Just because a thing can’t be, doesn’t mean it’s not good.
Let me clarify. Imagine this. Boy meets girl: call them Dick and Sandra. Dick falls in love with Sandra. Dick marries Sandra.
Now Dick and Sandra both get ten years older. They are no longer as young as they were, and no longer as changeable. The selves they have by this time become, are more or less the selves that they’re always going to be. They’re reasonably content, but for whatever reason, the selves they’ve congealed into aren’t a very good match for each other. Oops.
At this point, inevitably, Dick meets Jane. Jane is a good match for Dick. Not just in a superficial way, either: they seem to have been made for each other, more than Dick and Sandra ever were. Dick complements Jane and Jane complements Dick. If Dick and Jane were together, they would probably improve each other, make each other holier, more fit for Heaven, and incidentally, more fit for earth, too.
And even though Dick and Sandra aren’t unhappy, exactly, Dick and Jane would be much happier. Together, they would probably make a more ideal marriage than Dick and Sandra ever will.
If nothing and nobody existed except for Dick and Jane, we could say truthfully that Dick and Jane ought to be together.
But Dick and Jane don’t exist in a vacuum.1 Things being what they are, if Dick decides to leave Sandra, it’s because he’s an asshole. Not because Sandra is a better match for him. She isn’t! Jane is! But, sorry bro, a vow is a vow. You didn’t stipulate, “Unless I meet someone better.”
But it’s not even just the vow. If Dick pursues Jane, he’ll be pursuing something that is objectively good; but he’ll be pursuing it at the expense of billion other objectively good things: his children’s welfare, his wife’s happiness, his own integrity, the integrity of Jane’s conscience, his reputation, Jane’s reputation, to name a few. And what generally happens, when you drop four good things to run after one other good thing, is that you lose all five –
or even vanish screaming into a misty crevasse — or maybe, what’s worse, you poison all five. It never ends well, no matter how fuzzy the feels when it begins.
It’s possible that the erotic/romantic union of two men is something like that. Maybe, somehow, in the abstract, unimaginably, it’s good! But not in this universe, or not at this time, or not while we are what we are. Maybe in the hereafter. Who knows?
But whether or not there will one day be a place for the erotic union of two men, the fact remains that, here and now, there is not. Here, now, for me, the decision to feed the eros I feel for Ryan will always be a bad decision. Maybe in the resurrection Dick gets to be with Jane. Or maybe in the Resurrection everybody gets to be with everybody, or nobody with nobody. Maybe, as a friend of mine once postulated, Heaven is one big orgy.
Then again, maybe maleness is such that my eros for Ryan is nothing but an illusion and a snare, something doomed from the very start to vanish in the light of reality like shadows before the sun. Maybe the convexity of the male body is an image of the convexity of the male soul (if there is such a thing as the male soul), and a man will never fit into a man the way a man fits into a woman, either in the body or out of it, either now or later.
If that’s the case, then any attempt to fit a man into a man is going to involve some distortion, some violence done to the personality.
How deep does gender go, anyway? St. Paul says that in Christ there is neither male nor female; and Christ himself says that in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage. But I can’t believe that in Heaven we’re all androgynous. Doesn’t the resurrection of the body mean that I will have a penis forever? Even, one day, a Glorified Penis?
I don’t know. I tend strongly towards the latter theory: that eros between men is intrinsically, and not only accidentally, consummationless; unfulfillable in principle, and therefore wrongheaded from the start. But I’ve got good and wise friends — I’m looking at you, Mr. Blanchard — whose experience and conclusions are different. That’s okay.
For me, this is mainly a matter of personal experience. When I give way to eros for a man, I feel less myself, not more. If I decide to gaze at Ryan as a man gazes at a woman, I will always feel like I am violating our friendship, and violating a part of my own masculinity besides. So I’m going to keep not doing it, until finally, if I’m right, the idea won’t even occur to me any more.
If I’m wrong, I’ve got a longer fight ahead of me than I thought. It’s a small price to pay for love.