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Thread: Mixed Orientation Marriages

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    Senior Member Bill Evans's Avatar

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    Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Perhaps this is a spin-off of the Wesleyan View of Homosexuality thread. I have recently encountered a married couple seeking direction regarding what their future might look like given the fact that one is heterosexual and the other is coming out to acknowledge a same sex attraction. I will admit this is a new "concept" for me to provide pastoral care. I am not even sure of what kind of questions to ask. Therefore, I would be interested in pastoral care feedback.
    Thanks Mike Schutz, David Troxler, David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Craig Laughlin's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    I know a good number of these. All the ones I know are people in the church. They are faithfully trying to live out God's will for thier lives, believing that the practice of homosexual sex is not God's will. So mostly I ask, how can I help you?
    It is not enough to be right, you have to be like Jesus.

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    Senior Member Bill Evans's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Laughlin View Post
    I know a good number of these. All the ones I know are people in the church. They are faithfully trying to live out God's will for thier lives, believing that the practice of homosexual sex is not God's will. So mostly I ask, how can I help you?
    Thanks Craig! This couple is also a part of the church. I think the thing that would help them most is an opportunity to hear how others are "successfully" managing their personal needs while continuing to honor the covenant they have made in their marriage. The individual with the same sex attraction declare they have not acted on their attraction. They are trying to figureout what the future of their marriage will look like.

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    Senior Member Mike Schutz's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    I know several such couples, who have shared with me this dynamic. I'm sure I know many more who have not shared.

    In every case that I know, the couples have told me they will not participate in any relationships outside the marriage, treating the bisexual partner's attraction as similar to an opposite sex attraction - to be admitted to their partner but not pursued. I am sure this is a challenge, but not beyond the power of the Holy Spirit to empower and sustain.

    I ask them the same question Craig asks - "How can I help?"

    As a pastor, my goal is always to help folks live up to their baptism, to live in God's love and grace, to pursue holiness, and to keep their promises.
    "Fully embracing the Gospel, fully engaging the world"

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    Senior Member Rich Schmidt's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Schutz View Post
    In every case that I know, the couples have told me they will not participate in any relationships outside the marriage, treating the bisexual partner's attraction as similar to an opposite sex attraction - to be admitted to their partner but not pursued.
    I have zero pastoral experience with this so far. But I'd think this commitment would be easier for a person to fulfill who is bisexual (as you described) than for a person who is exclusively same-sex attracted (and therefore not attracted or only minimally attracted to their spouse, sexually). Regardless, it can be done, as evidenced by the couples you and Craig are pastoring.

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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Evans View Post
    Thanks Craig! This couple is also a part of the church. I think the thing that would help them most is an opportunity to hear how others are "successfully" managing their personal needs while continuing to honor the covenant they have made in their marriage. The individual with the same sex attraction declare they have not acted on their attraction. They are trying to figureout what the future of their marriage will look like.
    I don't know if this will be helpful or not. I find a lot of hope and good advice in this fellows story, a little different, this is a mixed orientation marriage with eyes wide open going into it.

    http://www.joshweed.com/2012/06/club...me-out-of.html

    Also, while I'm not a Stanley Haerwas fan, I think that his way of talking about marriage could possibly be helpful.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

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    Thanks Rich Schmidt, Bill Evans, David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Doug Ward's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Evans View Post
    Perhaps this is a spin-off of the Wesleyan View of Homosexuality thread. I have recently encountered a married couple seeking direction regarding what their future might look like given the fact that one is heterosexual and the other is coming out to acknowledge a same sex attraction. I will admit this is a new "concept" for me to provide pastoral care. I am not even sure of what kind of questions to ask. Therefore, I would be interested in pastoral care feedback.
    My sense is that this arrangement is not new at all. In previous times there was the couple who had a different dynamic than others, but lived with this arrangement, especially in a culture that frowned upon other options. Today we are much wiser than before. We now declare to people that the highest good is pursuing whatever one naturally feels. SO it is better to pursue our sexual proclivities, at least that way we are being authentic. This illustrates the wisdom and value of holding to values outside of whatever I feel.

    I like this pursuit, and the work some of you are doing in navigating these waters. I have a few random thoughts here.

