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?