My HomoErotic Relationship with Jesus
Your lips, O my spouse, Drip as the honeycomb; Honey and milk are under your tongue; And the fragrance of your garments Is like the fragrance of Lebanon. – Song of Songs 4:11
Popular Christianity places an emphasis on believers having a Personal Relationship with Jesus. As a Christian, I proudly proclaimed that I did not follow a religion, but that I had a relationship – a personal one-on-one with the Messiah. Looking back, I have no idea how to Biblically justify the idea of a personal relationship. I am pretty certain it is nothing more than modern Christian pop culture. And on a more practical level, I don’t think Jesus wants a relationship with any of us anyway. As a Christian, I talked to Jesus for years, but never heard a word back from him. That is in no way a relationship, despite all the effort I put into it.
As unsupported as I think this idea of a personal relationship is, there are times when Christians seem to think that a mere relationship is not enough. If it were not so grotesque, I think many Christians would want to change the cliché from personal relationship to intimate relationship. The relationship between the Christian and the Christ becomes so close that Jesus becomes a surrogate lover to the faithful Christian. To be a disciple and even a slave to Jesus means, to some of the most devoted, that the relationship with the Savior Jesus must be the closest relationship that the Christian is to hold. As a proud heterosexual male, this gooey GodTalk gave me the hives.
Take a look at this photo that I took last weekend of a banner hanging from a local nondenominational church. What is the first thing this banner reminds you of? I saw it and immediately thought ‘eharmony.com’. Any dating service will use a very similar ad, featuring an attractive and smiling woman to charm all the lonely single men out there. “Looking for that certain… special….somebody?” But instead of helping to find your perfect human match, this church would have you believe you should have the perfect Divine Match. You should meet, not just someone, but ‘someONE – and be solely HIS’.
Am I the only one who got creeped out with stuff like this? Maybe so – I must have been the odd Christian out. Men voluntarily show off their Real Men Love Jesus bumper stickers as if the homo-erotic overtones were the most natural thing in the world. Was I the only Christian who could not avoid the sexual nature inherent in phrases like this? Was I the only Christian man who cringed at the thought of a little personal one-on-one with my man Jesus? I could not have been the only man who admitted loving Jesus to unbelievers to be an awkward experience. Honor? Yes. Obey? You bet. Trust? Surrender to? Absolutely. But telling somebody that I loved Jesus? Yick.
Jesus was my secret, backdoor lover. I could witness the Gospel to unbelievers until I was blue in the face, but I always stopped short of declaring my Love for Jesus. Cut me some slack! I am a man – Jesus is a man. I could not admit love for any man the way I felt I was to love Jesus. I could even admit loving an amorphous, asexual God. But the man Jesus? I loved this man because I felt it was an obligation to love Jesus. I did not know him – I never felt him, touched him, saw him, felt his breath on my ear – how could I possibly love him? But I had to. It was easier to share my love to Jesus when I was alone. I could admit to Jesus that I loved him when I had my quiet time with him every morning. During my daily devotionals, I constantly told him of my devotion and love for him. I always made a point of worshiping my Divine Lover, by whispering words to him like,
“…I love you, Jesus. I love you, Jesus. Oh, How I love you. I love you more than all. I forsake all for you, my sweet Jesus. Praise your name. I love you, Jesus. My precious Lord, my precious Jesus. I praise you. I worship you. I adore you. I love to sing your praises…”
C’mon men, fess up. If you have not spoken this way to Jesus, you have certainly heard praise and worship leaders talk this way. After all, I was just parroting lines that I’ve heard in many contemporary worship songs. Jesus was my one and only. I felt that Jesus had love for me that I could never hope to match, so I strove to make him the top priority of my life. I was a member of the Bride of Christ, and I would join him someday for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. I would be reunited with him as a pure and unblemished bride, justified by his Blood, and our marriage would be consummated in the New Jerusalem. I owed everything to him, even my undying affection, even though I often felt like a faithless and selfish bride. I immediately felt the guilt of a cheating boyfriend when I occasionally sinned by glancing at a centerfold or pretty woman walking down the street. No sin made me feel guiltier than when I occasionally succumbed to my fleshly lusts and masturbated. I always felt the invisible but disapproving eyes of my Jesus staring down at me during my act of adultery. I always cursed myself when I finished, and would ask my jilted Lover for forgiveness as I zipped up my pants.
I cannot have been the only Christian who suffered this anxiety. I recently received a devotional chain email that contained several nauseating pictures that reflected popular Christianitiy’s desire for a more intimate relationship with Jesus. Included was a picture of a forlorn woman alone on a porchswing. On one side of the swing was a pillow with ‘Awaiting Christ’s Return’ embroidered on the side. Deep in her thoughts is the ghostly image of her Heavenly Lover – the feathered, blowdried and neatly trimmed Jesus, who looks more like Kenny Rogers than a Jewish carpenter. This was sent to me as an inspirational devotion to Jesus, but could easily have been ripped off a Harlequin romance cover. Christian or non-Christian, this stuff is really disturbing to me. How is a man supposed to relate to this kind of stuff?
When Christians receive messages like these, from their pastors, their devotionals, from their popular culture, and from their environment, is it any wonder why they feel obligated to make Jesus into a husband, and why men get overwhelmed with neurosis when he is worshipped and adored in the likeness of a Divine Lover?
I continued telling Jesus I loved him for years, and I am confessing it all to you here, safe in my anonomity. But when I got married, I realized that I had all these loving phrases that I wanted to pass on to my wife but were already reserved for Jesus! I could not tell my wife that she was my one and only, then turn around and tell Jesus that HE was my one and only!! I the lovey-mushy talk of love for Jesus abruptly ceased. I realized that if I were to be a faithful husband, I must have only one lover in my life. My marriage his given me a real relationship, and the anxiety of Loving Jesus has finally disappeared.
…and don’t get me started on how my old Calvary Chapel pastor interpreted the Song of Songs….