Volume 1 - Issue 2 - Fall 2000
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In This Issue

Things I've Learned

Christian Consultation on Boylove
"What struck me is the depth of their Christian faith..."

Boys Are From Saturn
"I must love boys differently than I love women."

Who is our Brother, Mother, Sister?
"After a while I realized where the hatred was really coming from."

The Bucket
"To be what God has intended for you,take care, and use great discretion."

What Is Boylove?

They'll Know We Are Christians by our Love:  Christian Consultation on Boylove Explores the Challenges of Support

By Heather Elizabeth Peterson 
Condensed from Philia

Support groups for boylovers were the topic of the second annual Christian Consultation on Boylove, which was held from Thursday, June 8, to Sunday, June 11, in a church near Washington, D.C. The consultation was sponsored by the Christian Boylove Forum and was attended by eight boylovers, three non-pedophiles, and a minor-attracted adult who takes part in a sexual recovery group. 

We are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord

Music and worship were the heart of the consultation, which took place on the weekend of Pentecost. On Friday morning, consultation members gathered in the sanctuary of the church to sing together such hymns as "They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love."  On Friday evening, piano, organ, harmonica, and electric guitar accompanied the consultation members' rendition of "Amazing Grace." 

On Saturday evening, the consultation members gathered in a forest clearing in order to take part in a brief communion service. As the members sat in silent meditation at the beginning of the service, an Orthodox Christian attending the consultation spontaneously raised his voice in the Byzantine chant, "O Joyous Light."

"I didn't know that I would have an Orthodox chanter taking part in this gathering," said the presiding pastor after the period of silence was over. "Nor did I know that I would have Quaker, Anglican, and Pentecostal participation, or that two of the people here would have served as Catholic altar boys when they were young. But I'm struck by the fact that there are thirteen of us here -- the twelve of you and myself -- just as there were thirteen participants in that first Last Supper. Jesus' original disciples were a mixed lot as well." 

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand

He drew a circle that shut me out -- 
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. 
But Love and I had the wit to win: 
We drew a circle that took him in! 

This poem by Edwin Markham was the theme of Friday's sermon by the Protestant pastor who served as host for the consultation. "Jesus reserved his nastiest words, not for the thieves and murderers and adulterers, but for the leaders of the church who set standards and then went around pointing fingers and saying to people, 'You're out of the church; you're out; you're out,'" he told the consultation members. "That's not God's concept of family. Here I'm happy to say we have the makings of a real good family." 

He quoted Jesus' words from the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John: "Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the Vine, you are the branches." 

"We are common vines with each other, whether we know it or not," commented the pastor. "When I heard [the consultation members'] stories, the thing that impressed me was that you support each other. And you don't agree with each other on everything, but that's not what is most important." 

Support, the pastor said, was necessary not only in order to provide community but also to encourage responsibility. "It's necessary to have a check and balance system," he said. "No matter who you are, you need someone you can check with to see whether you're going in the right direction." 

We will work with each other, we will work side by side

The pastor's words were echoed by the consultation members in Friday's session, which focussed on the formation of groups to provide support for and encourage responsible actions by boylovers.  Bach, Webmaster of the Christian Boylove Forum, said that he started his own support group after he told a friend that he was attracted to boys. He believed that disclosing his sexual feelings to one person alone would prove too great a burden for that person, so he told several people he knew in order that they could talk with each other about his revelation. "The group wasn't to support me; it was to support others I told," he said. 

Along the way, though, Bach believes that he has received assistance from his group members in his journey of understanding his sexuality. "I believe that the Christian community is a searching community, and you can't search on your own," he said. 

Mark is taking the first steps to form his own support circle and says that he believes that such groups can help prevent societal tragedies from taking place.  "Look at that whole Sam Manzie thing," he said. "Three lives were ruined." 

While Ford Prefect agreed that support groups are valuable for some boylovers, he felt that in his own life he was being more honest with the people around him by not labelling himself as a boylover. "What they see now is a heck of a lot closer to the real me than what they would see if I used labels for myself like boylover,'" he said. Ford Prefect said that the people around him see his true self by noting the positive influence he has on the children he works with. As a celibate boylover, he said, "I express God's love to others through my attractions rather than in spite of them." 

Bert, a minor-attracted adult who belongs to a support group for ex-gays, agreed with this sentiment. "I believe that the Bible forbids same-sex sexual behavior," he said, "but I also believe that the Bible encourages same-sex intimate non-sexual relationships." 

Bert told the consultation members of his own struggles to end the fleeting sexual encounters with boys that had taken place when he was younger. Now a husband and father, Bert reported that the role of the support group is important in helping keep him to his chosen path.

