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Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian

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Friendship is a relationship like no other. Unlike the relationships we are born into, we choose our friends. It is also tenuous—we can end a friendship at any time. But should friendship be so free and unconstrained? Although our culture tends to pay more attention to romantic love, marriage, family, and other forms of community, friendship is a genuine love in its own ri Friendship is a relationship like no other. Unlike the relationships we are born into, we choose our friends. It is also tenuous—we can end a friendship at any time. But should friendship be so free and unconstrained? Although our culture tends to pay more attention to romantic love, marriage, family, and other forms of community, friendship is a genuine love in its own right. This eloquent book reminds us that Scripture and tradition have a high view of friendship. Single Christians, particularly those who are gay and celibate, may find it is a form of love to which they are especially called.Writing with deep empathy and with fidelity to historic Christian teaching, Wesley Hill retrieves a rich understanding of friendship as a spiritual vocation and explains how the church can foster friendship as a basic component of Christian discipleship. He helps us reimagine friendship as a robust form of love that is worthy of honor and attention in communities of faith. This book sets forth a positive calling for celibate gay Christians and suggests practical ways for all Christians to cultivate stronger friendships.


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Friendship is a relationship like no other. Unlike the relationships we are born into, we choose our friends. It is also tenuous—we can end a friendship at any time. But should friendship be so free and unconstrained? Although our culture tends to pay more attention to romantic love, marriage, family, and other forms of community, friendship is a genuine love in its own ri Friendship is a relationship like no other. Unlike the relationships we are born into, we choose our friends. It is also tenuous—we can end a friendship at any time. But should friendship be so free and unconstrained? Although our culture tends to pay more attention to romantic love, marriage, family, and other forms of community, friendship is a genuine love in its own right. This eloquent book reminds us that Scripture and tradition have a high view of friendship. Single Christians, particularly those who are gay and celibate, may find it is a form of love to which they are especially called.Writing with deep empathy and with fidelity to historic Christian teaching, Wesley Hill retrieves a rich understanding of friendship as a spiritual vocation and explains how the church can foster friendship as a basic component of Christian discipleship. He helps us reimagine friendship as a robust form of love that is worthy of honor and attention in communities of faith. This book sets forth a positive calling for celibate gay Christians and suggests practical ways for all Christians to cultivate stronger friendships.

30 review for Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian

  1. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Wilson

    Really sad. Wesley Hill is drowning in a sea of false assumptions.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James

