Let’s Have a Come-to-Jesus Talk About Men, Marriage, & “Marriage Equality” – part 1

By now I suppose everyone has noticed that young men can barely wait to get married and settle down with one woman, and have sex exclusively with her for the rest of his life. And babies…having babies and raising a family is practically all a young man thinks about!

Oh, wait…’Sorry – I was thinking of a different planet.

Regarding planet earth, I would like to make a few observations about men, biology, and monogamous marriage while it’s still legal to speak openly about such things. First, some relevant info about me. I happen to be a flaming heterosexual. Even so, I’ve only had sex with one person in my life. We’ve had 5 children together, and we still love each other. I’ve never cheated on my wife, I never will, and I will never leave her. I know this because this is my choice to make. There’s nothing heroic or self-righteous in saying this – it’s simply what we promised each other when we got married. I wouldn’t impose my morality on anyone else even if I could. I wouldn’t even say that what I’m doing is “natural,” (whatever that means.) I’m just telling you the truth. And speaking of truth, here is a truth I want to write about today:

Men and women are different.

I assume we have all noticed this. We don’t need social scientists and studies to prove this. However, regarding this particular truth, we happen to have plenty of studies and science. We know what makes a person male or female, and we know the effects of testosterone on both men and women. This post will focus mostly on men, since I am one, and since men are the problem.

Each one of us, back when we were only a few cells old, started out looking very similar. But those of us who had a Y chromosome soon developed tiny gonads that began excreting androgens which made us into little manimals. With the onset of puberty, our boyish bodies took a big, ongoing, internal testosterone bath, affecting our bodies, brains, and behavior. The female body produces testosterone as well, but boys at puberty have something like 10 to 20 times as much, coursing around, wrecking havoc. Testosterone is linked to aggression, competitiveness, and increased sex drive.

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There is some debate over whether gay men are more promiscuous than straight men. A famous San Francisco study in 1978, prior to the AIDS epidemic, found that 75% of gay male respondents claimed over 100 lifetime sex partners. 28% percent of those respondents claimed over 1000. (Bell & Weinberg Study – This study should not be used to generalize about all gay people.)

The masculine nature can be expressed in a diversity of ways, but if we look very closely, we might detect some troubling universal tendencies in male behavior. Some of us fight against these tendencies. Some of us don’t. With regard to sexual behavior, men are markedly more inclined toward short-term, or one-time, or even anonymous, multiple sex-partners, with less regard for relational longevity than are women. It’s been said, (and I agree,) that for men, monogamous marriage is an acquired taste. We can see the evidence of this everywhere. Who are the consumers of pornography? Who are the customers of prostitutes? Who are the stalkers, voyeurs, rapists, sex abusers, pimps, and sex traffickers? They are overwhelmingly male. Where are the historic examples of female polygamists with several husbands? Where are the female-targeted equivalents of businesses like Hooters? Who regularly gets toppled from respectable public positions and ruins their reputations through voluntary, stupid, illicit sexual encounters? It’s male politicians, preachers, priests, coaches, and athletes. Who puts chrome silhouettes of large-breasted naked women on their truck mud flaps? Or decals on their pick-ups of a high-heeled naked woman holding a tuna with the words, “Tuna – the other pink meat”? And…who came up with the idea of meggings? Surely it was a man.

I point these things out because they illustrate what we all already know: male sexuality, especially when untempered by female influence, can be coldly impersonal. Women, via heterosexual marriage, have historically been a key part of social conditioning for men, around the world, today, and throughout all of history.

Disclaimers:

1) I’m not idolizing women in saying this – women are perfectly capable of objectifying men.

2) I’m not suggesting that women are more virtuous than men – we’re all mixed bags in that regard.

3) I’m not saying that men can’t control themselves and are not responsible for their behavior.

4) I’m not saying that women don’t like sex.