    1. I can see there might be cases where sharing with the partner might be a destructive action. Perhaps there might be cases where the partner might be better to keep it quiet.
    2. I think we also need to be careful to not create an environment where one partner feels undue "pressure" to remain in a marriage that ceases to demonstrate love and faithfulness to the other party. We used to do that in previous years to people caught in abusive situations, I think we need to remember the other party in this as well.
    3. The kids, if any, are always paramount here. What is best for them? In many cases we lose this sense as the focus goes to the person who expresses same-sex attraction. The focus should be elsewhere.
    On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.
    Thanks David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Doug Ward's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Chabot View Post
    I don't know if this will be helpful or not. I find a lot of hope and good advice in this fellows story, a little different, this is a mixed orientation marriage with eyes wide open going into it.

    http://www.joshweed.com/2012/06/club...me-out-of.html

    Also, while I'm not a Stanley Haerwas fan, I think that his way of talking about marriage could possibly be helpful.
    That is a profoundly good article. Thanks.
    On second thought, let's not go to Camelot. It is a silly place.
    Thanks Jim Chabot, Glenn Messer - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Glenn Messer's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    I thought the article was good. It got me to thinking about something else. I think there is a sense in which this same dynamic plays out in heterosexual relationships.

    I once heard someone say, "You can't marry every girl (boy) you feel sorry for." I didn't quite understand it because I never wanted to marry anyone because I felt sorry for them. However, I could understand if they had said you can't marry every pretty girl (handsome boy) you meet. I've met a lot of pretty girls -- and luckily married one of them. If a relationship was based solely on physical attractiveness then I could have fallen in love with a 1000 girls, but it doesn't work that way. Mind you, physical attraction does play a role. I never heard a man exclaim to his friends, "See that girl over there? She's the ugliest girl I've ever seen. I think I'll marry her!" However, most of us realize that there are other things that are as important, if not more so, than physical beauty and we weigh the value of those things when we fall in love. That doesn't keep us from recognizing and appreciating physical beauty. I'm old, bald headed, and walk slower than I used to, but I'm not blind. I still know a pretty woman when I see one. And I see lots of them. I used to tell my son and his friends that every woman was a pretty woman, but to each individual some are prettier than others.

    I guess where I want to go with this is to say that men and women (it happens both ways) might be physically (sexually) drawn to a number of people we find attractive, but at some point we make a choice. Maturity does not choose based only on sexual desire. We weigh a number of different things and realize (believe) that the person we choose to love is the person who will add the greatest value to our life. That's what Weed (man in the article) did. In a sense, that's what we all do. We try to choose the person who will be the best partner in laying a foundation for a fulfilling life. Even when we are old, beauty can stir feelings of sexual desire (Hey, we were created to respond that way!), but the mature person inside of us chooses to be loyal to that one who really is our 'soul mate' ---- not because they were 'meant' to be our soul mate, but because they chose to be our soul mate.

    When I had the honor of conducting my sister's funeral, we started the service with a slide photo presentation that chronicled the years of her life. When it concluded I publicly said to my brother-in-law that I understood why he choose her to be his wife; she was a pretty girl. His public response was, "She was more beautiful at the end of her life than she was in her youth!" By the standards of this world, few would have agreed, but for him it was 1000% true.
    Thanks Jim Chabot, Bob Hunter, David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Quote Originally Posted by Glenn Messer View Post
    I thought the article was good. It got me to thinking about something else. I think there is a sense in which this same dynamic plays out in heterosexual relationships.

    I once heard someone say, "You can't marry every girl (boy) you feel sorry for." I didn't quite understand it because I never wanted to marry anyone because I felt sorry for them. However, I could understand if they had said you can't marry every pretty girl (handsome boy) you meet. I've met a lot of pretty girls -- and luckily married one of them. If a relationship was based solely on physical attractiveness then I could have fallen in love with a 1000 girls, but it doesn't work that way. Mind you, physical attraction does play a role. I never heard a man exclaim to his friends, "See that girl over there? She's the ugliest girl I've ever seen. I think I'll marry her!" However, most of us realize that there are other things that are as important, if not more so, than physical beauty and we weigh the value of those things when we fall in love. That doesn't keep us from recognizing and appreciating physical beauty. I'm old, bald headed, and walk slower than I used to, but I'm not blind. I still know a pretty woman when I see one. And I see lots of them. I used to tell my son and his friends that every woman was a pretty woman, but to each individual some are prettier than others.

    I guess where I want to go with this is to say that men and women (it happens both ways) might be physically (sexually) drawn to a number of people we find attractive, but at some point we make a choice. Maturity does not choose based only on sexual desire. We weigh a number of different things and realize (believe) that the person we choose to love is the person who will add the greatest value to our life. That's what Weed (man in the article) did. In a sense, that's what we all do. We try to choose the person who will be the best partner in laying a foundation for a fulfilling life. Even when we are old, beauty can stir feelings of sexual desire (Hey, we were created to respond that way!), but the mature person inside of us chooses to be loyal to that one who really is our 'soul mate' ---- not because they were 'meant' to be our soul mate, but because they chose to be our soul mate.

