So One Man Sharpens Another

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better

A friend of mine recently sent me a brief essay which I believe communicates so powerfully what happens when men meet each other’s needs in healthy ways. The author is Corey Beals Ph.D., a man I have never personally met. I recently contacted him and received his permission to reprint this essay. Read the words of this man, as he one day found himself stepping into a bigger world yet!

I Didn’t Know Jack
By Corey Beals Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion: George Fox University

What did I know? Not much. I knew that I had a friend who just shared with me that he struggled with same sex attraction. I knew I was honored that he shared something that honest with me. I knew I wanted to help him out however I could. But I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what Jack really needed. I didn’t really know Jack.

I didn’t know that the desires he had were but one small part of his identity and that he didn’t identify himself as gay or homosexual.

I didn’t know that what he really needed was a hug. I didn’t know how healing it could be for him to just have safe hugging and physical touch. I didn’t know that getting `filled up’ with safe, non-sexual physical contact with men actually made it easier for him to not sexualize his same sex needs.

I didn’t know that all boys have same sex needs. That is, all boys need fatherly, loving physical touch and lots of it— usually in the form of wrestling with Dad, hugging Dad, piggy-back rides from Dad, etc. I didn’t know that if they don’t get these needs met by Dad or some other fatherly figure in a non-sexual way, it’s not uncommon for these neglected or abused boys to sexualize those needs and seek to fulfill them sexually. I didn’t know Jack.

I didn’t know that my friend had been neglected and abused by his Dad and smothered by his Mom. I didn’t know that my hugging him helped fill these core needs for affection in a way that helped him get what he didn’t get from his father. I didn’t know I could do more than wish him well and pray for him. I didn’t know Jack.

But there were some things I thought I knew which turned out to be wrong. “If he’s tempted by men, won’t my hugging him just feed his temptation? If for example, I have lustful thoughts for a woman, hugging her would seem to make the problem worse not better. Right?” Well, that’s where my ignorance was profound—my lust for women is not the same as Jack’s lust for men. His temptation was coming from unmet needs for fatherly contact, and he had just sexualized those core needs.

I had another question. If all he needed was some friendly non-sexual physical contact with men why hasn’t he got that someplace else by now? Well once again, I didn’t know Jack. I didn’t realize how hard it was to find such contact, since our American culture is so quick to think that touch between men is sexual. I didn’t realize how many men simply feared sharing these needs let alone getting them met by friends. I didn’t realize how `non-touching’ we are and how toxic this non-hugging environment is for men who didn’t get their fatherly touch needs met as a boy.

There remained one more question. What would others think about me if I was seen hugging a man more than 1.25 seconds? I’ll own that I wondered what others would think. But once I realized that a friend was dying of thirst and I was holding a glass of water, all those thoughts and fears faded in importance. “When I was thirsty, did you give me a drink—or did you just pray for me and send me on my way, still thirsty?”
My brothers, I beg you to get to know Jack. He is in your church. You work with him. He’s in your family. But he probably hasn’t told you for fear of what you’ll think. Please—give Jack a hug—a long hug—and help him get what he never got as a boy. If your friend, coworker, brother-in-law, or church brother gives you this and tells you, `I’m Jack,’ please let him know that you want to know more. And be a man—help a brother—give him a hug.

You can read Corey Beals’ blog at http://dirtsoul.blogspot.com

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