I just want to start off this post by saying that I’ve been wanting to write this specific post for a long time. What I’m about to write here is something that I truly believe God has personally taught me, and the reason that I waited to write it is because I wanted to make sure that I was right with Him and knew exactly what I wanted to say, because this is something that’s (possibly) so simple and yet shook my whole world and turned it upside down. It’s that important to me (and most likely for many of you).
Basically what I want to do in this post is articulate what exactly I believe celibacy means for gay Christians. I’ve already expressed my frustration with the way that the church chooses to handle and talk about celibacy in another article which I’ll link to here, but in this post I want to talk about what celibacy actually looks like, in a realistic and practical way, because I believe that the church and most Christians do not have a correct understanding of what celibacy is and what it requires, something that profoundly affects daily life for gay Christians and the way that they interact with the church. Finally, I also think that having a correct definition of celibacy can be very freeing for gay Christians who feel “stuck.” This should be just radical enough to shake things up a bit.
To start off, I want to address the fact that many churches and pastors across the country will appeal to the fact that Christians have been “eroded by culture” in their acceptance of homosexuality and gay marriage in this country. However, (and I touched on this a little bit in the post linked to above), I think that what they don’t see is that they have been swayed and influenced by western culture too, a culture in which everything is hyper and oversexualized. For most Americans, it is impossible to conceive of a serious relationship without any sexual activity, and this mindset has crept into the church and Christian culture as well. Why else did the church go through an entire purity-centric phase? Why else would courting be a thing in conservative Christian circles? It’s because whether the church is willing to admit it or not, it too has been immersed in the oversexualized culture of the west, and that is part of the problem. Sex has become such a central part of our culture that it is simply assumed that it is going to be a part of serious relationships at some point or another. And that’s where the problems start.
It has become impossible to imagine a serious relationship with the absence of sex, a mindset that has also crept into Christian culture.
Gay people are attracted to people of the same sex. Gay people enter into relationships with people of the same sex. Christians and the church assume that these people are having sex (rightly so sometimes). Said Christians and the church start whipping out clobber passages condemning homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, I Corinthians 6:9, etc…). Gay people get horribly offended at their intolerance. Radically conservative Christians call gay people horrible names and tell them they’re going to burn in hell. The general consensus is seen as Christians hating gay people. Lack of love. Lack of grace. Lack of Christ-likeness. Culture war.
The only slightly more Christ-like response has pastors and churches demanding that gay people remain celibate for the rest of their lives without really supporting them or helping them figure out how to do that. It’s not a pretty picture either way. The point is that we’re not loving people and those same people are getting turned away from the church and from Jesus and that’s not what what we’re trying to do.
So how do we fix it?
I think the first step in even starting to address this problem is understanding what exactly gay people are hearing when pastors and churches demand that they be celibate for the rest of their lives (and let me tell you, it’s not the most encouraging thing in the world when you’re already struggling with something that a lot of society doesn’t accept and you barely understand yourself).
I think that I speak for most gay Christians (and if I don’t, someone please correct me) when I say that “celibate” is not one of our favorite words, or at least it’s not something that we’re about to jump into with 100% enthusiasm. After all, its connotations include deprivation, asceticism, and “the lesser of two evils.” I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like the most attractive combination of things.
The reason for that is that what gay Christians are really hearing is this:
You aren’t allowed to have a special relationship with anyone.
You’re going to be alone forever, and you have to accept it because that’s what the Bible says.
You aren’t allowed to have sex.
This is the choice that you are left with because of who you are.
You don’t get to have what everyone else gets to have; too bad that you didn’t choose to be this way.
Singleness sucks, but you gotta do what you gotta do to be a good Christian.
This is your punishment for being the way that you are.
The list could go on and on. Those are just some of the things that I’ve personally thought when I’ve heard the word “celibate,” and I’m sure I’m not alone there. How many of those things sound like things that you would voluntarily sign up for? How many of those things would sound loving being preached from a pulpit in that form? How many of those things would you like to be told or feel?
That’s what I thought. It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Depressing. Soul crushing.
In reality, only one of the statements above is true. To find out which one, let’s take a look at the dictionary definition of celibacy: abstention from sexual relations. That’s it. That’s all it says. And you know what, sex is also the only thing that all those clobber passages talk about too, and that is so freeing. Why?
Because we can live without sex, but we can’t live without intimacy, as explained in this video if you care to watch it. Now, Julie Rodgers in that video would probably disagree with me, but in my opinion, the Bible only speaks out about homosexual sex while it says nothing at all about same-sex relationships. That’s good news!
The Bible only speaks out about homosexual sex, while it says nothing at all about same-sex relationships.
Thus, for me, all that celibacy means is refraining from sex, not all of the other baggage that comes with the term that many Christians use in churches right now. Who says that you can’t have a close, loving relationship without sex? In my opinion, that is a much more manageable call than to simply refrain from having a close, unique relationship at all, and I think that it’s a lot more comforting too. It gives us the possibility of something!
