Finding a Supportive Community
A Statement from the Christian Consultation on Boylove 2000

On June 8-11, 2000, the Christian Boylove Forum held a consultation near Washington, DC to discuss ways that boylovers can find support within the church. This meeting was attended by 12 Christians from various parts of North America, including 9 boylovers. Discussions resulted in this statement.

Challenges, Benefits, and Forms of Support

When deciding whether to form support groups, boylovers should consider both the challenges they will face and the potential benefits that may result. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of access to other boylovers due to geographical distance or lack of Internet access. Most boylovers are also reluctant to reveal real-life information, and the risks involved may increase as support groups become more visible. Another difficulty involves the uncertainties and disagreements over terminology; for example, many people assume that "boylover" is a synonym for "child molester".

However, if these challenges can be overcome, many benefits can result. Significant understanding of issues of faith, Christian love, and sexuality can result from discussion within a community of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Such groups can end isolation for boylovers, and provide them with an opportunity for guidance and accountability. Furthermore, support groups can provide assistance to churches who are uncertain how to deal with minor-attracted adults.

Support for the boylover can come in different forms. Some boylovers may need one individual they can confide in; for example, a pastor or spiritual adviser. Others may find most helpful what we will call a "support circle": a group made up primarily of non-boylovers. Another possibility is a "peer support group"; that is, a group consisting primarily of boylovers.

Special Benefits of Support Circles

Support circles provide unique benefits both to the boylover and to the others who participate. Benefits to the boylover include the reduction of secrecy and the opportunity to gain insight from those with different sexual feelings. Boylovers can also receive help with integrating different aspects of their lives; keeping them separate and worrying about what information is known by whom can be emotionally unhealthy.

Benefits to the others in the support circle include the release from stereotypes of minor-attracted adults, the reassurance through conversation that the boylover is taking steps to lead a responsible life, and a fuller understanding of their own sexuality. In addition, they will receive support from other members of the group in dealing with this difficult issue; friends and family members of minor-attracted adults frequently need others to talk to.

Guidelines for Forming Support Circles

Those who have received this type of support recommend that boylovers keep several points in mind when considering forming support circles.

  • Some boylovers can receive effective support from people in their church by forming visibly healthy friendships with children and participating in adult groups dedicated to sharing personal faith experiences. This positive demonstration may communicate more effectively what a boylover is than forming an intentional support circle around one's identity as a "boylover".

  • If the boylover wishes to form a support circle, he can take the initiative in choosing the members of the group and contributing items for discussion at the meetings.

  • In choosing members, he should consider people he has known long enough to develop a trusting relationship, and who have demonstrated openness. Identifying oneself as a boylover demands much personal courage. The ideal context for such self-revelation is in an already established relationship of love and trust.

  • The boylover should keep in mind that not all choices will work out; some people may assume the worst from the label. Strength of character and a healthy self-concept are necessary.

  • Trust and confidence need to be earned by the boylover and by the others in the group. Any effort must include both support and accountability within the same framework. Accountability results from trusting relationships and is a matter of helping the boylover honor his own commitment to responsible behavior, rather than involving suspicious scrutiny by other members of the group.

  • If the group wishes the boylover to see a therapist or counselor, the boylover should have some say in choosing that person.

  • The others in the group need the opportunity to meet separately from the boylover to adequately express emotions.

  • It is helpful to promote interaction between the support circle and the peer support group if there is one.

Although forming a support circle seems risky, those who attempt to do so can draw on the strengths of a faith community. The common values found within the church help to strengthen trust. Much can be learned from Christian organizations of other stigmatized groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, ex-gay organizations, and pro-gay organizations. Furthermore, the church teaches love for all and has a history of dealing with difficult issues.

2000 Christian Boylove Forum