Unconditional Love

    May 2000

    Christian Boylove Lives
    Christianity and Boys' Lives
    By Isaac, F.O.D., and Ben
    Edited by Heather Elizabeth Peterson

    The posts in this section are reprinted from the Christian Boylove Forum with permission of their authors. For an index to these posts, click here.

    THOUGHTS FOR YOU AND FOR OTHERS

    Submitted by Isaac on June 9, 1999

    [The post below was submitted in response to this post.]

    Hi Ben,

    I don't drop by here often, hoping not to upset anyone here, but I just thought I'd say hi. Drop me a line sometime.

    About what I've written below, I'd love to hear comments from the others here. The background here, for those of you who don't know, is (in short) that I was loved by a man, a Christian fundamentalist, when I was a boy but that the relationship was torn apart by his religion. So I guess I'm discussing the influence of the religion on real man-boy relationships.

    You confirm two of my theories about fundamentalist Christianity. One is that it is all about the social life that comes along with it. The other is that man-boy relationships survive within it, to a certain extent, and perhaps according to certain patterns that resemble the larger pattern. That is, the apparently natural mechanism behind many man-boy relationships is one in which the boy uses the relationship to become something else to change and to grow. The normal changing and growing during adolescence have counterparts within the adoption of a fundamentalist Christian life, and when the two coincide they reinforce each other. Human bonding becomes heavily cloaked in religious terms, but it is often, or I would hold it is almost never the purely religious motives that bring about the bonds. Two people who think they know something that the rest of the world doesn't they have a powerful bond. In my experience, living within a fundamentalist social group allows incredible access to many boys and a shield of protection from parental concern, and even more so when cloaked in the homophobia of religious fundamentalism. Actually, I think there is often a dual latent homophilia-overt homophobia phenomenon among many men within fundamentalist Christian circles.

    Your sacrifice of "sexual habits" is interesting. I know just how much you were crazily into boys in general. I guess the pendulum is swinging? Perhaps that's a feature of the dramatic instability of having gone through aversion therapy the violent and uncontrollable swings.

    Have fun with your boys, but if you get heavily involved in intimate situations with them, I'd advise you along two lines of thought. Your personal resolution to leave the ultimate expression of love out of the question may come around to hurt one of your boys someday. Also, the very bond that the religion allows also encourages the continuation of an adolescent's belief in the religion. Few boys, if left to their own volition, would choose to believe the doctrines of modern fundamentalist Christianity. I would not have if it hadn't been for my older friend. I believe that the stated goals of fundamentalist Christianity are not constructive, nor are the lifestyles of many of those who believe in them. I wasn't destroyed by it, though at the time I was going through the effects of the experience on my life, I felt destroyed. If there is any good that comes out of it, it is in the unplanned way that social relationships are sometimes enhanced by it, in my opinion.

    The way I feel about being involved in Christianity as a boy is, on the surface, the same way Finkelhor and company feel about man-boy sexuality i.e. though it might have been positive at the time, it was negative later. Surely, I have not fully met my own past. So I guess the conflict is is it better to mix the relationship with the religion or to keep them separate? and my gut instinct looking back is to have kept them separate.

    Any thoughts?

    SHARING VALUES

    Submitted by F.O.D. on June 10, 1999

    Hello Isaac,

    You bring up a number of important points that highlight the importance of distinguishing between the herd instinct and individual conviction in dealing with faith in God.

    I find myself on the other end of the relationship you had with your adult friend. Both me and my young friend have recognised the attraction we have towards each other. I told him "it would be nice to touch each other, wouldn't it?, but really we oughtn't". Some time after that he said to me more or less the same thing "it would be nice to touch, but really we shouldn't". It's the everpresent tension I deal with in loving him and being his friend. And what is the best way to love him? He's still developing, he may well be hetero, really. He's been known to ogle at pictures of women. Or what, if we did consummate our love, and then he had to return to his life and I move on with mine (I now live far from him, such are the circumstances of work)? We would form this most intimate bond, and then have it snapped, just like that. His desire would be for me, but I would not be there. It's bad enough dealing with it as it is, where we haven't come together in sex.

    I think what I'm trying to express is that when I tell my boy "we shouldn't have sex", it's not just out of a hopeless intention to follow some confounding, meaningless rules, but because there is sense and value behind those morals. And it's that sense and that maturity which I'm trying to pass on to my young friend and which I'm trying to learn myself.