And it says this:
Yes, you can have a relationship.
Yes, you’ll have someone to love you a little more than everyone else.
Yes, you’ll have someone to go through life with.
This is the gift that God has given us.
You won’t get exactly what everyone else gets to have, but you’ll get the next best thing.
Singleness sucks, and God isn’t going to force you into it.
This is the way that you are; own it in your own way.
Yes, it’s not going to be exactly the same as what straight people have, and it’s going to look a great deal different, but I think that’s the compromise and the taking up of our crosses that we’ll have to do, and that’s okay with me. I would much rather have a person and give up sex than not have a person at all. (I’ll talk more about some logistical/practical things related to this type of same-sex relationship in my next post.) And I think that a close, committed, loving same-sex relationship without sex can be just as emotionally and spiritually fulfilling as a straight relationship with sex. Yes, it’ll take some adjustment to get out of that western culture mindset, but it’s honestly so freeing and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities, and for me, it helped me see God’s goodness again, especially in a situation where most of us would see anything but that.
So let me give you some encouragement from the lives of Jonathan and David. A lot of people will claim that there are some homosexual undertones or whatever in their relationship, but I believe that it is just an example of how fulfilling a close, loving, celibate, same-sex relationship can be and this was life changing for me.
In 1 Samuel 18:1-3 it says this:
And after David had finished talking with Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, becoming one in spirit, and he loved David as himself…and Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
And in 2 Samuel 1:26 David laments the death of Jonathan with these words:
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, surpassing that of all women.
Right there, David says straight up what I believe to be true (and he had like a bajillion wives so…), that his relationship with Jonathan was more fulfilling to him than a straight relationship, and I think that’s because the love becomes even more pure when you take away the physical aspect of it. You can’t get “caught up in the moment” when there’s no physicality. You can’t “love” someone just because the sex is good. When that’s gone, all that’s left is the pure, selfless love that is supposed to be at the heart of every relationship, gay or straight, which reminds of this article. Also, I really like the way that some translations say that David and Jonathan “became of one spirit,” because it creates such an amazing parallel between how God said that Adam and Eve “became of one flesh.” Seriously, how beautiful is that picture? Because I think it’s amazing.
It’s really a beautiful parallel when it says that David and Jonathan “became of one spirit,” in contrast with how Adam and Eve “became of one flesh.
That is the kind of same-sex relationship that I believe in, a celibate one and one that can be just as emotionally and spiritually satisfying while also standing within the guidelines that the Bible has established. It’s the kind of relationship that I’m longing and hoping for myself. And I know it sounds like a shortchanged version of what everyone else gets to have, but just think about it a little bit. Yeah, it’ll be different. But I also think that it’ll be so worth it.
That’s my take on celibacy. How’s that for a revamped definition?
What about you guys? What do you have to say about this? What sounds good and what sounds troublesome for you guys?
Oh! Oh! I almost forgot. There’s a brand new button at the bottom of every page where you can subscribe to follow this blog via email, so you’ll get an email every time I put up a new post. I’d love to be able to interact with more of you, especially for those of you who are reading my stuff through other sources. I just wanted to put that out there as well! Thanks guys!
19 thoughts on “what celibacy really means (for same-sex relationships)”
Finally. Someone gets it. I have been in a same sex relationship for 15 Years. 10 of which have been non sexual. And yes, my partner and I are subliminally told by leaders that it is wrong. Really? It’s wrong for us to support each other in our walk with Christ? Without my partner and his support, unwound most likely walk away fro m church and god and go back to a life of alcohol, smoking, bars and sex. My relationship and my walk is between me and God. Not you. I spoke about that in my last blog entry. Thank you for this post. May God bless it and make it viral.
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Ah, I’m so glad to hear that! It’s honestly a big struggle for me to trust that what I’m writing is true, having not experienced it for myself.
But that’s amazing and beautiful. I’m so glad that it has worked out for you, and I agree whole-heartedly. At some point, it is going to be a relationship between you and God. Because there are things like this that a lot of people won’t understand, because it LOOKS fishy and it looks wrong, but it really isn’t. If you’re not actually breaking any commands in the Bible and you’re pointing each other toward Christ, I don’t see how that could be a bad thing. In fact, I completely agree and think that it’s so much better than the alternative! Thank you for your kind words! I feel like part of my calling is to speak out on things like this, so if you wouldn’t mind, please, please, please, reblog it, share it. I want people to see this and see that there’s another way! 🙂 God bless and thank you so much!
With all due respect, when we say “My relationship and my walk is between me and God,” we show a grave misunderstanding of the community and relational intimacy we were created to take part in. We are made to be interconnected. We are one Body, the Church. What one of us does individually, good or bad, cannot help but to have implications for the rest of us.
