Monday, October 05, 2009

Mixed-Orientation Marriages

The comment thread of the previous post turned into quite the discussion about mixed-orientation marriages. That wasn't really the topic of the post, so I'm going to use one of my comments in that threat to kick off a more well-rounded discussion about the subject. It's interesting, it's raw, and it's very personal, so I think we should all do our best to be sensitive about this issue. I know I'm a 21-year-old single guy who knows nothing about marriage -- mixed-orientation or not -- so everything I say can certainly be taken with that grain of salt.

For clarification, I'm going to say that "mixed-orientation marriage" refers to a marriage in which one spouse is heterosexual and the other spouse is not (and is gay or bisexual). Just because the non-heterosexual spouse doesn't refer to himself or herself as homosexual or bisexual doesn't mean that he or she isn't one. So even married Exodus people like Alan Chambers -- who still admit to having homosexual thoughts even though they've been "freed from homosexuality" -- are also included in this. Calling oneself "completely heterosexual" (which Chambers has done before) doesn't mean that one is, and saying that one is heterosexual and then admitting that one still likes men is just insulting to all intelligent people involved in the discussion. So mixed-orientation marriage it is!

I understand what the caution-givers in the comment thread were saying, although I am somewhat curious. How is a mixed-orientation marriage different from, say, a man whose wife undergoes physical changes (gains weight, loses figure through childbirth) and who loses attraction towards her? Certainly there are heterosexual marriages where sexual attraction decreases or almost stops completely, and yet due to the Christian faith they persevere.

I don't think the gay/SSA/put-your-term-of-choice-here people I know who are married are doing this to be "normal." Some of them are part of Exodus ministries so I do question their motivations (unfortunately). Others, however, have views about as anti-Exodus as I do. They hate seeing their marriages used as "signs of hope" by their churches and communities. They are very honest about the struggles, and many of them are just like what you said -- struggling with healthy heterosexual intimacy, and suppressing gay urges. I'm not saying it's not exhausting, but these are people who love their spouses and love the Lord and have to deal with some special challenges.

But doesn't every couple have to deal with special challenges? Whether it's illness or in-law drama or the loss of a child or inability to conceive or a child with disabilities or busy work schedules or decrease in sexual desire -- every couple has major things to deal with.

Although I don't see marriage as my own personal path, I don't have a problem with people with these orientations seeking it. So long as they are extremely honest with each other, and don't show their wedding rings as a sign of some kind of orientation change, and don't allow themselves to be shown as more holy or healthy or balanced than godly singles. I know around Exodus you won't find many (if any) couples like that. But that doesn't mean that there aren't some mixed-orientation marriages that do work, and we may caution folks about the difficulties that go along with such a path, but we don't have a right to tell them whether or not to seek it.

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