Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian (A Review)

DanToday’s guest writer is Dan Brennan, author of the important book, Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women.

Where was I to find love? Where was I to give love?

If Scripture and the Christian tradition were right that I shouldn’t

try to find a husband, surely the apparent corollary couldn’t also be

right—that I was therefore cut off from any deep, meaningful

form of intimacy and communion. Could it?”

Wesley Hill


As an evangelical who has significant interest in the connection between sexuality and friendship, I was eagerly awaiting the delivery of Wesley Hill’s Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian. He did not disappoint.

Although Hill writes from the perspective of a gay celibate, he writes as an evangelical who seeks to integrate a post-Freudian view of sexuality with friendship. To be clear, Hill doesn’t use that phrase. That comes from take. In my own language, some of the distinctive features of a post-Freudian sexuality are that it 1) affirms we are all spiritual-sexual beings, 2) expands the meaning of sexuality beyond

Facebook & Twitter: My Life Course Corrections (2 of 2)

ArmstrongFamily 220Yesterday I wrote about my personal journey in using the social media. In particular I wrote about Facebook and Twitter. I am not an expert on these media resources by any stretch. I do know how they have impacted my personal life. As a result of reflecting upon these social media resources I shared in that previous blog post how I will make changes beginning this week.

I will continue to blog. I will post my own material on this (my) blog site. I will also publish material from guest bloggers who hold various viewpoints and who are in my network of friends and Christian leaders. These will not be mere links to public sites and news feeds but articles and opinions that I post on my blog site with my knowledge and oversight. Generally, I will post only once a day. My sense of frequency feels like I will post 3-5 times a week. Most posts will be 300-500 words, some longer. It depends on the content and time I have to write. I will link all

Facebook & Twitter: My Life Course Corrections (1 of 2)

UnknownLike so many of you who are reading this blog post I have been on-again and off-again with Facebook and the social media. Recently I embraced them and began to devote more time to interact with friends and acquaintances via this means. As of today I am taking a “leave of absence” to rest from this medium. I want to rethink what I do with these resources over the next few weeks. One thing I am sure of, I do not need to be a “presence” in this world of social media. I do not criticize those who use this medium for its many good purposes but I have had to take personal inventory over the past few months. Here are my thoughts.

I find several reasons for using Facebook and Twitter that have encouraged and benefited me (and I hope some of you):

  1. I have come to know some readers (who I have not personally met yet) who pray for me and sincerely care for me as a person. Some of these friends I feel as if I know quite

Living in Community, Living in Love

41XiJWC3cPL._AA160_Yesterday, I wrote about the desert fathers and mothers. One of the most prominent of them all was Antony of the desert. After reading Jesus’ words to the rich younger ruler Antony, sensing the spiritual deadness of his own soul and of the church of his time, retreated to the desert to seek God with his whole body and soul. For the next twenty years he wrestled with (in his own words) demons and the constant rigors of ascetic practice. His sole desire was to draw nearer to God. (He was not undertaking a “self-help protect” so that he might be saved by his good works!)

When Antony’s friends begged him to leave, and then dragged him, away from the desert twenty years later, his health was superb and the power of his ministry was unmistakable. Antony shows me what new life really costs–everything! He also scares me to death and he makes me tremble before the deep spiritual reality that he knew during and after the desert. But he also gives me hope. I’ve was in a

The Lausanne Catholic-Evangelical Conversation 2014 (2)

During the days of September 11-13, 2014, twenty-six people from Catholic and evangelical churches gathered to build relationships for the sake of Christ’s mission. Yesterday I shared the first portion of our report. Today I share the second part of our document.


Relationships for the Sake of the Mission

The 2014 Lausanne Catholic-Evangelical Conversation

Part Two

Nate Bacon suggested the Emmaus Road dialogue as a model of evangelization.  In the context of sharing their pain, disappointment, and devastation the two disciples invited Jesus into their conversation, as did the disciples who Jesus sent out two by two, appearing to the townspeople they encounter as homeless people.  In touching the wounds of humanity, we touch the wounds of Christ.  We say to the poor, “we need you.”  We need the poor; we do evangelization because we need to, in order to encounter Christ.