Also, Paul calls us to accountability. This type of statement is counter-accountability. Why are you against accountability? Proverbs says that wounds from a friend are sweeter than kisses from an enemy. Seems like we’ve gotten too comfortable with enemy kisses and completely uncomfortable with loving wounds.
Steve, it’s true that we are supposed to be a community and relational body, but at the same time, I don’t see that happening in the church today. LGBT people are pushed to the margins of the church with comments exactly like these, oppressive comments under the guise of love.
What I’d like to ask you is this: do you know any LGBT Christians personally? Do you have any friends or family who are LGBT and Christian? Your comments here seem to demonstrate a profound lack of understanding of what I was trying to say here and a great depth of ignorance for a group of people that is striving to reconcile their faith with their sexuality.
Also, I totally agree with Jef in the fact that when it comes down to it, your faith really is between you and the Lord. That’s what makes it faith. People might disagree with you. People might hate you for what you believe, but when it comes down to it, it’s going to be between you and the Lord. When you die, what anyone else did or didn’t do, good or bad, isn’t going to affect your eternal fate. That’s going to rest solely on the relationship that exists between you and God.
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“when it comes down to it, it’s going to be between you and the Lord. When you die, what anyone else did or didn’t do, good or bad, isn’t going to affect your eternal fate. That’s going to rest solely on the relationship that exists between you and God.”
Our receiving Salvation has nothing to do with our relationship with God in the sense that by having a relationship with God, we get Salvation. Salvation is given to us freely by God’s grace, and through us having that faith. Salvation is the means to the greater end: restoration into eternal, self-giving communal relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and by extention the entirity of the community of the Saints (The Church). When we get to heaven, it won’t be just you and Jesus hanging out. It won’t be just me and Jesus hanging out. Or my family and Jesus. Or my local church and Jesus. Nor my denomination and Jesus.
It will be the adopted children of God. That is, The Church. One family. Salvation is about being redeemed in order that we can be restored into the pre-fallen relationship for which God created us all.
God loves us all with perfect love. As we are in Him, He restores His Image in us. He circumcises our hearts. We breathe grace in, and breathe love out. We breathe love in, and breathe grace out.
We can talk about what love is and what love isn’t, but what we can’t do is self-define love. If we do, we indulge in self-idolatry.
Whatever love is not, it is at the very least wanting the best for others. “Best” here is not talking about earthly happiness. Best here is talking about the that eternity in community in heaven. It is about having the desire for all of us to be redeemed and restored into the Image of God, and to share life together as we were meant to before the Fall destroyed it all.
If by “love,” you mean accepting your sex-oriented identity, you can read the novel I unintentionally wrote below, which included correctives on our identities.
God reveals His Law in the OT to teach the people His nature. He insitutes the cleanliness laws to provide object lessons of sin. To show how His nature and our nature contrast. And He introduces the sacrifical system to highlight the wages of our sins as death, and as a precursor for the rescue & restoration plan that would be enacted in Jesus Christ, the mediator–that is, the person in whom God and sinful humanity are caused to meet.
All that to say, if you do not believe that true love is more than acceptance, I can understand your tension with the Church and God. But if you understand that the greatest form of love–the perfect form of love–is that which results in the selfless interconnected relationship with the Trinity and each other, and that that necessarily entails for us to share the Gospel and to help each other to become imitators of Christ. That is, we hold each other accountable. Go read Hebrews. Read the chapter on faith. Why does the writer of Hebrews include the numerous examples? Why does the NT talk about the great cloud of witnesses? Why does Paul talk about running the race and being cheered on by the other saints?
This individualistic identity is another curse of Western Civilization.
The truth is, I have had LGBT family and friends. I have lovingly been honest with them. I have never looked at them with hate. I have never shied away from a hug or spending time with them. I have never not loved them in even the tainted worldly sense of the word. They rejected me for sharing God’s truth with them. That’s it.
But again, I understand that they have improperly identitifed themselves with something other than Christ, and so to tell them their identity is wrong is, in their eyes, to reject them.
So where do we go from there? If my greatest desire is to see you in heaven, and my heart breaks for those who don’t know Christ–and for those who do and are quite burdened, but they “shoot the messenger” (it still feels like rejection of me personally, not just God or His revealed truth), is that hate? Is that the lack of love? To constantly make myself vulnerable to others for their own sake? To be rejected every single day of my life as a servant of God proclaiming the Gospel to a sinful world and hated by everyone…is that hate? Is it hate that I would lay down my earthly life, earthly acceptance so that others would know God and perhaps we’d spend eternity together worshiping and glorifying God and loving each other?
Only in a humanistic, material realm of thinking is that hate.
That said, I understand that there are groups of people who use the Bible as a vehicle for spreading their hate (such as Westboro Baptist). And that is where I’m really challenged to love. Maybe you are too. To love our enemeies. WBB and others like them do not appear to have the Gospel in them. It isn’t easy for me to want to love them or want them to go to heaven, but those feelings require us to objectify people. To identify them with their sins. Not in who they are in the eyes of God or what God wants to do with them if they will have faith and surrender their lives. They, ironically, do the same thing with the LGBT community. I believe out of overzealousness. But now I’m rambling on out of my own feelings of vulnerability at being associated as being another type as them. But I can be honest enough to admit that vulnerability.
I’ve digressed. The original point was that our faith is a condition (but NOT the CAUSE) of our Salvation. But Salvation is not the end, it is the means to the end. And the end has everything to do with community. And because the end has everything to do with community, don’t you think the means should? Paul talks about the individual body parts and the importance of unity of the body.
Individualism/autonomy is a western ideal. And it is poison.
I’m glad that you’ve had experience dealing with LGBT friends and family, however, I can see why they rejected you, and that does not mutually entail a rejection of God.
I agree that it’s not going to be just me and God when eternity rolls around, but I also don’t think that when we start becoming overly concerned with what others have to say about our relationship with God it becomes idolatry, because we are more concerned with what people think that where we stand with God.
In my own honest opinion, I see these comments from you as being very self-righteous and thus, I do not believe it would be beneficial for us to continue debating this subject. It will only breed resentment and frustration. So, we can agree to disagree.
Thanks for stopping by, and I assure you that I’ll be there on the other side of this life.
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The love of Christ leads us to see others as He sees them. To love as He loves them. If this string of comments leads to resentment, I would ask why? Because of conviction? Because of anger? Because of fear? You don’t have to respond to me, but I hope you explore those questions to help you grow. You can read that with self-righteousness. I can’t stop you from reading with a lens of hate. But if you’re going to use that schema that tells you that any Christian who disagrees with you is “self-righteous, ‘Straight-privileged,’ ignorant, hateful, etc,” there’s something deep there that might be beneficial. Iron sharpens Iron. “Agree to disagree” protects us from what we don’t want to hear. The question is: why don’t I want to hear it.
I’m at least going to spend more time reflecting upon the idea that I have “straight bias,” despite my self-righteousness. Maybe you’ll reflect upon some of the things I said as well.
Lastly, you blame me for the ending of those relationships as you add your name to the list. “however, I can see why they rejected you.” My inclination is to respond in sarcasm. But I won’t. I don’t need to express my pain by pointing out the lack of godly character in your statement. What is missing, however, is where you ever cared about me. Where you ever really tried to learn my perspective. Where you ever bothered to really address any issues with any depth. No mentioning or explaining how I “suffer” from “straight bias.” Lots of assumptions, right? Lots of assumptions based on “my type.”
I understand the nature of these conversations. I understand that you feel that you have to be on the defensive. That you’d rather have all those other reaffirming statements. I hope in the future you learn that you don’t have to constantly be on the defensive when someone disagrees with you. Or even when you’re wrong. That being wrong or being disagreed with isn’t an actual rejection of you.
I know the reason they’ve all left. They “feel” rejected and thus they reject. Despite any actual rejecting actions, they feel rejected. I hope they (and you) can discover the greater love than that. I will always think of you through the years and pray for you (sharing your life burdens). I don’t write that to sound self-righteous. I don’t write it for any other reason than that I care. (Which I’m sure you read as: I’m concerned for your eternal future, so I’m going to pray you change and don’t go to hell). It’s not that. While we are to hold each other accountable, we don’t damn anybody. That aspect is one that only God decides. That doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t have that decision at stake. To think otherwise, is to discount one’s worth to the whole.
Anyway, I’m not here to induce a spirit of anger in you, so I won’t comment farther unless by request. Thank you for the time to respond to comments and for allowing me the privilege of spending this afternoon with you. God bless.
And love you, brother.
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).
Strvet. I am completely out and open to everyone in church, but you don’t get to tell me that because I am gay, knowing nothing other then that, that I have no right to a walk with god and a right to the salvation Jesus gave us all. Yes community is a part of it. My walk is between me and God . Everyone’s walk is different which is why it’s me and God. You and God. The sad part of it Steve is that although it is supposed to be community, most of those who are gay, and especially those in relationships. Aren’t even allowed in the community to begin with.
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Re: “but you don’t get to tell me that because I am gay, knowing nothing other then that, that I have no right to a walk with god and a right to the salvation Jesus gave us all.”
Nowhere have I said that anybody cannot have a walk with God. I’m not sure what you mean by the word “right,” but none of us have a right to Salvation. None of us have the right to walk with God. It is only by His unearnable free gift (grace) offered to all. Through our faith in that reality.
Your eternal judgment is between you and God. We are to be the Body, and the Body is responsible for judging its own (not talking eternal judgment). We see Paul talk about it in the Gospels. Even calling for an unrepentant person to be kicked out of the Church. Not out of hate, but in living hope of his repentance. And no, I’m not saying sexual attraction alone is a sin.
