Long post, main point in bold:
This is going to be my third - and last - attempt at a post about the question of the wives of gay men who, for religious reasons, choose to marry opposite-sex partners, in reference to a blog post by a man named Josh Weed who, along with his wife Lolly, is in this situation. Is my post going to be about this couple? Yes and no. As I mentioned numerous times in the previous two attempts (which are both down, so you may take my word for it, seek out cached WWPD, whatever), whenever people spill about their personal lives on the Internet, specifically whenever they do so and solicit comments (there are over 3,000 currently on the post in question), they kind of relinquish the right to go about their business without strangers judging - not harassing, but judging - said business. Kind of.
Also, generally, please feel free to use the comment section to discuss this matter if you wish. However, remember that this is our lives you are talking about. Please feel free to say what you need to say, but we would ask that you be respectful of our decisions and the decisions of others if you decide to comment.
Why have you decided to share this information?The third reason is the only 'this is just my story' reason, and it's given last. The first two make it abundantly clear that this life choice is one this couple is attempting to advise to others. We learn from item one that this is a man who is providing therapy to men in his exact situation, and from item two that he's weighing in politically. If you believe that same-sex marriage is a civil right, or that it's what society needs in terms of stability, if you think therapy that urges gay men to marry women is dangerous both to those men and to the women they wed, you object to Weed's agenda, even if you don't object to his personal choices.
We have several reasons for opening up about this part of our lives. First and foremost, my clinical work as a therapist is taking me in the direction of helping clients who struggle to reconcile their sexual orientation with their religious beliefs. I have decided to be open with these clients about my own homosexuality, and in doing so have opened the door to people finding out about this in ways I can't control. Therefore, we thought it would be wise to be the ones who told those we love about this part of our lives. Posting on the blog was the simplest way to make sure that happened as it would be impossible to sit all of the people we have known and loved in our lives down and share this personally.
The second reason is that the issue of homosexuality is not very well understood. We wanted to add our voice and experience to the dialogue taking place about this very sensitive issue.
Thirdly, I (Josh) feel the desire to be more open regarding this part of my identity. I have found that sharing this part of me allows my relationships with others to be more authentic. It has deepened my friendships and enhanced my interactions, and it has also helped me to feel more accepted by others as it allows others the opportunity to choose to accept me for who I really am.
Forget the specifics of which issues are at stake. Is it ethical to use your private life as an example for others, indeed vast swaths of others outside your friends-and-family, and then to turn around and explain that your feelings will be hurt if others criticize your decisions? It's a sneaky move, because it puts your opponents in a bind. Rules of civility would seem to prevent arguing these points on the very terms in which they've been presented. The temptation is to "discuss this matter" in a way that isn't "respectful of [their] decisions," even if you respect their decisions as individuals, if you do not, as a rule, respect decisions along these lines.
And personally, as I believe I made abundantly clear in a post I now somewhat wish I hadn't taken down, but down it shall remain so I'll continue, while I completely respect the choice of a gay man to decide that his socially-conservatism or religion means more to him than would a stable same-sex marriage or serious relationship, while I have no doubt as to the fact that friction is friction, that babies have been born to parents with same-sex attraction since time immemorial, and thus that it's entirely possible for a gay man to be husband-and-father in the "traditional" sense, I'm not convinced it's OK for such a man to marry a woman who is not in an equivalent situation herself.
There are - as I mentioned in that earlier post - certain risks, possibly physical but more-than-likely emotional, a woman takes in marrying a man for whom being with a woman, any woman, as opposed to a man, is a constant struggle. (If you think this struggle is anything like what any orientation-matching monogamous couple might face in terms of the vast world of other people, then perhaps you don't believe in sexual orientation, or that it is negligible in terms of finding a spouse. If you think this, I'm almost certain I can't convince you otherwise.) The fact that milieus in which gay men think to marry women also tend to be ones that encourage reproduction and/or discourage contraception doesn't help. If we think cheating and divorce are to be discouraged, we want to discourage unions that, while not doomed to go either route, certainly have an edge.
But even if such a relationship "succeeds," as in till death do us part and no infidelity, this still involves a man depriving a woman of the opportunity to be with someone she does it for. I don't only mean physically. While, in a typical marriage, the spouses might doubt that they do it for each other, in a marriage along these lines, that one doesn't do it for the other is known from day one.
What with the internal dynamics of marriages being unknowable, we might say that of course certain women will agree to this set-up, will even seek it out. But here, going by the facts we're given, this was not a case of a woman wanting marriage and kids without intimacy. What this didactic autobiographical snippet tells us is that it's not only acceptable but admirable for a gay man to marry a woman who wants the usual things out of marriage.
While we might say that if a man can repress his same-sex desire, surely a woman can repress hers to be desired, and while this probably does explain how some such marriages work, there are a couple reasons why, paradoxically, the wife in this scenario is in a worse spot than the man who genuinely prefers not acting on very real same-sex urges to acting on them. Most obviously, a woman in this situation likes men, and perfectly well might have ended up with one who desired her, and still followed the rules of whichever belief system they adhered to. By having a relationship with her, the gay man in this scenario - leaving Josh Weed in particular out of this - denies the woman the opportunity to meet and fall for men who aren't gay. And some women - especially naive and inexperienced ones - aren't able to grasp what it means to marry one's gay best friend. After all, a straight woman can be attracted to a gay man, and a gay man, insofar as he's a man, can provide the social and biological functions of husband and father, respectively. But even those who can, on paper, explain why this would pose a problem are in an awkward spot once they've already fallen in love with that person.
While indeed, nobody's perfect, and while it's certainly much less bad if, as Josh Weed evidently did, a man in this situation is honest from the get-go about his limitations, these are some immense limitations. Sufficiently immense that any kind of blanket advice along these lines to gay men, even ones who (at least at this point in time) believe themselves capable of marrying a woman and not straying/leaving, strikes me as borderline unethical. Unfair to the men for obvious reasons: while it's possible for a gay man to prefer his faith/values to his sexual orientation, this probably works out for only a tiny percentage of such individuals, the rest of whom, if they make it out alive, find another church - or none at all - and move on with their lives. So telling men that they can be gay, Mormon (or equivalent) and married to a woman is... problematic in basically the same way as any "conversion" case would be, except marginally more honest about the permanence of sexual orientation. But it's also unfair to the women who get roped into this, and for less obvious, but potentially at least as compelling, reasons.
Read this account from a Mormon woman whose ex-husband is gay. The coverage of the Weed post has virtually all been about whether it's OK for gay men to deny their true selves, as if by marrying, these men were not also including another party in their, for lack of a better term, mishegoss.