A multi-person support group is not always necessary, Bonzo suggested. In the Catholic tradition, he pointed out, church members are often encouraged to select a spiritual adviser for support.  "The important thing," said Tobias, "is that the people who are supporting you love you." 

Dirk Gently, who belongs to Bach's support group, said that he was glad that Bach told him about his attraction to minors. "Disclosing [your sexual attraction to children] can deepen your relationship with the other person," he told the boylovers. 

And we'll guard each one's dignity and save each one's pride

A mosaic consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself. 

That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world. Nobody can say, "I make God visible." But others who see us together can say, "They make God visible." Community is where humility and glory touch.

These words by Henri J. M. Nouwen, recited by Ford Prefect during Friday evening's worship, were spoken two days before the Christian holiday that celebrates, as the host pastor put it, "the event joining together the apostles into a community." Saturday's session continued to examine ways in which boylovers and their friends and family could join together in seeking responsible lives for boylovers. 

Helen, who has a gay child and has participated in real-life and online support groups, was able to contribute thoughts on how friends and family members of boylovers could unite to support each other. "They'll want a place to themselves," she told the boylovers. "If you're talking about how upset you are about discovering about your kid, you don't want your kid to listen." 

"It is far more difficult putting together an organization for parents of pedophiles than an organization [for parents of gays]," said Bach. Other members of the consultation agreed, speaking of the difficulties of placing parents in touch with each other. 

The barriers for reaching out to boylovers seemed equally formidable to consultation participants. Bert, describing how the ex-gay movement was spread by a small advertisement in Christianity Today, said that the key to telling people that support is available is to publicize. 

The benefits of peer support groups, he said, extend beyond the people in the groups themselves. "You're going to be a great relief to churches who don't want to deal with [minor-attracted adults]," he said. "You can say, 'Send them to us.'"

Helen continued to be concerned, though, by the practical barriers caused by the need of boylovers to remain anonymous. "I can't get my head around the problem of how you can connect with church without meeting with people in real life," she said. "Anonymous brochures aren't enough -- you need to meet people face to face." Ray agreed, speaking of his own struggle to find a middle ground between hiding his sexual identity and disclosing it in situations where such a revelation would be inappropriate. 

Disclosing one's sexual feelings was therefore seen by a number of consultation members as the foundation to encouraging the growth of support and accountability groups for boylovers. Pedro suggested that boylovers who have already told non-pedophiles of their sexual feelings could encourage other boylovers to do this by telling the story of their "coming out." 

Overall, the consultation members saw many obstacles to the growth of support groups, but most members remained optimistic that boylovers and non-pedophiles would grow in their understanding of the need for such groups. 

Bonzo, though, cautioned the members from focussing on this topic to the exclusion of other topics that are of equal importance to some boylovers. "The issues that I deal with are not, 'How do I contact the friends of the parents of boylovers.'" he said. 

And they'll know we are Christians by our love

After the consultation, Dirk Gently noted divisions but expressed hope for the future.  Commenting on the line in "They'll Know We are Christians by Our Love" that reads, "And we pray that all unity may one day be restored," he said, "In the midst of all the warm-and-fuzzy ecumenical sentiment, it is still a reality that there are divisions among those who follow Christ. Perhaps one day labels like 'boylover' or 'heterosexual,' liberal or conservative, will be unnecessary. And perhaps one day sacramental unity will once again be a fact which we can take for granted. Until then, we can only continue to love one another and pray for that which we may never see short of heaven." 

This year, the presence of Bert and Helen -- two people who had not had previous contact with the boylove community -- provided a widening of the discussions that had taken place in last year's consultation. Despite the various focusses of the members and their different views on pedophilia, odd synchronicities were noted by the members. 

One consultation member, for example, pointed out that Bert's decision to marry, despite the fact that his primary sexual attraction remained to boys, was similar to the boylover's own decision to enter into a domestic partnership with another boylover. 

Together, the members composed a formal statement describing the challenges and benefits of support groups (see "Finding a Supportive Community"). Though there were a number of disagreements between the consultation members, and even between the boylovers attending the consultation, Helen believes that she was able to identify a unifying theme to the consultation.  "What struck me,"  she said afterwards,  "is the depth of their Christian faith and their support for each other in the context of their faith." 

Heather Elizabeth Peterson is a religion jounalist.  She edits the online magazine Philia, which carries interfaith news for adults who are attracted to minors.

(c) 2000 Heather Elizabeth Peterson

© 2000 Paraklesis
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