This is the final Part IV of a four part story. (See Part I for Index). It is a story about relationships between and among teenagers. This includes intimate relationships between young males. If you don't approve or are offended, then how come you're reading this? Find a different story. Or perhaps read on; you may be persuaded to think differently.
If, for some legal reason, you are not allowed to read this in your area of the world because of illogical laws, again I will not condone (publicly) anyone breaking the law, so either move or read sentence six. I definitely don't want the thought police after either of our butts.
Please, this story is sort of my property, so if you ever want to quote some of it, please e-mail me and also give proper attribution.
Note that an author welcomes any feedback. Constructive criticism is appreciated, and all e-mails will be answered.
PLEASE NOTE: This story is finally coming to a conclusion. However, much to my dismay, the NIFTY editors declared that all the included photos must be eliminated. Even the photos of the two boys themselves which I included near the end of the story. The entire story, including this last Chapter, 104, plus the Epilogue, AND ALL THE PHOTOS, can be found at http://crackerwriter.us and at http://storylover.us . I hope you enjoy it.
Chapter 104-- Dreams Can Exist
We were on our way back to school the following September with another several thousand dollars in the bank. The hefty balance made for quite a feeling of security. At least financial security. My immediate physical security was another matter altogether. We had picked up the car in Livingston and headed towards Bozeman. And coming into Bozeman Rocco was hitting between 90 and 100 miles an hour down a curving two lane highway. There was no speed limit in Montana and Rocco was making full use of the fact.
"Look, White-boy, I'd really like to live past say 21. How about slowing down a bit?"
Rocco smiled as he let up on the gas. But we didn't slow all that much. So I looked over at him and he read my expression. I could see a subtle change in HIS expression and we slowed appreciably. Though he did remark: "When we get back, we have to have that thing put on the steering wheel so you can drive and get your license. Then you can go as slow as you like."
I decided that his remark needed no comment. The main reason we did not get myself a license was that our insurance would then almost double. But I DID make a noise which was easily translatable: "So much for logic."
Our trip cross country did not evoke quite the excitement that previous trips had since the novelty had worn off a bit. But it was still immensely enjoyable. Rocco never tired at looking at all the varying landscapes, even those through Minnesota and North Dakota. I never tired of watching my White-boy being so excited about what we were engaged in. His boundless enthusiasm, which has branched out all over the place during the past year, seems to know no bounds. He stated recently that he keeps getting so vitally interested in everything, that he needed several lifetimes to do everything he wanted. During our trip through country which to me seemed just a tad boring, he would read from some local history or some other kind of book such as geology or anthropology and would bring to life the area through which we were passing.
Thus while we were getting a glimpse of the Badlands of North Dakota he remarked: "Do you realize Jade that some of the best dinosaur fossils have come from within several hundred miles of where we are? And that most fossil hunting and preservation is done by private people and institutions? Maybe next summer we can go dinosaur hunting?
I made some comment with the realization that even months from now my White-boy would be perfectly capable of starting a conversation with: "Remember when we discussed the possibility of hunting for Tyrannosaurus fossils"?
I will have to be ready.
As we were driving over Bozemen Pass, with quite spectacular views at times of first the Absaroka Range and then the Bridgers, Rocco regaled me with the Readers Digest version of the history of people who had traversed this area including John Colter, Jim Bridger, John Bozeman, and Mrs. Thula Hardenbrook from Helena, Montana." He turned to me briefly with his latest edition of his `smug' look, which he practiced to look as if he were merely `instructing' someone. I successfully resisted asking who Mrs. Hardenbrook was. No doubt her name today would barely be known by her great grandchildren.
We were presently on our way to visit Jim Koenig and Kevin Metusak on the MSU campus. Their classes started a couple of days before ours and we were taking this opportunity to renew our friendship with them. We had sent a few letters back and forth and postcards from Yellowstone, but you can put only so much in a letter.
We met per instructions and Kevin took us all out to a nice Italian restaurant that was located in the Baxter Hotel in `downtown' Bozeman. (What little downtown there was). The food was excellent. We caught up on all their latest news and plans. We brought each other up to date with what was happening in our lives. Jim reiterated his commitment to his religious faith while Kevin was rolling his eyes. Then Kevin mentioned that he was still determined to get into social work in Chicago. And that his Grandmom, temporarily back in Chicago from her frequent adventures to different places on the planet, had recently signed over several trusts to him. "I am now officially a millionaire. Several times over. I guess she is the real life equivalent to John Beresford Tipton.
