So last week was pretty exciting for our little blog here. My new friend and very insightful author, Rachel Held Evans, posted a little conversation between the two of us. The ongoing conversation that has percolated around the original post has been deeply meaningful to me. Yesterday I saw a new question in the comments that stayed with me all day so I thought I would try to respond here.
Here is the comment to which I am responding:
Ford1968 [another person commenting on the blog], “Committed same sex relationships are no more inherently sinful than committed opposite sex relationships. Being gay is God’s gift of sexuality to be embraced and expressed through a committed relationship if one so chooses; it is not a struggle to be overcome.”
Kimberly, “When the church constantly demeans gay and lesbian members and requires all remain celibate and without a committed relationship the church actually contributes mightily to driving gay and lesbian members into dangerous, hedonistic scenarios.” [I’m gonna have to blog more about this one eh?]
Ford and Kimberly, what do you say to the bisexual? Do you advocate committed three person relationships? Will you advocate for three person marriages? I do not believe you can stop and say simple, it is a committed opposite sex relationship between two persons, there are other variations that cannot be discounted.
And here is my response, such that it is. I learn best in community so I would cherish your contribution to our discernment.
I saw your post early yesterday morning before I began the six-hour drive home with my wife. We were returning from Florida where a family funeral occurred on Friday and I had a great deal of time during our ride to think and talk about your question. I genuinely I appreciate your asking about bisexual relationships and the opportunity to think more deeply about them.
First let me reiterate that it is my desire to speak from and lift up voices of experience rather than play at hypothetical hopscotch and scriptural silly-string. It is not my calling to cover issues but rather to speak with people. Furthermore, since I am not bisexual I can not speak from that experience but I can attempt an honest answer. (Bi friends, forgive me if I’m totally off base – and PLEASE correct me at anywhere I miss the mark).
I feel as if your question is asking if three-way marriages should be encouraged or accepted by Christians since bisexual people must always satisfy both sides of their sexual desires. Maybe I’ve been drawn into one too many “slippery slope” conversations (which always turn out to be more of a monologue to which I am subjected than a dialogue in which I participate). Let me see if I can speak to my understanding of your question. (Please forgive me if I’ve missed your question and know that I am merely speaking from my own experience and faith and in no way mean to be the spokesperson on this matter).
Before we get to marriage lets talk about dating. See, it all starts with attraction right? You meet someone, go on a few dates, hold hands, maybe kiss and get all excited about each other. Maybe on that last date you begin to know that this one not THE ONE so you move on and date someone else and maybe, just maybe the chemistry is right and your soul mate has arrived. Now, some people are attracted to women exclusively and some people are attracted to men exclusively. (Though Kinsey would say it is not quite that simple). Each of these types would only really be interested in dating and being all moon-eyed over the gender to whom they are attracted. If the stars align and God blesses them in such a manner, they fall for the person who loves them back and they decide to forsake all others to create a life together.
My bisexual friends speak of being equally and easily attracted to both males and females. As such, they date (if they are lucky enough to live freely) people irregardless of gender but based solely on those things about the person they find attractive – physical, mental and emotional compatibility and if they are faithful folks, a shared spiritual drive. There is a fluidity in their attractions that I do not share nor completely understand since I am attracted to women. I would be dishonest if I didn’t tell you I have heard more than one gay friend say, with a sigh and eye roll, “pick a team already.” But my way of being in the world does not and should not dictate reality for all others just ‘cause I don’t get it. The Christians I know in the bisexual scenario have the ability to love (physically and emotionally) people of either gender but when they find that ONE person without whom they can not take another breath – then that is the person to whom they pledge their life-long commitment. I am a romantic who still believes in the whole soul mate narrative.
My marriage, and many of the marriages of which I am aware – gay, straight and even where one or both spouses are bisexual – are NOT based solely on the reoccurring satisfaction of genitalia. Marriage is in fact a far more beautifully faceted bond that hopefully includes AND transcends our sexual gratification. Thanks be to God for the gift of sexuality lived out with the one you love! All that said, as a Christian, and really, a traditionalist when it comes to relationships, I strongly favor two-person, monogamous marriages. And hey, not everyone wants to get married, that’s cool too. But me, I was raised in a Christian home where the example of how love is lived out is in a committed, two-person, ’til death do us part relationship. Anyone who wants that and is blessed to find that should have no barriers to their union.
So when I talk about marriage equality I am talking about the legal rights of TWO people to get married; to be protected under the law the same as any other couple. And yes, the word marriage matters a great deal. As a citizen of a country that has actually codified the separation of church and state I do not believe it is any human or institutional right to define marriage as only between one man and one woman. Any claim that biblical marriage is clearly and only between one man and one woman is simply a lie that chooses to ignore more than a page or two of our Text.
I feel like I need to say this again: I am not, now or ever, interested in coercing people, churches or denominations to affirm marriages they find abhorrent, I am asking them to get out of the business of telling the government who can and can not be lawfully joined. There are churches who DO affirm same sex marriages so I have a holy place where such lives are wholly affirmed. And I am asking the others, especially the haters, to prayerfully consider the fact that they are wounding people deeply and turning them away from God with their pit-pull like obsession with sexuality. There are a few more things in the world that need our attention.
So, even though I’m not personally for three-way++ marriages I don’t think my biological, cultural and spiritual constitution and should dictate the laws of the land. And yes, I realize this opens a whole can of red wigglers but I am not responding to the whole can, just the one who got out today. So for now I will just keep thinking, praying and talking with people to better understand.
Grace and peace,