    Wesley Hill self identifies as a gay, celibate Christian. That is, he is same-sex attracted but his theological convictions preclude him from joining in a romantic, sexual partnership with another man. His early book, Washed and Waiting (Zondervan, 2010) tells of his journey of seeking to follow God with his Christian faith and sexual orientation in tension. In his new book, Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian, he explores the importance of friendship in Wesley Hill self identifies as a gay, celibate Christian. That is, he is same-sex attracted but his theological convictions preclude him from joining in a romantic, sexual partnership with another man. His early book, Washed and Waiting (Zondervan, 2010) tells of his journey of seeking to follow God with his Christian faith and sexual orientation in tension. In his new book, Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian, he explores the importance of friendship in the Christian life, especially for those in the LGBT community. Hill is bookish and thoughtful. He is also vulnerable about his struggles to form deep non-sexual friendships with other men. Despite the heartache he feels in pursuing the ideal of Christian friendship, he sees it as a gift to gay Christians. And us all. This is a short book, consisting of six chapters, divided into two parts. In part one, 'Reading Friendship', Hill explores the necessity of friendship in the Christian life. Chapter one explores some of the ways that friendship has been marginalized and eclipsed in contemporary culture (6). Hill weaves together a narrative of himself naming his need of friends (on the eve of his confirmation) with theological reflections from Benjamin Myers, C.S. Lewis and seveal literary references. As a gay Christian, he feels the need for friendships acutely but the lack of cultural space for friendships impoverishes everyone. Chapter two explores deeper the special dispensation of friendship and the cultural history of it. Hill points to Bethge and Bonhoeffer's friendship and how they saw how fragile friendship was and the ways it was not recognized by others (25). A later readings of Bethge and Bonhoeffer's relationship claim that it was 'really a homosexual partnership'. Whatever the nature of that relationship (text and subtext), it does speak volumes that later audiences can't conceive of such a close, male friendship without speculating about their sexuality (25,26). Hill delves into the Christian tradition, exploring the insights on Spiritual Friendship in the writings of twelfth century Cistercian, Aelred of Rievaulx. Aelred wrote On Spiritual Friendship (which this book's title alludes to) and described the value and same-sex, celibate friendships with the context of monastic life. And of course C.S. Lewis's reflections on love, friendship (and homosexuality) are woven through these chapters. Chapter three explores the language of friendship (and family) in the New Testament. Part two explores the practical side of 'living friendship.' Chapter four describes some of the challenges to developing friendships (especially the challenges to those who are same-sex attracted). Chapter five discusses suffering in love and relates a particular difficult loss of a friendship for Hill (when a heterosexual friend got engaged). Chapter six gives six concrete suggestions for recovering friendship as a Christian discipline: 1. Admit our need for friends. 2. Start renewing the practice of friendship with the friends we have (not the idealized friendships we want). 3. Remind ourselves that friendship flourishes best in community. 4. Realize that friendships strengthen communities. 5. Imagine specific ways friendships are doorways to the practice of hospitality and welcoming the stranger. 6. Look for ways to avoid the lure of mobility--staying put and investing in relationships with people where you are. It should be evident from this list that Hill sees the importance of friendship for everyone. It would be impossible to read this book and not feel the call to deeper friendships. Hill is realistic on both the joys and sorrow, blessings and difficulties involved in cultivating friendships. Hill is in tune with how his sexual orientation informs his call to friendship, "I want to explore the way my same-sex attractions are inescapably bound with my gift and calling to friendship. My question, at root, is how I can steward and sanctify my homosexual orientation in such a way that it can be a doorway to blessing and grace"(79). He also writes, "My being gay and saying no to gay sex may lead me to more of a friend, not less"(81). This is a great book for the way it roots the challenges and blessings of friendship in Hill's own experience as a gay Christian. Too often sex is seen as the ultimate expression of human love, leaving those who are celibate (by choice or circumstance) feeling less than human. I think many traditional Christian apologetic of marriage and heterosexual love are pastorally insensitive on this point, describing the virtues of marital love as God's design but declaring it off-limits to gay people. Hill presents a vision of friendship that is not 'second best' but considers orientation, vocation and love together. This commendation to friendship is not a 'less-than' proposition but is every bit as life-giving and challenging as marital vows. Those of us who hold to a more traditional stance on marriage need to have this sort of compelling alternative to offer to those who don't have that option. But this is not a book about gay friendships as the subtitle implies. This is a book about friendship. Hill thinks through the implications from his own perspective as a gay and celibate Christian, but friendship is necessary for us all to thrive in our Christian life whether we be single, married, gay or straight. There is so much here! I give this book five stars. ★★★★★ Notice of material connection: I received this book from Brazos Press in exchange for my honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Spiritual Friendship by Wesley Hill. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015. Summary: This is an exploration of the place of friendship in the life of the Christian, particularly its importance for those who chose, either because of sexual orientation, or other reasons to live celibate, chaste lives. The idea of a celibate, chaste, single life is scorned today not only because of the myth that one can only live a fulfilled, fully human life within the context of a sexually intimate relationship. Perhaps Spiritual Friendship by Wesley Hill. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2015. Summary: This is an exploration of the place of friendship in the life of the Christian, particularly its importance for those who chose, either because of sexual orientation, or other reasons to live celibate, chaste lives. The idea of a celibate, chaste, single life is scorned today not only because of the myth that one can only live a fulfilled, fully human life within the context of a sexually intimate relationship. Perhaps more fundamentally, if less openly acknowledged, this seems a terrible choice for those who are single, gay or straight, because it is a call to loneliness. Wesley Hill, a celibate gay Christian contends that the greatest gift the church could give to those like himself, and indeed to all of its members, is a renewal of the idea of friendship--of voluntary, non-sexual relationships of deeply knowing and being known by another. Given this premise, this book is bound to be controversial or even challenging to many. It will be challenging to all, gay or straight, who disagree with Hill's contention that: "There is a divine 'Yes' to marriage and sexual intimacy between a man and a woman, premised on their bodily difference that seemed to gesture toward (albeit faintly) the transcendent difference of Creator from creature. But that 'Yes' also seemed to disclose a corresponding 'No' to sexual intimacy in any other context." (p. 18) But equally it is challenging to a church that focuses so heavily on the nuclear family that those outside one are left with shallow interactions and a profound sense of loneliness and alienation even while supposedly affirming the "communion of the saints." Hill's book is divided into two parts, the first laying out the historical and theological basis for the idea of friendship, and the second talking very honestly about the lived experience of friendship. The first part begins by talking about the eclipse of the idea of friendship in a sexualized culture.where any deeply affectionate and caring relationship between human beings is concluded to be sexual, something especially difficult for the gay celibate Christian for whom a deep non-sexual friendship may be a lifeline. Hill argues that it was not always this way, citing the examples of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Eberhard Bethge and Aelred of Rievaulx Abbey and the idea of "vowed friendships", friendships bound by vows similar to that of marriage but non-sexual in their expression of love.Christians have had a complicated relationship with the idea of friendship throughout history, believing that the gospel call to agape love that loves even one's enemies relegates friendship to a lesser category. Yet Hill points to the relationship of David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and ultimately Jesus and his disciples who he call "friends" as counter examples and that what the gospel does is transform friendship from 'we two' to 'we two who welcome a third and fourth' in an outward looking community of love. The second part is more personal. He begins by discussing an issue I've wondered about; can friendship and romance be sealed off from each other, particularly when friendship is with a person whose gender one is attracted to. Hill contends that it is not, but that our sexual orientation, even if gay, is in fact a gift in relationships if offered up to God, a gift that brings unique sensitivities and blessing to another, if there are others willing to receive and enter in. The next chapter is the most vulnerable in the book where Hill speaks of what it is to love and lose in friendship. He describes a relationship with a male friend who subsequently enters into a romantic relationship with a woman and the deep sense of loss and hurt this meant for Wes. Friendships end. Sometimes friends die. To love deeply is to be willing to suffer, which is perhaps why we hang back from such love, knowing what it will cost. However he does not end here but rather in a chapter on the ways a church might begin to recover friendship and what it could mean not only to individuals but to the quality of community. Among his challenges is one to mobility. This probably touches me most, because I know of those I've bonded deeply with at various points in life, who moved away. There are times when moves are right, and we've moved ourselves on two occasions. Do we ever consider that refraining from moving for the sake of friendship and community may sometimes be right? I would have liked Hill to address the differences between healthy, deep relationships and unhealthy, co-dependent or manipulative relationships. I also wonder about how these deep friendships work out in the context of relationships with a person who is also married and is in that vowed relationship. It is apparent that he has enjoyed relationships with couples and it would be interesting to tease out these dynamics further. I will be thinking about this book for some time. I find deeply compelling, for Christ-followers, the idea that our sexuality is not ultimately something to be fixed or satisfied, gay or straight, but offered to God. Hill's vulnerability challenges me with my own self-protectiveness that does not want to suffer, but in the end settles for the superficial. Might this not be the same challenge we face in the church? _____________________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    Wesley thinks physical homosexual acts are sinful, but everything that leads up to those acts are assumed, endorsed, embraced, and insisted on in this book. What's just as appalling is the lack of love and courage of those around him to tell him the truth. This truth would be the thing that would set him free.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anita Yoder

    Beautifully written, both scholarly and personal, Hill addresses the existential loneliness of the human experience. Everyone, I think, is this lonely but few are this honest about it. And Hill and his gay friends live with a deeper level of loneliness because while I'm celebate now but have hope of marriage, they don't have this hope and must live with that chasm of loss. Still, I found myself wondering if Hill and his friends expect more from friendship and love than any covenanted relationshi Beautifully written, both scholarly and personal, Hill addresses the existential loneliness of the human experience. Everyone, I think, is this lonely but few are this honest about it. And Hill and his gay friends live with a deeper level of loneliness because while I'm celebate now but have hope of marriage, they don't have this hope and must live with that chasm of loss. Still, I found myself wondering if Hill and his friends expect more from friendship and love than any covenanted relationship is ever capable of providing. Hill suggests ways to live with loneliness within a church and most of them aren't new to me because he describes my own experience. This was affirming to me and also highlighted the treasure of committed friendships I enjoy. His call to love as Christ with sacrifice and service is true and sound. I also loved Hill's references to art and literature, and feel inspired to pursue some of them. In all, I found this a sensitive, poignant, winsome invitation to love well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Pershey