Rocco and I looked question marks at each other and then at him. "Who's he?" Rocco asked.
Kevin smiled. "I may have mispronounced his name, but that was that guy on the TV show The Millionaire, who gave away a million dollars to some unsuspecting person each show. Well, I've now got most of it invested in some computer stock but later I intend to put that money to good use."
I couldn't figure that computer stock could grow very much considering how big those things were. And they were so hugely expensive I knew that only big companies or universities could really afford them. But I never said anything. I didn't want to make Kevin feel bad about such a poor investment.
Jim said that he himself was very active in the Campus Christian Crusade back on campus and that he was definitely going to engage in some kind of ministry when he got through school. Rocco said something about him having some similar but vague thoughts along those lines himself. Jim had some incredulous look on his face and stated that he still had some trouble understanding how we could consider ourselves good Christians while engaging in our `particular way of life' as he put it.
I looked at him sharply but relaxed when I realized that there was no guile in his remark at all. Nor even animosity.
I asked: "Jim, what would happen if YOU fell in love? Everyone would be happy for you. Well, I'm in love with Rocco. Unfortunately for people like us `falling in love' frequently brings anguish. It can be a trap. If they believe what they are told by most people it confirms that you are perverted. Why can't people allow us the same joy in our `falling in love'?
Jim looked at me as if I were Judas saying I was still a follower of Christ all the while counting my 30 pieces of silver. He asked: "But how can it be love since it's so wrong?"
Rocco I could see went from calm to fuming before the question had even been completed. He replied in an excited voice: "Since it IS love, how CAN it be wrong?"
That launched both Rocco and Jim into a heated discussion about how different passages of the Bible should be interpreted, and then Rocco's adamant opposition to what he termed the Catholic Church's "ill conceived use of the so-called Natural Law paradigm for resolving moral issues." I wasn't too sure myself what that even meant.
Rocco maintained: "There seems to be two main problems. First, how are we to determine the ends of mankind that so-called nature dictates? And even when that is accomplished, then how does then one go from there to define intrinsically evil acts that flow from these ends? It seems that everyone is so culturally biased, that an objective evaluation of certain moral issues will always be in doubt. And if you try to determine the so-called will of God by discovering just what nature intends with the use of our various faculties, then you have the added problem of discovering just what is indeed the true nature of a human being and his faculties. Our understanding of man's true nature is ever expanding and still under investigation."
By this time Kevin had long since tuned them out. Kevin and I then got in our own discussion about more mundane topics like college courses, and who might win the World Series this year. Suddenly, my attention was drawn back to what they were discussing when I heard the phrase "homosexual orientation." Even Kevin started to listen again.
Rocco's excitement was further escalating. He always took these discussions very seriously. "But how do we know that the purpose of human sexuality is either purely, or even primarily for procreation? Are you suggesting that everyone engaging in sex has to have some intent to have children? Then what about a couple where it is absolutely known that having children is not possible? And even more important, it seems to me that only a tiny percentage of all sexual acts lead to conception in any case. As far as I can determine, the main purpose of human sexuality isn't procreative at all. That's only a secondary end. We are not merely animals after all. Ask any couple having sex why they are having sex. I bet having kids is way down their list. And there's nothing wrong with that. Only some religions are trying to make it wrong. The primary end is the unitive aspect of the relationship."
Jim rejoined. "That is part of the reason that Luther challenged the Catholic Church during the Reformation. He wanted theology to be more scripturally based."
"I think that's as important as you do, but not all moral issues can be resolved by biblical exegesis. Remember that the Bible is over 1700 years old and written by men who didn`t know near what we know today."
"1700 years? What are you talking about?"
"Well that's about how old the oldest versions we have today. And there are enough obvious mistakes and even contradictions that any modern hermeneutics need the most up to date information and understanding of our human natures. Especially in our ever more complicated society. And further, there is the critical decision of exactly how are we to interpret what is written in scriptures? It seems that we need to discover, as best we can, what the various authors meant in their day and in their society. And so again we have the problem that these authors could not have possibly understood either science, psychology, or even the full nature of man, as we understand it today. And of course there is another major complication. It is quite evident that the actual text of the Bible has been changed over the centuries. And we have nowhere near the original. Which version do we pick?"
