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Mar 22, 2021

All I Was Looking for…Was Friendship

Hudson Byblow

I will never forget the day I received an email from a guy (now in his 60s) saying that all these years he thought he was gay, but recently he came to realize that he simply desired friendship.

I thought to myself, “Wow! His story needs to be shared!”

The Desire for Friendship

Friendship was something he struggled with. Being part of a “wolf-pack” or friend group of men was something that never occurred in his life. His longing to belong and have meaningful friendships with people of the same-sex deepened as he grew up, intensifying as the days, months, and years passed. Those longings for same-sex relationships were natural and good (I am talking here about chaste friendship). But unfortunately, this normal and natural desire was distorted by the culture. As a result, he became convinced that his desires ought to be seen through a romantic and sexual lens.

That is, he began to interpret his natural and good desire for same-sex friendships to mean that his longings to belong with men meant that his desires were in fact desires for romantic/sexual relationships with men. After all, wouldn’t it feel good to be finally chosen? Finally, to be noticed, accepted, and loved? Finally, to be good enough for someone? The answers to those questions, for him, were yes, yes, and yes. With that, he became further convinced by the world that he was gay.

After having a lifetime stolen from him, he finally realized that all he was looking for was a friend. Newfound holy friendships later in life cast a light on this. Today, in his 60s, he is starting anew, radiating the joy that one can only know when self-honesty leads to truth.

Perhaps his story might prevent others from having years of their lives stolen as well.

The Need for Same-Sex Intimacy (Close and Meaningful Relationships)

In both same-sex relationships and same-sex sexual/romantic relationships, a form of intimacy is possible. However, if the relationship is romantic/sexual, a holy (chaste) intimacy is not formed. To determine that which is holy, however, a person needs to understand sin. To help with that, we can look to CCC 1849 to see that sin can be described, in a concrete way, as a rejection of truth. This, however, includes the rejection of the truths written into creation, including the truths that are physiologically authored into our bodies. These truths include that we are created as males or femalesand that, regardless of attractions/inclinations experienced, our physiological complement is a person of the opposite sex. To reject those truths is to reject the “successful integration of our sexuality,” and thus is to reject the virtue of chastity itself (see CCC 2337). 

Note: While only God can measure anyone’s culpability, and while we can be naive to some things that might be sinful, CCC 1860 clearly does state that “no one is deemed to be ignorant of the principles of the moral law, which are written in the conscience of every man.” Likewise, if we sin without understanding that we are sinning, we are still at the very least committing venial sin, and according to CCC 1862, “Deliberate and unrepented venial sin disposes us little by little to commit mortal sin.” Further, CCC 1865 reminds us that sin clouds our consciences and corrupts the concrete judgment of good and evil. Through this, the falsehood that sin is only something relative to the desires of one’s heart can unfortunately take root. As a result of this taking root, however, people begin to falsely justify their actions as being not sinful at all.  This is a situation that could jeopardize the eternal destination of one’s soul. This is why we need to take the time to understand sin on a deeper level and ask ourselves whether we are placing our own authority above or below the authority of the Church. (I encourage you to click on the above link and spend some time coming to understand the fullness of the teaching of the Church and our responsibility to follow Christ in this area of our lives as in other aspects of our lives and relationships.)

With all of that being said, if we truly love people, we won’t celebrate merely intimacy, but rather only holy intimacy that is honest, mutually respectful, and fully in line with the objective good of the other person as God created them to be. And this is for us to consider regarding all types of relationships, whether they be same-sex or opposite-sex.

The Problem of Absolute Abstinence

Abstaining from same-sex interactions altogether, perhaps to protect oneself from having to face temptation, might sound like a good idea. But doing so will cause a person to become further isolated rather than to grow in authentic friendships with others of the same sex. If we continue along that trajectory, the result could be disastrous—further isolation bringing about a more profound chasm between said person and the same-sex peer group within which they hope to find belonging.

Conversely, if we do pursue purely platonic interaction with persons of the same sex, in other words friendships (within community is always good), we learn that it’s possible for us to be around people of the same-sex and that it’s possible for us to learn and grow from these relationships. As we do this, we become better people, learn new skills, gain new competencies, and therefore also gain new confidence. We can begin to see ourselves less as “below” or “less than” others and more as equals.

A transition like this can renew the soul of anyone, no matter what their confidence level is today, but it doesn’t happen without our cooperation. We have to initiate those sorts of situations, but that will never happen if we are living in fear. Thankfully, only the slightest moment of courage can begin to lift us out of that.

Conclusion

The conversation about sexual attraction as it is can trap people into a too-small way of thinking. If we elevate the conversation into the realm where we can examine whether or not we are developing holy intimacy within holy friendship, then maybe we could transform the face of this discussion for the better.

And if we strive to do that, I wonder how many stolen years in the lives of others could be prevented.

You May Also Like:

Be My Guest: Hudson Byblow on Same Sex Attraction, Holy Friendships, and Healing from Pornography [Audio]


Can I Attend a Same-Sex Wedding? [Jackie and Bobby Video]


Porn, True Intimacy, Introducing Parents to Jesus, and Same-sex Attraction [Matt Fradd Video]


Hudson Byblow is a Catholic speaker, author, and consultant who lives in the Midwest where he has a career in education. He has presented at National and International conferences in the United States and Canada and also presents to clergy, schools, and parishes, specifically on the topics of healthy relationships and the joy of pursuing a heart of chastity. His website is www.hudsonbyblow.com.