    I heard so many rave reviews of Wesley Hill's presentations at the Festival of Faith and Writing I decided to go ahead and read this book that, on first glance, doesn't seem like something I would pick up. I'm part of a Christian tradition that affirms same sex marriage, so Hill's commitment to celibacy as a gay man is foreign to me. I didn't agree with all of his theological and biblical interpretations, but this was nevertheless a beautifully crafted and emotionally stirring take on friendship I heard so many rave reviews of Wesley Hill's presentations at the Festival of Faith and Writing I decided to go ahead and read this book that, on first glance, doesn't seem like something I would pick up. I'm part of a Christian tradition that affirms same sex marriage, so Hill's commitment to celibacy as a gay man is foreign to me. I didn't agree with all of his theological and biblical interpretations, but this was nevertheless a beautifully crafted and emotionally stirring take on friendship. I'm very glad I read it, and I recommend it very highly.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jordan J. Andlovec

    I don't know if I have been as encouraged by a book in the last few years as I have with this one. As a straight, single man in his thirties I have felt the pangs of loneliness and despondency (although not as thoroughly as the author has), and this book validated my feeling that friendship can and perhaps should be embued with more significance than our current culture sells to us. Everyone should read this, and I say that about very few books.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    Beautifully written, poignant and honest. But the view of "wedded friendship" (or vowed friendship), particularly in this context of same-sex attraction, I think muddies the waters at best and opens up temptation at worst (esp. if it's two friends with SSA).

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aarik Danielsen

    A remarkable and sorely-needed book. A must-read on the beauties and challenges of friendship for anyone regardless of age, gender, relationship status, etc.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chris Woznicki

    An eclipse of friendship. That is what author, theologian, and gay Christian Wesley Hill says has happened to friendship in our modern era. “Friendship is the freest, the least constrained, the least fixed and determined, of all human loves.” (xiii) You can never stop being a parent. You can never stop being the offspring of your parent. You can divorce your spouse, but you will always be an ex. But friendship is entirely voluntary and un-coerced. Some would even say that it is the least necessa An eclipse of friendship. That is what author, theologian, and gay Christian Wesley Hill says has happened to friendship in our modern era. “Friendship is the freest, the least constrained, the least fixed and determined, of all human loves.” (xiii) You can never stop being a parent. You can never stop being the offspring of your parent. You can divorce your spouse, but you will always be an ex. But friendship is entirely voluntary and un-coerced. Some would even say that it is the least necessary relationship. The fact that friendship has been eclipsed completely by other relationships poses a problem for those in the church who are gay but have decided to live a life of celibacy because they desire to be faithful to scripture and the historic teachings of the church. Other people have a place to find meaningful, permanent, deep relationships, but with the devaluing of friendship celibate gay Christians miss out on the depth of love many others can experience. The main point of this book is to aid in the recovery of deeper spiritual friendship. It is supposed to apply to all sorts of Christians, not just the celibate-gay Christians addressed in the subtitle of the book. Hill begins by describing why he thinks friendship is a relatively weak bond in our western cultures. He then goes on to argue that friendship can, and should, be understood (at times) as a vowed and committed relationship, much like a marriage or kinship bond. Having argued for this, he takes a look at what Scripture has to say about friendship. Having spent the first three chapters focusing on the cultural background of friendship, he then turns to the lived experience of friendship. He covers erotic bonds and friendships, what it means to cultivate friendships, and he offers some concrete ways to strengthen friendships in the church. There is a lot to appreciate about this book – especially his discussion of Scripture and his suggestions for how we might strengthen friendships in the church. I also really appreciated his cultural study of friendships across time. But most of all – I appreciated his candidness when it came to describing his own struggles as a celibate-gay Christian. People need to hear about how Christians who have same sex attractions and desire deep, permanent relationships will feel knowing that they don’t have the possibility of marriage – the relationship which society today says is the ultimate expression of love. Now it should be noted – though Hill doesn’t do this – that its not only those who have same sex attractions that find themselves desiring deeper more permanent relationships. Other believers who choose to be celibate – or find themselves living a life of celibacy without choosing celibacy – will find themselves desiring these same things as well. Also, I can appreciate how he “de-sexualizes” meaningful friendships. How often have we heard that a guy and girl can’t really be friends without ulterior motives. As a society we are quick to sexualize most things, friendship included. Nevertheless, I have some questions about some of what Hill has to say. For instance, he advocates for some sort of vow or commitment in friendships – similar to marriage. But what happens when one of these people get married? Should this relationship change, even just a little? Now imagine that a guy and a girl make this sort of de-sexualized friendship vow. What if the guy gets married to another girl. Now he has two permanent vows to two women. How will his wife feel about this? Or – looking at his discussion of these friendship vows in friendships where one person has a same sex attraction and the other does not. What should happen if one friend begins to fall in love with the other? This is not unreasonable, for love often occurs as we begin to share our hearts with one another (a very reasonable thing for a friendship). Is it healthy to keep diving deeper into this friendship if it become harder and harder for one friend not to be attracted to the other? There are no easy answers to these questions, but this book forces us to ask them, and at the very least begin to address them. Overall this book is complicated. Not because it’s a “hard” read – rather because Wesley presents a vision of Christian friendship that will certainly seem foreign to us. Almost undoubtedly, you will experience some amount of internal tension while reading this book – regardless of where you stand on these issues. This book is challenging – it will challenge you regardless of what you think you know about love, friendship, and celibacy. Reading this book will force you to ask some questions you might have never thought of. This book will certainly act as a conversation starter for many thinking through these sort of tough issues.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This was just as great as I hoped it would be. Smart and informative but also personal, theoretical as well as practical. I love the implications of Hill's ideas for the church as a whole, for gay Christians choosing to be celibate, and for me as a single person. Some quotes I really liked: "If specifically Christian friendship represents a modification or transformation of earlier, pagan practices of friendship, what does that transformation consist in? What is it about the appearance of Jesus, This was just as great as I hoped it would be. Smart and informative but also personal, theoretical as well as practical. I love the implications of Hill's ideas for the church as a whole, for gay Christians choosing to be celibate, and for me as a single person. Some quotes I really liked: "If specifically Christian friendship represents a modification or transformation of earlier, pagan practices of friendship, what does that transformation consist in? What is it about the appearance of Jesus, and his death and resurrection, that changes friendship?" "If it comes to making time to to be with friends or returning home to preserve marital or parental intimacy, the choice is clear: the sacrifices friendship warrants have their limits, and they dare not cut too deeply into quality time spent with family members. This mythology of family threatens to demote friendship from an honored place in our culture, and we're often left feeling anxious or unsure about how to shore up our friendships in the face of it." "When Jesus is asked about his understanding of kinship and familial ties, he doesn't reject them as so much detritus from old regime that his kingdom is displacing. Instead, he takes the basic notion of 'family' and cracks it open, stretches its contents beyond their agreed-upon limits, and wraps the result around a much wider range of people than was socially acceptable." "Therefore, in the absence of friendship, or when it feels especially tenuous or even eclipsed, part of our task is to learn to articulate, to ourselves and to the communities to which we belong, how that loss affects us. We have to learn to describe what it is we look for when we look for friendship. We have to talk about our particular need for it before we can hope to find the kind of friendship that will speak to that need."

