Bert and Ernie?
Some nice thinking on the subject of the “Campolo Approach”
Recently I received an e-mail from a guy who asked whether or not it was sinful for two Christian guys to become “exclusive spiritual boyfriends.” I have to admit that I found the question a bit odd, but then I remembered reading and hearing such a relationship being suggested by Tony Campolo as a solution to helping Christians with SSA solve issues of loneliness so long as they are committed to living celibate lives. 
One of the things that Christians who struggle with same sex attractions (SSA) find themselves also having to deal with is loneliness and the desire for close (even non-sexual) intimate relationship. By “intimate” I do not just mean touching, hugging and so forth. Most people have a very strong desire to have a close personal relationship with someone that you can spend your entire life with who is more than a friend. Someone you can grow old with, share the holidays and be there during the good and bad times.
I have to admit, I share these feelings and most people do. This is the primary purpose for which God designed marriage. Marriage was not initially designed not for having children as an end in itself, but for solving the problem of loneliness. 
What has been suggested by some is that Christians who have SSA come together as partners in every way but sexual.  There are those who have SSA and yet recognize the Biblical prohibitions against homosexual sex (Greek: “Arsenokoitai”; cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9) but wonder if perhaps it might be legitimate to live a life of celibacy and avoid the trappings of loneliness that can go along with it by forming lifelong nonsexual bonds with another Christian man who also has SSA.
This would not be unlike a marriage between a husband and a wife who cannot have sex for a particular medical reason or physical handicap. The personal lifelong relationship is there, just not the sexual intercourse.
Admittedly, it is difficult to find a simple Bible proof text that explicitly forbids such a relationship or that provides any support for it.
There is however Biblical construct and definition for such a relationship – it is called marriage. Whether the couple is male/female or male/male such an exclusive covenant relationship is by definition a marriage even if the union is contrary to Scripture.  While those who have promoted the notion of “exclusive spiritual boyfriends” may not have called it such (Campolo calls it a “covenant union”), the idea of it meets the definition of such a commitment.
A marriage is one in which a couple “leave” their parents and “cleave” to each other by means of a covenant (commitment) sworn to by a vow or promise “until death do us part.”
But, without even having to get into a long discussion how the definition of a marriage, let us consider a few other issues that I believe Scripture raises against the notion of a male/male exclusive lifelong commitment.
First, is deciding to become life long “exclusive spiritual boyfriends” not a self resignation that the SSA cannot or will not ever be overcome in this life time by either individual? In other words, are not saying to yourself and the partner, “I give up, I can’t (or won’t) change so I am going to commit myself to going as far as I can with these attractions and feelings without having sex.”
Second, does not the commitment to be “exclusive spiritual boyfriends” then exclude that one partner might leave the relationship for a Biblical marriage with a woman? How can you bind a person to a non-Biblical relationship and require that they never leave it for a Biblically ordained relationship? Does not such a commitment amount to making a vain oath?
Third, does not this type of relationship promote, rather than help fight, same sex attractions? Scripture does not merely prohibit sinful actions; it also excludes the desires to commit those sins in the heart (Matthew 5). So, while Biblical male-male friendships and non-sexual bonding can help meet the emotional needs of someone who has SSA, will not resigning yourself to be with someone FOR LIFE who shares SSA further those sinful longings?
Fourth, while we will not be completely sanctified in this lifetime I do not think that it is WE who can pick and choose which sins we will continue to struggle with and which the Lord will set us totally free from, or at least give us victory in fighting against, homosexual lust. I believe we can change enough to have our most intimate emotional needs met by a woman, even if we are still battle SSA. In fact, it was the thought “I’ll have to struggle with this for the rest of my life” that kept me from fully seeking to overcome SSA and making use of the Biblical means to do so. Is this not unlike an obese person saying, “Well, I’ve always been fat, I will always be a glutton so I just ought to accept that I’ll always be this way and stop seeking to change my desire to eat too much and not exercise enough!”?  If THAT is your mentality, you will never overcome ANYTHING. The truth is, resigning yourself to be “exclusive spiritual boyfriends” is a choice to not learn to control your thoughts, not to transform your mind and instead choose to further rather than fight the sinful desires of your heart and choose the identity “I’m an SSA Christian.” This is like an obese person saying, “I’m a fat person, I was born this way and I can’t change!”
Fifth, some might take what I have written here as being unsympathetic to the loneliness that many Christians who struggle with SSA go through. Trust me, I couldn’t empathize with you more. But I do not think that for a Christian man to become “clingy” (or should I say “cleaving”) to another man is Biblical nor is it mentally or emotionally healthy. Even in a man to woman relationship it is only healthy if both are content (rather than “needy”) persons who come together to give to, rather than take from, the other. What is needed is two whole persons who come together to make a wholesome marriage.
Sixth, since there is no real legal or Biblical warrant for such a commitment, if one person should become better friends with another man and decide to “hang around” with him, would not the other who in his heart really thinks of this relationship as a marriage then become jealous? If such were the case between a man and a woman, the jealousy would be justified for there is a Biblical warrant for a lifelong exclusive man and woman relationship. But this is not the case for “exclusive spiritual boyfriends.”
I have many male Christian friends, some are closer to me and know me better than others. Two of which are my best friends who I rely on for their counsel. But I don’t have an “exclusive” relationship with them and nor do I, or should I, expect any one of them to meet all my social needs. In fact, I need MORE close Christian friends – not a singular exclusive one to call my “boy friend.” Furthermore, one of my friends is married and the other wants to get married. I pray he finds a wife because I want what is best for him, not what I think will meet my own selfish needs.
What I want and what I need is a God-ordained marriage to a woman. I know that if I should meet one she will have to be a special lady and a godly woman who is understanding of my past and my needs. And in the providence of God I may have met such a woman – but for now I have to wait.
 See Tony Campolo, “20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid To Touch” pg.117
 See Jay Adams, “”Solving Marriage Problems” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983), pg. 8
 Tony Campolo, Ibid.
 For example, for a Christian man to marry a non-Christian woman is a sin and contrary to Scripture (2 Cor. 6:14-15). Nevertheless, it is still a marriage by virtue of the oath.
 I do not meant to be insensitive to people who are overweight and I recognize that some people have medical problems that make it difficult to lose weight. But why is it that the majority of these people are Americans who eat excessive amounts of fast food and spend way too much time in front of the television? And which came first, the medical problem or the excessive weight? Might not eating the wrong foods and failing to take care of your health LEAD to having all sorts of medical problems and further the problem of being overweight?