Thursday, June 17, 2010

The need for a helpmeet...

For a married gay man who craves male intimacy, the question of fidelity is always a nagging issue. Specifically, when does intimacy move from perfectly permissible to pressing the boundaries to actually crossing that sometimes not so indelible line? This is particularly difficult if the married gay man is an active Latter-day Saint with the traditional moral scruples ingrained by Church teaching.

The easy answer is the one to which most heterosexual church members adhere--any interaction between two men beyond a good conversation, a handshake or an occasional hug is entirely impermissible. For heterosexuals, that is an easy answer, but for those of us who are gay, the reality is much more complex.

Soon after Adam's creation, God declared a profound truth--"It is not good for man to be alone," and so God created Eve, Adam's helpmeet. The term "helpmeet" is often mistranslated to mean "helper", but the actual definition is a bit more profound--"a help suitable for him."

In the beginning, God recognized that it is not good for any man to be alone--emotionally, intellectually, nor physically. While we gay Latter-day Saints may be married to good women and enjoy their companionship to the extent we are able, there is a constant sense of isolation that haunts us. We often contend with a deep sense of alone-ness and yearn for a helpmeet--a help that is suitable for each of us.

Our wives, despite their goodness, cannot typically fill that void. In the end, the emotional, intellectual and physical support they are able to provide is not "help that is suitable for [us]" and it leaves us empty. Real help can only come from one who is like us, who understands and appreciates through experience our psyche and the hollow we yearn for them to fill.

So how does all this fit together? I have come to realize that God recognizes my need for a helpmeet and that a helpmeet is essential for my progression. While the degree of physical intimacy we might enjoy may be limited by our covenants and commitments, the emotional and intellectual oneness that we might develop may fill the void.

Others may argue that a complete physical relationship is core to experiencing real intimacy and they may be right. But for me, today, I want to know a man with whom I can talk about what's going on inside of me and what's inside of him, someone with whom I can call and email and who will call and email me, someone with whom I can do things I haven’t done, someone I can love and who will love me.

Will this type of relationship undermine my fidelity to my wife. I hope not. I've always believed that love is like a circle that expands--it's not a zero sum game.

Ultimately, only time will tell.


  1. It's not a "zero sum game" even if my wife feels it may be. I do believe that we can love and that love for other men can grow and expand and make us even better. I am still searching for ways to make this happen. Is it just the romantic speaking or can it be real? I don't know... the search for answers on this chosen path of fidelity continues...

  2. Thank you for eloquently expressing a core need I have also felt, yet find terribly hard to fulfill. Brothers to love and to be loved by are a gift of the spirit of truth... sometimes we feel it, know it, and other times we are only tantalized by it.

  3. For what it is worth, so far my fifties have been better than my forties in terms of male friendships. Are they ideal? No, because I'm sometimes frustrated and lonely, but yes, because I am able to love and be loved, and when I focus on that, I'm OK. Do I want more than my friends can authentically give me? Usually. It is worth the time and effort to try to find the illusive third way? Almost always.

    What has helped is the realization that although my love for them may not be fully reciprocated (because in most cases they are straight), they do love me as much as a straight man can love another man, and that is enough. I have less experience in long term friendships with men who are gay or bisexual, but I am open to such friendships with appropriate boundaries, and I agree that those boundaries are not easy to establish and maintain, but I do know from personal experience that it is possible and worth it.