I have to admit something to the world that I have been holding in for a long time. I have decided to come out, I cannot hold it in any longer.
I am a married man, and I am sexually attracted to women.
Some people may not think that last statement is all that difficult to come out to. But that is only because you have not thought about what I said long enough. I said I am attracted to women, plural, not singular. The problem is that I am married to one woman, singular, a woman who does not want an open relationship.
Some people may still not think that what I am saying is all that difficult to admit. But that is only because they are not putting themselves in my shoes. I have deep emotional and physical responses to the sight of attractive women. These responses cause me to physically cringe and emotionally eat away at me. These responses make it hard to sleep at times when my thoughts will not calm down. I do not exaggerate the extent of these responses, and if anything, I am not describing them with as much ardor as they deserve. To put it into more modern language: I am polyamorous.
I am a Christian. Scripture teaches that sex is only permissible in a marriage relationship. (I know people will say that there are a number of examples of non-marriage sexual relationships in the Old Testament, but those examples do not justify or validate the act; their presence in Scripture does not mean Scripture confirms them.) Since Scripture teaches me that sex is only permissible in marriage, I have restrained my sexual urges for women and have been faithful to my wife alone.
However, our secular society has been urging me to rid myself of the box that I have climbed into and to fulfill what is natural to me. Society has been urging me to not allow previous societal norms dictate how I control my sexual desires. Society has been teaching me that one should not restrain one’s self from fulfilling sexual desires because doing so could be damaging to the individual.
Do not believe me that our secular society is teaching me that I should not box in my sexual desires? Just look at this article that was prominently featured on CNN’s website. I want you to notice that the article was not on some far-out-there news site. CNN is about as mainstream as it comes. This article was also not just some random suggested article at the end of another article. This article was prominently displayed on the main page.
Notice what the above article is teaching me: if I am having non-monogamous feelings, then I should explore them. So my question is, “What should I do if I want a non-monogamous relationship but my spouse does not?” Will you tell me that I should get a divorce so I can finally fulfill my sexual desires? Go ahead … I dare you to say that I should get a divorce because I have deep sexual desires for women.
Well, a simple google search’s first result will suggest that I break up with my spouse (after discussion of the matter leads nowhere). Notice the article is from Psychology Today, another mainstream website, written by someone with a Ph.D. This suggestion is not some random person’s opinion, but the opinion of a specialist.
Maybe you are secularly minded and disagree with the specialist’s opinion (when I say secularly minded, I mean that you do not adhere to any religion and do not regard any religious text as ultimately authoritative). Maybe you think that I should just tough it out and be faithful to my spouse. If so, I ask you this: why should I repress my natural and at times uncontrollable urges?
I would appreciate your answers to my question above. It is my belief that every single answer one can give can be shown to be inadequate based on other aspects of a secular worldview.
For instance, let us say one states that I should repress my sexual desires for the good of my wife and/or child. My follow-up question would be: “What if I were to tell you that I had homosexual desires and no longer identified as a heterosexual or that I was having transsexual desires?” Would you still tell me to repress my homosexual or transsexual desires? I seriously doubt that since that would go against everything our secular society is encouraging people who identify as homosexual or transsexual to do.
Or let us say one states that I should repress my sexual desires because I made a marriage vow to my spouse. My response to that would be: “Really? You are now suddenly against divorce for irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, and a host of other no fault divorces?” I highly doubt that.
Or let us say that I should only act out my sexual desires in a way that allows me to be at least somewhat faithful to my wife, say by viewing scantly clad women on the internet and doing what I need to do. My response to that is: “So you are suddenly okay with me using something that encourages the sexualization of the female body?”
The Christian answer to my dilemma is much more consistent and appropriate than any secular answer. The Christian answer includes acknowledging my sinful desires, resting in the limitless forgiveness of God, transform my mind to overcome my sinful desires by filling it with God’s desires, and rejoice in the knowledge of a rewarding God. The Christian answer provides a way for me to both acknowledge my feelings and deal with them correctly. The secular view of the world has no correct answers on how to deal with emotions, only opinionated answers.
The first thing I must do is the first thing that the secular society has a hard time doing: it must admit something natural as sinful. Sexual desires in themselves are not sinful. Sexual desires only become sinful when they are dwelt upon or expressed incorrectly. I can be real about my feelings, but I still have to be right in my actions. By admitting that my incorrectly expressed desires are sinful, I do not give into the temptation of normalizing them and accepting them as something I should explore. Correct expression of sexual desire is supposed to be between spouses. The reason for this is that God gave humans marriage as an image of what our relationship with God is supposed to be like. Our relationship with God is supposed to be one of fidelity and intimacy, as are our marriages.
(A quick note: our infidelity is in one sense unnatural since God created us to be fidelitous by nature, but with the fall of mankind, we became infidelitous.)
The second thing I must do is realize that I do not have to drown in self-guilt and shame because of my sinful desires. With every sinful act of mine, there is a greater act of grace from God. God’s grace is brought to us through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Because Christ took the guilt and shame of my sin and nailed it to the cross, I do not have to live in shame. Every time I fail I know there is an understanding God offering limitless forgiveness to those who ask for it. I can find rest for my disturbed soul in that fact.
The third thing I must do is transform my mind by denying the thoughts that lead me down a sinful path and embracing the righteous path laid out in front of me by God. If I “explore” my desire for non-monogamous relationships, then I am sure to eventually accept it. If, however, I retrain my mind and discipline my emotions by acting out the righteous standards of God, then I can overcome my sinful desires. By transforming my mind I am no longer an autonomous slave to the whims of my fluctuating hormones and feelings, but I am a willing servant to the caring Creator, a Creator who helps me accomplish what He has set in front of me.
Lastly, I can rejoice that God will not waste my acts of self-discipline. God is not a God that smugly gives us commands for His own entertainment. God gives us commands for our benefit and He actively seeks to reward us for our obedience. Christ taught that God looks to reward the tiniest of righteous acts (Matthew 10:42). Just as loving parents get excited about rewarding their children for their obedience, so is God excited to dish out rewards to those who obey Him. This teaches me that I am not performing self-control in vain. My self-denial is not masochistic. My self-denial brings rewards both now, and in eternity.
I have serious physical and emotional responses to the sight of attractive women. Being honest, it is a daily struggle that wreaks havoc within me. The secular American culture encourages me to not repress my sexual urges but to explore them. If I were to do that, then I would have to get a divorce. I dare secularists (people who adhere to no religious code) to be consistent with their call for people to explore their sexual desires and to encourage me to divorce my wife so that I can finally find sexual fulfillment. It is my belief that many secularists will be too timid to suggest divorce and instead have to make an exception on who should explore their sexual urges.
Thankfully I am not at the whim of my sexual desires. Thankfully God has given me the ability to deny my sexual urges, to overcome them, and to see the beauty of His commands. By following God’s commands I find true freedom; ironically, the secular call to free my self from the societal norms and to explore my sexual desires only brings enslavement.
(Note: I often times intermingle “secular”, “Naturalist”, and “atheist”. They can be used synonymously in many cases, but admittedly not all. In this article, they could mostly be used synonymously. I decided to stick with secular throughout this post for uniformity and due to its broader range of ideology.)