I Love You

So, as a warning up front, this is going to be a grieving post.  Earlier this evening, I was talking to a friend about relationship issues and all the complicated stuff that goes along with that.  I was tracking pretty well until he happened to mention that he told this girl that he loved her.   Suddenly, I lost track of what he was saying after being hit by the shear weight of the thought that there’s a strong chance no one will every say that to me, not in that way at least.  In our culture, there is so much emphasis on romantic love.  You pretty much can’t watch a movie, read a book, or even go outside without it coming up in one way or another and that can make it really difficult sometimes.

I’ve been trying to take comfort from an idea that has been brought up by many of the other blog posts I’ve read, which is that romantic love isn’t the end all be all of love and that friendships can form just as strong of a bond if not stronger and can fulfill in many if not all the same ways, but having grown up with this idea that romance is the ultimate goal (and having a soft spot for rom coms) it’s been one of my deepest desires for so long that it can be really hard to let go sometimes.

In my life, I haven’t felt very loved.  My mom always told me she loved me, but, through no fault of hers, I always felt like that was kind of a love of obligation.  I’m her son so loving me is kind of the default mode.  Unless I really botch things up (and probably even then), she’s going to keep loving me, but it’s not about me as a person, it’s just biology.  She often says she’s proud of me and I know that should mean more since many people grow up without ever hearing that, but again, it still feels like something she says out of duty more than actually meaning the words.  I’m grateful that my dad has tried harder to show his affection in new ways in recent years and though it’s still sort of awkward and hesitant, that makes it mean that much more because I know he’s putting forth an effort to do something that doesn’t come naturally.  As far as I can remember, they’re the only two people who have used words to directly express love for me.

My friends have showed me love in other ways (quality time, gifts, acts of service, ect.) and I try to remember that everyone has their own love languages, but I still grieve at the thought that in all likelihood, no one will every say “I love you, Matthew” in that way that is so honest and pure and makes you feel special not just because you’re a child of God or because you’re unique just like everyone else, but because they truly know you, the good, the awful, and everything in between and they still love you.

The New Homphiles

The New Homophiles (so termed by Austin Ruse in a blog post for Crisis Magazine) are a group of Christians/Catholics who are trying to navigate what it means to be a Christ follower who struggles with same sex attractions (SSA).  While reading Ruse’s article, I was somewhat offended by his tone and some of the terms he used to describe this group, but I found myself identifying with them.  My desire to belong to something greater than myself began to search for similarities and a place where I could fit in to this new movement.  I began to read some of the blog posts at Spiritual Friendship where many of these New Homophiles write and I was instantly drawn to writers like Ron Belgau and Wesley Hill finding some many similarities between their stories and mine and feeling inspired by the deep thought they had put into these issues and the wisdom they had to share.

However, I do find myself questioning this group of thinkers in one area; the desire to embrace the terms “gay” or “queer” as a self-identifier is something I’m not sure I can get on board with.  I am hesitant to use these words to describe myself mainly due to the associations I have with these words as well as how these words are viewed by others around me, primarily conservative Christians.  I think that when using any word, especially one as emotionally charged as gay, you have to be aware of not just its objective meaning, but also the possible subjective meanings to your audience.  I believe this is why many people criticize these writers for their use of this term.  I honestly believe that if the writers of Spiritual Friendship were to sit down and have an in-depth conversation with each of their detractors about what they mean when they say they are gay, there would be a lot more common ground than what it appears on the surface.

This leads me to another area that some (including Ruse) find troubling about the writings of Belgau and his companions.  Ruse believes that they intentionally “obfuscate” words to muddy the waters and make it impossible to nail down an exact point of view.  I can see where this idea could come into play, but I believe what is really occurring is that two people are honestly trying to express an opinion and understand where the other person is coming from, but they are going about it using the wrong medium.  A simple blog post does not begin to allow the type of dialogue necessary to truly express a belief or opinion about such complex issues as the ones they are debating.  Again, if Belgau and Ruse were to sit down in a room together and discuss their differences, I think they would find that they aren’t as different as they once thought and they would probably be much more comfortable with the other’s stance.