Inviolable: How Love Dignifies and Protects Same-Sex Friendship
in-vi-o-la-ble: ‘never to be broken, infringed, or dishonored’, from the Latin ‘violare’, source word for ‘violate’ and ‘violence’ as well.
We are inundated by stories—of splashy celebs and less glamorous friends (often family members)—who sexualize same-gender friendships. No longer a shameful secret, we now applaud such a shift as an act of integrity (‘being true to you’) or an expansion of one’s sexual palate (‘bon courage’). Nobody speaks of how sex violates the essence of same-sex friendship. ‘Although sex consummates the friendship of wife and husband, it perverts the friendship of comrades,’ writes J. Budziszewski in his excellent book on natural law, ‘What We Can’t Not Know.’
Every homosexual act annihilates natural boundaries. It burns off another layer of the moral ozone, thus easing the way for one’s neighbor to do likewise.
How can I say that? Because I take seriously what ‘natural’ means. Written into the DNA of every man and woman is the orientation to dignify the other gender’s essence. We do this by reserving sex for committed male/female unions in which the purpose of sexuality—children—is realized and guarded by a man and woman doing the heavy-lifting of parenting together. Such a commitment to well-boundaried sexual expression guards the dignity of everyone, especially women and children.
That longing in us to do right is deeper than our disordered desires. The temptation to sex up (let’s not call it love) the one you’re with in the ardent moment is present for many of us. I include myself here and am no longer shocked by unexpected urges. I stay true to what is natural. ‘A natural inclination is not whatever I happen to desire…the point of the adjective “natural” is to point to design’ (‘What We…’ p. 106).
Jesus frees me to live out His design. He gives me all I need to stay true to those I love the most—my wife and kids and grandkids and the honor I owe my family-of-origin. Love commands an inviolable commitment to their good.
As a person with a vulnerability to same-sex desires, I need the reinforcement of solid same-sex friendships to love and lead a family well. I need brothers, not lovers. Sexualizing friendship quenches the fire I need to stay true to natural desires. Lust breaks, infringes upon, and dishonors friends.
Love, on the other hand, does no violence to a beloved friend. Love commands that comrades remain comrades, an inviolable pledge that guards and dignifies the very essence of friendship.
‘Moral questions have to do with the rightness and or wrongness of my actions, regardless of the source or strength of my desires. Whatever I may attribute to my genes, my parents, or to my culture, none of these can force me, at the crucial moment, to turn a glance into a fantasy, or a fantasy into a flirtation, or a flirtation into a sexual act. At that moment my will is involved, and precisely such moments define my obedience and growth as a Christian.’ Thomas Schmidt