A reader writes in response to Matt in VA’s post about the “Wild West” of male sexual desire, and today’s post about the wife and mother tossed aside when her husband decided he was a woman. The reader (who gave me permission to use this) says:
My family recently learned that my father-in-law, after years of feeling same-sex attraction, had escalated what had previously a pornography based issue into a series of short-term, internet-assisted, semi-anonymous, meet ups that had been going on for some time. The news couldn’t have come as more of a shock to us; prior to the revelation I would have described the family situation as one as close to what I would consider an ideal, loving, healthy one. The one upside in having so many aspects of one’s foundation shattered like this is that the reason we became aware of it was because my father-in-law came to us in a spirit of repentance, honesty and contrition, rather than having him be found out by accident or by someone else.
Unrestrained male sexual desire nearly destroyed my family (to be quite honest, it still might as we’re just going through the early stages of what it means for the rest of us to forgive him and for what he needs to do to come to grips with what he faces), and I firmly believe Matt is right about how he describes its effects on the wider culture. My wife and mother-in-law have had a harder time with coming to grips of how this could have happened than I have, not because I can relate to his particular attraction, but because if I ask myself the question “How would I react if the only real limitations on acting out my sexual desires were those limitations I had to erect on my own?”, the answer frankly terrifies me (as I imagine it would most men who are being honest with themselves).
Thankfully, unlike Jay/Joy in the other shared article, whose desires and personal struggles were met with a cheerleading section and calls to “be true to himself”, my father-in-law has been receiving help that challenges him to be honest but in a way that might help him to change his behavior and keep together the family he built over 30 years. Before and during the worst of what he went through, he experienced extreme stress and burnout that resulted in changing jobs and moving to a new city; many modern psychologists (both professional and armchair) would probably have told him that it was due to his externally presenting face not lining up with what he was dealing with internally, and the way to deal with it would have been to “come-out” with his true self and to neglect the bigots (his friends and family) who would have had a problem with it. While I agree there was a problem cause by his external/internal lives not being in harmony, to claim his internal self is his true self that he needs to be given priority is pure idiocracy, and it would have been a recipe for selfishness and pain. He confessed that he had trouble connecting with his new granddaughter at the time, not because he was living a lie, but because he was too focused on the next message he would share with some stranger.
I don’t know where my sharing goes from here, other than the continual removal of any and all limits to sexuality and a glorification of individual desires frustrates and frightens me. Thankfully our religious tradition (Evangelical) hasn’t fully bought in, and he was able to get a countering message from the sources he turned to there; for how much longer that’s the case God only knows. Thankfully he’s able to find psychological help that doesn’t just affirm his desires and can help him act in healthier ways; with the increased ban on “conversion therapy” (or anything that smells like it), how much longer will professionals be able to offer this type of service before the government or their governing bodies cracks down (I and everyone involved don’t consider the help he’s getting to be conversion therapy, changing his sexual attraction away from bisexuality isn’t the point, and whether that’s even possible I personally doubt. But given the way progressives discuss anyone not fully affirming and supportive, and the Law of Merited Impossibility, professional therapy to help people control and manage same-sex activities/attraction will probably be challenged if it is not being done already).
I see no peace on the horizon between the multitudes who would criticize my family for not being supportive of who he “really is”, “don’t you want him to be happy?”, “the real problem is repressed desires”, “I mean, I feel bad for your Mom getting cheated on, but really everyone will be better off if he’s true to himself” and those who say “there are things in life more important that how you decide to orgasm and our society needs to recognize that”. We have no shared conception of what human beings are, what our sexuality is for, and how to talk about it productively; this state of affairs will only last for so long, and in the meantime many people will be hurt.