I’m simply saying that women approach sex differently than men do. With regard to sexual monogamy and family formation, universally, throughout the history of the world, it has been in the interest of women to not be as sexually promiscuous. Women generally don’t use men for sex and then discard them. There is a simple, universal reason for this even if one strips away all the religious rules, societal taboos, cultural conditioning, and psychological theorizing. Underlying all of those things there is the persistent biological fact that women have more to lose than men in a shallow or temporary sexual relationship – women can get pregnant. They can get pregnant, and they are the ones who must deal with the pregnancy. Furthermore, it is a fact that women are historically less likely to abandon their own children, which raises the stakes for women even higher. In addition to this, when you throw hormones into the mix, you get two different recipes for sexual behavior: one for women, and one for men.

Of course, with the availability of decent birth control and, failing that, abortion on demand, modern women are now theoretically “free” to be like men in their sexuality (impersonal and narcissistic.) But even if they want to be, is that what the world needs? Everyone acting like pubescent males? Yet, this seems to have been part of the goal of modern feminism. Many people are surprised to learn that early feminists such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton held a different perspective. Their feminism included the laudable idea that women had a distinctly feminine, nurturing, more humane perspective to bring to the table. They were opposed to abortion because they believed that for a woman to kill her offspring would be to succumb to the same old male mindset of the stronger forcing its will on the weaker. But no, modern feminism chose to reject this humanitarian nonsense in favor of “empowering” women to be like men, making the right to abortion the cornerstone of feminism. Yet, many women would say today that feminism shot itself in the foot by making male sexuality, (the right to be “unpregnant,”) the standard by which equality is measured. I actually agree with feminist Timothy Leary’s comment, “Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” (Even though he probably only said this to get laid.)

We may now be on the brink of taking the next big, unwholesome step toward the male suppression of innate female interests. If abortion on demand and no fault divorce pushed the innate, biological interests of women up to the edge of a cliff, the “marriage equality” movement may push those interests the rest of the way over. The field of sexuality and marriage is about to become redefined according to the less humane, less personal male approach to sex. “Nonsense!” you say? “Women aren’t going anywhere.”

But it’s not a question of women going anywhere. Women have always been here, and men have routinely rolled right over them. Only relatively recently have women had a place at the table in Western culture. Our current Western ideal of the unity-in-diversity as equals in monogamous marriage is unique in world history, and it has been hard won. It favors the biologically innate proclivities of women. It is friendlier to the interests of both women and children than anything else in recorded history. In redefining marriage to include gay relationships, this ideal of marriage will be lost to secular culture. How so?

The Sexual Superiority of Women:
In the eighties I read a book by George Gilder entitled Men & Marriage. Reading this book was like having an electrical engineer come over and explain the circuitry in my house. Think for a moment on the opening line of his book:

The crucial process of civilization is the subordination of male sexual impulses and biology to the long-term horizons of female sexuality.”

In a nutshell, Gilder’s thesis is that every culture in the world has to figure out how to deal with its hormonally-crazed single males, who, if left to themselves, tend to form groups and express their masculinity in non-productive or destructive ways. Since young women have something that men really, really want, young women are the key to inducing and creating voluntary social order. Every culture has marriage, or something like it, by which men agree to channel their energies in the service of wife, offspring, and productive labor. Obviously this is not a guaranteed formula, and is insufficient in and of itself, but heterosexual marriage is a primordial, universal part of social conditioning that keeps the world turning.

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Above: A possible metaphor for male sexuality.
In contrast to one-dimensional male sexuality, Gilder writes, “For [a woman,] intercourse is only one of many sex acts or experiences. Her breasts & her womb symbolize a sex role that extends, at least as a potentiality, through pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, suckling, & long-term nurture. Rather than a brief performance, female sexuality is a long, unfolding process. Even if a woman does not in fact bear a child, she is continually reminded that she can, that she is capable of performing the crucial act in perpetuation of the species.”