What I absolutely will contend with is that people are born gay as part of God’s Will. Even if we assume ‘born that way’ as scientific fact–scientific studies suggest otherwise, but still I’m willing to entertain it–we still have to acknowledge that all of creation has been infected by the curse of original sin. And that includes your sexuality as well as mine. That includes are perceptions and emotions and judgments of our feelings. Our senses.
The author of the blog disagrees with God (in His Word) on this point. He believes that though God said He made man and woman for each other, to become one flesh, and although His Word calls homosexual acts sin (with Paul calling it a sin that is one which God gives really deprived sinners over to–at the least the practice), he still believes that his orientation is perfect in God’s sight, and in fact God made him that way. Despite what God says about the practice. To me, that makes God into an evil monster who makes people with a desire He expressly denies them the ability to act upon (which is in fact how most atheist homosexuals I’ve encountered view God, if he were to ‘exist’).
I’m still waiting for him to explain what things about us God makes us with perfectly and which He doesn’t.
It seems clear that the answer, as I’ve said, is that He created everything perfectly. It is the fall which marred ALL creation; in particular, every part/aspect of who we are was affected by the Fall/Original Sin. To deny that is to deny basic theological truth.
In my experience, when we want to make our “faith” exclusive, it is because we believe we can manipulate God. We believe we can offer up excuses to Him. The good and the bad is that He knows our genuine excuses–and indeed knows excuses we didn’t even realize.
I don’t have any desire to personally exclude people from heaven.
I have no intention of being part of a heavenly country club. I’m not interested in spending my time being angry and telling people they’re going to hell. I only want to help people surrender to God that they made find completion in eternal interconnected self-giving relationship with the one true Triune God.
I want to love those God loves (everybody) and share His Gospel with everybody, and proclaim holiness as He tells us to be Holy as He is Holy. From there, it is up to them as to whether they will die to themselves and their identities, surrendering all to Gos and for God. It is up to Them whether they continually allow God to work in their lives.
I have no desire or intentions of giving you my standards of my desired heaven guest list. Of making my own list of qualifications. My obligation is to love. And that means to serve, to share the Gospel and call others to holiness. And that is what I’ll continue to do.
The Word of God never changes.
*Epistles, not Gospels
Another great thought provoking post. Don’t forget also that some heterosexual couples – for medical or other reasons – are unable to have sexual intercourse. So this is challenge is not unique to gays.
Jef – your story is very encouraging and great to hear. it is great that you are there for each other. And don’t take any notice of those guys from church who tell you it is wrong. I used to listen to Christians preaching this but they were nowhere to be seen when I was unemployed, depressed or made ill with some medication. Don’t give up and well done for abstaining all these years.
That’s a really good point to remember too. Thank you!
I’ve posted some similar thoughts on my blog recently titled “Integrating Sexuality and Spirituality”.
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I think this probably one of the better, well-intentioned attempts at trying to understand what it means to be a gay Christian. Or maybe you don’t want those who know you to associate your “identity” with hardcore, crude sexual desire. I don’t know. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, while still noticing possible ulterior motives. After all, it is hard for us to be vulnerable with others. Especially those who know us. In a world where we’re all desperately craving acceptance and intimacy, to be truly vulnerable is a difficult, scare thing. So thank you for that courage.
However, I would like to humbly emphasize some points and address some issues.
First and foremost, no matter what the issue, I believe that if we are talking, as Christians, we have to start with God. As you have said in your post, in the Western World, we have over-sexualized everything. But that also includes finding our identities from within ourselves. Whether that means your primary identity is that of homosexual (or even homosexual Christian) or any other tack-on we come up with when we tell others who we are or we think of who we are ourselves. A conceptual illustration (clearly not apples-to-apples in value) is my own life, where I lived nearly 3 decades as an obese man. I allowed that to become my identity. My assessments for my value in my abilities and performances were filtered through how good I was at things relative to the expectations (mine and others) as an obese man. I could run fast….for a 5’7” 330 lb man. I was good looking….for a 5’7 330 lb man.
All that to say, we must filter our knowledge and experience through the two greatest understandings of all of life:
1) God created us perfectly in His Image. This tells us something about us and creation, originally, and something about God. It also tells us that we need to know God more. That is how He created us: to enjoy intimate self-giving love with Him. Genesis 1 & 2
2) But then comes Genesis 3: Adam and Eve sinned and in doing so, God’s perfection was marred. It is marred. Humanity is no longer the perfect Image-bearer we were created to be. But all of creation—not just humanity—has been infected. For all of us, irrespective of sexual orientation, we have to recognize that what we feel is not in and of itself a perfect reflection of how God created us to be.
