Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?

This is the first post in a month-long series on “celibate gay pride,” exploring the glory of God as revealed in the lives of celibate gay Christians. I’d like to publish about 1-2 posts every week over the month of June. But I need your help! The more feedback I get, the more I can make things relevant. As the series progresses, please comment below or share your thoughts via private message. Any interaction will be a HUGE help as I tailor the content. Suggestions and requests are 100 percent welcome.

Also, I’m specifically talking about and for celibate gay Christians in this series. To be clear: this is not an argument for why gay Christians ought to be celibate. I want to clarify this at the outset, because I often receive various criticisms from non-celibate gay people who tell me that my arguments aren’t convincing. But there’s a reason for that. I’m not trying to make arguments for or against any particular sexual ethic in my blog. This blog is simply for LGBT+ Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It’s not a blog for convincing LGBT+ Christians to accept a sexual ethic they don’t believe in, and I do not believe that all LGBT+ Christians must accept this ethic. However, many LGBT+ Christians nevertheless do live by the traditional sexual ethic. So if you’re interested in learning about celibate gay believers (and/or the larger LGBT+ community that believes in the traditional sexual ethic), then by all means read on. 

For more posts in this series:

  1. Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?
  2. Take It From an Expert: Same-Sex Attraction Is More Than Just Sexual
  3. Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin
  4. Gay People Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  5. Same-Sex Love is Good and Beautiful
  6. God’s Unique Blessings in the LGBT+ Experience of Christians
  7. LGBT+ Christians: When Unlikely People Are God’s Greatest Champions

 

Celibate Gay Christian Pride

Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?

June is gay pride month, a time for celebrating LGBT+ people as full human beings. But for a time of year that supposedly celebrates our humanity, it often feels like celibate gay Christians need to duck down, stay quiet, and avoid attention.

Quite frankly, it’s for good reason. Christians on the right often react with such offense at our existence that even suggesting we could possibly be Christian too is “heretical.” One writer called the upcoming Revoice Conference an “acquiescence to the homosexual agenda” and said that gay Christians like me should be “thrown out to Satan.” Others have compared us to pedophiles, porn addicts, and rapists.

In such a hostile environment, you might think that gay people like myself could run for safety to our local LGBT Center. But Christians on the left often respond with just as much vitriol. One person reacted to celibate gay Christian David Bennett’s interview with Preston Sprinkle by calling him “a self-hating gay man” who makes “other gay people self-hating.” Others deny our personhood by claiming that we are nothing more than a brainwashed bludgeon of the Christian right.

Granted, not everyone is like this. And I remain tremendously grateful for the people I know who support God’s calling in my life. However, it can sometimes feel like these people are few and far between. More often than not, no matter where we turn, Christians like me face open hostility.

So when a month like June rolls around, it can be hard to know where to fit. On the one side, we’re shamed for being gay. On the other side, we’re shamed for abstaining from sex. It can sometimes feel like we’re nothing but a disgrace to our communities.

But the Bible says differently.

The Bible Has a Lot to Say About Shame

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” – 1 Peter 2:6

In his book on missions, Honor and Shame: Unlocking the Door, Roland Muller describes the important role that honor and shame plays in the Gospel narrative of the Bible. “From the Scriptures,” he says,  “we can see that God is not in the business of shaming his followers. Rather, he is in the business of lifting us up from shame.”

Muller begins in the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed” (Gen. 2:25), and paints a devastating picture of mankind’s plunge into disgrace. As he puts it, Adam and Eve’s shame at the realization of their nakedness forms the backdrop of mankind’s ultimate glory at the cross:

“The ultimate picture of God bearing our shame is found in Christ who was stripped of His  clothing when He was hung on the cross. Roman prisoners were often hung naked on a cross, exposed for the scoffers to see and ridicule. Consequently, even in this, Christ bore, not only  our sin on the cross, but also our shame. Once for all, Christ died on the cross, bearing our shame, so that we might be freed from shame as well as guilt.”

God bestowing honor upon shameful people is one of the most profound and world-changing realities of the Gospel! That the God of the universe would exchange his glory with us. Jesus Christ delivers us not only from sin but also from the shame associated with it. “Fear not,” Isaiah prophesied, “for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced” (Isa. 54:4). Elsewhere, he said, “Instead of your shame, there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot” (Isa. 61:7).

In fact, because of Christ, our very weaknesses — the same things that would have brought us shame in the past — become something to actually boast about! “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Scripture even commends those believers who “by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality” (Rom. 2:7). This doesn’t refer to the kind of worldly glory that we associate with selfish ambition — something Paul actually condemns in the next verse. Rather, it’s the kind of glory that comes from the cross. As Jesus prayed, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one” (John 17:22, emphasis mine).

Celebrating the Glory of God in the Lives of Celibate Gay Christians

“He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor.” – 1 Sam. 2:8

Celibate gay Christians often experience tremendous shaming — from inside and outside the church — for no other reason than because they are gay and celibate. When it comes to the church, such treatment is out of step with the Gospel of Christ. Jesus bore the shame of straight people as well as gay. And he bestows glory and honor upon both. To say anything less denies the power of the Gospel.

So in the coming weeks, I’d like to explore the idea of “celibate gay pride” by examining the various ways that celibate gay Christians uniquely reflect the glory of God. Granted, Scripture says that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). So in some ways I could understand the hesitance of some believers to talk about “gay pride.” But there is nevertheless a form of pride allotted to Christians that has nothing to do with us and everything to do with God. Paul himself “boasted” in the cross of Christ (Gal. 6:14), and he reminded the Corinthians, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31).

