All About Sex Posted on July 31, 2013 by sacredtensionstephen As I mentioned on Monday, it’s a busy week for me (graduating and moving to the next stage in life, and all that) and I have had no time to write. Today’s guest post is from my editor Danielle, a dear friend who has struggled over the years with what she believed about Church, God, and homosexuality.
I have wanted to get married for as long as I can remember. It’s not like I wanted to walk down the aisle at twelve, but I’ve always pictured a future that includes a husband and children. These dreams were supported by my parents and by the evangelical culture in which I grew up. My favorite books (and oh, how I love books) celebrated the roles of wife and mother and emphasized the centrality of family;Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, and Little Women, to name a few. I expected marriage and family, and I was encouraged in these expectations.
Well, I’m 27 now and I’m still waiting. I won’t lie and say that it’s easy. I wonder if I’ll ever get to wake up at 2:00 a.m. to change a diaper. I wonder if I’ll ever get to be annoyed by my husband’s snoring or the mess he may leave in the kitchen. I wonder if I’ll ever get to sit next to my husband in church and receive the eucharist with him. I wonder if I’ll ever get to baptize a baby, argue with a teenager, or hold a grandchild. I wonder where I’ll celebrate Thanksgiving when I’m 60, or who I’ll celebrate it with. I wonder and I wait, and no one blames me for those longings or holds it against me if sometimes I feel a little blue.
Notice that not once in that paragraph did I mention sex (the results of sex, yes, but not the act). Do I want to have sex? Yes. I want it like a sailor on a years-long tour with no ports of call. And you know what? I could probably have it. With no hassles or strings attached. But I want more than sex. I want a marriage and all the God-directed self-sacrifice that goes along with it. And so I wait. I wait with hope. I wait with uncertainty. I wait with encouragement from family and friends. I wait with the knowledge that if I ever do meet the right person, the church will bless my marriage as a sacrament.
Now hear me on this: marriage would become no less a commitment or struggle if I wanted a wife instead of a husband. If I wanted to do all of these things with a woman, I would not suddenly desire only sex. Yet I have heard some gay Christians who have made the courageous, admirable, and difficult choice to remain celibate (as well as some straight folks) accuse those who seek same sex marriages of merely giving in to lust or of taking an easy way out. I have witnessed many marriages, and life-long commitment is not a way out. It’s not easy. Celibacy is, I have no doubt, a difficult path to choose, but marriage is not a guarantee that a person will never carry the crosses of loneliness, self-denial, or even sexual frustration. Whatever else it may be, same sex marriage is not in and of itself an excuse or a simple gratification of lust, any more than sex is the driving factor behind my desire for a family. If sex was my primary motivation, I could get it without going to the trouble of getting married.
I have also heard some straight Christians compare the desire for same sex marriage with the desire for an adulterous affair or divorce because they maintain that all three of these things violate the sanctity of marriage as it is outlined in scripture. They say that we can’t just do whatever we want because we fall in or out of love. That’s true. Our emotions are not a carte-blanche. But how dare we, the privileged, the straight, compare the longings of fellow human beings for companionship, family, self-sacrifice, and sacrament with the desire for adultery or divorce? These brothers and sisters long for the chance to raise a family with their beloved. They long for the opportunity to wake up next to their spouse of twenty years– no longer feeling the volatile cocktail of emotions that we call being “in love”–and make the difficult, sanctifying choice to honor their vows with sacramental commitment.
Whatever you may believe about the sinfulness of same sex marriage, please do not insult marriage or those who long for it by reducing our desires to lust, self-gratification, or rebellion. The more you value marriage and family, the more you should grapple with the social, emotional, physical, and spiritual implications of denying these blessings to an entire group of people who have done nothing but discover that their romantic attractions differ from those of the majority of the human race. Let’s remember that when our gay brothers and sisters long for marriage, they are longing for the snoring, the diapers, the arguments, the boredom, the communion, the holiday celebrations, and, yes, the monogamous sexual intimacy. Like me, they are longing for sacrament to pour grace on the struggles of life together.