Simply put, many of us men as teenagers had a “natural” desire (and many of us still do) to be promiscuous. We don’t do it because God has forbade it. In part, He has forbade it because monogamy teaches us about idolatry. Adultery is a sexualized similarity to idolatry. Thus, we see in Scripture (particularly in the prophets) that God likens His idolatrous nation Israel to a promiscuous woman.
You can come up with a way to try to attempt to live as a “Gay Christian,” but if it you do not understand that your same-sex physical or non-physical attraction is NOT something God made you with, you are prone to get to a place where cognitive dissonance comes into play (I’ll get back to that in a moment). The idea that you can completely cut off the physical aspect from intimacy is errant. Yes, western culture overemphasizes sex. But we must make no mistake, God created us to experience intimacy through sex. Heterosexual sex. The uniting of male flesh and female flesh through vaginal intercourse. In fact, men primarily experience married intimacy with their wives through sex. It isn’t merely about physical pleasure through orgasm. It is about a deep connectedness. Even in promiscuity, if we listen carefully to the actions of others, we see their badly constructed expressions of their deep desire for connectedness; intimacy.
You brought up David and Jonathan and their deep intimacy despite their heterosexuality. You used to to show that deep same-sex intimacy can occur without sex acts. (An interesting argument since most homosexuals argue that there was indeed a “hidden” implied homosexual relationship there). Still, you did not show that such a relationship could be justified for homosexuals seeking a monogamous, non-sexually physical relationship. Why do I say this? Because David and Jonathan’s intimacy was rooted in the God-ordained heterosexual intimacy with which God has created us. Simply put, the example of David and Jonathan shows that we can have deep intimacy with people of a gender we are not attracted to. There was no danger of a perversion of their intimacy. It was a brotherly intimacy. Not rooted in attraction.
But yet you want a deep intimate relationship that is rooted in a gender-attraction.
But then also, your post—much to the disdain of most homosexuals, I’m sure—would actually seem to then suggest the opposite of the conclusions you come to. Especially in light of true relational intimacy and the role of sex in intimacy. What I am saying is that given what you’ve said, you’ve made the case that you should marry a woman and have sex with her.
How did I arrive at that conclusion?
If you think a life without sex would be fulfilling, a life without a member of the gender you’re attracted to could be fulfilling as well. After all, if you are eliminating sex and the physical from a relationship, why not have a heterosexual relationship? You pointed out the depth of David and Jonathan’s non-physical intimacy, and though you used it to show same-sex intimacy, it really shows that intimacy can occur in the gender opposite of the one you are attracted to physically. So if you are right, you also admit that a deep, non-physical intimacy can occur for yourself and a woman. And if you are going to commit to not having sex anyway…
But then again, if you are going to abstain from sex, you are making sex a choice divorced from physical attraction and desire, and if that is the case, why not enter into a heterosexual marriage and have sex? Because at that point, you’re making sex about connection and at-oneness. About unity through a physical act. You divorce the perversion of sex (just about having an orgasm, power, manipulation, etc) from sex.
That’s part of his problem–and all of ours: we have made sex about the physical attraction. It is about that, but we make it the main thing. Teaching us about being made complete in God, then that non-physical intimacy, and then the physical desire part.
But that requires not starting our identity with our sexuality, but with our Creator, and then letting God’s revelation of Himself define who we are in our sexuality and every other part of who we are (our manness or womanness, to be rich or poor, to be black or white, our physical abilities and talents, our body image, etc).
But maybe you’ll respond: “But that would be to betray my identity! To deny who I am!” And that would be where I’d respond, “See, you are rooting your identity not in God, but in a fallen desire, a fallen aspect.”
I am a married heterosexual man who has always had strong desires for having deeply intimate relations with a multitude of women. In short, to be promiscuous. To discover both the physical bodies of and the mental and emotional understandings of many, many women. Would you tell me that to deny that promiscuity would be to deny myself? To deny who I am? The monogamous aspect sticks out. It is quite important. The point is that in our fallen natures, we have fallen desires, attractions, orientations, whatever you want to say. People are born autistic. People are born with Down Syndrome. With heart defects. And on and on. That doesn’t mean that God created them that way. That that was His intention for those things to come into the world. He surely loves the person with Down Syndrome or autism. It doesn’t mean that it was part of His perfect original creation. Likewise, we clearly see through Scripture that he made man and woman for each other. That He made them to be enjoined and to enjoy each other. And one of the primary methods was through the sexual act.
The question is, can you accept that there are imperfect things about you that are not your identity? Are you willing to accept your identity in Christ? And to allow that identity to influence your life? To be the lens through which you see your same sex attraction as an imperfection from the Fall, just as I have to do with my deep desire to physically, mentally, and emotionally “know” a lot of women? [Side note: the word used to say that Adam had sex to Eve in the opening chps of Genesis? “To know.” Think deeply upon that!]