    I think this fits in with your thoughts about the dynamics of Christian community, in that the key thing is that the members understand and believe for themselves the moral values they accept communally, and that they teach the children to gain an independent appreciation for their faith. Rather than a blind acceptance of whatever the leader says.

    It's true there are some Christian communities that are more authoritarian (I use this word rather than "fundamentalist"; the latter is such an empty, chimeral word) and do not accept the questioning of, and hence the individual questioning of, their teachings. Watching Ben's journey, I believe he has come to accept our faith on its own merits, and his church has been happy to him the faith, without coercing him into making a premature commitment. Do you fear he has managed to delude himself?

    You are right about the social value of a Christian community. That is there, and that is why one must test for oneself the authenticity of one's acceptance of the faith. It happens time and time again that people come into our churches, overjoyed to find people who accept them, then leaving after a period of time bitter and disillusioned, that these people at the church aren't giving them the same buzz they got at first. They were drawn to the social world of Christians, but never thought to come to terms with God himself and so missed the very heart of the Christian life.

    You stated that the decision not to have sex with a boy may come around to hurt the boy. I agree there can and will be pain, the same pain in the tension I have with my young friend, but I think it is wrong to say therefore that the boy has a "right" to have sex, that you "must" give it to him. When a boy is mature enough to enter into a sexual relationship, then he must be mature enough to respect the desire of the one he loves not to have sex. It's just the same between an adult man and woman. Failing to respect the other's desire not to have sex, whatever the reason might be, is sexual abuse, Isaac. A boy raping a man. If a boy has the right to say "yes", then he has the right to say "no". If a boy has the right to say "no", then a man also has the right to say "no".

    Isaac, I'm not entirely clear what you mean by keeping a relationship with a boy separate from religion. If I am going to let a boy into my life, I want him to share all of my life. And my faith is a part of my life, indeed, the greater part, for it concerns God, the highest of my loves. I cannot share friendship with a boy, without sharing with him my faith also. If I try to keep my faith hidden from him, I am lying to him, I am a hypocrite, and he will not know the real me.

    I sorry to hear the experience you had with the church was so painful. That shows again how we should be building up our young friends to develop their own life and convictions, rather than simply parroting what we do. I'd be curious to hear what relationship you bear to your adult friend today. Do you see each other today?

    IT IS NOT THE REAL YOU

    Submitted by Isaac on June 10, 1999

    Hi FOD,

    Actually, I think I meant to say that individual conviction is heavily influenced by the social; influenced to an extent that any human being within living within the presence of those forces is heavily influenced, so much so that they don't know it any more. I also think that what you are calling a conviction in faith is this: a sexual dysfunction. At the very least, sexuality and religion are related.

    What I am saying is that Ben is onto something, but at its core, what he and others are onto is something more related to boys and sexual attraction to boys (and to other social forces) than anything else (such as faith). Take sex and the social away from the world of fundamentalist Christianity and you would have very few people, and perhaps no one, believing in it.

    "If I try to keep my faith hidden from him, I am lying to him, I am a hypocrite, and he will not know the real me." I hope he convinces you to live your life without the interference of this conviction. You said pretty much what my older friend said to me. But I knew the real him, before he "shared" his religion with me and I liked him a lot for what he was (and still could be).

    You are your own person, and you ought to live your own life not one given away on a gamble. You are worth more to society if you are spending your time to help relieve pain and suffering from the earth, instead of sitting in your home reading pages from the Bible.

    You probably cannot help your young friends develop the "conviction" that the Bible is not what you think it is. Right? Would their thinking process be strongly influenced by the fact that it is your conviction (passed down by others)? You don't seem to understand that you're making it very hard for any boy to come near you without taking on your convictions. Christian fundamentalists give up trying to "share" their convictions with others once they get exasperated or once the "beneficiary" gets exasperated. Thus, the sharing of convictions gets related to the keeping or losing of friendships powerful forces that have nothing to do with convictions.

    There's no reason you have to tell your young friend about your religion in much detail. I'm not lying to my mother if I refrain from telling her what I masturbate to. Why is that any different? It's personal, and it's about me. What do you get out of making it a point to tell others what you believe in?

    By the way, I don't see my former older friend. I call him from time to time but it's difficult.

