The effort to institutionalize same sex relationships is just one of the latest chapters in our culture’s push back against God in regard to His gift of sexuality. The sexualization of just about everything that moves (including children), promiscuity (and the glamorization of it), pornography (we now have mommy porn like Fifty Shades of Gray), abortion (much of it occurring so people can have with “more freedom” sexually), are all sites on the downward slope that we’ve sped by in our wayward attempts to find fulfillment and freedom. Shannon Ethridge is spot on in her observation that we’ve confused intensity for intimacy.
Sam Andreades recently published a doctoral dissertation entitled, “Does she matter? Emotional Intimacy in Marriage in Light of Gender Distinctions. In this work, Andreades interviewed men who formerly engaged in a same sex lifestyle but are now happily married to women. His first significant finding was that he had no trouble locating people to interview. “Based on the national conversation, you might think that finding such men would be formidable. Actually, they were not hard to find at all.”
Andreades’ study was based on the premise that emotional intimacy is a key component of a healthy marriage. Not surprisingly, he found that for these husbands who struggled with same sex attraction, emotional intimacy with their wives was a transformative factor in overcoming SSA and cultivating a sexual relationship with their wives. Furthermore, he found that women (i.e., someone of the opposite gender), were superior providers of such intimacy. In fact, his research led him to designating twenty-eight distinctive ways that women provided greater intimacy.
To begin with, heterosexual marriages lacked the competitive element that their same sex relationships had. “The lack of testosterone-fueled rivalry encourages sharing and vulnerability.” But for the most part, the reasons for women providing superior emotional intimacy went back to the fact that although men and women are different from the cellular level on, they complement one another. This complementarity provides the dynamic for emotional intimacy.
Sometimes the men talked about how their wives, in contrast to their male partners, bring an emotional awareness that cultivates companionship: ‘A woman brings a lot of life.’ The exceptional emotional richness of women encourages even deeper sharing and trust: ‘Most women have the ability to understand and feel things at a different level from men, so I get a deeper connection from her perspective,’ and, ‘Her sensitivities … give me room to risk things that with a man I would never risk.’ One creatively pictured the emotional complementarity thus: ‘Men are like strings, women like balloons. Women rise in lofty splendor, but need the string to be tied down. But men, without them, are just strings dropped in the mud.’
The wife’s virtues, often dissimilar to the husband’s, constituted another locus of rationale for how gender matters. The husbands admired and were advanced by virtues they find unique in women: “Her femininity allows me to let my guard down,” and, ‘Her … gentle spirit, it invites me in [to a place of] security [that] unites us.’ One husband eulogized, ‘She is very much an undergirding support of everything I do, and very strong. … It’s all very feminine. There is nothing masculine about her strength, which I love. I find … security and support in that.’
I think there’s more things like this that we can and must share (the greatest support for same sex relationships in our culture comes from people under thirty years of age). We need to engage people and move beyond tired clichés that produce more heat than light. Studies like this are a step in that direction. The next time you have an opportunity to speak to someone on this subject, you can tell them you support marriage between men and women because you believe in diversity. The world knows we think same sex behavior is sinful; we need to do a better job of showing them why we affirm marriage.