I think the time has come for me to enter this door I built into the house of my project three days ago, not because I need to vent my spleen (or any other humour) on this issue but because it is an easy topic to cover and necessary if I am to make a complete cursus through the landscape of my belief. I have, after all, meditated on sexuality since puberty hit my body like the proverbial ‘mac-truck’at the age of nine.
This history of my musings is fairly quick to relate. For several years I simply experienced sex as only a pubescent boy can. Encounters with the not-so-proverbial girl-next-door were complimented by other, more potentially controversial trysts with other friends of mine who had the benefit of an extra Y-chromosome. The full weight of my Christian upbringing came to bear when I turned thirteen and underwent my first crisis of conscience. This crisis was mostly based on the fact that, had I not already been committed to Christianity, I would never have had a crisis at all.
I want to be clear that it never occurred to me to think in terms of hetero- or homosexuality. I was familiar with this polarized model of sexuality through the increasing presence of AIDS in the media (it took a little while to reach rural Virginia), but I never once entertained the notion that I was one way or the other. Somehow I just never related the debate to myself.
The crisis I underwent was more basic. Man, woman, dog or tree — it wasn’t the object of my desire that aroused my guilt but rather the degree of the desire itself and — if it makes any sense whatsoever — the complete lack of guilt that such desire sparked. In other words, I thought that my desire should have felt ‘off’ somehow in the same way that stealing felt ‘off’, but I didn’t feel that way. My desire, for man or woman, never felt like it didn’t ‘fit’ — was, for lack of a better term, wrong. It just was.
My first step toward resolution came in Westminster Abbey. My parents took our family on a tour of Europe and the first day in London we visited the famous abbey and I remember praying vehemently over this issue. Suddenly came an explosive sense of peace and words in my head: “You are what you are.” At the time I understood these to be the words of God, but in retrospect there is little to connect this experience with Christianity other than my physical location and my own expectation that the Christian God was the target of my prayer. It would be years before I began to understand what people meant by a ‘relationship with the risen Jesus’ and the fact that this event justified in my heart a state of being within myself that was in direct violation of most Christian mores suggests that something else was going on.
Since then I have long pondered the issue of sex and sexuality, but it was only about four years ago that the question was finally called and I was prompted to form a personal belief about sexuality. This, my personal model, is a direct contradiction of popular notions of sexuality and I will not put here a full defense of my belief unless called to do so.
I do not believe in homosexuality. It is a false construct based upon a groundless paradigm. This paradigm of sexuality so prevalent in our modern society requires each of us to assign to him or herself a category of behavior: homosexual, heterosexual, transsexual, post-urban sexual, bisexual … whatever, and this then becomes an integral if not definitive facet of our identity (I am X). This, in my mind, is absurd.
We are not our sexuality — our patterns of desires. We are simply sexual or not (and I have known several people who are not). How we manifest that sexuality, which in my understanding is the raw power of life — it somehow manifests all we are and can be, while simultaneously breaking all that we think we are — is purely an aspect of our individuality. Why should we limit all that we can be by prescribing a name to ourselves? At best it is a form of self-creation and at worst a form of self-negation, but in either case these kinds of labels are intrinsically limiting.
You may have guessed by now that I don’t believe in heterosexuality either. Terms based on our current paradigm and its various iterations (someone once told me that there were six different genders) are simply providing cultural labels that then become handles for manipulation in any number of insidious and, in my way of thinking, disgusting ways.
Relatively recently (within the past six years) the growing understanding of how far sex reaches into the dark, primal areas of our individual realities — not to mention the intrinsic power it has in multifarious forms and aspects — has brought me to look into other facets of the erotic and the sexual act itself. On several occasions I have experienced moments of interpersonal transcendence, telepathy, visions and even the odd instance of temporal transposition. All these have been sporadic and unlooked for, their occurrence only precipitated apparently because of my being married and thus in a position to lose my sense of self in the act (unworried about performance, the results of sex on the relationship etc.).
Again, however, Christianity and its perception of sex necessarily limit how far I can go with this and, if there is anything I cannot bear, it’s the idea of deliberately acquiescing to an externally imposed limitation when my own internal sense of ethics and rectitude sees no purpose for it.
There is more to this, but from here my view of sexuality becomes part of the larger issue of how identity and religion interact. Such will be the topic of a different entry.