130829 Father Barron-060 2Fr. Barron had previously suggested another way of viewing the church: “the prolongation of the Incarnation through space and time.”   Many were intrigued by this notion, but Suzanne McDonald explained

ISIS and the Importance of Christian-Muslim Relations in the US (Guest Blog)

tom_ryanThe recent 9/11 anniversary of the attacks on the Twin Towers in Manhattan and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. also brought with it, especially in light of the present actions of ISIS/ISIL , memories of the backlash against Muslim and even Sikh communities on our own continent. Those memories underline how important it is to build relationships with people of other faiths — especially in our efforts to help those who are the victims of such violence and to seek together the common goal of peace.

The Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said as much when it reasserted their commitment to dialogue with other religions and Muslims in particular in a statement released August 19. The committee listed tensions between Christians and Muslims in different parts of the world as a primary reason for reaffirming the need for dialogue.

“We understand the confusion and deep emotions stirred by real and apparent acts of aggression and discrimination by certain Muslims against non-Muslims, often against Christians abroad,” the bishops wrote. “Along

What Can Be Done to Seek Unity Between Catholics and Evangelicals?

It is no secret that I am an evangelical Protestant. (I do not think the word “evangelical” makes for a good noun thus I use it here intentionally as an adjective.) I was originally ordained in an evangelical Protestant context (Southern Baptist, a fellowship of churches that actually resisted the name “evangelical” until more recently), received three degrees from evangelical schools and then pastored in an evangelical Baptist denomination for twenty years (The Baptist General Conference). I  entered the Reformed Church in America, about ten years ago, out of growing conviction that I could find a “broader way” of expressing my Reformed faith in both catholicity and ecumenism. I wanted a church home that had a meaningful catholic history and some ecclesial stability without all the stops and strictures of the rigidly conservative Reformed Church expressions that I see in the U.S. (More of my friends are still within such groups than within the RCA where I am hardly known at all. It might surprise some to know how many of these friends, who remain in these denominations, are very open to the thought process that led me

Friendship, Mentors and Divine Love

images-2Someone recently wrote to me about relationships – comparing the various kinds of human relationships we have in terms of our different kinds of friends; including our peers and mentors/mentees.

The dictionary says that a friend is a person known well to another and generally regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty; an intimate. It may also include an ally in a cause, or an associate. I think most of us have three kinds of friends. We generally have a few people who constitute a small group of our intimate friends who become very, very close to us. This may, on one level, include only three or four people, perhaps a few more. These people share life with us at the deepest level through bonds of affection that are without sexual overtones in any sense of the word. The second kind of friendship is one that I personally enjoy with scores of people, maybe even a hundred or more if I stop and count. These are friends that I regularly communicate with via meals, telephone and the social media. I

By |March 13th, 2014|Categories: Friendship, Love, Personal|

A Solo Pianist with a Great Gift and Deep Christian Faith

UnknownI discovered concert pianist Stanton Lanier through my friend Chris Fabry on his afternoon broadcast on the Moody Broadcast Network during the Advent season. I wrote to Stanton Lanier shortly after I began to listen to his music regularly. Recently we met by telephone and spoke about our faith, personal journey and ministries. I hope and pray that our paths will become even more connected in 2014. This man’s albums Unknown-1are all downloaded on my personal iTunes list. I listen almost every day, especially at quiet moments and during some of my reading and writing on the Internet. His rare gift of instrumental music and deep, abiding faith is like none that I have discovered. The fact that Windham Hill Records has embraced published his solo work says a great deal too. More importantly the man behind this music is a faithful, Christ-centerred artist. I believe in helping such faithful artists do their work. Buy some of Stanton Lanier’s albums if you like what you hear. I think you

By |February 21st, 2014|Categories: Friendship, Music, Personal|

A Humble Conversation with a Christian Science Practitioner About Jesus

One of those opportunities that I am afforded because of my mission in ecumenism is rich dialogue with people from many diverse backgrounds. Last fall I spoke to the North American Academy on Ecumenists, which met in Chicago. I delivered a paper about evangelical Protestantism and the new opportunities and models for ecumenism that are evolving in our world. This paper will be published in the Journal of Ecumenical Studies in 2014 so I cannot publish it online here.

profile-image-display.jspaBefore I spoke at the NAAE I was preceded to the podium by a Christian Science practitioner named Shirley Paulson from Evanston, Illinois. Shirley gave a wonderful paper about her own pursuit of the larger church in ecumenism. She shared openly, and quite winsomely, about the work that she does within her own tradition of Christian Science. My reaction, like that of most evangelicals, was to wonder why this work was even being presented, given the story that I had always assumed about Christian Science. But Shirley Paulson did not fit into my box. In fact, she eloquently exploded


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