    When I had the honor of conducting my sister's funeral, we started the service with a slide photo presentation that chronicled the years of her life. When it concluded I publicly said to my brother-in-law that I understood why he choose her to be his wife; she was a pretty girl. His public response was, "She was more beautiful at the end of her life than she was in her youth!" By the standards of this world, few would have agreed, but for him it was 1000% true.
    That is what I got from the article as well Glenn. I'm finding a lot of affinity for the mindset that Josh represents, and it is helping me to be a better husband, and a happier more fulfilled one as well.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor

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    Host Book, Movie & GA forums Ryan Scott's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    I'm not sure how this might apply, but I was thinking that there are lots of marriages where one partner isn't particularly attracted to the other sexually and they still manage to make things work - hopefully through good communication and genuine love. If this couple has been married for a while, they've already "been making it work;" I imagine it would be a little easier with everything on the table.
    ...just my $.02.
    Thanks Rich Schmidt, Jim Chabot, Glenn Messer - "thanks" for this post

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    Senior Member Billy Cox's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan Scott View Post
    I'm not sure how this might apply, but I was thinking that there are lots of marriages where one partner isn't particularly attracted to the other sexually and they still manage to make things work - hopefully through good communication and genuine love. If this couple has been married for a while, they've already "been making it work;" I imagine it would be a little easier with everything on the table.
    Do you find it odd at all that proponents of so-called traditional marriage are so eager to accept the validity of mixed orientation marriages - an arrangement very very far from traditional?

    Well, maybe it's not so odd, as these same proponents are okay with a couple who is functionally divorced but still living together and still legally married. A mixed orientation looks traditional on the outside, and outward appearance is what man cares about after all.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us wthout end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C.S. Lewis

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    Senior Member Emiko Cothran's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Hmmm...

    I chose to marry you but am not longer attracted to you because:

    I now only like men
    You got fat (I only like thin women)
    You were in a car accident and are now paraplegic (I only like able bodied women)
    You were in a fire and your skin looks melted (I only like unscarred women)
    You got old and saggy (I only like young women)

    I would rather be in a marriage with iron strong love and commitment but without physical attraction
    Then a marriage full of attraction and lust but no love and commitment.

    If someone says "I no longer find you attractive because X." And that is the foundation of your marriage, you're not in a safe relationship and it isn't really marriage.

    Marriage needs to be UNCONDITIONAL love, like the love I feel for my daughter. A love nothing can break or end, whether you still find the other person SEXY or not.

    I would want to marry someone for who that doesn't matter. Who loves ME no matter what, forever. Someone who would work through our differences and find a way to make eachother happy.

    I would sooner be in a platonic marriage to my platonic best friend then the most sexy, passionate man I could imagine, who would lose interest when I no longer seemed "sexy" to him.
    Thanks Jim Chabot, Glenn Messer, David Graham - "thanks" for this post

  14. #14
    Senior Member Jim Chabot's Avatar

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    Re: Mixed Orientation Marriages

    Quote Originally Posted by Emiko Cothran View Post
    Hmmm...

    I chose to marry you but am not longer attracted to you because:

    I now only like men
    You got fat (I only like thin women)
    You were in a car accident and are now paraplegic (I only like able bodied women)
    You were in a fire and your skin looks melted (I only like unscarred women)
    You got old and saggy (I only like young women)

    I would rather be in a marriage with iron strong love and commitment but without physical attraction
    Then a marriage full of attraction and lust but no love and commitment.

    If someone says "I no longer find you attractive because X." And that is the foundation of your marriage, you're not in a safe relationship and it isn't really marriage.

    Marriage needs to be UNCONDITIONAL love, like the love I feel for my daughter. A love nothing can break or end, whether you still find the other person SEXY or not.

    I would want to marry someone for who that doesn't matter. Who loves ME no matter what, forever. Someone who would work through our differences and find a way to make eachother happy.

    I would sooner be in a platonic marriage to my platonic best friend then the most sexy, passionate man I could imagine, who would lose interest when I no longer seemed "sexy" to him.
    Amen! We don't marry a body, we marry a person. Sure sex is great, and an attractive mate is a bonus, but we miss out on real marriage when we miss the life of unconditional love and commitment to one another.

    If you get the chance, take the time to read Josh Weed's article that I posted to. He makes the case for sex being better when it is based upon love instead of lust, and he is right.
    -Jim

    To know and to serve God, of course, is why we're here, a clear truth, that, like the nose on your face, is near at hand and easily discernible but can make you dizzy if you try to focus on it hard. But a little faith will see you through.

    Garrison Keillor
    Thanks Glenn Messer, David Graham - "thanks" for this post

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