Saturday, September 30, 2006


For me the love I feel for each person is different. But there are similarities. My father was, in many ways, a great flirt. He enjoyed the company of women and made them feel beuatiful and appreciated. But the great love of his life was my mother. I, too, enjoy the company of women. But the love I saw between my parents is the reason I didn't marry a woman, though I came close to marrying a couple of women. I just didn't have the same class of love fore any of those women that I came close to marrying that I saw between my parents. Realizing that I would only feel/find/experience the same sort of care and partnership that my parents had with each when I started looking for the right man was one of the greatest gifts of God in my life.

And love is one of the things I think everyone should experience. Whether it is the love of parent and child, the love of two partners in a lifetime relationship, the love of siblings for each other, the love of human for God that love enriches life. Then again love as in the greek language (eros, philia, adelphia, and I'm blankning on the fourth) aren't as easily separated as C.S. Lewis made them out to be in his book "Four Loves", the elements cross over and there are clear useages that show that cross-over in classical and koine greek. Yet there are and should be boundaries in the expression of those loves. My dad appreciated (and flirted with) women, not by groping them or giving unwelcome hugs, but by enjoying their conversation and personality as well as their looks. The sexual desire may have been present in the admiration but that didn't mean that he intended to act on that desire.

I think one of the great misfortunes brought about by homophobia is the fear that brotherly love will turn into something different. Or that showing love and affection to another man will be onstrued as sexual interest. That has deprived men of the nurturing relationships that they need with both men and women. That has confined men and women to roles that aren't God-given, but a cultural imposition.

And homophobiais one of the reasons we don't separate love and sex the way that we can. One can love and be sexually attracted without acting on that sexual attraction. There's a difference between enjoying the beauty and thinking one has to take action. For heterosexual misogynists the sexual attraction they feel for women is devoid of love or understanding, but for heterosexual men like my father the sexual attraction they feel for women translates into actions that support them and help them become more fully who they are.

To talk of love without mentioning sexuality is as flawed as talking about sexuality without mentioning love. But sexuality is more than inserting one body part into another. And love is an experience that should not be missed. There are people for whom the experience of sex can be somewhat divorced from love. (Dan Savage has a good take on someone who wants sex with and without love and without telling) But that's beside the point. Sexuality in its richest form is part of a loving relationship with a lifetime commitment and so both should be in the same conversation.

No comments: