Observations on Sex and Sin

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It was a tale of two weddings.

During a small gathering of friends and neighbors this morning, one couple, Laura and Adam, mentioned they were attending the wedding of Adam’s cousin, Jacob, later in the day. A “dry wedding” was their description. No alcohol and, by implication, boring. Their plan was to bring their own adult beverages and tailgate in the church parking lot as if the event was akin to a college football game on a clear Saturday afternoon. Religion in the South.

The groom, in his late 20’s, had struggled to find his vocation in life. But he had recently received a calling to enter the ministry. The bride was more goal-oriented. Being in her mid-30’s and unmarried, she anxiously sought a man with whom she could settle down and start a family. Within months of meeting, they were engaged and stand now only hours from the climax of their courtship.

Weddings are joyous events, of course, and no doubt this one will be as well in spite of being “dry,” but my neighbors had concerns. Jacob, they said, is gay—in denial to himself and closeted to others. “Dry” then became a metaphor for the potential of the marriage itself: one with at most a platonic love and one without depth in compatibility, emotion, or passion. The marriage could survive, but at what cost to the happiness and well-being of the newlyweds? Not to mention that of the children that they planned to bring into the world. In contrast, they mentioned Laura’s cousin, Matt, who was planning marriage in late May to his partner of 5 years. Both gay, both committed, and both with the full support of their families.

I don’t know either couple but compatibility, or the lack of, will be a significant determinant in the success of their respective unions. Compatibility in sexual orientation is the obvious factor in these two examples, but sexual compatibility is not limited to just orientation. It is found in the complimentary cognitive functions of Extraverted Sensing (Se) and Introverted Sensing (Si) in everyone regardless of orientation. General sexual compatibility is found where one partner uses Se and the other uses Si, and where these are found in a similar cognitive attitude within the Ego—Hero, Parent, Child or Inferior—of both individuals.

General compatibility in personality transcends, or is at least the foundation for life-enduring relationships. Two gay men can be incompatible in personality with no potential for a relationship though they both share the same orientation. Likewise, a man and a woman, one gay and one straight, can be fully compatible in personality such that a relationship is formed and maintained for years despite their differences in orientation. It’s possible and it happens.

So, is personality a predictor of orientation? Or is orientation a predictor of personality? These questions may persist, but in reality, personality and orientation are independent. Any personality type can be any orientation. That we know. But the prevalence of orientation within any given type is more subjective and difficult to assess for several reasons including, but not limited to, the following:

1. Questions remain regarding the origin of sexual orientation: nature, nurture, or both?
2. The totality of human sexual experience cannot be limited to a few labels or categories.
3. Individuals may be unaccepting of their own orientation.
4. Individuals may fear disclosure of their orientation even in a blind study or assessment.
5. Sexuality is dynamic over the course of life which presents challenges in statistical control.
6. Multiple and competing models of personality assessment exist.
7. Personality assessments can be static and biased, often yielding inaccurate results.

My interest lies not so much in the morality of various forms of sexual expression, or in their origins, or even in their statistical frequency within each personality type. Rather, I am concerned with the health and well-being of people generally, and an individual’s freedom to find love and compatibility with another. Frankly, regardless of whether sexual orientation is nature or nurture, those who see any form of human sexual expression other than heterosexuality as perverted, abnormal, or evil, will seek ways to destroy it. Who are we to judge who is worthy to love another and how?

Going back to the two weddings. I imagine Jacob himself, or certain members of his family, or the primary culture in which he grew up (religious and/or political) to be primarily “Guardian” or “SJ” in personality temperament. This temperament is concrete, affiliative, and systematic. It is characterized by a preference for safety, tradition, structure, and for doing things the way they “should be” done. Personality types with this temperament include ESTJ, ESFJ, ISTJ, and ISFJ.

In such an environment, an individual who is gay has little choice but to suppress their sexuality and deny it publicly in order to be accepted within their family or in society at large. In the developing sexual awareness of adolescence, they will repress, hide, or even search for a cure for their torment. In the extreme, they can be driven to self-hate and even suicide. Not only in believing that they are unworthy, unwanted, and unloved because of who they are, but also because they themselves believe they are an error of creation.

In contrast, I imagine Matt and his partner to be of another personality temperament, perhaps that of the “Artisan” or “SP” type. Artisans are also concrete but are pragmatic and interest-based. They are characterized by a desire to challenge the status quo, question traditions, and live in the moment. Personality types with this temperament include the ESTP, ESFP, ISTP, and ISFP.

It’s not difficult to see why an individual who is gay with this temperament, or who is surrounded by family and friends with this temperament, would have an easier time coming to terms with their own sexuality and gaining self-acceptance. Freedom to question is valued and the existence of a support network in that situation is more likely. This is not to say that all Artisan types are accepting. They are not. Nor is it to say that all Guardian types are closed-minded. They are not. It is to say that one temperament tends to have a preference for what they view as the way things have always been and should always be, while the other prefers to challenge those notions.

In reality, variances in sexual orientation exist in all 16 personality types. Granted, the frequency of variation may differ from one type to the next, but that variation is not statistically significant, nor completely reliable in accuracy. What is important is the role personality and temperament play in the development and expression of sexuality. Nurture has a role in both, of course. They inter-relate, but one is not predictive or causal to the other. Understanding this and being willing to work in this context will lead to healthier individuals and happier relationships.

 

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For a more in-depth look at the sensing cognitive functions, check out the What Is Extraverted Sensing (Se) Post, or What Is Introverted Sensing (Si).

Or, for a more in-depth look at the temperaments, check out the What Are The Four Temperaments? Artisans Post, or What Are The Four Temperaments? Guardians.

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Throughout my nearly 30-year career in corporate finance and sales leadership, my goal – no, my purpose – has been to help people develop and find their best path forward. Our individual strengths are constrained by our weaknesses, and the advancement of society suffers as a result. Cultural enlightenment, therefore, relies on individual development. It’s a life-long journey and represents a commitment to others. My commitment is to you.

Stronger people. Joyful relationships. Contented lives.

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