Spiritual Friendship: Temptation or Belonging?

Nov 9, 2022

Article ID: JAF1122AK | By: Anne Kennedy


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Perhaps celibate gay and lesbian Christians, precisely in and out of their celibacy, are called to express, rather than simply renounce and deny, same-sex love. And perhaps this is where, for all the potential trials and temptations that come with this way of thinking, same-sex friendship represents one way for gay Christians who wish to be celibate to say: “I am embracing a positive calling. I am, along with every other Christian, called to love and be loved.”1 

This question, posed by Wesley Hill in his book, Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian, is the central, pressing concern of the Spiritual Friendship movement.2 How same-sex attracted Christians order their relationships increasingly touches on today’s fluid assumptions about identity, acceptance, and belonging. The issues underscored by Hill deserve to be studied and understood. Their answers carry immense spiritual and practical implications for Christian doctrine, worship, and community life.

While I am sorely sympathetic to the desires of same-sex attracted Christians and their need for family and belonging, I believe that the proponents of modern-day spiritual friendship disorder the precious mystery of friendship. In collapsing the good desire for home and belonging with the wrong one for familial and even romantic intimacy with the same sex, the Spiritual Friendship movement, relying as it does on categories derived from the Sexual Revolution and postmodernism, devalues the institution of marriage and wanders into self-defeating contradiction.

INTERIOR SWEETNESS

What is friendship and why is it so necessary? In the short twelfth-century book, On Spiritual Friendship, the foundational text of the Spiritual Friendship movement, Aelred of Riveaulx, citing Cicero, wrote, “Friendship is agreement in things human and divine, with good will and charity.”3 Furthermore, love “is an attachment of the rational soul. Through love, the soul seeks and yearns with longing to enjoy an object. Through love, the soul also enjoys that object with interior sweetness and embraces and cherishes it once it is acquired.”4 What, then, distinguishes spiritual friendship from the ordinary kind? Aelred explained it this way: “So spiritual friendship is begotten among the righteous by likeness of life, habits, and interests, that is, by agreement in things human and divine, with good will and charity.”5 True friendship is grounded in the love of Christ. A friend, he said, quoting Jesus, “loves at all times”6 and “lays down his life for his friend.”7 It is only possible for two souls knit together in Christ to experience a wholly affectionate and understanding bond.

The book has a surprisingly modern feel. Aelred, writing in the 1160s, lived at a time when sexuality wasn’t, yet, the telos of human identity. Love was still contextualized by self-sacrifice. What should we make, then, of his description of the “kiss of the flesh”? Aelred writes:

Let us consider the characteristics of this kiss of the flesh, that from what is of the flesh we may rise to the spirit, from what is human to the divine. Life is sustained by two sources of nourishment, food and air. Without food one can survive for some time, but without air not even an hour. Through our lips, then, for survival we inhale and exhale. What is inhaled or exhaled has received the name breath or spirit. In a kiss, therefore, two spirits meet, blend, and unite. Begotten from these two spirits, a sweetness of mind awakens and engages the affection of those who exchange a kiss.8

Hill, believing that Aelred was obedient to the church when he entered his monastic vocation, offers this explanation:

By the time he wrote On Spiritual Friendship, he had bound himself to the teachings of the church and foresworn sexual liaisons. The man who could describe a friend as one “to whom you so join and unite yourself that you mix soul with soul” and one whom you could embrace “in the kiss of unity, with the sweetness of the Holy Spirit flowing over you” had apparently given up gay sex. What Aelred called “spiritual friendship” was a form of same-sex intimacy that sublimated or transmuted erotic passion rather than sanctioning its genital expression.9

Hill is pushing back on a growing appeal to Aelred for justification for same-sex erotic expression.10 One wonders whether Aelred, were he to know that two men were sexually attracted to one another, would commend a kiss as a means of sublimated erotic passion. It is not clear that Aelred had erotic desire in mind.

The modern reader should be careful to remember that Aelred is not a twenty-first-century westerner. Aelred, for example, in discussing love, appears to articulate one of the central tenets of modern pop-theology: “If you do not love yourself, how can you love another?”11 What no longer bears weight for many today is that love of self was understood through Christian history as the involuntary protective care one has for oneself. Taken together, whatever Aelred intended to say, these “kiss of the flesh” and “love yourself” passages sound to the modern ear like a defense of many iterations of “love” by the LGBTQ acronym.

THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION

In the time of Aelred, the western world had yet to be turned upside down by the Sexual Revolution and deconstructed gender identities. What constitutes an identity in Christ? Is it possible to map current gender ideology over not only Aelred’s writings but over the kind of love Scripture says that Christ has for His church? Many insist it is crucial to do so.12 Nate Collins, rapidly detailing “A Brief History of Theorizing Gender” in his book, All but Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender and Sexuality, believes that “Christians need to learn to recognize ways that gender is socialized in their own faith communities.” This will be difficult for churches with “predominantly — or perhaps entirely — male leadership” because “some faith communities, often without realizing it, socialize gender in ways that devalue these [intersectional gender difference] perspectives.”13

Collins discusses what he calls “unitive intimacy.” “Physical union,” he says, “is ordered according to the creational pattern to take place between a man and a woman in the context of marriage. But this physical unitive intimacy constitutes a physical kinship unit whose ultimate purpose is to point to kinship on a spiritual plane. And if physical kinship is forged through physical unitive intimacy, then we should not be surprised when we encounter unitive language that is nonphysical, perhaps even spiritual in nature.”14 Turning to the relationship of David and Jonathan, Collins insists that, “As important as the male-female union is as an expression of the creative intent behind physical unitive intimacy, it does not hold a monopoly on passionate expressions of love and intimacy.”15 By this he intimates that two friends may well share an intimacy as deep or even deeper than that between married partners.

Collins doesn’t point out that “unitive intimacy” is a term used by the Roman Catholic Church to describe procreative sexual relations.16 The term, rightly employed, is useful for those bewildered by the unitive purpose of sex in marriage. The sexual act unites two unlike people, making them one. It is not possible to attain “unitive intimacy” in a same-sex sexual relationship because such a relationship cannot be procreative and idolatry lies at its heart.17 Though it may feel “spiritual,” the two people sin against their own bodies and the Lord. The spiritual plane to which people of the same sex go in the sexual act is not that of the Spirit of God. It is a descent rather than an ascent. But even without the sin of the same-sex sexual act, whatever sort of bond is established in same-sex friendship, it is not unitive intimacy. To suggest that David and Jonathan shared an emotional romantic love says something that the Scriptures don’t say, however much the modern ear may desire to hear it.

Hill clarifies and then nuances Collins’ point: “the language of nonsexual friendship and romantic love are vocabularies that can overlap and intermingle. Probably David borrowed the language and imagery of spousal love, just as Ruth did before him, to describe a relationship that wasn’t sexually active but was, nonetheless, more intense, more committed, and more irrevocable, than most moderns consider friendships to be.”18 Hill draws Jesus into his argument:

It is telling that when we catch a glimpse of the depth of Jesus’s emotions — which we rarely do in the Gospels — we see a portrayal of his sadness at the death of a friend, one who is bound to him not in a relationship of traveling companion, student, patron, or lover but only by ties of affection. The only tears of Jesus that are reported in the Gospels are prompted by the loss of one of his same-sex friends. (emphasis in original)19

Like the term “gay,” “same-sex” adds a certain sexual sensibility to the text. To say that Jesus wept over the grave of his “same-sex” friend implies more to a modern reader than the text justifies, mapping an allusion to modern gender ideology over the passage. Few men in ancient Israel, no more than men in the middle east today, would characterize their friendships as romantic, or as if they represented a sublimation of erotic desire even though they might hold hands, kiss, and weep for one another.

MYTHS AND LONGINGS

Reading the relationship of David and Jonathan as a romance illumines a crucial tenet of spiritual friendship — marriage cannot satisfy the emotional and spiritual needs of two married people. The idea that it can, Hill calls a “myth:

If it comes to making time 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.20

Hill describes the grief he experienced when his friend told him he (the friend) was getting married to a woman. Hill “was unprepared for what happened next…the tears came almost immediately.”21 The grief proved prescient. The two never again shared their previous emotional intimacy.