Why might it be a really bad idea to redefine marriage to include gay relationships?
Regarding gay men: Because they’re guys, and they will behave like guys. We know a great deal about how men behave, and why. Please carefully note that my concerns about male gay marriage do not arise from the fact that the couples in question are gay. My concerns arise from the fact that they are men. I’m simply speaking plainly of male sexual behavior here, and it pretty much looks the same, gay or straight. That is to say it looks less human than female sexuality. In saying it looks less human, I mean it is more animal-like. Like, let’s say, a dog. For example, a dog is indiscriminate and will hump your leg. I’ve had several discussions where people have told me that “we don’t know what will happen if men are allowed to marry.” But I think we do know. I think we know in spades what will happen.

How “marriage equality” will alter the definition of marriage.
Gay sex columnist Dan Savage believes he has a better idea than traditional monogamous marriage, and he’s not alone. He has even invented a clever term: “monogamish.” Savage believes that gays will be doing the straight community a service by normalizing the idea of married couples being “mostly monogamous” but allowing for the occasional extramarital sexual encounter; a practice that has been accepted in gay culture for decades:

“I acknowledge the advantages of monogamy, when it comes to sexual safety, infections, emotional safety, paternity assurances. But people in monogamous relationships have to be willing to meet me a quarter of the way and acknowledge the drawbacks of monogamy around boredom, despair, lack of variety, sexual death and being taken for granted.” – Dan Savage

“But should we see “monogamish” relationships as a threat to marriage? I think not. If people are actually happier when they’re able to openly and frankly discuss their desires, their passions and what they need from each other, even if that means another partner a few nights a month, wouldn’t that help marriages remain strong?” – Gay-rights activist Zach Stafford – Huffington Post

“Anti-equality right-wingers have long insisted that allowing gays to marry will destroy the sanctity of “traditional marriage,” and, of course, the logical, liberal party-line response has long been “No, it won’t.” But what if—for once—the sanctimonious crazies are right? Could the gay male tradition of open relationships actually alter marriage as we know it? And would that be such a bad thing? With divorce rates at an all-time high…perhaps now is the perfect time for the gays to conduct a little marriage makeover.” – The Advocate 

Isn’t this a little like advocating bulimia as a weight loss strategy?

Certainly not all, but many gay men, define monogamy and faithfulness differently than heterosexuals traditionally do. This shouldn’t surprise anyone – they’re guys. Pro-marriage-equality heterosexuals unfamiliar with gay culture seem to naively think that gay men simply long for the chance to “settle down and be married to the one they love.” (Because that is so what men want!) But male gay culture is male sexuality unbridled from the humanizing influence of women. For many in gay culture, so long as an emotionally attached couple is upfront and in agreement, it’s not considered “cheating” to have sex with other men. But my friends, that’s not what marriage is.

If “marriage equality” wins, what we will see is guy couples getting married in order to receive official recognition and benefits from the State, but living in “open marriages” – a parody of the real thing. This behavior will be completely acceptable to everyone because both partners are in agreement. It will reduce the role of marriage to that of a gumball machine. If the State decides to recognize such “marriages” for gays, then perhaps Savage is right. What is to keep “progressive” heterosexual men from insisting on the same arrangement in their marriages? (I’ll answer that: nothing.) Women who expected sexual fidelity from their husbands will be made to feel reactionary, unenlightened, and possessive. Thus, women will be pressured to conform to the inferior sexual proclivities of men. Game over. Women lose again.

Our gay brethren truly believe that nonmonogamy will help some couples, both gay and straight, preserve their committed relationships. Perhaps they’re right. But whether or not they are right is irrelevant to the gay marriage debate. If people want to experiment with nonmonogamy, or polyamory, they are FREE to do so. Gay or straight. No one cares! I sincerely hope it works for them! But let’s not call it marriage. And let’s not have the Federal Government redefine marriage accordingly and then bring the full weight of governmental power down on the rest of us in an attempt to force compliance. “Marriage equality” is not about equal rights. It will effectively destroy equal rights and community by prohibiting the free exercise of religion in a pluralistic culture.

