December 2017

Speaking the love language of physical touch in a sexualized world is becoming increasingly stigmatized, especially for gays and lesbians. In my recent post on physical touch between members of the same-sex, I mentioned something that deserves a bit of clarification. I said, “It might be easy for heterosexuals to rein in their affection and keep their ‘personal boundaries.’ But it’s hardly healthy. And for a gay person, it’s painful.” Unfortunately, I didn’t do the best job at explaining what I meant. So let me see if I can explain my thoughts a little better. The obvious question is why would it be easy for straight people to forego same-sex physical affection but painful for gay people? If physical affection is a critical part of healthy same-sex friendships, shouldn’t it be painful for both? To understand what I was getting at, you’ve got to put yourself into the shoes of a gay Christian and consider the requirements of traditional Christianity upon their life. Unless gay believers are willing to endure a heterosexual marriage and/or subject themselves to harmful conversion therapy techniques (which don’t work), they must completely forgo sexual affection. Period. That’s the sacrifice that biblical celibacy demands. On the flipside, biblical celibacy should not demand a relational sacrifice that is greater. The celibate life is a life without sex but not a life without affection. And therein lies the problem.

In my last post, I discussed the loss of physical touch in American culture and the role it's played in stripping gay people (and everyone else) of access to non-sexual affection. Today, I want to talk about an even deeper trend. The decline of social capital. Celibacy is next to impossible for gays, lesbians, and other LGBT+ folks thanks to the decline in social capital. There’s an elephant in the room when it comes to LGBT+ issues, and many Christians will never admit it. It's like there's this collective fear that if we let the secret slip, then all the hordes of gay people who were going to live a celibate lifestyle won't buy it anymore. News flash — most of them don't buy it already. So I’m just gonna say it: The social landscape of modern America is making celibacy practically impossible. There. I said it. Celibacy is next-to-impossible. It's not like gay people don't know it already. It’s not like everyone doesn’t know it already. And it's time we came to terms with it. We’ve got to admit the truth before we can change it. So I’ll say it again. Celibacy is becoming impossible thanks to our declining social reality. And it’s time we did something about it.