Jim was still determined to make his case: "But in Genesis, it is clearly stated that God created man and woman. `So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.' And later He says: `Be fruitful and multiply.' God clearly meant for man and woman to participate in His order of creation, and to be united as man and wife, and have children."
"On that you get no argument from me. However, just what does these passages mean for us today? And does that mean that this is His entire plan? The injunction to be fruitful is a message to society as a whole. It doesn't necessary bind each and every couple. In fact that isn't even possible for many couples. And does that also mean you sin by remaining single? Or marrying someone who you know can't have kids? And furthermore, if that passage were written today, with our understanding of human nature it could be written: `So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them, heterosexual and homosexual He created them'."
Jim almost looked scandalized by this reworking of scripture. "But the Bible clearly condemns homosexual acts. God even destroyed Sodom because of the sinful people practicing homosexuality."
"I am not saying that there are no passages in the Bible which condemned homosexual acts. But there are problems. What KIND of homosexual acts? First of all using the Holiness Codes of Leviticus is very problematical. Are you now going to follow the Levitical Law? And you can't use the story of Sodom either. At the very worst interpretation, what is being condemned, along with a number of other heinous acts, is rape. In fact all references elsewhere in the Bible to Sodom -- I think there are more than 20 -- doesn't even mention sexual sin. They state that the sin of Sodom was inhospitality. But even other places in the Bible, when those authors condemned homosexual acts, we have to consider just what were they are really condemning? And the role of woman in the early texts of the Bible can not possibly be used as a moral model today either, especially as depicted in Leviticus. It accepted as fact that woman had no rights and were for all practical purposes property. Did you realize, with the proper translation, that fornication was ONLY a crime committed against the man? And that daughters could even be sold into slavery. And note that Lot offered his daughters to the mob. Would that be considered normal sexual morality today? And the Holiness Codes of Leviticus condemn other kinds of sexual activity that today people accept as moral. And Paul, at the least, saw homosexual activity as a matter of pure lust or merely the satiety of purely animal desires. He didn't see it as a relationship. In this regard, any rational and spiritually minded person would also condemn it. Paul simply never understood the homosexual condition nor could he therefore have even commented on it. And in Romans it is presented as a CONSEQUENCE of rejecting God. The proscriptions in the bible against same-sex acts are just that. There is no commitment, no binding."
"You mean that the scriptural references to lust, giving up natural affection, and all that, are sins because it produces nothing, other than sexual release or merely satisfying up sexual appetite?"
"Exactly. Between Jade and I there IS commitment. There IS true love. Why should the act of physical love between two loving committed people, faithful to each other -- why should that be even considered a sin?"
Jim frowned: "Because if it's two men its unnatural!"
"Jade and I find it very natural. It is what is natural for us."
Jim's expression showed that the very idea repulsed him. "Well no one else would think so. Including Paul."
Rocco would not be deterred: "First of all, being gay is a normal part of nature. I don't care what all those idiot psychologists say. And besides some are now trying to show that it is perfectly normal. Also the Greek words Paul uses should more correctly be translated as "out of the ordinary." Even Christ did something that was "out of the ordinary," using those same Greek words. And why should our sex act be construed as `lust' just because it can not be procreative? Does this mean that when a heterosexual couple who know they can not have children have sex, that their sex act is also just an act of `lust'?"
Jim finally got in a few words against Rocco's barrage: "But they are a man and a woman and they are married."
Rocco shrugged that objection aside: "Paul's understanding of sex between men was mirrored by what he knew and saw. Homosexual prostitution, and pederasty. He only saw lust. He knew nothing of a committed relationship, of true love between partners, let alone exclusive homosexuality. And Jade and I ARE married."
Jim and Rocco battled on, each throwing biblical passages and their interpretations of them, back and forth.
Finally Rocco stated: "What we really need is a new paradigm, or methodology. The solution is to address the problem from a totally different viewpoint. Let's be revolutionary. The Natural Law paradigm in final analysis can only define as moral those concepts of morality already in the mind of the writer. Primary principles of morality are totally bogus. They can not exist. They are only abstractions of concrete cases. Nor can any purely physical action be declared either moral or immoral. That can only happen AFTER all other circumstances are defined. And the Bible is also of little help. The several problematic passages from the Bible don't even address the main issue since it is one not even contemplated by its authors."
