Alternative Relationships

Love is considered by all religious and spiritual traditions to be the highest value and the highest good. Unfortunately, not all loves (or lovers) are looked upon fondly by society at large. For that reason, if you find yourself falling into the ‘alternative relationship’ category you may need to root yourself in basic values: love, compassion and respect.

What to do?
If you are involved in any relationship that would be considered “alternative,” you must value your love, no matter what others may say. Strive to have compassion for yourself if you struggle with your identity and your desires – and try too, to have compassion for the ignorant among us who just don’t understand (if they did they wouldn’t be hateful). Have respect for yourself, your lover, and all those who fought convention to make today’s more tolerant and open society possible (even though there is still far to go).

Is it easy to be in love from the margins of society? No, but it can give you a broader, deeper perspective on how society works when confronted with difference. This is a knowledge that many people don’t have, and their view of their own culture is less profound because of it. It’s a depth of understanding only reached through pain, but arguably, you will be all the richer for it.

Even richer still, perhaps are the joys of love when overcoming the obstacles society, family or organized religion has set against it. With these difficulties, it takes personal courage and integrity to follow the desires of your heart. Yet, when you love (and are loved) after overcoming adversity it’s especially sweet.

If your friend or family member is struggling
If you’re the sibling, parent or friend of someone who’s struggling with their desire for an alternative relationship, try to resist the impulse to pressure them to ‘turn back’ into who they were. In truth, what you’re witnessing is the struggle to become who they really are, and your decision to support them through the transition reveals your love for them — it honors who they are in their most honest self. If your religious beliefs are offended, rather than being critical or judgmental, trust that God (or a Supreme Being in infinite wisdom) has designed every living thing to be just as it is.

True values
These may sound like clichés, but to be who you truly are is a deep honoring of the gift of your life, and to really love yourself and another is the greatest spiritual achievement of a human being. These are the roots of altruism and compassion, of all the things that are transcendent.

In these days of culture wars it seems that not enough attention is being paid to true fundamental values: love, compassion and respect for others. Religion is sometimes being abused as a means of spewing hatred. Yet, at the heart of any religion is spirituality, the movement to refine the self, to reach for the sacred, to honor the Divine. And it seems to be a great dishonor to a religion — bordering on blasphemy, in fact — for any individual to decide to judge rather than leaving that to God, by any name.

All of the greatest love stories are stories of love overcoming adversity. Have the courage to live in that love — for yourself, your partner and the world around you — and let others be inspired by your example.

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