It feels good to finally make it public—I love a man. I’m a Southern Baptist pastor, and it’s true. Allow me to tell you about this relationship.

I met this man in college. Over the course of three years, we became the closest of friends. We spent late nights together filled with conversation—both serious and ridiculous. We celebrated victories together and supported one another through difficulties, exams, and relationships. I spent many a late night falling asleep on his dorm room couch or even on his bed while making a half-hearted attempt to study into the wee hours of the morning.

After college, he celebrated with me and my wife, Mindy, on our wedding day. He was as exuberant as can be, truly rejoicing with those who rejoice. As I moved to Louisville and he back to the East Coast, one would expect our relationship to slowly fade. Not so. As we both matured in our faith and as men, our love for one another only deepened. I was busy with seminary, work at UPS, marriage, and soon children. He had a fast-paced and demanding job, yet he was faithful in keeping up his end of the relationship with thoughtful cards, phone calls, and visits.

He celebrated our first child with us. He spent his hard-earned money and precious time to fly out to see us several times in those early years. He was just as excited to welcome our second child into the world. He has been a precious gift to our family, cherishing our children and my wife. His generous visits were often accompanied by gifts and always guaranteed to leave our hearts full of the joy of the Lord.

We spent countless hours in phone conversation, on Skype, and communicating via e-mail. Often we’d talk for as long as two hours about struggles, events, funny stories, and the grace of the Lord.

As my wife and I moved to Newberry, South Carolina, his visits continued. In fact, he volunteered to pay his own way so that he could help us move from Kentucky to South Carolina. It was such a blessing to have this brother with us during the travails of those first few days in Newberry.

We built things together. We ran together. We enjoyed God’s creation together.

I had the blessing of watching the Lord change his desires and call him toward training for the ministry. I had the amazing opportunity to write recommendations for this man whom my soul loved. I have quietly celebrated as the Lord leads him down a path I myself walked only a few years ago, and I have prayed for God to provide him with a faithful, loving, and supportive wife.

As I struggled through my first year as a pastor, he was there. There to cry with me. There to discuss difficult theological topics. There to pray for me. There to challenge, encourage, and love me. He, more than anyone besides my wife, understood and fully empathized with my deepest hurts. He cried with me and Mindy during our miscarriage. He hurt for our family.

For all of these things and for a future filled with more of this kind of love, joy, and Christian brotherhood, I must say, “Lord, I thank you for this man that I love.”

The Lie

Two groups tell us that this kind of love is impossible. First, the world. If I were to tell nearly anyone on the street that I felt this way for a man, they’d insist I was experiencing homosexual attraction. This is a lie.

Second, the church. Many of our churches would have us believe that the “brotherly love” the Bible encourages must somehow develop over a bowl of buffalo wings while watching a UFC fight. This, too, is a lie.

We as the church have conceded the kind of love I share with this brother of mine to the gay community. We are fearful. Fearful of misinterpretation by our culture, fearful of vulnerability, fearful that maybe it’s unbiblical.

This is a lie from the prince of darkness. He wants brothers in Christ to feel uncomfortable with truly loving one another. He has perverted brotherly affection with homo-eroticism and made it completely inaccessible to the believer. We as believers can no longer conceive of the kind of love Peter encourages—a “sincere brotherly love, [loving] one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). Where is the love that is characterized by a humble mind and a tender heart (1 Pet. 3:8)?

Satan has stolen David-and-Jonathan relationships from us, brothers in Christ. What will you do about it? To love another man as your own soul (1 Sam. 18:1) is not homosexual love; it is the love of Christ. It is a true willingness to lay down your life for your brothers (1 John 3:16). We must build these kinds of relationships with one another: men who truly love other men.

Brothers, if we display the love of Christ for one another, we may begin to establish credibility with the gay community. They don’t believe we can love other men. Let’s prove them wrong. Perhaps then, after seeing the true light of the gospel love of Jesus, they will be drawn from the darkness where Satan holds them captive and into the marvelous light of Christ’s self-sacrificial love.