True Love Hesitates

Contrary to popular belief, being gay isn’t all about sex.  Homosexuality is about emotional and spiritual attraction as much as it’s about physical attraction.  But let’s be honest… it’s also sometimes about sex.

When straight Christians speak against homosexuality, I think their problem isn’t just with the mechanics of our sex life (what we like to do with our genitals), but also with the volume of our sex life (how many people we do these things with).

Many straight Christians feel that being gay is immoral not just because LGBT people might want to have sex with someone of our own gender… but because they assume we want to have sex with anyone (and possibly everyone) of our own gender.  They think we’re “loose.”  They think we’re “promiscuous.”  They think we’ll have sex with anything that wiggles.

In his article “Christians and the Sin of Hating Homosexuals,” Randal Rauser (professor of historical theology at Taylor Seminary), says:

This seems to be the reasoning [of many straight Christians]: an additional reason to reject homosexuality is because homosexuals are generally more promiscuous than heterosexuals.

Here’s the problem. The degree to which there is promiscuity in the homosexual community has absolutely NOTHING to do with homosexuality per se. And how do I know this? Because it is a male problem, not a “homosexual” one. Males have a very different libido than females. So it is hardly surprising that when males are attracted to males, promiscuity rates rise. Consider this experiment: do you suppose that the average number of sexual partners for your typical male sports hero or rock star is closer to the number of the average heterosexual male or homosexual male? Clearly the latter. And the reason is opportunity: they have women willing to meet their sexual desires on a regular basis. We definitely can’t blame Tiger Woods’ fall from grace on homosexual tendencies. So we shouldn’t be blaming homosexuality per se for male homosexual promiscuity rates. Rather we should blame the male gender.

(Need it be said that Jesus doesn’t see much difference between the male who sleeps with six hundred partners and the male who would have slept with six hundred partners if only he had the opportunity? I would have thought the Sermon on the Mount made that point clear enough.)

Promiscuity isn’t a gay problem… it’s a human problem. Pretty wise, eh?

Those of us raised in churches that preached “no sex before marriage” undoubtedly feel the tension between sexual desire, sexual opportunity, and sexual purity.

As teenagers, our youth pastors taught us that “True Love Waits.”  Of course, if our teenage self was “playing straight,” it wasn’t hard to wait.  In fact, waiting was easier than the alternative.  “Purity” was our excuse to not do the things we really didn’t want to do anyway.

After we give ourselves permission to be gay, however, the game changes. As gay people with lots of gay opportunities, the ideal of sexual purity starts to sound, well… idealistic.  Especially for guys in relationships with other guys, the combined demands of two testosterone driven sex drives can be overwhelming.  “Wait” feels practically impossible.  We begin to wonder if “True Love Hesitates” might be a little more realistic.

Many of us also begin to wonder whether the church is more concerned with sex than it should be.  And to prove how open minded, free spirited, and sexually uninhibited we are, we give in to the gay stereotype (and our newly liberated sex drives) and have sex at every opportunity.

In essence, we rebel against purity.

But what if the idea of sexual purity is more about why we have sex with someone than it is about whether we have sex with someone?

If Jesus is as concerned with our motivations as he is about our actions (as the Sermon on the Mount suggests), does this new perspective take away a few of the hang-ups our sexually obsessed churches have given us, while still maintaining a standard that would make Jesus proud?



Filed under Conversation, Opinions, Questions

4 responses to “True Love Hesitates

  1. Phoenix

    While I share your take on the nature of promiscuity as a “human” problem, I feel like you’re erasing even more thoroughly the lesbians that the piece you quoted merely ignores. “Male” and “human” are definitely not synonyms.

    • Bryan

      Phoenix, thanks for bringing up this important point. Our lesbian sisters are too often left out of conversations like this one.

      In this case, the intent isn’t to ignore the lesbian perspective by focusing on the gay (male) experience. The author’s intent (and mine as well) is to shed light on the challenges gay men face in homosexual relationships. This isn’t meant to ignore lesbians. They simply weren’t the focus of this particular essay.

      I suspect (although I don’t know) that lesbian relationships work a bit differently from gay relationships. Especially for young gay men, the libido is such a driving force that it sometimes overwhelms other important parts of the relationship. Although it may be stereotypical, it seems that women focus more on making emotional connections than they do on making physical ones. As a result, it seems that the sexual dynamic of a lesbian relationship must be completely different from the sexual dynamic of a gay relationship.

      I would love to hear your perspective on the challenges the lesbian community faces when dealing with promiscuity and sexual purity. How do you feel lesbians fit into the above conversation?

  2. Anonymous

    My favorite part was “purity was an excuse for us not to do the things we didn’t want to do anyway. Amen, sister! And thanks for this post. I learn from you.

  3. Indie

    I agree with Phoenix. And I know some pretty darn promiscuous lesbians. I think there is a lot more to it than what Rauser says. And it is pretty sad, but not surprising, that the gay community is no better at being inclusive of women than the straight one.

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