I’d really like to get married - would that be wise?
For some Christians facing same-sex temptations, they are strongly drawn to being married to someone of the opposite sex. This will be a wonderful thing for some to pursue but for others it will be unwise. This article seeks to share points of guidance for reflection, discussion and prayer.
Pursuit of marriage should not just be a reaction to disillusionment with singleness. Godly intimacy and close friendship should also be available in our church communities for all of us, whether married or single. Christians should work hard at making churches welcoming, encouraging communities for single people, where no one is left isolated and alone. Jesus, Anna the Prophetess, John the Baptist and Paul were all single. They made the most of their single status in terms of their devoted service to God, as well as in building deep relationships with fellow believers.
But if you genuinely desire marriage, then that is a good thing, providing you understand what it involves. Marriage is a God-given committed relationship (Gen 2:23-24) that can offer companionship, love, commitment, sexual expression and the possibility of procreation. However, it also involves compromise, sharing and split loyalties (see 1 Cor 7:32-35). Marriage is more than just a mutually beneficial relationship between two people - stable marriages provide safe environments for raising children as well as contributing to a healthy society. Ultimately, though, biblical marriage is intended to be a faithful covenant that reflects the committed love of God to His people (Ephesians 5:25-33).
For the Christian with same-sex attractions who desires to be married to someone of the opposite sex (indeed, the advice below is relevant to anyone desiring marriage) here are some points of guidance:
- Do not assume that getting married is going to change your general pattern of sexual desire! Your desires may or may not change over time, but make your decision on the assumption that your pattern of attraction will remain as it is now.
- Address your sexual purity and any addictive behaviours before getting married. Marriage is not going to resolve your issues with pornography, masturbation and sexual fantasies. Indeed, it will just involve another person in the consequent pain. However, a spouse could be a good person with whom to share your vulnerabilities and provide ongoing support and accountability.
- Under God, getting married is not a right. Many Christians never find a suitable spouse, for various reasons, sometimes leading to disappointment. However, God can always use such disappointments for good (Rom 8:28), and there are many TFT members who can give testimony of how they have become thankful for their struggles, as they see how God has used them to help them mature spiritually.
- Reflect on your motivations for desiring marriage. Be careful if your motivations result from pressure applied by friends/family/church/society. Would you primarily be using the other person to acquire children or companionship or security in old age? These are good things in themselves, but marriage needs to be firstly about pursuing a sacrificial loving committed relationship (Eph 5:25), not just a means of achieving something else.
- Get a realistic view of marriage. Rather than getting your impressions from social media or Hollywood, ask married friends to share honestly about the difficulties they experience as well as the benefits.
- Be honest with any potential future spouse quite early in your relationship with him/her. You won’t want your same-sex attraction to be the first thing you tell them, but it wouldn’t be fair to keep it unmentioned for many months either. Give the other person time to digest what you share and be willing to answer their questions without being defensive. However, there’s no need to be ashamed or apologetic about your attractions. The other person will need to be a Christian (eg 1 Cor 7:39) and should be able to keep your enduring same-sex attractions in perspective, recognising that he/she also brings issues to the marriage. Ongoing communication and openness will be key to the success of the marriage.
- Don’t get married with the intention of it being a celibate marriage purely for companionship: the biblical pattern for marriage is for it to be a sexual union (see Gen 2:24 and 1 Cor 7:3-5) and sexual union is part of what binds together a husband and wife. Be honest with yourself about whether you do have some romantic attraction towards a potential future spouse and give yourself permission for these feelings to develop. Sexual arousal doesn’t have to be a purely visual response to the other person’s physical beauty: it may develop out of an emotional connection or it could be a physical response to a time of intimacy. The great fear is often "will I be able to have sex?" Actually, many engaged couples (same sex attracted or not) who are refraining from sex until marriage have fears about the sexual side of their marriage, and many married couples struggle with it until they develop trust and understanding.
- However, don’t get the sexual side of marriage out of proportion. You will probably only spend a small amount of your married life together having sex! Look at all the other areas of compatibility and character: shared faith, spiritual disciplines and church; money; work; children; ambitions; shared interests/values etc. Read a good Christian book on marriage.
- Pray for wisdom (James 1:5-8) and seek advice from godly and experienced Christians, both married and single.
You may find it helpful to work through some of the points above with one of the staff or volunteers within TFT: some of them have enduring same-sex feelings and yet enjoy healthy marriages.
Resources for further study
Please note that any external resources below are intended to complement the main answer given above and may not entirely match TFT's position.