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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Whiter Than Snow -- Really?


My recently-government-approved husband often plays his grand piano. He's good. Very good. And although he plays a huge variety of music, we do have a book called The Big Book of Hymns. Church-y stuff. And I know that some of you know them full well, many by heart, from your days of sitting in church pews. You may be familiar with Whiter Than Snow. I wasn't until a friend of mine introduced it to me in 1983. He was my director on a Christian singing tour through the Western US, Canada, and Alaska. Popular, good looking, visually and verbally everything anyone could want. We were sitting together one day and talking about hymns and music. And he said that this was one of his favorites: Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole. I want thee forever to live in my soul. Break down every idol, cast out every foe. Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. He had our group sing it from time to time throughout the summer. And I've remembered it ever since. Without doubt, it always reminds me of him. Good looking, horribly charismatic in his religious walk and life, smiling, happy, and quite a type-A personality. Dressed well, polished shoes, coiffed hair. A really fantastic person and developed into an excellent friend. But it had started out the previous year when I saw him performing in a traveling Christian stage production. And he nearly demanded that I stick around after the show to say hi to him. We went to coffee and drove around a bit before ending up back at my parents home where I was living. One thing led to another and, before you knew it, he was on the floor with his shirt off and asking for a backrub. Fine. No problem. I drove him back to his motel and walked him up to his room. And then left. Nothing happened. I ended up traveling with him for six months during 1993 all over the US and seven countries in Asia before our friendship nearly came to a screeching halt. He became innundated with the beautiful young man who was our piano player. And the rest of the tour member suffered because of it. Our good friendship was nearly ruined. We went many years without speaking. And then, a stroke of craziness hit me and I decided to get married. We were in Denver and saw this friend again. He asked if he could take me to breakfast. Absolutely. He apologized for the past and said he had a very important question to ask me. He, too, was getting ready to ask a young lady to be his wife. He said that he knew full well "the struggles with homosexuality" that both of us had faced...and just exactly how did I resolve those and how was I able to make my marriage work." He was really fishing and searching here. He seemed as unsettled as I did. I mean, these are daunting questions for a struggling guy. He went on to marry her and now has several young girls. He's been a pastor in a lovely horrible successful and well-known Baptist church in California and has been on staff at numerous Christian organizations leading Bible studies and taking groups to South America on mission trips. He won't communicate with me any longer. Won't email. He didn't comment on my recent happiness of domestic partnership. I'm afraid that what I know of his past is a huge threat for him. Plus the fact that he lives a lifestyle that isn't completely congruent with what he knows is true of himself. Struggle. Confusion. Yup, I've been there. And, horribly thankfully, am not any more. But he is. As are many others. The words still strike me, "Whiter than snow, yes whiter than snow. Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow."

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

How are you????!!!! I was reading some of your good recipes......too bad I don´t have the likes of red pepper oil...Le Sigh...as the French would say. Love your entries and congrats on the official paper signing. Have a tender V-Day. I have a date in Managua actually. We will see how that goes...I´ll keep you updated.
-Erik

Ur-spo said...

that was sad.
Alas, it is all too common; people who go back into the closet certainly don't want to see "open" people.
Not only will it raise questions 'and how do you know that person?" but it reminds them (painfully) of the road not taken.

Derek said...

I know that song so well!

Laurie said...

Well, it seems to me that you got
the better end of any deal he did.

I don't know that song. I was a
Catholic girl. Do you think I was
paying any attention to hymns?

christopherc said...

I fear for the issues he may bring not only upon himself, but upon his wife and children. It has always seemed that action that one knows to be against themselves is very much action that shatters the world around you; including the turf one's family is grounded upon.

-C

bardelf said...

I agree with ur-spo, very sad. I'm sure your attempts at recent communication are a source of great fear for him, not knowing what you might do. Just bless him in your heart and let him live his closeted life. I'm glad that your life is turning out so wonderfully, lewis.
As for today's blog, the song, 'Whiter Shade of Pale', comes to mind for me.

"Just David!" said...

i think the ex still struggles with those issues...

Billy said...

It is really sad that somebody can't be themselves and have to hide behind 'church and state'.

On another note, I lost my 'manginity' on a church camp - is there a trend here?

Happy V day boys!

Steven said...

I echo the sentiments of Ur-spo and Christopher. It's unfortunate that he has not considered your friendship important enough to keep you within his "viewfinder." Thank God (no pun intended) for Steven and your support of family and friends! ((((Lewis))))

birdoparadise said...

My heart aches for your friend and any man who believes that living as God created him is a sin. I know it is not. If you are still in contact with him, you might suggest these two books by Peter J. Gomes, gay pastor and chaplain of Harvard University:

http://www.amazon.com/Good-Book-Reading-Bible-Heart/dp/0060088303/

http://www.amazon.com/Scandalous-Gospel-Jesus-Whats-About/dp/0060000732/

Gomes is a highly respected theologian and expresses well that the negative feelings against homosexuality are a cultural bias and are not biblically sound. That won't matter to people who use the Bible as a weapon, but it should matter to men and women who long for same-sex relationships and are held back by what they believe the Bible says.

I can recommend more books that specifically address the passages in a basic or more scholarly fashion if you are interested. Just email me through my profile. Good luck.

Birdie

Anonymous said...

Haha, I remember all too well those songs. Interesting story, you never know where you'll find a closet-case. (Haha, I shouldn't be talking though) Hey, I just started looking at your blog this weekend. I really like it. I've even bookmarked it!! :) Congratulations on the nuptials.
AdiĆ³s,
Gregorio

Nathan Garvison said...

Honey, my skin is whiter than snow! So white it looks blue sometimes....I'm so glad we met today! Sorry if we didn't talk that much. I've been off lately. Gah! I hope you have a fabulous vacation this week/end!

wep601 said...

I know the song... walked a similar road for a while in life... but SO glad not to be in the place your friend is in--feel his pain and what drives him to stay in that place of "bondage" (not the good kind!;-) ). My beloved choir director and youth pastor left his wife and stated he was gay while I was in college, and he won't reply to emails either. Sometimes, they just need to be in a completely different chapter. Enjoyed this post Lewis!

Geoff said...

"Whiter than snow..." I remember that song too. It never brought absolution, forgiveness or relief though. Very tough situation. Excellent post as always.

FlipFlopsBoy said...

Happy V. Day to you and your hubby!

Love, C

The Neighbors Will Hear said...

There's a local southern baptist minister whom I've occasionally chatted with on gay.com. He's not married, but I still don't know how he reconciles being a gay man and an SB minister. I was raised SB, and there's just no way they can be seen as gay-friendly or even gay-tolerant.

Some married guys find a way to suppress their sexuality and stay more or less happily married. I sure couldn't, and I wouldn't be surprised if this guy can't, either, eventually.

Java said...

Really sad for him. I'm so glad you are being true to yourself now. I wish him well, but am sorry for him.

I've always hated that song! Known it for years.