In closing, nothing in this post should be construed as anti-gay or hateful. I favor pluralism and freedom, and gays in America are free to live and love with whomever they choose. It’s cool to be gay now. I’m simply opposed to wrecking the best, most risk-free context for raising well children that we know of. It would be reckless to tinker with the institution that celebrates the connecting of a man and woman spiritually, emotionally, and physically for life; an institution that powerfully motivates a man to become a contributing member of society and to be a dad to his children.

I’ve spoken about monogamous heterosexual marriage as being in the interests of women and children, but I believe that it serves the interests of men as well. Research supports this if longevity, health, and happiness are indicators of men’s’ interests. Men and women complete each other. Healthy heterosexual marriage does not result in the emasculation of men. It brings out the best of what men can be, making them willing and co-creative participants with women as equal partners in the work of civilization.

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10 comments on “Let’s Have a Come-to-Jesus Talk About Men, Marriage, & “Marriage Equality” – part 1

  1. micaela says:

    I’m curious what the rest of this series will be.
    I couldn’t help but notice that your problem seems to be with gay people themselves, not gay marriage. As you mentioned in the introduction, in your marriage, you made a promise to stay faithful to your wife. Beyond being in love with your wife and desiring to respect her, this is a big part of why you remain faithful to her. I respect your beliefs that gay people should not be legally allowed to marry, and we don’t have to agree to be friends.
    But with all due respect, I’m going to be up front in my opinions. The way that you’ve discussed your logic in this post is alienating to gay people. Especially gay people who’s deepest desire is for the Lord to be first and foremost in their lives, whether they believe a same sex relationship is God-ordained or not. Your logic places gay people in a realm that is defined by their sexual actions and sexual drives, not by human beings who have a spirit and a body, and who have a desire for relationship, love and sex (I could be describing straight people with this same language!) Your words portray all gay people (especially men as per the topic of the post) as a group who wants to pull down Christian Morality and replace it with a no-rules-all governmental-benefits-society. This is an us-vs.-them mentality, and just sayin’, it’s the number one reason a lot of gay people do not know Jesus (ironically since Jesus taught to break down the us-vs.-them approach), and it’s the number one reason I have a hard time calling myself a Christian. Maybe it would be helpful for you to take a look at the book “Love is an Orientation” (which I’m more than happy to lend you) or check out Justin Lee’s blog via the Gay Christian Network. Both of these guys do a lot of work to build bridges between straight Christians, LGBTQ Christians and secular LGBTQ people.

    • Micaela – Thank you for being up front in your opinions. I especially appreciate your belief that we don’t have to be in agreement to be friends. I actually hate this whole “gay debate” thing because one’s sexual identity is such a huge part of how a person views him/herself that clear-headed communication becomes almost impossible. If I oppose gay marriage I’m assumed to be anti-gay. This is exactly the conclusion you state in your second sentence. But it’s not true. My concern really is with the redefining of marriage and the harm that will follow. I just think it’s too important an issue to keep silent about. I believe my view is loving, but I’m open to be shown how it is not.

      I looks to me as though you’ve misunderstood my post completely. None of my arguments in either of my gay marriage posts mention “Christian Morality” or reasoning from religion. I’ve only argued societal reasons. I don’t believe I have an us-vs-them mentality. Rather, I’ve repeatedly stated that I favor pluralism and freedom, which is what we have now. It is “marriage equality” that intends to use the State to force compliance on those who disagree with its view. There are pending court cases that prove this. If you think I’ve portrayed “all gay people as” anything, please show me the quote, as I’ve tried to be very fair, and careful not to do that. (See the caption under the stud picture as one example.) For the record, I’ve seen Justin Lee’s blog, and he seems like a great guy. I’d like to read his book.