  12. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Achord

    Hill takes the experiences of marriage and places them under the genus of friendship. Thus, everything in the one, sans sex, can be experienced in the other. Such is “spiritual friendship.” As another has pointed out, this is a play on courtly love: From DW: “That medieval weirdness happened when some bright fellows came up with the idea of celibate adultery. But what matters to God is that you don’t actually “do it,” right? “A gallant knight would select his lady fair, somebody else’s wife, would Hill takes the experiences of marriage and places them under the genus of friendship. Thus, everything in the one, sans sex, can be experienced in the other. Such is “spiritual friendship.” As another has pointed out, this is a play on courtly love: From DW: “That medieval weirdness happened when some bright fellows came up with the idea of celibate adultery. But what matters to God is that you don’t actually “do it,” right? “A gallant knight would select his lady fair, somebody else’s wife, would dedicate himself to her, take a token from her, and then ride off to do great feats on her behalf and in her name. As these things often go, the celibate part of this project was sometimes honored in a less than stellar fashion, but what can you do? It was still a noble idea, right? The fact that we often wound up with four bare legs in a bed should not be allowed to dampen our youthful idealism “Take all the arguments for spiritual friendships between same-sex attracted individuals, and take all the boundaries that have been set up for them to honor, and then plug them into a different scenario. A married man is best friends with another woman. He and this other woman are (for some reason) passionately committed to the idea of avoiding the sex act, but short of that they share an intensity of feeling rarely found anywhere. His wife regrettably doesn’t share his interests, and so when he goes off to cuddle with his new friend and talk about their shared passion for depth psychology, she has no grounds for complaint. He says (and she believes him) that there is nothing explicitly sexual in their doings. But that doesn’t keep it from being a weird, demented, and transparently rationalized form of infidelity.”

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alex Stroshine

    I am coming to dislike the twenties. One of the main reasons for this is that friendships seem so fluid; they fluctuate as friends enter different stages of life. Some of us enter careers, some remain in school. Some enter relationships or get married while others remain single. Some move away and some remain where we have been. Wesley Hill has written a poignant and vulnerable book on spiritual friendship. "Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian" is divided I am coming to dislike the twenties. One of the main reasons for this is that friendships seem so fluid; they fluctuate as friends enter different stages of life. Some of us enter careers, some remain in school. Some enter relationships or get married while others remain single. Some move away and some remain where we have been. Wesley Hill has written a poignant and vulnerable book on spiritual friendship. "Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian" is divided into two sections. Although Hill's own reflections are present throughout, the first half is largely historical, as the author traces the trajectory of friendship through the ages. He demonstrates that close-knit, same-sex friendships were present in the Greco-Roman world as well as in England beginning in the medieval period. The second half of the book is more of a memoir. Hill reflects on the intense friendship he had with a male friend of his who ultimately entered into a relationship with a woman. The loss of that friendship was devastating for Hill and he shares how he dealt with that experience. He closes the book by offering some possible ways in which the Church can better live out the "patterns of the possible" when it comes to spiritual friendship. Hill relies on history, Orthodox spirituality, literature and art in his eloquent reflections on friendship, drawing particularly on Alan Bray's "The Friend" and the lives and works of Aelred of Rievaulx, Pavel Florensky, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, C.S. Lewis and Henri Nouwen (the latter who was himself a celibate, though same-sex attracted priest). Although Hill is himself Anglican, he finds much merit in the ancient Christian rite of adelphopoiesis. One of the central themes of spiritual friendship is hospitality and community (which itself is either the product of, or engine of, friendship). Hill has been able to find community among friends with whom he can share, receive and give love (such as going to vacation with married couples). The book closes with Hill's discussion of living with a married couple in the same house; this points to the possibility of living as the "new family" of the Church although it remains to be seen how common this practice becomes (many Christians will still cling to the mythic notion of the nuclear family - or at least extended family, rather than viewing their brothers and sisters in Christ as just as truly family as blood relatives). While writing about the need for close same-sex friendships, Hill also notes both the potential dangers of a homosexual friend getting a "crush" on a same-sex friend as well as the need for heterosexual friends to be able to accept and deal with these as they arise without responding in rejection of their friendship towards their friend. Especially in the first half, Hill offers a strong case for recovering close same-sex friendships (he observes Hollywood's narrow-minded narrative of close male friendships that inevitably become awkward and ridiculed when two male characters develop deep bonds of friendship). The book did leave me with some questions though. Partly it could be merely because the book is fairly short. Hill has spent a long time thinking about how to live out his life as a faithful Christian while being celibate and acknowledging his homosexuality (he indicates how it affects his way in the world on p. 80-1) and offers an important perspective, but I wonder if some of the more "tricky" aspects of same-sex friendships are left out? One of the questions I've recently been scratching my head about is when two same-sex friends are attracted to each other and opt to live together while remaining celibate (i.e. A Queer Calling). I would have liked to have heard Hill's thoughts on such setups in relationships. Along the same lines, I would have liked to have seen Hill further explore an intense same-sex friendship like that between John Henry Newman and Ambrose St. John. Also, I wonder if same-sex attracted women would offer different/unique insights into spiritual friendship than Hill can as a man (after all, the true stereotype is that women are more open towards each other than men are; at my university campus ministry retreat, the men prayed for each other in half an hour while it took the women at least three times that long to pray for one another). As well, while Hill is right in rebuking conservative Christians for falling for the myth of ultimate fulfillment through marriage and family (p. 11-13), I'm beginning to wonder if such a criticism appreciates how such a myth may have arisen (as the mainstream culture delays marriage while opting for non-committal one-night stands and sex outside of marriage, perhaps Christians responded by championing these things while accidentally turning them into idols or oppressive norms?). In general when it comes to friendships discussed here, it typically centres on friendships between two people but for a book that cites C.S. Lewis so much, I'm surprised there's no mention of the famous passage in which Lewis discusses how certain friends bring out qualities in their friends that another simply cannot. Lastly, and this perhaps stands out because we're becoming so sensitive to language; in an age where folks like Jenell Williams Paris call for an "end of sexual identity," I do wonder how useful it is to identify as "gay" when this unavoidable ties identity to sexual attraction. This is a wonderful book by an important voice in the Church today. God bless Wesley Hill and his collaborators at Spiritual Friendship. Despite some criticisms I have, this book is a powerful one. The first half deals with the concept of friendship in general while the second offers us ways we can reach out to others - especially those lonely and who do not easily fit into a heteronormative scheme - in love and friendship.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Tong