"Instead let's use a Christian perspective as you seem to want to do. Let's go back to the teachings of Christ! What are the keynotes of Christ's' teaching? Compassion? Redemption? Love?"
"We need to make our moral decisions by examining the relationships themselves. I believe that one of the greatest gifts God has given us is each other. For mutual support, help, love, etc. And the marriage union is one of the most uniquely supportive commitments that can be made by one person to another. I also want us to be able to have the same hope of intimacy and partnership as the next person. But God made many of us gay. I can only believe that God then intended us to live this way. And if our relationship engenders true selfless love, if it brings me and my partner closer to Christian love, to Christ, if it makes us better Christians, if it is directed by the spirit of God working within us, then it is moral and good."
Jim was still not willing to concede, but at least he seemed willing to think about what Rocco had said. "I'm sorry Rocco, I know one thing, I know you're sincere, and really believe this. But it's too radical a departure for me right now. But maybe I will have to give this more thought."
Rocco was determined to add one more thing. "I mentioned earlier just how God's plan in fact could admit homosexual unions. I would even go one step further. Maybe it is God's plan for these couples to help raise all those unwanted and needy children out there that no one else seems to want. How many kids are in foster care right now that could benefit from a good loving home, and loving parents?"
This seemed to cause Jim even more trouble. By what he said clearly indicated that he had a good measure of societies' inclination that any exposure of children to an environment that included same sex couples, can only be bad. This brought on a whole new round of argument back and forth.
Rocco's parting shot I smiled at: "True love can not be wrong." I could feel the locket which I wore on a chain around my neck. And I thought of the one Rocco had on. And I thought for the millionth time: "Thank you Mama."
By this time Rocco and Jim were getting a lot of stares, and many of them weren't very friendly. I finally had to butt in and mention that perhaps their discussion could be finished elsewhere. We moved back to the college dorm.Jim and Rocco continued their debate which seemed destined to last well into late evening. Both Kevin and I wondered how they could get so heated and still argue objectively. Soon after returning to the dorm Kevin suggested going `downtown' to a movie. A new James Bond movie Dr. No was playing. When we returned to the dorm, we found Jim and Rocco now talking about different colleges which gave degrees both in bible studies and theology. They seemed like they were life long friends. I marveled at how they could so obdurately disagree on such fundamental ideas, and still seem to get along so well.
Kevin had offered us a spot on the floor of their dorm room but Rocco and I had different ideas and wanted a real bed. We had already paid for a room at the Lewis & Clark Motel about eight long blocks from campus. When we finally showered that night -- using the `water-conservation' method -- I asked Rocco if he had any energy left over for us to engage in an `act of lust.'
Rocco smiled: "Sorry `black-boy,' I only engage in `acts of love.'" He even put on a pair of his Fruit of the Looms. I grabbed him bodily and threw him onto the bed. He pretended to resist but when another functioning part of his anatomy took control my White-boy went into his normal 'passive mode.' And I went into my usual 'take-charge mode.'
"White-boy, I fully intend to make every effort possible to get you pregnant."
After several moaning noises he finally replied: "I'm totally open to the idea. If God wants to perform a miracle and allow me to become pregnant, I'd tell Him to go right ahead."
The next day, Rocco and I were back on the road crossing western Montana. We needed to go through Butte and then up to Missoula, and then over Lookout Pass into Idaho. The scenery was magnificent. And the dusting of snow on the high peaks, coupled with the clear crisp air, made it seem like we were driving through one calendar scene after another. After drifting from one topic to another, we finally got back to our impression of Jim and Kevin.
Rocco said: "I think that Jim and I really think a lot alike."
Now it was my turn to show a modicum of astonishment. (I meant that facetiously). "But you two didn't agree on hardly a single thing!"
"Jade, we agreed on more than you might have realized. It was only some of the particulars. Like the purpose of human sexuality. And what that means. But I got him thinking. And what's even more remarkable, in spite of our fundamental disagreements, he is willing to admit that maybe I might possibly be right, and that our relationship to Christ is just as strong as his. Or at least our intent to maintain this relationship is. And that in the long run is more important."
