A Different Sanctifiable Grace of “Gayness”

Nicolas Regnier, 1590-1667, Saint Sebastian.

Saint Sebastian, Nicolas Regnier, 1590-1667.

One debate about homosexuality is summed up nicely by Wesley Hill’s question and blog post “Is being Gay Sanctifiable?” The question takes the premise that gay sex is sinful in a conservative Christian ethic, but wonders what parts of “being gay” can in fact be helpful in pursuing Christian community and morality. Most of the writers at Spiritual Friendship, like Wesley, seem to suggest that there’s a lot of rich gifts that sexual minorities can offer their communities by sharing and reflecting on their experiences as sexual minorities. In other words, what is there to being gay that helps me build the Kingdom of God? If there are good answers to the question, this defends us from the Christians who seem to wish that gay people would stop wanting to be patted on the back and either cease to exist or at least admit being gay is so messed up that we should shut up about it.

Most of the voices in this discussion seem to focus on the close same-sex relationships–potentially approaching the eponymous spiritual friendship–that they see connected to their homosexuality. Wesley, for example, suggests that he prefers male company, felt a special not-genital-but-vaguely-sexual-orientation-related connection with his male dorm-mates, and consequently finds himself drawn to (healthy!) intimacy more readily with men than women, thanks in part to the natural spark or chemistry that seems related to being gay/homosexual/same-sex-attracted or whatever you want to call it.* Jeremy Erickson elaborates this same idea a little further in a recent post (again on SF) about his tendency to think about men when listening to music, and and an “energy” in getting to know another man that’s related to sexuality without being reducible to simply mentally undressing him. The relationships that can bloom from these experiences are good, and help suggest that yes, being gay is sanctifiable. These two pieces (along with their extensive comments sections) motivated me to chime in with this blog post.

I see a lot of talk about chaste same-sex relationships and intimacy in the discussions on Spiritual Friendship, but sometimes I leave scratching my head when I compare it to my experiences. When I think about my relationships with other men throughout my adolescence and into college, especially in conjunction with realizing I’m gay, the picture is anything but rosy.
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