Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Feeling like Abimelech (Genesis 20:6-7)

A couple weeks ago I wrote a delicate and difficult post about my crush on a man I code-named "Methuselah." That was my first post to address the difficulty of friendship for people with SSA, and it only loosely addressed the subject. Perhaps one reason I haven't written much on that front is that friendship is a topic I still get the most confused and frustrated over. But today I'm going to try tackling part of that topic again and update the story of my friendship with Methuselah.

In case the code name "Methuselah" or my own pseudonym Obadiah didn't clue you off, I have a strong penchant for the Old Testament. Today's post is based around a story from the Old Testament that lots of people know, and many people talk about in relation to the lie that is told, but I'd actually like to consider from an entirely different perspective. I'm referring to the story of Abraham, Sarah, and Abimelech found in Genesis 20. This is very similar to a story in Genesis 13, substituting Pharaoh for Abimelech, but this second account is more enlightening, in-depth, and useful to my purposes to today. In short, the story goes like this:

Abraham and Sarah are moving south to Gerar where they meet the King of Gerar, whose name is Abimelech. Just as they did in Egypt and other places they've gone, Abraham tells Abimelech that Sarah is his sister. As verse 12 explains, this isn't exactly a lie--the word "sister" denotes more of a close female relative, which Sarah actually was. There is deception, however, in neglecting to tell him that Sarah is also his wife. Abimelech desires Sarah, who is very attractive, and has her brought to him. God then comes to Abimelech in a dream and tells him not to take Sarah for wife or he'll bring upon himself a curse for adultery. Abimelech is stunned and asks God what adultery would be going on. He says he's always tried to do the right thing and has never been an adulterer, and as far as he knew, Sarah was merely Abraham's sister. God gently responds in verses 6-7:

"Yea, I know that thou didst this [took Sarah with intent to marry her] in the integrty of thy heart; for I also withheldthee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee."

Abimelech obeys, returning Sarah and giving Abraham great gifts of livestock and land. His desire for Sarah still somewhat lingers, but it becomes easier to put aside because he knows Abraham and Sarah on a spiritual level. They remain great friends the remainder of their lives. Everywhere Abraham goes, he plays this game of telling people that Sarah is his sister. Sometimes, as with the case of Pharaoh in chapter 13, he knows that to do otherwise would mean risking being killed and Sarah stolen. In each case, by the time it is discovered that she is his wife, the man lusting after Sarah has come to know and respect Abraham on a spiritual level, and their lust isn't strong enough to prompt them to kill him anymore.

Now, what does a very heterosexual story like that have to do with me? I have learned throughout my life that when I get to know someone spiritually it is easier to tame my lusts. Adapting the story to my SSA attraction patterns, I would say that sometimes I meet Abrahams (or "Methuselahs") who I am very attracted to. This attraction can drive me crazy, as described in my earlier post from a couple weeks ago. The worst part is the physical reaction--when even someone's smile can trigger arousal so I go days without looking at them, but then can't keep from imagining them when I lay down at night. I've discussed in other posts ways to keep those thoughts from going too far, and the fact that the simple attraction itself isn't anything to be ashamed of--as long as you aren't trying to arouse yourself because of it. Well, I feel like I had mostly done a pretty good job of handling that attraction and not letting my thoughts stray too often. Nonetheless, I tried a technique that has worked for me in the past with some other men to make even more progress and it worked: I got to know him even better!

I actually ended up hanging out with him in several social settings including a pretty big party I helped organize. One day we just talked about life in general and specifically our testimonies. That's the clincher. Once I get to know someone on that level of testimony, it becomes infinitely easier to keep my thoughts for them chaste. I think this is why it was so easy on my mission to not have many thought problems: I constantly got to know everyone on a spiritual level. I'm not going to lie: I was attracted to some of my companions, and VERY attracted to one of them, but my thoughts could never go to dirty places because by knowing their testimonies they became something sacred to me and my mind wouldn't allow itself to defile them. Think: could you ever think an impure thought about the Savior? I absolutely couldn't. I'm not capable of it! He is too sacred for that. By knowing other people on a sacred basis, I am able to avoid unchaste thoughts about them. I still find "Methuselah" very attractive, but like Abimelech seeing Abraham as holy and letting his spiritual respect overrule his lust, I find it easier now to interact with my friend without my emotions going haywire.

Maybe this technique is just for me, and honestly I don't think I've conveyed very well in this post what I was trying to, but I hope something here has been helpful. Another blog has said everything I've said here in basically one sentence: "Generally, most attractions for me diminish if I can talk with and demystify the man." There are still lots of complications regarding friendship with other men I've left completely unaddressed in this post. I'm sure I'll write many more of them in the future. That's all for today, though.

My best,


1 comment:

  1. I have often found that asking someone to share their conversion story is a great way to get to know them and to feel their real spirit. We all have a conversion story, both born in the church or a convert, and it truly brings the Spirit and keeps inappropriate thoughts at bay.

    From a practical point, I started two practices to help control my SSA accepting I was going to fantasize to some degree. One was not to allow myself to fantasize about real individuals which kept my lust out of the realm of possibility. The second was to allow myself to be a voyeur but not to allow myself to imagine the feeling of actual participation; I could imagine others doing it, but not allowing myself to be a participant. I knew that by letting myself imagine being evolved eventually wouldn't be enough and I would eventually act on those desires seeking out someone with whom to share them. Have a great Christmas!


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