    SHARING FAITH

    Submitted by Ben on June 12, 1999

    Isaac  

    I don't agree in principle with a number of your statements. As FOD indicated, at the core of fundamentalism should be a true belief in God, that he exists, that he created us, that he wants a relationship with us and that he sent his son to die for us. I do believe that God used the boys to attract me to Christianity because he knew that this was where I would listen. God does meet you were you are. He also knew that if I were to really give up my old life, that I would probably need boys to draw me into something that would otherwise seem impossible for me to pursue. God did all of this for me in the most perfect of ways. Indeed I have really incredible, beautiful boys in my life who are practically my family now. Yet I am so thankful to God for making his calling so palatable, that I don't want to abuse his gift by lusting after those boys. So, I don't. My faith in God goes way beyond the boys and most of what I do in my religion does not include boys. In fact, kids go to class and don't even sit in church with us. 

    "You are worth more to society if you are spending your time to help relieve pain and suffering from the earth, instead of sitting in your home reading pages from the Bible."

    The bible is not religion, but is rather a building of faith and a textbook for living life in a Godly way. By reading the bible one understands how to live their life in the world (which certainly includes helping other people). It would seem to me that most people who don't read the bible aren't terribly concerned with relieving pain and suffering of others anyway, since they are too wrapped up in money, sex and power to care about anyone but themselves.

    If it weren't for a friend sharing his faith with me, I'd still be spending every night surfing the web for the next great boylove series. You know that, as boylovers, we go from one young friend to the next, from one fantasy to the next, looking for more food to fill our empty hearts. I've actually reached a point where I am no longer living my life for the next sexual relief, but am trying to find a Godly purpose on earth. I'd be surprise if that Godly purpose did not include boys in some way, but I am no longer trying to fill the emptiness with temporary fixes. FOD is sharing with his young friend because he himself needs God and he knows that his young friend needs God. You need God, Isaac, just as I did. I didn't know it. You don't know it. But you do. Leave aside for a moment the bible's views on homosexuality (you can wrestle with it later). God loves you as he does me and he wants you do know him. FOD sharing his faith is the most generous act that one can perform.

    MY EXPERIENCE

    Submitted by Isaac on June 12, 1999

    I'm a little bit bent out of shape right now, but I'll try to explain the experience before this thread rolls by.

    When I was 11 or so, I was what I would call a pretty sad boy. I had friends and loving parents, but for reasons I couldn't see, I was very lonely. I remember looking out of my window onto the greyness of the backyard, with feelings in me that I didn't understand. Some time went by and my feelings about myself were hardened by some experiences of rejection by girls that I was in love with. I don't think I felt very good about myself.

    Before I knew it, life changed. I made a real friend. I wish there was another word for it, because most people have friends, but this friendship was something very special.

    The friendship between me and my older friend began when I was thirteen or so. We started spending weekend days together. We shared common interests in very particular kinds of music and hobbies. We went places together. It was incredibly fun. I loved him, and he liked spending his time with me. 

    At some point, I started staying over at his place occasionally on weekends. We wrote letters several times a week. I eagerly awaited his letters and I wrote a huge quantity of letters to him. I was becoming more physically affectionate with age, and one time I somehow ended up in his arms on the couch a very comfy spot. I felt protected and loved. I felt understood. He was the only person to have ever really connected with me. It gave me great happiness and a new view on life. I realized what I had gained, though at the time I was unsentimental about it (until it ended). It's hard for me to remember what it was like. Life was so much more intense for me back then. Well, that wasn't the only thing that was intense I also had a very strong sexual need. That night on the couch we discovered that I liked being touched by him. In fact, I liked it a lot. We were at the point where, to the both of us, it just seemed natural and no leap in the slightest. That's how close we were.

    Many times we did things which are now just happy memories to cherish and remember places we went together. The nights of sleeping next to him were the ultimate times of my life. They brought me to a new place. I can't even describe it to you. But, I felt instinctively on one night where my feelings were the most intense they had ever been, that I had never felt that good in my life, and would never feel any better than that in my life, and perhaps it would not come back. Unfortunately so far I was right.

    Some amount of time, I have no idea how much, went by until he began to "share" his religion with me. I accepted it that's all I want to say about that. I believed in it strongly for a couple of years. But during that time, he pulled away.

    It was in 1990, the same time as the religion was introduced (I have to use my letters to try to remember the order of things) that I recognized and accepted consciously that I was attracted to boys, and had been unconsciously attracted to them since I was young. I told him about it. He reacted negatively.

    When he pulled away, we still talked on the phone. The two of us kept the long distance phone company in business. But the pullout was complicated. He didn't want to be sexual with me. For him, having me stay over was now a liability. As I got older, I needed to be hugged more and more. This was bad because he started saying that denying myself these things being hugged, etc. was a "test from God."

    And something I regret the most of all things in my life is that I believed it.