      Maybe another way to say this is that my two posts on gay marriage have sought to promote an understanding of what true marriage is, why it is important for a stable society, and why redefining it would be a disaster for society, especially children. That’s it. As for finding common ground and building bridges I’m sure we could agree that both sides get a lot of things wrong about each other, but I’d probably rather discuss that over coffee than here, since it’s a whole separate topic from what the post is about.

      Thanks for reading and taking time to reply.

  2. micaelabutts says:

    Hello,
    Yes, I think this is definitely a conversation best had over coffee rather than public forum. I acknowledge that you are not trying to be “anti-gay”. I just want to point out that some of the ways that you have approached this subject is insulting to Christian LGBTQ and monogamous LGBTQ in particular. Some of your points are entirely valid: Dan Savage is indeed a supporter of monogamish and open relationships. But he is not the only voice of the entire LGBTQ people everywhere, nor are the other people you quoted. Along this line, I can quote numerous straight couples who are monogamish, polyamorous, or just flat out cheat in their legally straight marriages, but this is a reflection on the broader culture, not the gay community. Perhaps if you use these arguments, it would be nice to hear from you some disclaimers that gay people aren’t the only people who do/think these things. Since you asked, here’s a few places where I felt you generalized the LGBTQ community I felt it was unfair.

    –“Our gay brethren truly believe that nonmonogamy will help some couples…” (again, not all gay people stand behind this)

    –“There is some debate over whether gay men are more promiscuous than straight men” (You don’t list a comparison to straight men. How do we know what your numbers mean except to your one example of yourself with one partner? Even though you have a disclaimer, the fact that you bring it up without current info or comparisons leaves the reader to judge gay men than have an education on the subject, and I don’t get the feeling that that’s your goal)

    –“If “marriage equality” wins, what we will see is guy couples getting married in order to receive official recognition and benefits from the State, but living in “open marriages” – a parody of the real thing. This behavior will be completely acceptable to everyone because both partners are in agreement” (Here, you assume that all gay marriages will be “open”. Almost all the gay people I know, male and female, are extremely monogamous and do not believe in having open relationships. Aside from this, it’s already popular for hetero couples to be in “open” relationships–as we see in many of Dan Savages columns (you should read some for your research on gay and straight couples), so hetero marriage has the potential to be, and often already is a “parody of the real thing”.

    Again, I don’t have a problem with the process or ultimate conclusions you come to. I hope these specific comments are helpful for you. Thanks!

  3. Hello Micaela,

    For my entire adult life, I have been part of a subculture that is widely lied about & misrepresented in the mainstream media and entertainment industry. It is therefore important to me to try to not to the same thing to others with whom I may disagree. I’m sure I don’t always succeed but I try to be sensitive in this. Consequently, it matters to me that you understand the statements in my post, because I don’t want you to think I’m broad-brushing gays unfairly.

    The guys I quoted, Savage & Stafford, are not fringe loonies writing for obscure publications, nor is the Advocate unrepresentative of gay culture. This is a real, in context discussion taking place. I don’t agree that your 3 examples of my unfairness are legit, though I understand why you don’t like them:

    1) The Stud pic: appears with the paragraph about male promiscuity, and that’s what the pic is about – men. The point is that when you have men on men rather than men on women, you get a more impersonal, promiscuous culture. Over 1000 sexual partners is a jaw-dropping number. The point was about male sexuality, not gay sexuality per se. Other research I’ve seen shows that lesbians have far fewer sex partners over a lifetime than do gay men, not surprisingly. Furthermore, the last sentence in the caption couldn’t be clearer.

    2) “Our gay brethren truly believe…” read in context is a reference to the 3 guys I had just quoted. The proof of this is that immediately after quoting them I opened the next paragraph with “Certainly not all, but many gay men…” don’t agree with Savage and friends. (I could’ve cited the new CHEST survey of 800 NYC gay men that found that around 40% were in “open or monogamish” relationships. But I didn’t.)

