The Secrets Christians Keep
It did feel like a secret at the time because of all of our Christian beliefs about homosexuality. I guess the only remedy was my leaving to go back to the USA. Our tender touching ended but our friendship continued over the phone and through hand-written letters. The absence of her friendship and desire for affection left me paralyzed to engage fully back in life in America. I just wanted to get back to Switzerland. Something had been awakened in me, again, but according to everyone around me and even to myself at the time, it was a sin and forbidden. Something that happened so naturally between us, was deemed evil in our social circles and in God’s eyes.
She must have been feeling that absence too and didn’t know what to do with it because a few weeks after I had returned home, she phoned to tell me that she had told her parents and discipler’s everything about our friendship. As I listened to her explain why she needed to tell the adults in her life about our “secret”, a knot quickly formed in my stomach and a rattling surged throughout my entire body.
She made the decision on her own and didn’t ask me about how I felt about it. Once again, I felt betrayed and exposed by someone else. Thankfully, she didn’t just cut me off as numerous friends had in recent years due to the demand of their church mentors. We kept our friendship going, but the sexual tension and love for one another never left. I just knew we would never be able to explore it more together nor be able to do it freely without shame.
Switzerland held a special place in my heart for so many reasons, so it’s no surprise that I returned for a visit within months of coming back to Seattle. I even had the guts to stay with her and her family, whom I loved dearly. When I arrived at their home, a home I had lived in for one year with people who had been complete strangers until I moved in, I was warmly greeted as if no one knew our secret. As I grabbed my luggage and headed into the house, her mom escorted me up to the 4th floor, where they had a friend renting the flat. Their friend had an extra bedroom and I was being quarantined upstairs.
After everyone left my room and I sat on the bed to catch my breath, I was overcome with deep embarrassment. I felt dirty. It was actually a familiar feeling. A feeling I had been living with ever since the high school fling I had with a girl had been exposed to my church leaders without my permission. Because of the Sheperding Movement, many people’s “secrets” were exposed to church leaders all in the name of protecting believers from their own wicked hearts.
When I finally found the courage to go downstairs and start pretending everything was fine, I felt a little bit of me died that day. I put on my happy face and for the remaining of my visit, we all pretended nothing ever happened and that no one knew our secret.