It’s hard. The ever-increasingly sinful western culture you talked about keeps telling us the results of sin are good and natural. That they are our identity. Don’t let your same-sex attraction become your idol.
If we have the love of God in us, and if we have the deep desire imbedded in us—even if it has been infected by original sin—to be in community with others and have deep intimate relationships with people of all genders, can you not have intimacy with a woman?
I think your answer to that question would reveal a lot about your understanding of Creation, Original Sin, who God is, where you believe you get your identity, and if you really believe intimacy can or should occur without the sexual component.
And finally, if you could allow yourself to enter a heterosexual monogamous marriage, could/would you have sex with your wife? Again, I think the answer to that would reveal whether you have a biblical understanding of sex or if your understanding comes from the ideas of a sexualized, sinful western culture you talk about.
You could have the opportunity to have one of the few marriages that is based on the desire for God-given intimacy, and not based in the precipitated desire for sexual gratification.
Without a proper understanding and reorientation of identity, cognitive dissonance will bring you to the place where you have to choose God or “happiness” (via accepting your fallen identity).
I’ll be praying.
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I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to see what I have to say. However, I believe that your words here show a profound amount of ignorance on this topic. I assure you that my identity is based wholly in Christ, but that doesn’t mean that my sexuality is irrelevant. You’ll probably disagree with this, but I do believe that this is the way that God has created me. He is sovereign over everything, and He knew that this was going to be the way that I am before I was even conceived. In addition, I think that your comments about children with Down Syndrome and heart defects are also very crude and offensive. Of course in a perfect world no one would be born with Down Syndrome or heart defects, but the fact of the matter is that this is not a perfect world. We have to live with the way that things are and the way that we are born. Thus, I think that the way you tell me to simply go back to my roots of being made in the image of God completely neglect the practical realities of living in a fallen world in addition to being a product of what I call “straight privilege.”
Moreover, your comments also bring up an issue that I will also be writing a post on in the near future, the issue of the idolization of marriage in Christian culture, specifically the idolization of heterosexual marriage. You yourself said that you are a married heterosexual man and that gives me a lot of insight on what you have said here. Being an LGBT Christian is not something that you have had to struggle with personally. It’s not something that has affected the way that you view everyday life and your faith, because those things have not been in conflict with each other. Just because my experiences are colored by my sexual orientation does mean that my orientation is an idol for me any more than your heterosexual orientation is an idol for you. So please don’t call into question my faith and my identity in Christ just because I happen to be of a different sexual orientation.
Additionally, your last point is something that is honestly just disrespectful to LGBT people in general. What you have basically said is, “why don’t you just get married to a woman?” Yes, you took into consideration what I said about intimacy and relationships, but your perspective on marriage trivializes what it is like to be an LGBT Christian. It also assumes that a heterosexual marriage is the goal for any Christian while that is not true. Hear me quote Christopher Yuan when I say that heterosexuality is not the goal for any Christian. We are called to be holy and that does not entail also being heterosexual.
It is not a matter of me “allowing” myself to be heterosexual marriage. That question displays a lack of understanding about what it means to be an LGBT person, something that this blog and these posts are trying to remedy. Being gay is NOT a choice. I can’t simply choose to enter a heterosexual marriage any more than you could choose to be in a homosexual relationship. It just doesn’t work. Considering the circumstances, I also do not believe that would be a God-honoring relationship any more than a non-believing heterosexual marriage. Just because it is a heterosexual marriage does not automatically make it “better” or “a better option” than a celibate same-sex relationship. And for the sake of argument, no, I would not have sex with a woman I was married to, because there obviously is a physical aspect to it that I would not be fully present in.
Moreover, I think that my being in a heterosexual marriage to begin with would not be fair at all to the woman. I would not be fully present there in any respect. Yes, there could be intimacy and closeness there, but it wouldn’t be fair to her, because I could not give her everything that a straight man could. I will refer you to this article where it talks about a few couples who have been in mixed-orientation marriages. http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/mixed-orientation-marriages
Finally, I don’t find myself having to choose between God or happiness. Happiness is not the goal of this life. That being said, I do believe that if you are seeking the Lord, He will align your desires with His own. And He states in Psalm 37 that He will give you the desires of your heart if you are seeking Him and being patient. So thank you for your comments. However, I would encourage you to engage more with LGBT people, Christian or not, before you make any more assumptions about us. I would also ask you to refrain from criticizing my identity in Christ and by extension my faith the next time you choose to comment, because my faith really is between me and the Lord.
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Let me just say that the first thing I noticed, but did not expect after reading your initial post, which I thought was an honest post and inviting dialogue, is that you lack a spirit of humility. When you say that I “show a profound amount of ignorance on this topic” I am not sure if you’re talking about what it means to be a homosexual or Theology in general. It is a given that I do not know what it is like to be a homosexual and proclaim Christ at the same time. I do, however, know what it is like to have had same-sex attractions and desires and fantasies and to not choose to go down that path.