    Our relationship became one centered on the religion from there on. Looking back on my letters, there was a big shift from before the religion and after it. My writing, the tone and topics, the life within the early letters were so nice. Looking back at these letters recently, I wondered where that Isaac had gone. I know what happened to him. And my current friend, whom many of you know, once saw pictures of me with my older friend from that time. He said, "Wow, you were all smiley!"

    My former older friend last year sent all of my letters back to me. What a thing to see all ninety+ of them.

    So, the no-longer-smiley version of Isaac discussed his non-smileyness with his older friend for a long time, around when I was 15 and 16 I think. The letters had stopped. Mine were very pained and I haven't been able to read them. We rarely saw each other any more. I called him every few days, and weeks would go by without returned calls. Pretty soon, I never got return calls.

    The religion was something that I actually did believe in. Mind you, my father was Jewish and hates Christianity. I was a strong person, doing things which excited and motivated other "believers". I tried to get my friends at school to believe in it too.

    Unfortunately I never got it on with any of my high school loves. The entire subject of my older friend's letters sometimes were about how I needed "to stay away" from them. It's a real pity because I knew certain boys who liked me and I liked them, too.

    It was clear, and probably to both of us, that I believed it because I wanted his love. And now I see how I was wrong to believe it. But I don't regret our relationship one bit. He had other qualities I liked a lot, which had nothing to do with his religion. Many people liked him a lot, too, including my folks.

    I'm leaving a lot out of this explanation, but I guess I have to. I'll leave the telling of any more details for another day. I have a tapioca pudding in the fridge which I want to eat, and I'm tired . . . so long, folks.

    SHARING FEELINGS

    Submitted by F.O.D. on June 14, 1999

    Hi Isaac,

    I want you to know I appreciate you sharing with us what happened with you and your older friend. I hope you'll feel comfortable to talk to us about everything that might be on your mind. I figure it will be good for us, to get another perspective about the effect we might have on our young friends, and good for you too I suppose, to let it out. I can see how much love there was between you and he, and I can understand the anger and frustration you feel from having that love pulled away. Feel free to vent on us, and if there's anything you ever wanted to say to your older friend, but didn't feel you could say it face-to-face, then maybe you can express it here.

    There's one thing in your history that's not clear to me. You said he brought religion into the relationship only after a couple of years. Do you mean he only became religious himself at this later date, or that he was religious all along, and just hadn't shared it with you at all at first? If it's the former, then I'll pass on another thought or two, but it won't make sense unless he was suddenly converted like that, so I'll wait for your answer.

    I suppose it's not going to be much consolation, but in my opinion he was wrong to pull back from you like he did. The way I view my relationship with my young friend, we've invested so much emotional currency into each other, that I believe it would be criminal to abandon him at this point. Having started loving him, I feel the responsibility to continue loving him to the end. That's why I continue to provide for him as well as I can at long distance (I'm waiting for him to get online any day now), why I'm having him visit over the summer, and so on. I'll keep giving him hugs as many as he wants and more than he wants. But it is true, I don't consider having a hug to be quite the same as having sex, you know. Still, it's hopeless, in some ways, I'd hope he'd do what you said in your other post, about convincing me not to hold back.

    There's something else I noticed in your history, I don't know if you ever thought about this angle before. You said he started pulling back from you at the same time he brought religion in, but you also said this was the same time when he told him about your attractions to other boys. That makes me another dynamic at work here. If I am going to enter into an intimate, sexual relationship with someone, I will want us to be committed to each other. I will want to know that I will be able to give all my love to that person, and he to me. But, what you were expressing to your older friend, as it appeared to me, in seeking a sexual relationship with another boy, was that either he is not going to be able to be enough for you you will always be looking out for another, or that you will not be able to be wholeheartedly committed to him, or both of these. Jealousy, and an acceptance on his part that he is not what you ultimately want. Jealousy can tear a relationship apart on it's own, you don't need to bring religion into it to get that done. If this was the case, then you could say he was really hiding behind religion as a means of pulling back, but the real reason was simple jealousy. I can't know if that's the case or not, but have you ever thought about in these terms? I know if my young friend started telling me about everyone he was falling in love with, I'd take it as clear indication he's not fallen in love with me, and so I should consequently be careful not to think of our friendship as more intimate than it really is.

    Is your older friend online today? Do you think it could be useful for him to invite him here to the Christian Boylove Forum? He probably has absolutely no one in the world to share about the feelings he had (and still has?) towards you. Bottling it in sucks big time. 

    All the best, Isaac. I hope the smileys will yet return.

    F.O.D.

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