Collins, for his part, believes that the longing for two people of the same sex to share close, even romantic, friendship arises from what he calls “aesthetic orientation.” “If we are to speak of an aesthetic orientation and use it to differentiate between gay and straight,” he writes, “we would say that both gay men and straight women are, for example, less aware (in general) of the beauty of feminine personhood than straight men or lesbian women. These general patterns that we discern in the way people experience the beauty of others are now the basis for distinguishing between straight and nonstraight orientations; rather than an impulse towards sexual activity” (emphasis in original).22 Same-sex longing, he believes, is fundamentally a good and right orientation to beauty.23 It is not necessarily disordered as a result of being oriented toward the wrong object.

Collins is married to a woman, whereas Hill is celibate. “Being gay,” writes Hill,

is, for me, as much a sensibility as anything else: a heightened sensitivity to and passion for same-sex beauty that helps determine the kind of conversations I have, which people I’m drawn to spend time with, what novels and poems and films I enjoy, the particular visual art I appreciate, and also, I think the kind of friendships I pursue and try to strengthen. I don’t imagine I would have invited half as much effort in loving my male friends, and making sacrifices of time, energy, and even money on their behalf, if I weren’t gay. My sexuality, my basic erotic orientation to the world, is inescapably intertwined with how I go about finding and keeping friends.24

For something that is both “inescapable” and “intertwined,” how could self-denial, then, be the only posture toward relationships? Can’t there be a “positive” vocation, a way of being covenantally bound, as Hill suggests, to a brotherhood of Christians — or rather, “same-sex” partners?

THE HISTORICAL ANSWER25

Collins and Hill appeal, as we have seen, to the twelfth century to find an answer to Hill’s question. For them there is a “positive vocation” for the person who has to constantly say no to his or her sexual desire — a covenanted, intimate friendship characterized by the emotion of love, cemented, in some cases, by vows resembling the covenant of marriage. But the idea of spiritual friendship, of two people who might be emotionally and physically attracted to each other sharing a close, common, though “chaste” life, did not originate with Aelred.

The idea of “syneisaktism,” or “spiritual marriage,” grew inside the church through debates about 1 Corinthians 7:25–38,26 becoming so notorious that various early church fathers addressed the practice. Finally, the First Council of Nicaea forbade it in Canon Three:This great synod absolutely forbids a bishop, presbyter, deacon or any of the clergy to keep a woman who has been brought in to live with him, with the exception of course of his mother or sister or aunt, or of any person who is above suspicion.”27 The council was not concerned with same-sex friendships, but the principle is applicable to later apologies for friendship between two men or two women who are sexually attracted to each other. The church, gathered together in council, did not believe that it was enough simply to forswear sexual activity and promise to be chaste.

St. John Chrysostom, preaching in the fourth century, articulated the precise concern of many modern critics of the Spiritual Friendship movement. Elizabeth Clark describes Chrysostom’s position:

For Chrysostom, living together without indulging in sexual intercourse could only serve to fan the flames of lust….[W]ith the subintroductae and their monks, desire was intensified with the passage of time because it was never satisfied. The constant association of the two — eating, talking, laughing together — promoted a state of perpetual sexual arousal. Chrysostom compared a monk who consented to live in this fashion to someone who had a table of delicacies set before him, but was instructed not to eat, or to one ravaged by thirst, who was led to a stream but not permitted to drink.28

The term “subintroductae” refers to young women who entered into household arrangements with monks on the assumption of chastity. These arrangements were formed, the monks insisted, for practical reasons. The young women needed protection; the monks needed people to do their household chores. More importantly, the joy of friendship would alleviate the boredom of long lonely evenings for both.29

Chrysostom remained unmoved by these practical and emotional considerations. He, writes Clark, “was convinced that, in any case, it was sexual desire which bound a man to a woman.”30 Which is to say that the compelling desire, perhaps even the aesthetic appreciation of which Collins speaks, for Chrysostom, could not be counted as pure spiritual love, but “concupiscence in disguise.”31 “True chastity,” according to this great doctor of the church, “means that we wage war constantly against our passions, not that we exacerbate them.”32

