Friday, January 28, 2011
Sex and Intimacy: The need for a helpmeet (redux)
Early in my blog, I posted an essay about being a gay married Latter-day Saint and the need for intimacy. Much has happened in my life since I prepared that original post and with those experiences come a deeper understanding and appreciation of the issue. I am no longer married, my ties with Church doctrine are less dogmatic, and as a result, my view of sexual fidelity and Christian faith has changed somewhat. Regardless, the core concerns I raised in my original post still exist.
For any 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 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 single or 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.
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.
Some may argue that while the degree of physical intimacy one might enjoy may be limited by covenants and commitments, the emotional and intellectual oneness that one might develop may fill the void. Others are vociferous in their belief that a complete physical relationship is core to experiencing real intimacy and they may be right.
But for me, most importantly, I want to know a man with whom I can talk about what's going on inside of him and what's inside of me, 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. Ultimately, I yearn for someone who will make me a better man than I would be alone. How physical intimacy fits into all of that, I'm not sure.
While Gore Vidal's comment about his 53-year partnership with Howard Austen may be telling ("It is very easy to sustain a relationship when sex plays no part, and impossible when it does."), touching, holding, and caressing are as innate to human behavior as breath itself. Can man live an honest life deprived of oxygen? In the end, I believe that's the real question.