    Simply put: incredible. A sense of deeper, intimate friendship is something I have always seen in Scripture, but have rarely seen drawn out like Wesley does here. I fear that many cultural, American Christians will view this as an attack on their beliefs, but I think it truly goes hand-in-hand with marriage.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dre

    What an incredible read. I appreciate Hill’s depth of research. He unapologetically places before us the reality of disappointment but paints for us a wonderful picture of what friendship can be which is profoundly hopeful.

  16. 4 out of 5

    John

    I have so much respect for Wesley Hill. I see this book as beginning a conversation on friendships rather than practical how to.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Esther

    This book has given me a new perspective of friendship.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    We had a saying about family when I was growing up: “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your relatives.” While this saying is meant to indicate the value and permanence of family, it also captures our culture’s understanding of friendship. Friendship is the freest of all relationships. Unfettered by obligation, it exists only for the mutual benefit and pleasure of its participants. However, the ‘free’ nature of friendship also means it can be fragile and often under-valued. In his sho We had a saying about family when I was growing up: “You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your relatives.” While this saying is meant to indicate the value and permanence of family, it also captures our culture’s understanding of friendship. Friendship is the freest of all relationships. Unfettered by obligation, it exists only for the mutual benefit and pleasure of its participants. However, the ‘free’ nature of friendship also means it can be fragile and often under-valued. In his short volume, Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill seeks to reclaim friendship as a committed, long-term relationship. He laments how friendship has changed and been weakened in modern times. Hill, a celibate gay Christian and author of Washed and Waiting, notes that his initial interest in a reexamination of friendship came as he sought community and intimacy outside of sexual relationships. The traditional place for intimacy – marriage – is not a faithful option for him, but he does not believe this relegates him to a life without true intimacy. Instead, he argues that all of us – married or single, gay or straight – need the kind of intimacy we find in friendship. However, he perceives that friendship has been weakened in our culture as intimacy has been reduced to sexual intimacy. In the first section of the book, Hill traces the history of friendship and its eclipse in modern western culture. He then points to historical resources in the culture and in Christian tradition that advocate strong, intimate, yet platonic, friendships. Finally, drawing on the stories of Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, as well as the words of Jesus, Hill demonstrates the biblical foundations and shape of friendship. The second half of the book explores some of the more practical challenges of friendship. Hill speaks of the constant desire for greater intimacy that we all have, and of how that can be complicated and painful for gay Christians. He repeatedly speaks hopefully about the joys and benefits that come with intimate friendships, but, in a sobering chapter, also recognizes that friends are called to suffer for one another. He concludes by outlining some practical steps to strengthen and encourage friendship. I have been anticipating a book like this for a long time. I was hopeful that Hill would be able to articulate a powerful and biblical vision for friendship to a culture starved for meaningful relationships. Spiritual Friendship delivers on this promise. With accuracy and artistry, Hill’s work echoes many of my own concerns about the state of intimate, yet non-sexual, friendship, and my hopes for its recovery. The church needs to recover and reestablish ways of speaking about non-sexual relationships, particularly as we are brothers and sisters to people for whom sexual intimacy is not a present reality. Even for those who are married, non-sexual relationships are vital for being part of the body of Christ. Spiritual Friendship pushes this vision even further as it challenges the church to see friendships as a commitment equal to, but different than, marriage. While Hill speaks with hope and joy about friendship, he is also refreshingly honest about its challenges. It won't not fix all our insecurities nor will it ease all our fears. We will still live with longing until Christ returns. Even our friendships will be marked by sacrifice as we await Christ’s coming. Jesus himself said that the greatest love is expressed in laying down your life for your friends (John 15:13). Sacrifice and suffering are part of friendship this side of Christ’s return. Spiritual Friendship is a book for all of us who long for deeper friendships. It speaks wisely, accessibly, and hopefully about the possibilities of friendship. In a world where you can make ‘Friends’ with the click of a button, we all need more of Hill’s vision for a renewed commitment to life-long Christian friendships.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Figgins

    One of the most vulnerable writers I have ever read that I feel like I can call him by his first name. Wesley writes on a particular topic (through very personal experiences) that we probably think we have a grasp on but really don't. This book will help you tremendously to see the importance of friendship.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mediaman