It’s this kind of pride that I want to talk about. If deliverance from shame is at the heart of the Gospel message, then what does that look like for a celibate gay Christian? If God is in the business of bestowing “glory and honor,” then what does it look like for celibate gay Christians to walk in that glory? In short, I want to explore what it’s like for celibate gay Christians to “boast in the Lord.”

What This Series Is and Isn’t

“Endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…” – Romans 5:4-5

An overwhelming number of people in the church continue making troubling statements like, “There’s no such thing as a gay Christian,” or “Being a ‘gay Christian’ is an oxymoron.” Such statements relegate an entire class of people as beyond the reach of God’s grace. But God’s grace extends to all people, including gay people. To say anything less, for whatever linguistic or philosophical or ontological reasons, denies the Gospel of Christ.

Nevertheless, many believers still object to using the word “gay.” Please understand: the following series is not designed to address that debate. My reasons for using the word “gay” (and other “LGBT” vernacular) are numerous and varied. If you’re interested, then I would definitely encourage you to read my series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” I would also highly recommend any of these articles on the topic:

But I don’t want this series to get bogged down by a debate over words. As the Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:14, “Charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers.” At a certain point, Bible-believing Christians must recognize that the debate over using the word “gay” is grieving to the Holy Spirit and destroys our testimony to the world.

Instead, I want to set this debate aside and focus on something vastly more important: the fact that countless celibate gay Christians live in perpetual shame simply because they are gay (or same-sex-attracted or whatever you want to call it). The shame they experience is often the direct result of their treatment by the church. And when Christians perpetuate shame, for whatever reason, they undermine the message of the Gospel.

In a Nutshell

Many believers see nothing but the potential for sin in a gay person’s orientation. And as a result, they only ever talk about “gay people” in the context of sin. But what if being gay — or same-sex-attracted or whatever — means more than just the inclination to a particular set of sins? What if it also means the inclination to a particular sort of God-glorifying life? What if a gay person can reflect the glory of God in unique and beautiful ways not “in spite of” being gay but actually because they are gay?

The faithful testimony of countless celibate gay believers shows that we can.

Coming Up…

In the coming month, I plan to publish about 1-2 posts every week, and I invite your feedback! In my first post next week, I will be doing an interview with a good friend to discuss the various forms of attraction and how most human attractions are not actually sexual. This conversation will lay an important foundation, as the sexualization of attraction is one of the biggest reasons why Christians see nothing but the potential for sin in gay orientations.

If you’d like to follow along, please subscribe!


14 thoughts on “Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?

  1. Katie Melone Reply

    So thankful you’re doing this! It’s been a struggle trying to figure out exactly how I should view my own sexuality and how I should feel about it as someone who identifies as gay and holds to a traditional sexual ethic. Thank you.

    1. Bridget Eileen Reply

      Thank YOU! It’s been wonderful to get to know a little bit about your story.

  2. Derek W Reply

    Great words, Bridget! I love how you have an arsenal of other articles to refer back to. Lovin’ how you break the sections into easy-to-read chunks, and I’m enjoying the relevant verse. You’re a really great writer!

    1. Bridget Eileen Reply

      I’m glad it’s easy to read! Thank you!

  3. Tim W Reply

    Those of us on the left have no issue with you being celibacy. That is a falsehood. But you already know that. What we take issue with is you proscribing it for all gay people. David Bennett spends a good part of the interview trashing Side A gay people. And yes if you are going to trash others for having what you won’t allow yourself you are self hating.

    1. James Wenske Reply

      I don’t think you speak for all on the left. A good number of them are not too open to the idea of celibacy.

      1. Tim W Reply

        Can you show me where anyone on the right has criticized them solely or choosing celibacy. I am one of the biggest critics of Side B. I don’t criticize them for choosing it for themselves. What I criticize them for teaching that all gay people must be celibate.

  4. Bet Reply

    This sounds really interesting: what it is about being gay that uniquely reflects the image of God. I have a trans kid who considers themself (themselves?) non-binary. Most ultra-conservative Christians would say that their very existence is a sin and perversion. But I can’t help but wonder whether or not non-binary folks can reflect God’s glory and being in a way that someone who is “just” male or female can’t. After all, if God is created gender, but is beyond gender, then…?

    1. Bridget Eileen Reply

      All people are made in the image of God, and your child is no exception! They have something unique and beautiful to reflect about who God is just like any other person. If we all were meant to tell the same exact story about God, then he wouldn’t have made individuals!

  5. […] Traveling Nun: Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride? […]... https://strengthofhismight.wordpress.com/2018/06/02/weekendlinks-18
  6. Kerry Jordan Reply

    I love this post. I’m a straight, married Mom of one so I can’t begin to understand the struggle, but I applaud you for living your truth and sharing with us.

    1. Bridget Eileen Reply

      Your encouragement is much appreciated!

  7. Jake Reply

    Bridget, I want you to know that you’re meeting a great need in the church by doing this. As a pastor in the United Methodist Church, preparing to shepherd my congregation through a denominational split, I’ve read a lot (and thought a lot) about this subject… I can’t tell you how grateful I am to hear a different voice. I feel that I’m actually learning for the first time in a while, and even more than that, I have a greater sense of hope. Your perspective is invaluable. Your faith is evident. And you are a gifted writer. Keep up the good work.

    1. Bridget Eileen Reply

      Thank you so much for your kind words. This is a challenging topic indeed, and it is so encouraging to hear from people who are thinking through this topic with care. Many blessings!

Leave a Reply