shaneb

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About shaneb

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  • Birthday 05/07/1975

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    Canada
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    I teach university math. I'm gay. Married. Christian. I like music, board games, movies, cooking....

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  1. I wrote the following article for another WTM community that I am a part of that is for gay Christians. However I think most of it applies even if you aren't gay or Christian. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> We live in a culture that is very sex obsessed. Sex is used to sell everything from cars to beer to deodorant. It is a major theme in many movies and TV shows. It is talked about in the locker room, over coffee, in magazines in the check-out aisle and everywhere on the Internet. Romantic relationships are often evaluated by the quality of sex which is a part of them. People are made to feel good or bad about themselves based on their performances in bed. Status is attributed to people based on their sexiness or their sexual prowess. The idea of waiting until marriage flies in the face of our culture's view of sex. It challenges the notion that sex is entertainment or something you can do to prove yourself. The belief in waiting until marriage for us Christians is often deeply motivated by our faith. I believe that it is part of God's intention for sexual activity and that it is right and healthy for a couple to wait until there is permanence in their relationship before they engage in sex. I have written about my theology of sex in other posts. However I want to identify some reasons that are sometimes in the background of our commitment to wait until marriage to have sex. At times, they are unconscious and sometimes they are hidden behind a moral commitment that allows us to act as if we are morally superior to others who don't share our beliefs. We may be disinterested in sex or afraid of it, which means that others in our society look down on us. And so by having a moral reason to abstain from sex keeps us from facing our fears and allows us to even feel righteous for it. Besides the problematic self-righteousness in this approach or the problem of a morality steeped in "my beliefs are better than yours" mentality, there are other worrisome aspects. If our commitment to WUM is motivated by one of these underlying reasons then there will be big challenges for us in our sex life once we are married. And because of our commitment to wait we are often not forced to face these issues and that may lead to a rough start to the sexual aspect of our marriage. Let me outline what I believe are some of the underlying issues and how we might choose to deal with them. Some of these have been part of my own experience and others are things that I have noticed in other individuals. My goal in raising these issues is not to condemn or make people feel guilty. I hope that this will be a catalyst for some good discussion and self reflection. I'm also not a psychologist nor a counsellor so if you think I'm way off base with some of these, tell me. I want to learn from the experiences of others. 1. Poor body image Sex is very intimate. It usually involves being naked with your partner. I know that there are some people who are scared of sex because they do not like their own body. It may be that they are overweight. It may be that they think that are too skinny. It may be that they are ashamed of the size or shape of their penis or their breasts or their vagina. Part of our culture's obsession with sex results in an obsession with certain body types. A guy's masculinity is measured by the size of his penis. A girl's attractiveness is rated on the size of her breasts. Magazines present pictures of models who are unrealistically skinny or over-the-top muscular. Body image is something that I struggle with. In school, I dreaded showering after gym class because I hated being naked around my peers. Even when home alone I have never really enjoyed sitting around in the nude. To be honest, I was very nervous about being naked with my husband. As I reflect on my own experience here are some suggestions to deal with this issue. First, I think that it's important for us to learn to love our bodies. It's important to realize that media and especially pornography do not give us an accurate view of the world. We are most likely comparing ourselves to an impossible standard. Second, I think it's great if we take charge of changing the things that we can change about our bodies. If we want to change our weight we may need to change our diet and our fitness level. I joined a gym for the first time this past year and it's been great to see changes in my body. Third, I think it's really important for a couple to talk about their body image issues with each other. Being honest with each other about your fears is helpful. And in my experience, waiting until marriage really helped soothe my fears. When I was naked with my husband for the first time I knew it was with a guy who loved me and had committed to spend his life with me. A lot of my fears melted away because sex was not about trying to impress him or win him over. Rather it was about the expression of our commitment to one another. There was something very beautiful in that for me and that continues to this day. 2. Poor self image This issue is really a more generalized version of body image. We may not like ourselves, our personality or our abilities. We may be socially awkward or have trouble connecting with other people. We may struggle with a lot of anxiety in life. As a result we may be scared of romantic relationships altogether. A healthy relationship involves being vulnerable and open with our partner. This may be really hard for us to do. Sometimes it may be easy to use the idea of waiting until marriage as a shield to protect us from facing these challenges. We may self-sabotage any chances at a relationship because it seems too scary. To deal with this issue I think the three suggestions I made above all apply. We need to change the things about ourselves that are possible to change, we need to love the parts of us that are unchangeable (and the parts of us that are in the process of change) and we need to talk about our fears honestly with our partner. For me it has been overwhelmingly healing to know that I have this guy in my life who loves me even though there are aspects of my life that I don't like and that I am trying to change. 