Probably my most popular and well-known YOB posts are my several blogs on cuddling and nudity. Some people have praised these posts for articulating their own feelings, while others have felt I’m “playing with fire” and leading others to sin.
Some say these posts have made YOB look less interested in following Jesus, obsessing only over cuddles.
It’s now been three to four years since I’ve written those blogs on cuddling and nudity, and I’ve shared many cuddles since with guys I’ve met through YOB. But have any of my thoughts changed since I wrote those posts?
I’ve maintained a lot of wonderful, platonic cuddling with friends. Other friends have shared that their experiences with male touch to be loving and very beneficial.
On the other hand, I’ve talked with others who have felt such touch was too arousing for them. I’ve also heard from a handful of people whose cuddling experiences went into overtly sexual territory.
Results from cuddling seem to be uneven with a lot of variables.
My own cuddling experiences are all over the place. I’ve had instances where I felt strong emotional warmth and love, more than anything sexual — a pure emotional euphoria, if you will, sometimes extremely relaxing.
And I’ve also had instances where cuddling with other men has felt more arousing.
I’ve often pondered the variables in cuddling. Perhaps it depends on the person, or maybe what mood I’m in at the time. The latter seems to happen most often when I’ve been going through emotionally hard or stressful times at work or whatnot.
I’ve heard some unfortunate stories of people going too far and messing up with their physical affection, or trying to justify acts that are very questionable. Perhaps boundaries have been crossed lately as people finally meet up after a year of miserable isolation from COVID-19.
Beyond this past year’s pandemic difficulties, I want to reexamine some things about cuddling and nudity.
As celibate gay/SSA Christians in this community, we agree that the Bible forbids gay sex. But how does one define “gay sex” and what touch to pursue or avoid?
One helpful thing, at least, is our belief that Scripture completely eliminates sexual intercourse with other men — that is, anal and oral sex. It’s good news that we do have a clear “black zone”; after that, though, there is a lot of grey.
What concerns me is that I see people trying to justify some physical acts by saying, “Well if it’s not intercourse, it’s not sexual!”
Trust me, I wish things were that simple. One group of Christian men out there believes only anal sex is off-limits, while literally everything else (yes, including oral sex) isn’t “gay” — it’s just “good male bonding.”
Yeah, needless to say I find this particular group’s views deeply hypocritical and homophobic. While many Side B friends wouldn’t agree with their philosophy either, I sometimes see people tip-toeing that line.
I could write a book on the number of websites and blogs I’ve come across that claim to be a celebration of brotherhood and male bonding. At first I’ve found myself quite on board with them as they challenge society’s restricting views of “proper affection” between men.
Much to my dismay, though, the images shared on these sites have grown more and more risqué to the point that I realize I’m looking at gay porn disguised as “bromance.”
The general view adopted by most folks in the Side B world is more or less forbidding of any “genital expression” between unmarried people, be they gay/SSA or straight. This makes sense to me. I don’t have the time or word-space to go into the biblical exegesis, but if you want to do further research I recommend Preston Sprinkle’s book People to be Loved (link on our Resources page).
This belief still leaves ambiguous room with cuddling and nudity. Indeed, many straight men will say, “Pff bruh that’s gay. I wouldn’t cuddle or be naked with anyone other than my girlfriend.”
And yet history shows us such attitudes weren’t always that way. I’ve also met a few straight men who defy conventional gender norms and don’t mind those things.
Social norms and customs do muddy the waters. I often wonder if my sexual pulls toward things are mainly due to my not being used to them, similar to how a gay/SSA guy with “daddy issues” might be attracted to older men.
Did my adolescent lack of affectionate touch from male friends sexualize things later in life? This gets complicated as it starts to resemble Side X or “ex-gay” theology, and many Side B folks will balk at that.
But something I’ve found very fascinating about gay men is that many of them are drawn to nudism or exhibitionism, some to extreme degrees: from the secular gay world, and across the Side A, Side B, Side X, and Side Y belief spectrums. I find this curious.
It seems even non-believers want to reclaim more innocent, non-sexual experiences among men.
If anything, I’ve learned that sexuality is far more complicated than people think. Most people, gay and straight, seem to think you are either gay, bi, or straight, and that’s it: gay people act this way, straight people act that way. The end.
However, there are a lot of grey zones with sexuality. Take me, for instance.
I’ve blogged about the asexual side of my sexuality. It does give me a huge advantage in that my cuddling or shared nudity doesn’t turn sexual.
But if I’ve given the impression in my blogs that “cuddling is so easy a gay caveman could do it,” I do apologize. In my defense, I hadn’t fully articulated that side of myself while first writing those posts years ago.
On top of that, everyone is different. What may be no big deal with cuddling or nudity to one person may be very sexually charged for another. For example I don’t think twice about using a urinal in a public restroom, but I’ve spoken with other guys who find it deeply arousing and/or terrifying.
The one common denominator I’ve found is that guys who have sexual histories with other men or hookup addictions often have a very difficult time not sexualizing cuddling.
At the end of the day, are cuddling and nudity “playing with fire”? I don’t engage in these activities with other men or recommend doing anything with someone simply to see “how far you can go” without things turning sexual.
While I’m at peace remaining single and celibate, goshdarnit I need physical touch. Living without touch feels deeply unhealthy, and it’s made me feel like a zombie. Touch is a need for me, not an indulgence.
I also have a genuine curiosity to explore and challenge masculinity norms, as well as the grey zones of sexual orientation. I am certainly not doing so recklessly, as I want to do what is loving for my brothers, what is healthy for me, and what is pleasing to God.
I don’t want to be the “affection police” dictating what is okay and what isn’t for people to do. Everyone is different, and I want to encourage my readers to be responsible adults who carefully work out what’s best for them with God’s guidance.
Avoid black-and-white thinking at all costs, be it “this behavior is gay and this behavior isn’t,” or “this behavior isn’t sexual intercourse so it isn’t sexual” on the other end of the spectrum.
It’s such a tightrope act between prudishness and sexual debauchery; what culture says and what the heart says; love and lust; context and true intentions.
Always remember, there’s a difference between challenging gender norms and violating boundaries for selfish gain.
Where have you landed on issues like cuddling and nudity with other men? Have your beliefs and practices changed over time based on personal experience? Does cuddling and/or nudity contribute to a healthier masculinity, or do they cause you harm?