    This weak, thin book is a very inadequate discussion of what could be a substantive topic. However, Wesley Hill seems to have tossed it together with random thoughts and lack of order, never truly dealing with the subject until he gives a few simplistic practical tips in the final chapter. It's actually rather confusing. At first the emphasizes that this is an exploration of "the theology of friendship," as if there is such a thing. He tries to pull together a few Bible verses, along with writing This weak, thin book is a very inadequate discussion of what could be a substantive topic. However, Wesley Hill seems to have tossed it together with random thoughts and lack of order, never truly dealing with the subject until he gives a few simplistic practical tips in the final chapter. It's actually rather confusing. At first the emphasizes that this is an exploration of "the theology of friendship," as if there is such a thing. He tries to pull together a few Bible verses, along with writings (mostly C.S. Lewis), that back up his idea that there is a strong message of friendship boundaries in scripture. Then he slowly adds to that his personal story of being a celibate gay man. The book leaves the overall concept of friendship and spends most of its pages with him pining over men or examples of other Christian males wanting me, even halfway outing or questioning some Christian authors. We should be thankful for him not going the typical way of gay Christians distorting scripture, because he stands up to those who misuse the Bible, saying that it's clear sex is supposed to be between a married man and woman, therefore even if he is gay he can't consummate his sensual desires. The problem that places him in is that he attaches himself to dozens of people, male and female, to fill the need for intimacy. But he never seems happy or fulfilled because he will never achieve it. So he spends the rest of the very short booklet trying to pull together what it means to be true friends without getting sexual. He doesn't do a good job of it. He jumps all over the place, mixing his emotions with stories of falling in love with men, moving away from true friends, and never really clearly defining what the heck he is talking about. When he gets to the last chapter, his advice is so basic (1. Admit you need friends; 2. Look for friends around you; 3. Friendship flourishes in community; 4. Friendships strengthen community; 5. Friendships welcome strangers; 6. Choose to stay--physically or emotionally--even if it causes pain) that you realize this whole thing could have been a pamphlet or magazine article. And that he hasn't really learned much of anything about friendship. Hill seems very sad and lonely, refusing to deal with some of his issues as a Biblical Christian living in the evangelical church by proudly proclaiming himself celibate gay. Somehow he thinks the louder he shouts about it and the more often he proclaims it, the less emptiness he'll feel inside. But the ache and longing is constantly there, even when he's surrounded by people. He reminds me of a man working and living in a winery who has convinced himself he's an alcoholic because he longs so much for the product, boasting to visitors that he has never touched a drink, yet he is always in great thirst, trying every other possible liquid to quench him but none satisfy. His problem is solved by either getting out of the winery or not pretending and just drinking the alcohol. Hill is refusing to leave his concept of faith-based sexuality or his desire to love men sensually, so he'll always be stuck in a corner feeling like he doesn't have enough intimate friends. That's not really spiritual friendship.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Chad

    I found this book when a friend of mine joined Goodreads, and he began uploading all the titles he has already read. There are plenty of people out there who think gay Christians should leave what they consider a hateful sect or find a denomination that is more welcoming. On the conservative side, there are plenty of voices advocating against gay marriage in public settings. But what do gay Christians themselves have to say about the matter? The author tells a little bit about his decision to re I found this book when a friend of mine joined Goodreads, and he began uploading all the titles he has already read. There are plenty of people out there who think gay Christians should leave what they consider a hateful sect or find a denomination that is more welcoming. On the conservative side, there are plenty of voices advocating against gay marriage in public settings. But what do gay Christians themselves have to say about the matter? The author tells a little bit about his decision to remain a celibate gay Christian: There were churches I could join that would affirm, encourage, and support me if I wanted to try to find a husband. Looking back on it now, I could have easily decided that one of those churches was the solution to my turmoil. What became increasingly troubling, though, was that this affirmation of same-sex marriage was not the position of the church throughout the ages, nor was it a position embraced by the churches I had been a part of and wanted to remain a part of. If I decided I wanted to find a partner, I’d have to swim against the current of what faithful Christians, with almost total unanimity, had understood Scripture to be saying about our creation as male and female and the meaning of Christian marriage. While the book's topic isn't entirely centered on the experience of gay Christians, it does describe a situation that many feel: a lack of deep relationships, and the eclipsing of friendship by marriage in many Christian communities. This topic is definitely more broad than just gay Christians, and Hill explains its relevance in multiple contexts. I decided to pull Spiritual Friendships off the shelf in a moment of need. I am a bit of an introvert, very shy, and I struggle to reach out even when others are reaching out to me. I tend to stick to books, because I can get deep thoughts without having to go through the pain and insecurity I feel when striking up a new friendship. But that isn't enough, and I often feel a yearning in my life for deeper friendships. Expendable friendships In our culture, friendships are viewed as expendable, while marriage and romantic love take center stage in regards to deep and meaningful relationships. This wasn't always so, it isn't inevitable, and it isn't healthy. Hill quotes the experience of a single friend who mourns the loss of a friend, or at least the closeness they shared, when her friend got married: Surely I can’t be the only person who feels like weddings are a bit of a rejection—two people announcing in public that they love each other more than they love you. . . . There’s no denying that weddings change friendships forever. Priorities have been declared in public. She’ll be there for him in sickness and in health, till death do they part. She’ll be there for you on your birthday or when he has to work late. Being platonically dumped wouldn’t be so bad if people would acknowledge you have the right to be platonically heartbroken. But it’s just not part of our vocabulary. However much our society might pay lip service to friendship, the fact remains that the only love it considers important—important enough to merit a huge public celebration—is romantic love. When I got married, giving up other close relationships was one of the hardest things for me to do. Even when you intentionally strive to maintain previous relationships with friends, your first priority is your family. I mean, I can't even leave the house without finding a babysitter anymore! I don't mean to complain-- I love my family-- but I do feel like something is missing in my life. Thankfully, I have a really great congregation, and I have few Church friends I feel close to. But the book has got me thinking of how I can be better with making and maintaining friendships. C. S. Lewis's ideas on friendship I was extremely touched by C. S. Lewis's book, The Four Loves, and many of my ideas on friendship stem from that book. But Hill doesn't entirely buy in to Lewis's published ideas. He summarizes Lewis's points here: In that book, Lewis takes pains to distinguish friendship sharply from erotic attachment. In contrast to lovers, whom we picture face-to-face, exchanging vows, friends are side-by-side, engaged in some common task and needing to know very little of each other’s life outside the friendship. This, in Lewis’s view, is friendship’s true glory: “the exquisite arbitrariness and irresponsibility of this love.” Lewis notes that, unlike erotic partners who are absorbed in each other’s faces, each friend can say to the other, “I have no duty to be anyone’s Friend and no man in the world has a duty to be mine.” That shocking lack of utility—friendship isn’t for anything in particular, such as procreation or productivity—is precisely what makes friendship itself. Friends are side by side, while lovers face each other. That's the central analogy to describe the differences between eros and philia. But to Hill, that isn't adequate. He wants friends who know when his plane arrives, friends who offer a shoulder to cry on, and friendships that can easily be sacrificed when a job takes them across the country. I have had similar feelings, but I thought I was being selfish. I can't demand such things of friends. It makes me sound needy. And it would probably make some feel uncomfortable. It just doesn't fit in our culture's understanding of the word friend. But another central idea of the book is that our culture has lost something when it shed the old friendships of David and Jonathan, and that we would do well to reclaim them. Suspicion of underlying sexuality originating in Freud. Our culture has a hard time finding a place for same-sex friendships, because we have inherited a suspicion from Freud: Friendship in modern Western societies has been obscured by various myths, to the point that we can’t see our way clear anymore to understand friendship the way we once did and embrace it along with its ancient practitioners. Myers traces the first of these myths back to Sigmund Freud’s suspicion that all relationships, at base, involve eroticism—that the desire for sex is the secret truth of every relationship, so that any mutual liking or interest must be something more than chaste affection. You can see this in our culture, everywhere from teenagers giving up their childhood best friends because they don't want to seem gay, to movies trying to carve of a space for male-male relationships that just isn't there today (I LOVEE Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster!). Hill challenges this narrative. But he also doesn't think we should try to nitpick differences between deep friendships and romance. What is the positive vocation of gay Christians? Whatever renunciations the Christian life involves can never be the final word. Rather, yielding up one thing—gay sex, in this case—is always about the embrace of another. A loss or a place of pain becomes a gateway into a greater benefit that one wouldn’t have been able to find without the loss and pain. And that benefit is best described as a “vocation,” a calling and a divinely given commission, to make one’s loss and pain a means of service to others. In all these ways, Lewis gestures toward a way of thinking about what it means to be gay and Christian that requires gay people to ask of themselves: What am I being called to, positively? Or, even more pointedly, how might my being gay itself constitute a call, and how might it be the very means by which I discover new ways to love God and others? From my religious community in Mormonism, I know that the Church's expectation of gay Christians is often framed in the negative commandment of the law of chastity: don't have sex outside of marriage, and marriage is between a man and a woman. If gay members are going to find a home in the Church, I think we need to embrace this idea of a positive vocation for gay members. We can find such a vocation ourselves, but if leadership embraced and officially supported such efforts, I think we could do a lot of good. An amazing book. Highly recommend it!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Eilidh