3. Unresolved questions about the morality of gay sex For those of us who grew up in the conservative church we have probably heard many horrible things said about gay people and the things they do in the bedroom. We were made to believe that gay sex is disgusting, perverted and sinful. As we work through the process of reconciling our faith and sexuality it can be hard to leave those messages behind. We may reach a place where we become comfortable with our attractions to those of the same sex. And we may enjoy the romantic side of a same-sex relationship. However it can happen that we continue to have a lot of guilt about our sexual desires. In addition, I think many of us have struggled with pornography. As a result, sex becomes associated with something for which we feel very guilty. Pornography does not grow good things in us and that can then be transferred to our feelings about sex in general. Rather than facing our guilt and moral questions about same-sex sexual activity it can be easier to hide behind the idea of waiting until marriage. It allows us to delay the working through of our moral questions. I strongly recommend facing your fears and doubts about these moral questions. Don't push them aside. Talk about them with other gay Christians. Hear the stories of gay Christians you know who are already in long-term relationships. But most importantly I think it's good to talk about your doubts with God. He's not threatened by your questions or your doubts. To be honest, he knows your thoughts better than you do. If I'm honest, even as a married man I still have my moments where I have doubts. They are not very often at all but in those moments I have to push into what I know of God and to trust that he is leading me. 4. Sexual trauma I don't feel qualified at all to write about the experience of sexual abuse victims. It is so sad that something that God created to unite two individuals could be used to totally destroy someone. Rape and child abuse are horrible, horrible things. There may be some less severe forms of sexual trauma where someone was in a relationship where sex was used to manipulate and control. Or maybe sex was entered into naively and then your heart was broken as the person didn't treat sex the same way that you did. I have not lived through a situation like this but I am can see now how the challenging thing for many of these individuals is that sex is now associated with something awful. I'm sure it is very hard for these people to be able to put the past behind them and to be able to open themselves up to a new potential partner. I'm sure in most cases, it would be best to seek out the help of a trained counsellor, someone to help you work through the pain so that you are able to be open to the possibility of a future relationship. When I was going through my coming out process I saw a counsellor and I found it very helpful. I'm sure that dealing with more traumatic experiences would also benefit from counselling. Talking through this kind of trauma with a potential partner is also very difficult. However I am sure that it is a necessary thing as a couple prepares to be sexually involved one day. I'm sure this isn't something you want to bring up the first time you have sex. Of course, it's not first date conversation material but as you grow closer and closer to your partner and as trust is built, you will hopefully be able to talk about some of these difficult things. 5. A low sex drive or disinterest in sex It's a fact that sexual drive is a spectrum. There are some people who would like to have sex multiple times per day. There are others who could go weeks without sex. And there are even asexual individuals who aren't really interested in sex at all. If a couple is choosing to wait until marriage then these differences in sex drive may be difficult to identify. One of you may be fighting your sexual drive all the time while the other one may not face much of a struggle at all. Since so much advertising and media is driven by sex it can seem that the norm is to have a high sex drive. Our consumerist cultures thrives on increasing appetite and therefore the pressure in our world is to have sex often. Often it is easier for those with lower drives to hide behind a belief of waiting until marriage so that they don't have to stand out as someone who is not all that interested in sex. I think the biggest thing we can do to address this situation is to acknowledge that sexual desire is on a continuum. You're not a freak if you have a low sex drive or aren't all that interested in sex. You should not feel ashamed for your sex drive. However if two partners have a very big difference in sex drive this will cause a lot of stress in the relationship. I think it's important for potential mates to honestly discuss their desires for sex. It can be helpful to talk about how often you engage in masturbation or how often you think about sex. Every couple will face the challenge of a difference in sex drives, it just depends on how great the difference is. I found it very helpful to realize that my husband and I were not alone in this situation but that this experience is pretty much universal for all couples. So what do you think about these issues that I have raised? Am I way off base? Are there other underlying reasons that need to be faced?
  2. A great sermon series