DON’T MOVE AWAY

Like Collins, as a missionary kid, I grew up with an insatiable desire for permanence. What I most longed for was not friends but my parents. I wanted to flee my boarding school and go home. I would have been comforted in my youth by Hill’s poignant critique of modern, individualistic, American society. “It’s the myth,” he says,

of what we might term, simply, freedom — the myth that the less encumbered and entangled I am, or the less accountable and anchored I am to a particular relationship, the better able I am to find my truest self and secure real happiness….it’s not hard to see how it strikes at the root of friendship. If your deepest fulfillment is found in personal autonomy, then friendship — or at least the close kind I want to recommend in these pages — is more of a liability than an asset.33

A terrible alienation lies at the heart of every creature. We want to go back, to find home, to look in the eyes of another person and be understood — forever.

Hill describes friends who have welcomed him to share in their households. Art Pereira, Director of Community Care for Revoice, took a greater step. Shawn Mathis writes about Pereira and his friend, Nick Galluccio:

The gay man is Art Pereira, a Student Ministry Director at Hope Presbyterian Church (PCA). His straight-friend is Nick Galluccio, a youth pastor at Stonecrest Community Church. Art describes his friendship with Nick as a family and a household. Those are his words. Why did he use the word household? Because they moved in together. With a two-year lease, Art jokes that Nick is “staying. He’s mine.” Why would a gay and a straight do this? — because they “are deeply committed to each other.” (emphasis in original)34

Wherever Nick goes, Art will likewise go. The two received “friendship premarital counseling” from Pereira’s pastor and signed the lease.35

While granting that Galluccio and Pererira are acting with the best of intentions, it cannot be prudent for them to arrange their lives this way. As we will see below, the kind of love Jesus commands believers to have for each other in the New Testament is that of self-denial and self-sacrifice. It does not cavalierly, under the guise of familial commitment, lay temptation in the path of the other.

THE BEAUTY OF LOVE

Does spiritual friendship enable a person who is same-sex attracted truly “to love and be loved,” to return to Hill’s essential question? Has the church — and individual Christians inside it — denied a “positive vocation” to those suffering loneliness and isolation as a result of their sexual desires? If they have, should the solution to that lack of love be covenanted same-sex relationships that sublimate the eroticism inherent in relationships between same-sex attracted people who desire to enter into those covenants?

On the contrary, those objecting to spiritual friendship as an ideological movement inside the church are not suggesting that some Christians — those so-called “same-sex attracted” or “gay” ones — should live in outer darkness, bereft of human companionship and love. That was never the answer. But they are asking something, perhaps more painful — that they abandon LGBTQ ideology, an ideology that neither enables a person truly to love or be loved because it is grounded in a false definition of love.

The language of love must be restored to its biblical place. Jesus did not weep at the grave of his “same-sex” friend. Rather, he wept over his friend, Lazarus. Jesus was never married. There is no reason to believe that David and Jonathan were      romantically attached to each other. Sublimated eroticism has to be inserted into the text, along with gender ideology. That is made easier by flattening the various biblical definitions of love. Nevertheless, eros and agape are not the same. Agape should be privileged for the Christian, not only because it leads to feelings of affection, but because self-denial, in the Scriptures, is the very heart of divine love. Hill’s question is a profoundly wrong one, for it makes God, who is Agape, out to be cruel when He calls His creatures to take up their crosses to follow Him.

Moreover, no extra covenant is necessary for true friendship. But Hill is absolutely right, people should stop moving away from each other. Churches should preach against the prevailing assumptions of consumerism, that unquestioned desire to live in nicer towns and nicer houses and work at nicer jobs. Individually and corporately, Christians should put the good of other Christians’ material and spiritual needs ahead of their own.

This does not necessitate two men who are sexually attracted to one another entering into a covenant friendship. Rather, it means a return to the hard way of obedience that the New Testament demands. In his first epistle, St. Peter calls the believer not to a holy life of isolation, but to one of being weened of wrong desires in the company of a particular congregation (1 Pet. 1:15–16). Each believer is formed into a “living stone” that fits together with other stones (1 Pet. 2:4–5). Peter calls believers to a “sincere love…from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22 NASB). The nature of this love is self-sacrifice, and its location is the local church. The particular people Christ joins to His Body can’t just decide to walk away, to cast it off, without grave consequences (1 Cor. 12:14–26). But neither does carnal desire or emotional need supersede the call to holiness.