But with the latter, I have a Master’s in Divinity, so I am not lacking the theological acumen or framework with which to view topics in the world. If you were talking about the former, you raise the experiential realm above all others. You make experience the arbiter of truth. And you unnecessarily isolate all of humanity from each other. If I have to know all of your experiences and you have to know all of mine, that means that there are tons of discussions we can never have. That means that Jesus couldn’t really have understood the woman at the well. He couldn’t have understood her five husbands. He couldn’t understand the depth of her pain. He couldn’t understand her womanhood.
You say “Of course in a perfect world no one would be born with Down Syndrome or heart defects, but the fact of the matter is that this is not a perfect world” but also say “You’ll probably disagree with this, but I do believe that this is the way that God has created me. He is sovereign over everything, and He knew that this was going to be the way that I am before I was even conceived.”
By the first statement, you admit that Down Syndrome and heart defects, etc are the result of a broken world. You admit that the world is not perfect. Thus, you are acknowledging the effects of sin. Which I commend you for. But when you say “this is the way that God has created me,” we have a very big question come up: is God a liar? Is God evil? Genesis tells us that God create man and woman to be together. That the woman (Eve) was taken from the rib of Adam because it was not good for man to be alone. We have the two become one flesh language. If you honestly believe that your post-fallen sexual orientation is the perfect result that God wanted, and if you are correct, that would make God evil. That would make God a Creator who gives you an orientation He then outlaws you from partaking of.
It also begs the question of which things are fallen and which things are not? How do we know? Who decides? What if I were to say “this is the way that God has created babies with Down Syndrome and heart defects. He is sovereign over everything, and He knew that this was going to be the way that they were before they were even conceived”?
While it is true that He is sovereign over everything and it is true that He knew that those babies were going to have Down Syndrome or heart defects or whatever, and it is true that He loves them nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that God intended for any baby to have Down Syndrome, etc. God’s knowledge does not make it so. God not using His sovereignty in the ways that we might expect (preventative measures) is not an acknowledgement of it being His Will that something is perfect or that He made it that way. You acknowledge imperfection.
You say that your identity is in Christ, but your response continually asserts that your identity is as an LGBT Christian. Perhaps you should consider an LGBT bias as well. If you think only majorities have biases, you’re quite mistaken. In my studies, I am continually pushed to remove my biases. I’m challenged with them all the time. I always have to be aware of how my gender, race, nationality, regionality, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, education level, past experiences, denominational influence, etc inform how I read Scripture. I check my biases. I have a good support community of others who disagree with me. Who challenge me. I don’t have a blog with nothing but “yes men” reaffirming my POPULAR NARRATIVE.
I am sorry that you feel that I am attacking your faith. That was not my intention. At no place did I say you were going to hell. At no place (to my knowledge), did I suggest that you weren’t a Christian. I am not surprised we disagree on the “born that way” when you get to decide which things about us God has specifically made us have, and which things are a byproduct of the imperfect, fallen world we live in. And sense only the Spirit can truly change either of our hearts, I’m not going to push this matter. I will only say this final thing: sin has infiltrated every aspect of this world and every aspect of us. You can deny that your sexuality has been impacted by sin if you want to, but it doesn’t make it any less so. Admitting that it has doesn’t make you any less of a person. It doesn’t change the reality of God’s love for you or for any LGBT person. It just means that you’re like the rest of us. Born fallen in all areas of our lives. Marred and in need of redemption and restoration. I was not born with the perfect orientation God intended me to have. God did not will for me to have all the desires I have. At least not in the form or focus or bentness that I have had them.
I wish people would get of the you were born that way or your weren’t train. Does it matter in the big picture? The fact is, thru being born that way or life circumstances. Most of us remember being attracted to the same sex at a very young age… So young in fact that most of us were still in elementary school. Anyhow.. the fact is, that we are attracted to the same sex. God loves us, Christians don’t. I love God, he loves me. I walk with him, he walks with me.
He forgives me, he died for me.. and Steve.. you aren’t saving anyone by any of your comments, so I would say it’s best if you don’t disciple to the gay community as all you do by spewing your bit of venom is the same thing that drove us all away from God in the first place. How about you leave it up to us to figure out. I will see you in heaven brother, but for now, on this earth and time… I am done and walking away from this conversation, as all you seem to be interested in is raising anger and hatred. Still love you though.
Thank you for this article. As someone who has struggled as a Christian to find a point she agrees with, this article brought me great joy. In my view, there is no doubt that sexual intimacy between two members of the same sex is sinful. However, I do not see a reason that they could not instead engage in a celibate and chaste romantic relationship. The main thing I see assumed is that same sex relationships must be built upon sexual attraction. I disagree strongly with that point, though. I think thag a celibate gay couple can do anything a celibate heterosexual couple could do. Thank you for this post.