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  • Can you recommend some sources of truth & grace to heal these wounds that lead us to live unchaste/unholy lives in sexual brokenness? I come from a background of childhood neglect, sexual abuse from a female teenage babysitter when I was 8 & 9, years of my own promiscuity from ages 13-22, then a 30 yr. marriage where the thought of having sex with my husband is torture (where I feel like I’d really rather commit suicide). The last (nearly) 4 yrs. of our marriage has been under sacramental graces but that didn’t heal the sexual wounds of the past, nor cause my husband to be understanding & kind. My husband still feels like a predator to me; and I wait to die for release from the pain of loneliness, entrapment, regret, sorrow, and shame. I’ve participated in a Grief to Grace retreat, which gave me the strength to pursue a divorce. A divorce would release me from the daily pressure of feeling like I should be having sex with my husband but am I now pursuing an “unholy” chastity? I want to join a convent so I can have a holy “marriage” to Jesus and never feel put-upon to “put-out” again. I am angry and frustrated because I feel like there is no way out of the pain. It’s not easy nor favorably looked upon to get a divorce in the Church, and I don’t know if it’s actually the answer to my problems. I do know that it’s looked upon more favorably than suicide, however, and that seems to be the only options out of the intense pain, loneliness, emptiness, sorrow, regret, shame & brokenness.
    P.S. I am a daily Mass attender, a frequenter of the Confessional, and a Catholic who operates in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and has a fairly consistent, honest prayer life. Thanks for any help you can offer.

  • Ascension Press and all that happens under it’s banner is an instrument of God’s holy plan for His people. Thus we should support it in every and any way we can.

  • Since my deceased husband’s sudden death from Parkinson’s Disease I have done my best to stay away from same-sex attraction. However the lady who is President of our Senior’s Group has experienced the same loss; we are combining efforts to get justice for our deceased husbands and all other current and future veterans. The Pandemic restricts our being together to emails and phone calls. Linda

  • This post hit HARD. I have been struggling with porn addiction for years, mostly from my introverted nature. I always found it hard to make real friendships with other men and struggled a bit to make romantic relationships with women. But I always considered myself straight. I have always been attracted to women, and still am. I’m now married and have a wonderful wife and child, but the pornography addiction has plagued me all these years. With the general loss of friendship and social opportunities that came with being a married working father in a job where I rarely interact with coworkers (I do freelance computer work so I’m mostly in the home office), I found myself sliding more and more into homosexual pornography. At first I couldn’t understand it myself. I thought perhaps I was just bored and psychologically needing the same “hit” as before. But what I noticed is that it wasn’t the sexuality of these men that drew me in so much as their apparent closeness, intimacy, and mutual desire. I couldn’t really put the pieces together but I knew this budding addiction wasn’t just something sexual. I really asked myself, was I turning gay? Was it possible to “become” gay? I ways always raised religiously to understand that, while homosexuals deserve love and respect, the lifestyle they enact is a sexual sin (no worse than my own consumption of pornography, truth be told). I knew what I was doing was wrong. But something kept feeling like a need that had to be filled.

    Then I came across this post several months ago. And I have been thinking about it ever since. It crosses my mind at least weekly. Because it was a literal revelation. I realized that my lack of supportive male friendship in my life has been taking more of a toll than I thought. It’s so right. When I would view homosexual pornography, what I was secretly longing for was that connection. I feel very isolated in life: my relationship with my father was always very cold, I had few male friends growing up, I have nearly none now, I live in a house filled with women and interact in person mostly with women. I was never good at sports or typically masculine pursuits. I’ve always questioned my masculinity and felt an uneasy sense of inferiority despite struggling hard to fulfill my responsibilities. And after reading this post I realized just how much those feelings manifest when I feel the desire to view gay pornography. I realized how much longing I feel to belong, to have a place among other men, to have some kind of supportive friend group of like minded men. It’s not the sexual intimacy I crave; that is just an easily accessible cover for the much deeper and more meaningful and maybe more wholesome desire. The idea of having a “boyfriend” became attractive as somebody I could open up to, to share struggles and stories with, to have each other’s backs, and the idea of sharing physical contact was less about sexual desire and more about a feeling of security, support, understanding.

    I realized after mulling over this post that, like the author said, what I really want is a best friend. It doesn’t make it any easier to find or make one, especially given my life situation, but at least I have a new framework for understanding what I’m feeling and going through and what I ultimately need to be both fulfilled and spiritual.

    I think modern society is so insistent on accepting and widening the homosexual idea of male relationships, while at the same time generally demeaning or at least not generally supporting close male friendships, that there are now whole classes of men (including married men) who are so thirsty and longing for male attention and belonging, with seemingly no where to turn in today’s society except the internet or video games, but to pornography and it’s image of male closeness. I was shocked to find so many men online looking for simple body acceptance, simple affection, and a sense of belonging with other men. They were expressing this need in sexual terms maybe because those are the only terms available or encouraged these days, and also I suspect because their desire for intimacy is dismissed as unmanly unless exercised in a lustful way.

    There is just so much to think about in this post. I know for me personally, it has helped me to take a step back before attempting an action I would severely regret someday, and recontextualize just what it is I am looking for.

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