in much the same way as heterosexual relationships. Using the language of “attracted, but not lustful” may be accurate, but probably is not helpful. I don’t know if that’s fair or right, but I think that’s what’s at play.