Dietrich Bonhoeffer in “Life Together” warns that one who cannot be alone should beware of community and one who is not in community should beware of being alone. Christian community was not designed to hide who we really are, but to reveal. Community becomes a holy tension because in one sense, we don’t need each other because God, our supply, is enough. Yet, on the other side, we desperately need each other because He reveals Himself to us in community (1 Corinthians 12:21-26). The church actually needs those that struggle with SSA within their community because there is much to benefit from it. So I wanted to share 3 ways that this could be possible and to encourage you to get to know others that you might not think of naturally to invest in friendship with.
We Begin to See Ourselves Clearer
We must first ask ourselves whether we see our brothers and sisters who battle SSA as a threat to our community. Being on the other side of things personally, it can be challenging to resist the fear of homophobia I might experience from others as a result of sharing anything about my struggle. Because I have experienced this negative response in the past or lack of progressive friendship after sharing, it leaves me hesistant. This uncertainty then can trap me to agonize alone, for fear of rejection. I need community, and the community needs my transparency. My ability to share my “unspeakable” struggle with SSA gives others freedom to confess their own battles, whatever they may be. We need a place where all can come, no matter where you find yourself on the journey of pursuing God. Jesus was well acquainted with our griefs…I wonder, are we the same for others?
Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
Breaking down the “those sinners out there” mentality is important in order to love, listen to, and learn from SSA strugglers.With humility and honesty, you may be surprised how perception may change as God uses unlikely means to reveal our heart and His Son.
We Grow in Understanding of Gender
Culture views gender roles as a product of social and cultural construction, rather than choosing to emphasize our biology. As traditional gender roles are progressively losing their hold, confusion grows and diversity is championed. Do you as parents panic if your son would rather cook than wrestle? Or does a teen girl wonder if something is wrong if she prefers playing soccer with the guys over watching a “chick flick” with her friends? If a real man is supposed to love sports and rarely communicate his feelings, what does it mean if I write music and enjoy extended conversations about heart-level experiences? Traditional gender roles can provide stability to many, but confusion to some.
We know that God created distinctly male and female, and Jesus came to recreate the true image of both of these. Where there is gender equality, there is also gender differentiation- a tension we must learn to hold in a healthy way. Walking in friendship with those that struggle with SSA could help you see unbiblical gender assumptions. For example, a man could be in the military, yet still lack a real masculinity. Jesus, A MAN, described Himself as gentle and lowly. He cried and served others. He also commanded demons, divided families, and rebuked storms.
“Young people benefit from seeing masculinity and femininity on display in a variety of ways. Cultural stereotypes should be critiqued, and different expressions of manhood and womanhood valued. My experience has been that SSA strugglers often ask questions and offer perspectives I would not have considered. Sometimes God has used me to realign their perspective, and sometimes God has used them to realign my perspective.” Peter Hubbard from Love Into Light
We Develop Mutually Edifying Friendships
The breakdown biblically that we see from Romans that led to the action of homosexual sex partly originated from misplaced affection in relationships, turning worship from God to other humans. In some ways, homosexuality is a friendship disorder. That which is needed- sharing of common interests and participating in community- becomes an unhealthy exclusive possession of one another. Myself and many friends that struggle with SSA that I know, find the lack of close, non-sexual same-sex friendships highly detrimental and challenging. Feeling left out and different becomes overwhelming at times, while being paralyzed in the longing to be brought in. Yet, healthy Christian community has the opportunity to love others in pure ways.
“I am encouraged by the fruit that emerges from ‘unlikely’ friendships that form around the gospel of Jesus. Simple skills like listening, serving, and praying scripture for one another erode neediness, insecurity, and greed. Community is not a quick fix for homosexuality; it is rather a lifelong journey.” Peter Hubbard