    3) “If marriage equality wins…” Here, you said I assume that all gay marriages will be open. But I didn’t say that. What I said will happen, certainly will happen, though not with all gays of course. But it will still redefine the institution of marriage, as Savage and many others admit. (Here’s a lesbian activist’s take: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJrmBocx0o4 )

    I completely agree that many hetero couples are making a parody of marriage, however, I don’t think you can say open marriages are “popular” in hetero culture. Not even Savage says this. I didn’t hear any heteros supporting Newt Gingrich’s alleged open marriage ultimatum to his ex. The difference between heteros & gays advocating open marriage is that there is no movement afoot in the hetero community to legitimize it, as there is in the gay community. (Unless you can show me otherwise.) Legalizing gay “marriage” will doubly redefine marriage, and will do so to the detriment of children especially. That continues to be my concern.

    A question for you. As a gay Christian, if 2 gay people mutually agree to have a monogamish or open relationship so long as they remain committed and emotionally faithful to each other, is outside sex still adultery in your opinion? If so why?

    Grace & peace to you.

  4. micaela says:

    Hey Scott,

    I think we can agree that we both have the future in mind–the well being of children, females, and communities–when we discuss this subject.

    Between the high divorce rate, persisting sexism, growing desensitization to violence, and the demise of our environment, the next generations definitely have a hand full to grapple with.

    And it’s exactly because of these that I believe more and more whole-heartedly in what the bible says about community and families. God created people to be in community–to have family–it is not good for humans to be alone. And we see this when Jesus talks about family and when Paul talks about family. And the Trinity lives this out as a beautiful example for us. Having the protection of the government and blessing of the church adds incentive in creating this unique form of community, and it protects it as far as it is able. But it’s up to individuals to keep their promises to one another, and work out what the relationship looks like (no one likes the government meddling in the bed).

    As for your question, Jesus teaches that adultery is in the heart. What people agree to with each other is between them and God. I’m not here to determine anyone’s sin, gay or straight. I am here to love those I come in contact with.

    What I want to know from you is what your solution is to the thousands of LGBTQ people who desire to put God first in their life, and yet do not feel called to be celibate. What about LGBTQ couples who are Christians, love the Lord, and have made a lifelong monogamous commitment to each other and keep it, and yet do not have sanctioning from the church or the state. Are they committing adultery? If so, what do you have to say to them?

    Let me know your thoughts. At this point though, we are probably just spinning our tires on this forum. Perhaps a non-public forum would be better for the continuation of this conversation.

  5. micaela says:

    Oh also, I didn’t touch on the issue of multiple partners because it would make for a whole essay, and I don’t wish to take up that much space on your blog.

  6. Micaela, Thanks again for your reasonable and civil response. It’s pretty amazing to me when any 2 people can disagree on a topic so deeply personal, yet without resorting to insults and personal attacks. You are a great example to all of us.

    Agreed. Let’s go to coffee tree next time you’re in town.
    But for those following this, I feel I should at least give a brief answer to your question about LGBTQ Christian couples:
    I’m going to underline again that I favor pluralism and freedom. This means that diverse, even competing, groups and viewpoints freely exists together. We have this now. You are well aware that there is a movement of churches that welcomes practicing homosexuals as members in right standing. This has been true for decades. Furthermore, many gay couples are adopting and raising children, and have been for some time. All any of us can do is be honest before God each other, and act in accordance with His revelation to the best of our abilities. I would assume that we can agree that this is the best time to be gay in America in the nation’s history, in terms of both options and acceptance.

    The reason I’m writing on this topic is that I think it will be a disaster if the Federal Government now steps in and redefines what is essentially a religious institution. If that happens it will change everything, and the pluralism and freedom that we all now enjoy will disappear. It will be bad for religious freedom, marriage & families & children, and thus the economy, and it will further polarize the culture in general.
    I would love to be wrong about this.

    – Grace and peace to you

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