I started thinking about all the things Rocco had just mentioned, and after a number of miles I realized that he had been silent for some time. He had that look again. Deep and important thoughts were churning through his mind.
I was ready to say something when I looked up and saw the deer standing right in the middle of the road. I jammed down on what was unfortunately not a break pedal at all, but merely the floor board. Fortunately, Rocco had awfully quick reflexes. We stopped a good five or six inches from the apparently unfazed animal, who then rather lazily lumbered off the road.
As we continued on Rocco made some remark about how so many deer were so disconsolate, and apparently trying to commit suicide. I suspect that my racing heart had something to do with my inability to fully appreciate the humor of his remark.
A few miles down the road I remembered his previous look and asked: "OK, White-boy, just what were you thinking about back there?"
Rocco didn't say anything for several miles but eventually remarked: "There is one more thing I've been starting to think about. I mean I've been thinking about it now and then, but since talking to Jim yesterday, I've been giving it a whole lot of thought again. I know I talked about this before, about the problem of most all Churches being so condemnatory of homosexuals, that there really isn't a Church just for gay boys like us. And you said something jokingly about us writing our own addition to the Bible like the Mormons did. And I dismissed my own idea as so impossible to pursue."
"Well, it still is."
"But I don't want to start any new religion. I already have the one I believe in. But I just want some Church, some Christian Church, to recognize that there's nothing morally wrong with a committed homosexual relationship. And if there's no Church allowing the gay people in our society the same respect and dignity that should be afforded them, then how about us starting one?"
I looked at my White-boy and exclaimed: "You're serious!?"
He replied: "To tell you the truth, I'm not sure. When I think about it from one angle it seems awfully presumptuous. But I feel I should do something. Unfortunately I also feel so powerless. Look what Jerry Price is trying to do. Getting together some kind of support group for gay kids. And look at Jim and Kevin. They are sure determined to help people. And I want to also. I mean help people. But I want to help gay kids mostly. And what I needed most growing up and realizing I was gay was to be able to maintain my faith in God. In His goodness and love expressed in my life. And there's so many gay kids growing up out there in the position I was in who feel totally abandoned by their Christian religion. I want to show them that it doesn't have to be that way."
I wondered how much this was Rocco just passing ideas around, and how much he was serious. "How serious are you about all this? And if you are, then two things. One, one person can't do it. We have to find others, or some group to help. And two, how is this type of commitment going to change our present plans?"
"Jade, I plain don't know. And I can't even figure out if I should be doing anything different than what I'm doing now. But it's an idea that I can't simply abandon, or even bury. One thing that Jim and I talked about were different colleges that offered curriculums in biblical studies and theology. And it just got me wondering again. Maybe I'm hoping that some future opportunity will show up where I can contribute somehow."
"Well, you are sure a continuing source of surprises, White-boy. Please realize one thing though. I am totally committed to helping you if it's possible. But please, we also need a life of our own. A life for us. I know that I definitely need this. I realize enough to know that without you, I would have trouble functioning. And I don't mean physically. Or even in my ability to prosper in this world. I realize by now that I do have the ability to make a good life for myself. But I can't envision that life without you in it."
Rocco became serious. "I can't envision my life without YOU in it. And I hope that I'm not going to drag you where our relationship will suffer. But I just see this need to help. Can you understand what I'm saying?"
I should have realized that as my White-boy matured, a life involving just him and myself, living comfortably with each other, and just participating in the world as needed to keep us secure and happy, would not be enough. It might just have been enough for me, but I realized right at that moment, it would not be enough for my White-boy. I sort of sighed mentally. How come my White-boy had to make life so complicated? Especially when the complications involved me?
"OK White-boy. I'll be there with you. Drag me where you will. But please first, before you do any serious dragging, let us explore all the options and possible outcomes. Let's at least make the best decisions we're capable of." I thought about possible future complications and I could not stop myself from making a very audible sigh.
Rocco heard and smiled. "I'll do the dragging, but you might need to have your hook on the brake every once in a while."
For what the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality please read: "Gay Christian 101," by Rick Brentlinger. Or click on: http://www.gaychristian101.com
One of the better books for more general responses to homosexuality and Christianity read: "Homosexuality and the Christian Faith," Walter Wink, ed.
Another good book, with its points somewhat more cogently argued, is: "A Question of Truth: Christianity and Homosexuality," by Gareth Moore, OP.