The communion of believers in the church is undermined and destroyed when individual preference is given sway. Ironically, this is the self-defeating character of spiritual friendship. The “friendship” of two people cannot be privileged over the holy affection wrought by Christ through the suffering and obedience of the members he mystically incorporates into Himself.

In light of these warnings, spiritual friendship must take seriously the other weighty testimony of Scripture — the myriad times that we are told to flee temptation. It is troubling that missing from Hill and Collin’s excurses on biblical texts are any commendations of Joseph’s flight from Potiphar’s wife, or Jesus’ stern admonitions against lust.

Collins and Hill are wrong because they are wrong about love. Love, originating as it does in the Godhead, has to be measured according to the witness of Scripture. The love of God is agape, a pouring out of the self regardless of feeling. Loving your neighbor might be a moment of sweet, kindred brightness, but more usually it will be the hidden work of the Spirit, contrary to one’s own feelings. We can only wait for that perfect home, where all our longings are caught up in belonging to Christ.

Anne Kennedy, MDiv, is the author of Nailed It: 365 Readings for Angry or Worn-Out People, rev. ed. (Square Halo Books, 2020). She blogs about current events and theological trends at Standfirminfaith.org.

 

NOTES

1 Wesley Hill, Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate, Gay Christian, (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2015), 76.

2 In an interview discussing his recent entrance into The Episcopal Church and the possibility of bridging the difference between “Side A” and “Side B,” Hill said this: “So rather than saying, ‘My progressive friends are simply ignoring the clear teaching of Scripture and revising things in light of the cultural moment,’ I could say instead, ‘There’s something about the Gospel that is driving them. It’s a compassion for people who have been alienated by the church. It’s a desire for LGBTQ people to be fully integrated into the life of the church and not made to live in shame.’ I can view the position in the light of Christian charity, even if I don’t end up agreeing with it, and vice versa.” Egan Millard, “Q&A: Episcopal Priest Wesley Hill Shares What It’s Like as a Celibate Gay Christian in a Fully LGBTQ+-Affirming Church,” Episcopal News Service, May 12, 2022, https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2022/05/12/qa-episcopal-priest-wesley-hill-shares-what-its-like-as-a-celibate-gay-christian-in-a-fully-lgbtq-affirming-church/.

“Side A” refers to people who believe that God has created and blessed monogamous homosexual relationships; “Side B” advocates disagee. Yet neither Side A nor Side B categories comport with biblical teaching. See Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, “What Is Wrong with Gay Christianity? What Is Side A and Side B Anyway?” https://rosariabutterfield.com/new-blog/2018/2/14/what-is-wrong-with-gay-christianity-what-is-side-a-and-side-b-anyway.

3 Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship (Minnesota: Cistercian Liturgical Press, 2010) 71, Kindle Edition.

4 Aelred, Spiritual Friendship, 72.

5 Aelred, Spiritual Friendship, 78.

6 Aelred, Spiritual Friendship, 130.

7 Aelred, Spiritual Friendship, 74.

8 Aelred, On Spiritual Friendship, 95.

9 Hill, Spiritual Friendship, 33

10 Hill cites historian John Boswell’s controversial claim that “Aelred was gay”: “The late historian John Boswell, in his Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality, was in no doubt about Aelred’s significance for our current dilemmas surrounding friendship: ‘There can be little question that Aelred was gay and that his erotic attraction to men was a dominant force in his life,’ Boswell writes. Accordingly, he sees in Aelred and his treatises the possibility of a Christian affirmation of gay partnerships. Aelred’s writings on friendship, in Boswell’s view, may be read as commendations not just of chaste, intimate same-sex relationships but also of specifically romantic partnerships between men (and, by extension, between women). Aelred becomes the patron saint of gay and lesbian love, the historical forerunner of advocates for same-sex marriage in the church today. Whatever one makes of this line of thought…it’s significant that most who agree with Boswell admit that, although the eleventh century abbot likely experienced what we now call a ‘homosexual orientation,’ Aelred himself was celibate. Aelred speaks in some of his writings about the dalliances in his youth and losing his virginity, the context of these remarks suggesting that he had been with a man. But by the time he wrote On Spiritual Friendship, he had bound himself to the teachings of the church and forsworn sexual liaisons.” Hill, Spiritual Friendship, 32–33.

