Overcoming the Sins of Gay Sex

Often I ponder questions that I myself don't have the answers to. The question of how to overcome negative associations with gay sex due to past religious teachings is one of them. Pope Francis' recent derogatory comments on gay marriage in Manila got me thinking about how difficult his words must be for gay Catholics. It's painful to watch the torment I've seen many male friends go through when struggling with issues related to their religious beliefs and physical relations with other men. Engrained teachings of various religions can make intimacy and sex with another man difficult. Most of us have experienced this with loved ones or at least heard of friends or youth struggling with it. Sadly, it's rarely talked about as the subject remains largely taboo. Instead of working through it, people struggling have sex and then torture themselves about it mentally, hit the bottle, or worse.

Most gay men have completely abandoned any religious associated due to this, which seems disheartening. As a cofounder of a relationship-focused gay dating site (OneGoodLove.com) and a matchmaker (nicmarlin.com), I typically draw upon past experience when giving dating advice. When it comes to this subject however, being raised atheist makes it difficult for me to relate. Although I still do not follow any religious beliefs, I do respect all religions and see that each has its own merits. I've yet to see, however, the successful marriage of traditional religious philosophies and modern gay realities.

I've always viewed sex with men as a beautiful thing- exciting, fun, and natural. I feel the same way about being gay. I'm confident in who I am, love being gay, and don't have any hang ups about it. Could being raised without religion have contributed to me arriving at this conclusion so easily? Perhaps. I don't really know, but if I had to guess I'd say so. Growing up I wasn't told about god, I never went to church, and was encouraged to form my own opinions and beliefs, which I did at a very young age. Although my upbringing wasn't normal by most people's standards, through self-realization I become confident in myself and who I am.

The age I "came out" may have also contribute to how comfortable I am being gay, which makes it even more difficult to give advice on overcoming the initial struggles of being gay. I actually never "came out." I've been gay as long as I could remember. Without a doubt at age 11 I knew I was gay. Admittedly, I was having sex at too young an age, but had my first boyfriend at age 15. Now at age 31, I've been dating men longer than many of my 40 year-old friends. Needless to say, I'm pretty comfortable with it and would love to see everyone around me as comfortable with it too. Being confident in yourself and who you are is a necessary foundation for any successful dater.

So how does one overcome entrenched negative associations with sex from past (or current) religious teachings? Is there anyone out there who has successfully overcome this issue and would share your experiences for the benefit of others? Is it always obvious when past religious teachings are the culprit when it seems you just can't find contentment or intimacy with a man? Does one have to choose between religion and being happy as a gay man or can they both exist? When one is told gay sex is a sin their whole life, how does one overcome the feeling that they may be doing something wrong? Although I may not have the answers, I'm confident the LGBT community does. You are masters at overcoming obstacles and brilliant at sharing your voice when it can make a difference for others.