I’m a 22 year old guy who’s very confused about my feeling of “love.” When I was little I too dreamed of marrying and having children I also remember back in kindergarten I liked boys instead of girls, but I thought that I’d grow out of liking boys once I got older. I just thought of some boys as being “pretty.” I knew that liking boys was wrong. Still today, I think boys are pretty ( I’m not attracted to men). There have been times when I think of taking my own life. Many times I “talk” to God and ask him to help me. I know these feelings and thoughts are immoral or wrong.
There is this kid whom I’ve known since he was 1 year old. He’s 11 now. When I met him 10 years ago, I’d play with him all the time. I’m happy to say that I made him feel very happy every time we got together. I remember when he was about 3 years old, I’d go to to his house and he’d be full of joy. When he was about 8 years old he said something so heartwarming that I’ll never forget: he called me his best friend.
Two years ago he moved to another city. I was very disappointed and filled with hopelessness when I heard the news. Now that he’s gone I miss him terribly. I think about him at all times. I haven’t been able to cope with the loss since he moved. Sometimes I ask myself if I “love” him, but I feel that it is immoral. I feel tremendously sad and depressed because I don’t see him anymore. As I mentioned, many times I “talk” to God and ask him to help me because I know that I’m very different to many guys my age. I’m not normal. I’m afraid of being a pedophile and/or gay.
Many times I wish I hadn’t been born. I’m experiencing too much pain and hopelessness. I feel like I don’t fit on this world. Many times I wonder why God made me this way and sometimes I get mad at him. What do you recommend?
Thanks for reading.
Dear Thanks for Reading,
Wow, I can almost feel your anguish and pain as I read your letter. You have so many questions and depending on were they are coming from it is hard to say if you have a serious challenge or not. However, your confusion is such I would recommend you would seek out professional counseling in your local area, if you can. If you want to write me back privately with your location I may be able to help with some referrals.
Now, with that out of the way, let me see if I can address some of your concerns. As to your feelings of “love,” I believe you need to start by sorting out what kind of love you are experiencing. The Greek culture and language was much better at describing love then we are in the American language. They had three different words and three different meanings. There was “philios” which is a brotherly or sisterly love, a deep friendship if you will. There was “eros” which meant erotic love or sexual kind of love. Finally there is “agape” which is an unconditional love. Much the way a parent would love a child. I believe that people who meet and fall in “love” and build a relationship together have elements of all three of these types of love.
What is unclear from you note is what are your feelings toward boys all about. You mentioned that you have thought and dreamed of getting married and having children. The fact you think boys are “pretty” might just be a matter of taste. I can think of lots of things as pretty or “easy on the eye” but have no sexual desire. Which is what I think is key here. Ff you have a sexual desire towards these young boys then you must get help to control your behavior.
You say that you are not attracted to men. Are you attracted to women? If you wanted to have children that would be helpful, however a sexual attraction to women is not needed to actually father a child. The fact that you say you know liking boys is wrong gives me some pause for concern, since I am not sure if, when you were younger, you thought liking boys was wrong or having sex with them was wrong. Again, if this is about sexual attraction to young boys then I will again say, please get some help in dealing with this so that you don’t behave in such a way as to seriously challenge a child’s future or your own for that matter.
What you described concerning the young boy whom you watched grow up sounds pretty unconditional to me. He learned to trust you as a friend. You gave your unconditional love to him. I don’t think this presents a problem unless you had sexual feelings for him or fantasies of that nature.
If your feeling for this child are along the lines of “philios” and “agape” then your hurt at his moving is like anyone who loses someone near and dear to them. Loving him in this way is not immoral.
Also, let me clarify with you there is a difference between being a pedophile and gay. They are not the same. Pedophilia involves the “eros” type of love, an erotic attraction, if you will, to young children. This has nothing to do with your sexual orientation. Generally, those who are pedophiles are acting out power and control issues over the only thing they can dominate in their lives — children. There are gay people who can be pedophiles (this is very rare) but being gay does not make you a pedophile.
You are in my prayers and thoughts. Please see if you can get some trustworthy professional to talk with. It will help you sort out your feelings and what they are all about. Remember, whatever turns out to be the answer in your case, you are God’s child, loved by God. Always remember that to love someone is not to hurt them, use them or abuse them.
I Corinthians 13: 4-7 gives a good definition of “agape” love: “Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride; Love’s ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil; It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true; Love has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things.”
Ultimately, we must always keep this definition in front of us if we want to bring no harm to another person whom we care for deeply.
Editor-in-Chief of Whosoever and Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta, Rev. Paul M. Turner (he/him) grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994, have been in a committed partnership since the early 1980s and have been legally married since 2015.