I was upbraided once in my girlfriend’s church when I was 25 for “too much PDA”, to quote the upbraider. “You two shouldn’t be touching like that if you’re not married!” Our crime? Holding hands, kissing each other, putting our arms around each other.
That got me thinking then, as it does now- almost everyone else I would go to church with, at any church I would go to, wouldn’t even care if I was married to the person with whom I would publicly display affection. Everywhere else I’ve gone, even as the youngest teenager, and even now with my wife (we’re so “legit” now!), this kind of physical expression of Love is tolerated, simply because I am “male” and my counterpart in the PDA was always “female” (whatever those terms mean- and I’m pretty sure all my partners were, and are, somehow, female!). I’ve now watched, through twenty years of churchwork, how even the youngest male/female teenage couples hold hands, put their arms around each other, and kiss each other; how this even happens with younger children, and people laugh and coo so innocently at how “cute” they are, and how the parents should just arrange the marriage right now!
Yes, everywhere I’ve gone, heterosexism is tolerated, encouraged, and honored. Now imagine if I came to church and held hands with, kissed, and put my arms around another “male” (I am male, as far as I know….). Imagine all those churchpeoples’ reactions if even the youngest teenagers, let alone the oldest adults, did the same thing and were of the same gender. Imagine how many of them react when a little boy kisses another little boy. When it comes to PDA, we churchpeople don’t check marital statuses much at the door (grand exceptions noted above in my experience), but we certainly are good at checking gender. I imagine such things, and cringe at the level of heterosexism that is enforced and expected in the place I’d think would be, and could be, much more tolerant.
So now I dream of a church where all people, no matter their sexuality, gender, marital status, are allowed to just BE the people that God calls them to be. A church that tolerates, encourages, laughs and coos so joyfully at every way all human beings show each other affection. Won’t it be nice when we have that?
Will you join me in making it happen? If you do, I promise to give you a kiss (as long as my wife doesn’t mind!)!