11 Aelred, On Spiritual Friendship, 155–156.

12 The Affirming, Side A movement in Christian circles finds its theological justification from scholars like Luke Timothy Johnson: “I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.” Luke Timothy Johnson, “Homosexuality and the Church: Scripture and Experience,” Commonweal, June 11, 2007, https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/homosexuality-church-0.

And by Diarmaid MacCulloch: “This is an issue of biblical authority. Despite much well-intentioned theological fancy footwork to the contrary, it is difficult to see the Bible as expressing anything else but disapproval of homosexual activity, let alone having any conception of a homosexual identity. The only alternatives are either to try to cleave to patterns of life and assumptions set out in the Bible, or to say that in this, as in much else, the Bible is simply wrong.” Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History (New York: Penguin, 2003), 705.

13 Collins, All but Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017), 240.

14 Collins, All but Invisible, 167.

15 Collins, All but Invisible, 168.

16 Roman Catholic theologian Ronald L. Conte Jr. briefly defines the purposes of Catholic marriages. Concerning the unitive purpose of marriage, he explains, “The unitive meaning is a specific type of physical union, the sexual union of a man and a woman in natural intercourse. This type of sexual act is in harmony with, and ordered toward, the other meanings: marital and procreative.” Ronald L. Conte Jr., “The Marital, Unitive, and Procreative Meanings,” The Reproach of Christ, October 6, 2011, https://ronconte.com/2011/10/06/marital-unitive-procreative-meanings/.

17 See Robert A. J. Gagnon, “Scriptural Perspectives on Homosexuality and Sexual Identity,” Journal of Psychology and Christianity 24, no. 04 (2005): 293–303, Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon, http://www.robgagnon.net/articles/ScripturalPerspectives.pdf.

18 Hill, Spiritual Friendship, 52.

19 Hill, Spiritual Friendship, 53.

20 Hill, Spiritual Friendship, 13.

21 Hill, Spiritual Friendship, 86.

22 Collins, All but Invisible, 150.

23 Collins, All but Invisible, 149.

24 Hill, Spiritual Friendship, 81.

25 Special thanks to Kevin DeYoung for bringing these materials to light in his November 4, 2022 lecture “Chrysostom and the Preaching of the Gospel,” in the series “Sketches from Church History Part 1: 70–451,” https://kevindeyoung.org/lecture/chrysostom-and-the-preaching-of-the-gospel/.

26 Elizabeth A. Clark, “John Chrysostom and the ‘Subintroductae,’” Church History 46, no. 2 (1977): 174–75, https://doi.org/10.2307/3165004.

27 “The First Council of Nicaea — 325 AD,” Papal Encyclicals Online, https://www.papalencyclicals.net/councils/ecum01.htm.

28 Clark, “John Chrysostom and the ‘Subintroductae,” 176–77. For a further look at Chrysostom’s view, see J. N. D. Kelly, Golden Mouth: The Story of John Chrysostom, Ascetic, Preacher, Bishop (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1995), 48–51.

29 Clark, “John Chrysostom and the ‘Subintroductae,” 179–181.

30 Clark, “John Chrysostom and the ‘Subintroductae,” 177.

31 Clark, “John Chrysostom and the ‘Subintroductae,” 177.

32 Clark, “John Chrysostom and the ‘Subintroductae,” 177.

33 Hill, Spiritual Friendship, 14.

34 Shawn Mathis, “Revoice Gay-Straight Friends Planning a Life Together,” Pastor Mathis: A Protestant in Post-Christian America, March 31, 2021, http://pastormathis.com/index.php/2021/03/31/revoice-gay-straight-friends-planning-a-life-together/. Mathis’s commentary refers to conversation in the Revoice Webinar, “Deep Dive \ Art Pereira & Nick Galluccio: Better Together,” which is accessible through a paid subscription, https://watch.revoice.us/videos/revoice-webinars-deep-dives-art-pereira-and-nick-galluccio.

35 Mathis, “Revoice Gay-Straight Friends Planning a Life Together.”

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