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Q&A: Asexuality and religion

Q: What does religion say about asexuality? Aren't you supposed to get married and have children?

A: My interpretation: God made people of all different sorts, to do all kinds of different things. Everyone's got a purpose, an ideal self that they're striving toward. The most important part of Christianity is loving God and loving others; and who we are and how we're made affects how we express that. If you're asexual/aromantic, then you're probably not getting married, and you're going to direct your energy toward helping others in some way that doesn't involve romance--which is what Paul did; as he says, since he didn't marry, he found that he had more time for his traveling and writing. If you're asexual but you do want platonic romance, then you want to meet someone and show love to that person and to whatever family you assemble together. Either one is fine.

Sometimes I think people assume that God is smaller than he actually is--like he somehow accidentally made some people asexual, and doesn't quite know what to do with them. And I think, "Really? Come on, does omniscient not mean anything to you?"

The world takes lots of different kinds of people, including both the people who dedicate themselves to a family, the people who don't. Single people are more flexible, but couples can support each other. There are benefits to either, and God can use either arrangement. If he made you asexual, then there'll be a job for you to do that is best done by someone who's asexual. Honestly, I'm pretty sure at least part of why God made me asexual was to make me think about why it's not okay to treat gay people like crap, because my entire family is homophobic and I might never have thought about it if I hadn't had a minority sexuality myself.

The point of religion isn't reading a bunch of do's and don'ts and living your life as though you're checking off items on some kind of cosmic to-do list. That's silly. The do's-and-don'ts approach might be attractive to some people because they feel like there ought to be a formula to life, that everything should be concrete and that life shouldn't be fuzzy or messy. Well, life IS fuzzy and messy and unpredictable and there are lots of things that you can't predict and can't pin down exactly. You can never have a perfect list of rules. A list of rules can help and it can be a good guide. But the rules can't be a straitjacket. You have to go back to the basics, and extrapolate from that: Love God, love each other.

Some people lose that goal among all the rules--they forget that any rule we ever made is meant to help us get to the goal, not as an end in itself. If you read the Gospels, you see Jesus constantly taking people to task for focusing on the rules and forgetting that the point is to love each other. I don't mean mushy romantic love; I mean sincerely desiring good things for another person. I guess "altruism" is probably a good modern word for it. There's this one bit where Jesus is explaining that helping even (perhaps especially) the lowest-status, most vulnerable people is how you serve God. Which is exactly the point: You're supposed to dump status and formality and appearances, and forget anything but "The world sucks. How do I make it suck less?"

I don't mean being a doormat or a hippy, either. Letting people walk all over you doesn't do them any favors. Sometimes you have to be pretty tough.

Anyway, there's that. Asexual people are part of the world and there are definite advantages to being unattached. Asexuality is like any other part of your personality and your circumstances--there are some things that it makes easier, and some things that it makes harder. And I guess maybe the world needs our perspective, too; because of course physical love can draw people closer together, but without asexuals, maybe it wouldn't be as clear that there's more to romance than sex.

Comments

For the longest time I felt I was asexual. I remember middle school and how hormones made people crazy in the head. Friends would rave about this cute boy and that, or this cute girl or that and I didn't have any interest.

Turns out I was half-right. There's another sexuality called demisexual which means you do not have the immediate attraction response upon meeting someone. However, when you fall in love (usually gender doesn't matter, but this can vary), all bets are off.

It was a nice surprise that God gave me since I'd always had a yearning to be with someone. However, I was so cynical of this that in 5th grade I determined that if I didn't marry by the age of 25 I would become a nun and I told God so. XD As a precaution from breaking this promise, I also determined that I would pierce my ears upon finding 'The One'. That would do two things.

1) I really hate jewelry you see. Rings are not my thing, and I figured earrings would suffice as a symbol of my marriage (though it's not a culturally seen symbol, judging by the number of guys who approach me and don't realize I'm married. Word spreads fast though.)

2) I hate needles. I already knew I wouldn't use a needle-gun because those things are filled with bacteria after use and the person doing it could easily make the earrings uneven.

:D
Yup, I have heard about the concept of being demisexual, and it makes sense to me. If you can only be attracted to people you're in love with, you might well assume asexual before you fall in love for the first time.

Which reminds me: I really should recommend AVEN (asexuality.org) as a resource for the curious and questioning. They have some FAQs and a forum. This post was actually inspired by a question somebody asked on their forum.
It was actually that very site that helped me to narrow down my sexuality.

(Anonymous)

irony

Off the subject, but the ad that came up with this post was "Looking for love? Try dating online." That's pretty funny.

Re: irony

I've yet to see an asexual dating site... but, y'know, with us being maybe one percent of the population, and many of those being a-romantics who don't want to date at all, I guess that might be one of the ways to overcome the small dating pool issue. :P