There’s another key element to both my recent post on marriage, and my recent post on homosexuality, that I haven’t raised in the blog yet–I think. (I have been known to repeat myself, particularly when I’m fretting or impassioned about something, as I am about the way in which we speak about homosexuality in the Church.)

It’s not even particularly theological.

One of the troubles with many conversations about homosexuality is that the conversation is reduced to sex.

This tendency shows forth in a variety of ways: the previous ELCA policy which allowed gays and lesbians to be pastors as long as they weren’t in a relationship; the notion that homosexuality is sinful and must not “be acted upon;” the idea that one can “love the sinner but hate the sin,” the sin being, of course, physical intimacy.

Obviously, what makes the difference between “just friends” and “boyfriend/girlfriend/lovers/spouses” (gosh, that sounds jr. high-ish) is that there is some level of touch. Sexuality is part of the equation. And clearly sexual expression is to be taken seriously.

But I think that it is also true that touch, even something as simple as a gentle pat on the back, or sitting with arms touching each other on the couch watching a game, has some element of sexual intimacy to it. And I believe even tame sexual expression to be a natural and healthy demonstration of mutuality, of trust, of shared experiences, of affection, or of love. And aren’t even more intimate expressions of love binding and celebratory of the gift of relationship?

So, in addition to coming to a different theological conclusion than those who oppose the recent ELCA decision, there’s another dimension of my position:

I fear that forced celibacy translates into forced isolation.

I fear that to forbid touch is to encourage loneliness, despair, and alienation.

I fear that this is a terribly cruel prohibition for those who are not called to celibacy.

I fear that when gays and lesbians are told that “they can be gay” but “they may not show it,” gays and lesbians are implicitly being told that they are not allowed even the most mundane, common, garden-variety joys of companionship.

Healthy relationships manifest healthy touch.

So while obviously the notion of healthy sexuality must be addressed in the context of the conversation, it ought not be the conversation.

I doubt that the fundamental cornerstone of committed homosexual relationships is really sex per se…any more than it is amongst heterosexual counterparts.

Instead, I venture to throw out there that the fundamental cornerstone of committed homosexual relationships is cooking together, traveling together, balancing the checkbook together, going to movies together, enjoying a sunset together, buying a new tomato plant together, building a deck together…and that out of these shared experiences comes a desire to share touch.

Here and here are the links to the two blogs in question. Have at those and this one if you wish!

And then on to Exodus, and some blogs on creation in preparation for an upcoming public forum I’ve been invited to participate in on environmental stewardship.