It was perhaps the most uncomfortable spot I can remember being in,

answering the anxious questions of Carl's parents and his fiancee. Exam

week was just over and tomorrow Carl and I would graduate from university.

I had just emptied a few of Carl's belongings from his dorm room into his

car and driven to his parents' home. Carl [not his real name] would not

attend the graduation exercises. He had just attempted suicide. Although

he had not succeeded in hurting himself, he would receive treatment in a

mental hospital for several weeks.

"Why?" This was the question which his parents and his fiancee now asked

me. "Why did Carl do this? What is the matter?" They felt left in the

dark by the mental health professionals who did not have the liberty to

answer their questions. So they turned to me, his friend. And I knew the

answer to "Why?" And they knew that I knew. But I could not answer them

frankly and candidly either -- at least not here and now. I did let a few

hints drop. I saw Carl's suicide attempt as a cry for help. Carl was to

be married the next month and ....

His father drove me back to campus. On the way we talked. As we neared my

dorm, he finally guessed it: "You don't think Carl is gay, do you?" There

it was, now I must answer: It was his orientation, but not, as far as I

knew, his practice.

It was hard to be Carl's friend. And this was merely the culmination of

four difficult years of being Carl's friend.

We had met at a church youth convention the summer between high school and

university. At the convention, we had been members of a gang of about a

dozen guys and girls. At the beginning of our freshmen year at university,

I met Carl again and we soon become friends. Despite the fact that he was

a commuter, and I a "dormie," we saw quite a lot of each other those first

few weeks of school. After a month or two Carl began to call me his "best"

friend. Soon I learned that he liked to talk a lot about personal

problems. I liked to talk too; I had a lot of answers and advice and I

enjoyed playing the role of a newspaper advice columnist. Actually, I was

pretty naive. Gradually Carl revealed to me that he had struggled in the

past with homosexual temptations, but he had gotten over that. He had

changed, he said. And I believed him.

In the early spring, with a female member of our convention gang, we went

to visit another girl "gang" member at another university. Carl and I were

put up at a friend's house sharing a room. Though no homosexual acts took

place, that night I learned that Carl was not yet over his homosexuality,

as he had told me. And my knowledge of this meant that my problems being

Carl's friend were just beginning.

In my mind, the implications of being Carl's "best" friend suddenly

acquired a whole new, repulsive meaning. I was convinced he looked at me

as a lover, or potential lover, not just as a friend. I was being courted.

Everything we had done together had been a date. My immediate reaction was

anger and rejection: only just now did I realise this. It was time to

break up, immediately, completely, and finally. Carl had been dishonest

with me. This was how I felt at the time. I spoke to him as little as

possible the rest of that weekend and avoided him for the next two weeks.

But we had made elaborate plans for a spring vacation camping trip in just

a few weeks to the Florida beaches along with two friends of mine. I

couldn't back out now without explanations. Maybe I could just grit my

teeth and endure the spring vacation trip and then cut him off. But he

seemed so emotionally dependent on me; he would be devastated if I turned

my back on him completely. But how could I explain to anyone my problem of

being Carl's fiend? Whom could I confide in? What would my girlfriend or

room mate think if they knew? Would they cut me off? What would my

parents say? I can't tell anyone, that would injure Carl and break faith

with him, right? But what if I don't tell anyone and don't cut him off

completely and then sometime later it becomes generally known that he is a

homosexual. Won't people think that I must be gay also? These thoughts

filled my mind. There were risks involved with being Carl's friend.

I wanted to help Carl and be a friend to him, but how could I? I struggled

in prayer over this. The Holy Spirit convicted me that I could not reject

him completely. It was not easy for Jesus to be my friend, either. I

would be a friend, but I could not be his "best" friend. Being "best"

friend meant having no other close friends or else risk jealous hurt and

anger; it meant I was supposed to spend a lot of time with the "best"

friend alone; it meant an emotional attachment that was foreign to all the

normal friendships which I had with other guys. Being "best" friend meant

a homosexual type of relationship even if no sexual activity was involved.

I would remain a friend, but I would have to protect myself somewhat. I

would have to distance myself a little. Carl would have to do things more

with me and my friends, not just with me alone. I would avoid the long

personal problem / psychological / philosophical talks. I didn't have the

answers. I didn't know how to help him other than by just not cutting him

off completely.

Carl moved into the dorms at the start of our sophomore year. But I was

never to be his room mate -- and I can't recall his ever asking me. I

think he understood I required more distance than that would have allowed.

In the ensuing three years, I periodically would see Carl develop emotional

attachments to other males, suffer some degree of rejection, and go through

times of emotional crisis. At such times especially he would seek me out.

He needed to talk .... right now. I was no longer the self-confident

newspaper advice columnist type answer man. I was more of a sounding

board, a relief-valve. Most of the time I could talk "right now," but not

always. Sometimes I had exams to study for, sometimes I was spending time

with other friends, sometimes I was with my girlfriend. And if I was not

available immediately, I sensed that Carl felt in some measure rejected

again. And yes, I was not always the perfect friend either. I did not

always feel like talking with Carl about the latest crisis. The reality of

his pain I did not doubt, but I often lost hope that there was anything I

could do to really help him. I don't need any extra problems," I sometimes

felt. However, the degree of distance between us now gave me the freedom

to be his friend, to talk with him, occasionally to do things with him and

enjoy the time. There seemed to develop an unspoken understanding between

us of the rules of our friendship: 1) Do not look at me or think of me or

act toward me as if I were a potential lover; 2) If rule #1 is broken, I

will reject you; 3) We have no claim on each other, other than that of an

ordinary Christian friendship. Gradually throughout the course of our last

three years of university he regained my trust.

Although this story (chronologically speaking) ends on the dark note of

Carl's attempted suicide and subsequent stay in the psychiatric hospital, a

better story, I am convinced, begins with these same events. A decade has

passed since that commencement. Carl is now living in a different state,

but we have kept in contact over the years. Once again he is claiming to

be changed from his homosexuality, and one again I am believing him, though

now, with a greater awareness than before that all of us still struggle

with the "old man." Am I being naive again in believing the change to be

real? No. If believing in the Spirit's sanctifying power to change lives

is being naive, then I am naive. But I think even those who doubt the

Spirit's power are able to see a change in Carl. It hasn't happened

overnight, to be sure. But the crises are infrequent and must less severe;

there is less dependency, less emotional attachment to same-sex friends.

Overall Carl seems happier.

And me? Being Carl's friend has helped me to realise that the claims of

"ordinary" Christian friendship are strong: they cannot be easily

dismissed when the going gets rough. Being Carl's friend has shown me

that, although humanly speaking and humanly thinking we may despair, yet

the power of God's grace and providence working in the lives of His people

will triumph.

I share my story in the hope that it will benefit in some way both those

who struggle with homosexuality and those who are their friends.

(name withheld on request)


For further information about homosexuality or about other areas of sexual

brokenness, please contact:


G.P.O. Box 1115


Phone (08) 371 0446


This article is reprinted by permission from

Metanoia Ministries

P O Box 33039

Seattle WA 98133-0039



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