I’m waiting for the bell to ring and for most people to leave. My mornings usually start off quiet these days because I don’t teach first period and nearly everyone else does and for the last month I haven’t had the special, touchy-feeling-this-is-how-to-cope-with-life class on Tuesdays, and nearly everyone else has that class too.
So I’m waiting for that. I’m waiting for the dawn of peace and quiet to come.
But I have all the pieces to make something out of. I just need a bit of time to put them together.
I’m wondering about how certain segments of society see sex—the segment of society I was raised in, that is very conservative and anti-everything to do with the body, and coats all of this with ideas about God.
It’s not my first contemplation of this: I had to go through all that when I was a teenager and coming to terms with my own sexuality for the first time. It’s just that I did it without important elements of my own experience. So my conclusions are not quite satisfying now that I have more pieces of it.
And it seems to me that gay relationships indict a certain kind of marriage. They point out that even if you walk down the aisle in front of a priest or a minister and take a certain set of vows, you can still misuse your sexuality.
Sexuality is like language. It is part of being human and it can be used to help or to harm. Misuse of sexuality harms other people and it ultimately harms the person misusing it.
It’s very clear from my own experiences that sexuality can be used to strengthen the bond between two people. It also seems to me that this is its primary purpose. When it is misused, it doesn’t do this. Instead it damages the bond, or it precludes any bond from developing.
So what is the proper use of sex and what constitutes misuse? It isn’t necessarily the desire to use sexuality to harm, although that happens. It’s something maybe less overtly sinister.
I think the difference lies in the regard two people have for one another, a sense of respect and an interest in the perspective and experience of the other. This is the precondition for intimacy. When this isn’t there, sex doesn’t strengthen the connection. It breaks it, or it is merely a physical experience.
People who don’t have a foundation of mutual regard and respect in their marriage never experience a deepened connection as an outgrowth of sex. They are left scratching their heads. Why are we doing this? They can’t really figure it out.
Well, they say to themselves, to have children. And yet people have sex far more often than it is necessary for conceiving children and they have it when they don’t want more children. They have it when they aren’t capable of having children. That’s not it.
Okay, so it’s because we are basically animals with animal urges and marriage contains it. Yes, we are animals with animal urges and marriage does keep you from running around contracting all kinds of diseases. Sometimes.
But if that’s all sex is for you, you’re missing out. You’re missing out on a part of what it is to be human. Something important, and something which—if you believe in God—you ought to see as something God has given you. Just as words have a sanctity because they are a part of what defines our natures as different from that of other animals, our capacity to form deep emotional bonds should also have a sanctity.
There are people don’t want to hear this.
They don’t, in some cases, want to hear it because that means they might have to change: They might need to have more regard for their partner. They might need to examine why that element of mutual respect is missing from their marriage.
And it is missing in the marriages of very conservative people because inequality between sexes creates a condition under which mutual regard becomes impossible.
So you walk down the aisle and you pledge whatever you pledge ’til death do you part, and this does not make you one flesh. This does not create a partnership.
This means when you have sex, you are misusing your sexuality. You are not using it to create a deeper bond. It cannot be used for that, because the preconditions are not there. The mutual respect and regard is missing. What you are doing is an empty, physical act, or it is an emotionally damaging act, and it serves to do nothing more than satisfy someone’s lust at the expense of the bond.
It might mean you end up bored in your sex life—lack of connection feels boring—and you can try to fill it up with novelty. Which people seem to do a lot of. Or at least people talk about that. Or it might destroy your marriage.
But it’s not going to lead to anything good.
Gay relationships indict this kind of marriage. They suggest other people are having sex for other reasons: there are other possibilities. It suggests that something could be missing.
People who most virulently condemn gay relationships do this, perhaps, because they don’t want to know this. They don’t want to know they are denying their God-given human nature and instead behaving like animals. They don’t want to know they are living in sin. Despite the priest or the minister, despite the approval of a church or a judge, despite the vows they have taken, they are committing sexual immorality.
They are not married at all. They don’t have a partnership. They are not one flesh. And so they point fingers rather than examine themselves. It’s easier that way. For them, anyway.