    I have a lot of thoughts about this book. Not quite a treatise for friendship, and not quite a personal reflection, it was difficult to know how to read - at times it seemed like a memoir, at times a discursive essay... I appreciate what Wesley Hill is trying to do with this volume: encourage the church to think about how it defines and practises friendship, and consider that there are a number within the church - single, married, widowed, divorced etc - who need friendship that is more meaningf I have a lot of thoughts about this book. Not quite a treatise for friendship, and not quite a personal reflection, it was difficult to know how to read - at times it seemed like a memoir, at times a discursive essay... I appreciate what Wesley Hill is trying to do with this volume: encourage the church to think about how it defines and practises friendship, and consider that there are a number within the church - single, married, widowed, divorced etc - who need friendship that is more meaningful than often we allow our friendships to be. There is a pervasive thought, particularly in the evangelical church, that marriage is the ultimate friendship and if you’re not married, you can’t experience any kind of close and meaningful relationship. I don’t think that view is biblical, but Hill’s conclusions don’t feel formed enough to really come up with a decent argument for how we should do friendship. Hill experiences same-sex attraction but is celibate, and so he does have a vested interest in maintaining good friendships; however, I’ve heard Sam Allberry on this issue as well as reading Vaughn Roberts on friendship, both of whom also experience same-sex attraction. I enjoy their work more and they seem to have a more coherent theology of friendship than Hill, but then again they also have a few years on him. This book was written a few years ago, and I would be interested to know if Hill would change any of what he wrote. Overall, “Spiritual Friendship” also seems the best title for this book, because although Hill draws from church tradition and ancient theologians, it is pretty light from a Biblical point of view. However, I do think he asks a lot of good questions, and this is an issue that the church today could do much better on. I would probably hesitate to recommend it because I don’t think it’s the best Christian book on friendship, but I do believe that thinking and reading on this subject is a good thing for us to be doing.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Wesley Hill has written a book that deserves to be widely read. His choice to identify himself as a celibate gay Christian raises eyebrows among some people, but he opts for the biblical and traditional view of sexual activity. That said, Hill is more open than most people about his desire for committed and intimate friendships. He wants to know where he is to give love within the church, and where he might receive it. This book is an exploration of the concept of friendship, and how it suffers Wesley Hill has written a book that deserves to be widely read. His choice to identify himself as a celibate gay Christian raises eyebrows among some people, but he opts for the biblical and traditional view of sexual activity. That said, Hill is more open than most people about his desire for committed and intimate friendships. He wants to know where he is to give love within the church, and where he might receive it. This book is an exploration of the concept of friendship, and how it suffers in the modern age. It has been hallowed out or replaced entirely; in our busy lives, friendship has few if any obligations, and certainly doesn't equal romantic love in its importance. Other times it is viewed suspiciously, as something that cannot exist apart from erotic or romantic overtones. Hill believes that Scripture calls us to friendship that requires pain and sacrifice, modeled by Jesus himself. I am glad I read this book, because it confirmed for me what I have known for a long time: I want and need committed and intimate friendships, the kind Hill describes. Moreover, I should not feel embarrassed by that. He offers several thoughts for those of us in the church: we should acknowledge our need for friends, we should deepen the friendships we already have, and we should understand how friendships are the building blocks of the community the church is called to be. I appreciate Hill's honesty about his good and bad experiences in friendship, and his frailties. Some readers may find it uncomfortable or perhaps even pathetic; I sympathized. But his goal is not to evoke feeling. Hill is intelligent, well read and thoughtful, and makes a careful and persuasive case for a renewed look at friendship. I take him seriously not just because he is "all kinds of real," as the saying goes, but because he has without a doubt examined himself and his faith.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Sverker