    I really liked this sermon series given by Matt Miofsky this past month at The Gathering United Methodist Church in St Louis. Definitely worth the listen!
  3. Well this thread has been totally derailed.
  4. I know you are trying to be gracious and supportive with this response and I appreciate that. I just want to point out that to most LGBTQ+ people this doesn't sound gracious at all. This statement still condemns our relationships as sinful. We all sin differently and I openly acknowledge that I sin but I don't believe that my marriage to my husband is one of those sins.
  5. I don't watch Survivor but it turns out that one of the couples on this season is waiting until marriage. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFYITzFCVWs
  6. Just American?

    I'm Canadian but I'm married to an American but we live in Canada.
  7. I watched "Desire of the Everlasting Hills." I feel that it was really more about people coming back to faith rather than about people figuring out their sexuality. Of course, since they all came back to traditional Catholic faith, coming back to faith meant giving up their sexual relationships. I have seen other movies that have a similar sequence of stories but the individuals that are being interviewed don't give up their intimate relationships. I would strongly recommend "For the Bible Tells Me So", "Seventh Gay Adventist" and "Through my Eyes" They all have a similar style to "Desire of the Everlasting Hills" but deal with gay Christians who find ways to integrate their faith and sexuality. (Unfortunately I couldn't find any free legitimate links to these documentaries. You may find some pirate links but I'm not going to post those here!) I am very happy that these three individuals have reconnected with God. I believe that is much more important than finding a romantic relationship. However, I don't believe that connecting with God requires that gay people be celibate and from my own life and from my many gay Christian friends I know that it is possible to have a deep relationship with God while at the same time to be in a same-sex relationship. Thanks for sharing the film, Jegsy. It was wonderfully shot and I enjoyed seeing how these people found peace with God.
  8. Jegsy, that was a wonderful post! Thank you so much for writing it. I know that we have butted heads in the past and I hope that my comments to you were not hurtful. i know that you are a woman who is deeply committed to your faith and to be honest I have noticed a difference in your tone since we started interacting. Thank you for your grace!
  9. Threads about same-sex relationships here seem to always degenerate into what feels like arguing. Is there any way to avoid this? I felt like the article I posted offered some good points about respect across the divide. If you are someone who believes that same-sex relationships are sinful, what is the best way that I, as someone who is in a same-sex relationship, can show love to you in a discussion about them? I struggle with that at times because I know that most straight people who condemn my relationship, are people who haven't really thought through things. Or they say things about gay people that just aren't true. Or they say things that are truely hurtful and I want to hurt them back. How can we elevate this conversation into one that brings life and encouragement to people?
  10. To tempt you to join in here's what one reader had to say about this book. "I agree with other reviewers that the title of the book is misleading (whether this is a reflection of crafty marketing or Rob Bell's uber-creative whimsy is debatable). This misnaming is unfortunate, because I think it confuses the reader (myself included) as to the overall goal of the book. However, a simple addition of a "/" renders the title more accurate: "Sex/God." As Bell emphasizes in his introduction, "This" (sexuality, intimacy, marriage,) is always about "That" (God and his loving relationship with humanity). When read this way, I think the book becomes more coherent and compelling. In fact, I think it is one of the most inspiring theological statements on love, marriage, and intimacy that I have read. Rather than the typical, predictable, shallow Christian answers to defend traditional marriage and sexual purity, Bell provides a sweeping vision of how our intimate relationships reflect the self-giving love of our Creator. Not only that, but our self-giving love for one other person actually helps to manifest God's love to many other people. Even the pain of a failed relationship reflects the pain God feels and the risk God takes by loving us humans. Bell challenges us to think of sex, intimacy, and marriage in the most holy and reverent - yet also in the most realistic and practical - of ways. Through all this, "Sex God" cleverly and somewhat subtly tells us as much about "God" as it does about "Sex." While we think we are reading about human relationships, we find ourselves learning about the Gospel - God's supreme love for us, manifest most explicitly in the sacrificial love of Jesus. "This" is really about "That." "Sex God" is biblically grounded, yet never in predictable ways. I always enjoy Bell's trademark usage of vivid cultural context. His exegesis on the early chapters of Genesis and the latter verses of Revelation were particularly interesting, and he provides new insights to many well known passages. I also appreciate Bell's concluding pages, which show sensitivity to people who are not married or dating without sounding patronizing. After spending an entire book extolling the Godly virtues of giving yourself wholly to another person, Bell reminds single people that, according to Jesus himself, they actually have a higher calling than the rest of us. And he also offers hope to people who have experienced failed and abusive relationships. Much more could be said here, but suffice it to say that I am very eager to share this book with both my teen child and the college students with whom I work. And I immediately assigned the book to a couple for our premarital counseling sessions. "Sex God" is that good."
  11. I am part of another online discussion board. A subgroup of that is for people who are WTM. One of the things that we have done in the past is to read books together and post our thoughts online. One of the books that we read together was "Sex God - Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality" by Rob Bell. Would anyone be willing to do that here? We would each read the book at post our thoughts about it. It is a Christian book and it is dealing with sex from a Christian perspective. I know that some people wouldn't be interested but I thought that maybe some of you would be. Here's a link to more information about the book: http://www.amazon.com/Sex-God-Exploring-Connections-Spirituality/dp/0062197231
  12. I can predict already those who will like this article and those who will hate it but I still think it's a good idea for us to think about how Christians can disagree in healthy ways. Although this article is about a Christian response to gay people I think it could apply to many different issues. http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2014/08/11/third-way-christians-gay-issues/
  13. What is Christian love?

    Love is something that I want to understand more. When I think of Christian love the following verse comes to mind. "This is how we know what love is, Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." 1 John 3:16 (The other great John 3:16 verse!) Self-sacrifice is at the heart of Christian love. I believe that if we were truly committed to this kind of love then many of the problems we have discussed here would fade away. We would be challenged to speak difficult words, even if others mocked us for it. However at the same time, we would give ourselves for those who were doing the mocking. We wouldn't be so concerned with winning arguments or making our point but rather we would pour out lives to bring goodness to other people. God, break through the selfishness in my own heart. Help me to lay down my life for you and for others. May my life be marked by that kind of love.
  14. Let me clarify my question. Let's say you are a single person who is feeling discouraged about being single and you come to me and share about how discouraged you are feeling. Would you rather hear "That's OK, I'm sure you will find someone" and other pieces of encouragement or would you rather like to be challenged to think about the positives of being single and things you may need to work on as a single person?
  15. I have many single friends who talk to me about their dating woes. At times I see rants on FB or on other social media where people share their difficulties with being single. At times I must admit that I don't know how to respond. I'm married and so I feel like anything I say will sound trite or condescending. Any advice? If you are single and feeling bad about it, how would you want your non-single friend to respond?