    This book is quite brilliant I have to say and very challenging in terms of what friendship is from a Christian perspective. I would say that Hill provides a vision for the church that really would make a difference in today's society. This goes for whoever you are. As he points out, the actual committed friendship might not be for everyone, but one should certainly think how one acts as a friend. Since Hill is gay and since it is such a topical question I can understand why the book has the sub This book is quite brilliant I have to say and very challenging in terms of what friendship is from a Christian perspective. I would say that Hill provides a vision for the church that really would make a difference in today's society. This goes for whoever you are. As he points out, the actual committed friendship might not be for everyone, but one should certainly think how one acts as a friend. Since Hill is gay and since it is such a topical question I can understand why the book has the subtitle that it has, but I am not completely sure that this is the answer to the question of homosexuality and the church. Hill argues that it is, but if one compares his experience to for example Vines and Lee, then it seems like Hill has more of a calling towards celibacy. Maybe he would not put it in those terms himself, but if he has a gift of befriending people and he happens to be gay then I am not quite sure that one can generalize to say that all gays would have that gift. I'm not sure that that is how the church have been teaching over the years about the gifts of the Spirit. Certainly, one should not be so spiritual that one would say that the gifts come down like fire from heaven. There is something to be said about that one's experiences are a guide for what gifts one might have and how those should be used in the Christian community, but to argue that all gays would have such similar experiences sounds a little too idealistic in my mind. Having said that, I would love to discuss this book with some gay Christians and see what they would think.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Clifton Hickman

    My favorite book I have read this year as Wesley seeks to reorient the power of deep Christian friendship. If marriage is the highest form of relationship that trumps all others, then married people can say that they experience the greatest degree of commitment, friendship, endurance, and joy because they experience the greatest relationship after their relationships with Christ. This means that all singles are missing out on a relationship that trumps all others and that they will never experie My favorite book I have read this year as Wesley seeks to reorient the power of deep Christian friendship. If marriage is the highest form of relationship that trumps all others, then married people can say that they experience the greatest degree of commitment, friendship, endurance, and joy because they experience the greatest relationship after their relationships with Christ. This means that all singles are missing out on a relationship that trumps all others and that they will never experience the love that married people experience unless they get married. Wesley seeks to show how marriage though different in as a form of love isn't the only form of love where deep abiding joy, commitment, love, and endurance happen and that we need to reclaim a deeper view of Christian friendship. It is why Jesus tell us, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

  26. 5 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short Review: This is a good followup and I think natural next step after Hill's first book. I think he is largely right that we need deep friendships and that the church should be facilitating and encouraging deep friendships. This is memoir-ish look at friendship because this is largely Hill's own story. Because he is Gay this look at friendship is through the lens of same sex friendship, but I think it is easy to see similar insights with cross gender and same sex (but straight) friendships a Short Review: This is a good followup and I think natural next step after Hill's first book. I think he is largely right that we need deep friendships and that the church should be facilitating and encouraging deep friendships. This is memoir-ish look at friendship because this is largely Hill's own story. Because he is Gay this look at friendship is through the lens of same sex friendship, but I think it is easy to see similar insights with cross gender and same sex (but straight) friendships as well. This is s a quick read but well worth reading. I started Hill's academic book on Paul and the Trinity but put it down (new parent lack of sleep problems). This encourages me to pick it up sooner rather than later. My full review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/spiritual-friendship/

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Thornton

    In a day where homosexuality and the church is center stage, where everyone has a passionate, yet often underdeveloped, opinion this book is critical. If some believe that God has called SSA brothers and sisters to resist romantic relationship then, as the church we are called to understand, stand beside and support. This book goes into the joy and heartbreak of friendship from the point of view of a gay, celibate, Christian. It is a tough, tough read. Takes only 2 hours to read through. Incredi In a day where homosexuality and the church is center stage, where everyone has a passionate, yet often underdeveloped, opinion this book is critical. If some believe that God has called SSA brothers and sisters to resist romantic relationship then, as the church we are called to understand, stand beside and support. This book goes into the joy and heartbreak of friendship from the point of view of a gay, celibate, Christian. It is a tough, tough read. Takes only 2 hours to read through. Incredibly personal, honest. First three chapters build the foundation, last three chapters are his personal story. Highly, highly recommend.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    As a single person, I'm interested in friendship and it's not just my single status that makes the idea of friendship compelling. Hill does some good theological work to elevate friendship beyond it usual place in our world (way way below marriage) but ultimately his experiences in the realm of friendship are quite depressing and sad. This book is also based on a premise that I do not accept, the premise that celibacy is the only option for my gay brothers and sisters in the Christian church. Th As a single person, I'm interested in friendship and it's not just my single status that makes the idea of friendship compelling. Hill does some good theological work to elevate friendship beyond it usual place in our world (way way below marriage) but ultimately his experiences in the realm of friendship are quite depressing and sad. This book is also based on a premise that I do not accept, the premise that celibacy is the only option for my gay brothers and sisters in the Christian church. That said, I'm going to read up on friendship as it is one of the most important identifiers in my life and Hill's bibliography will be a point of departure.

  29. 5 out of 5

    John Lussier

    Hill's work is a reflection on his life and friendship. He asks, as a gay celibate man what the role of friendship can be for him. As a Christian he considers whether the Church has a place for committed loving friendships. Yes, it does. There is a historical precedent for these types of promised friendships, ones that resemble the love of spouses. These are the types of friendships that many in the Church desperately needs, and we as a community should seek to form them, uphold them, and bless Hill's work is a reflection on his life and friendship. He asks, as a gay celibate man what the role of friendship can be for him. As a Christian he considers whether the Church has a place for committed loving friendships. Yes, it does. There is a historical precedent for these types of promised friendships, ones that resemble the love of spouses. These are the types of friendships that many in the Church desperately needs, and we as a community should seek to form them, uphold them, and bless them.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mindelynn

    One can debate Wesley's perspective on LGBT issues, however this excursus on the theology of friendship highlights the importance of this topic in Scripture. Hopefully his perspective can bring a welcome revisiting of this spiritual discipline to the American evangelical community that so often emphasizes covenantal marriage to the detriment of other ideals.

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