Sexuality

This is the third 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
Sin, Sex, and Shame Don't Define a Gay Person's Attractions or Same-Sex Attraction in General Quick disclaimer: This post is a direct follow-up to my interview with Lauren Melissa on Tuesday and contains my thoughts and reflections from the conversation. If you haven't listened to the interview (or read the transcript), then I highly recommend that you do so! It may be difficult to understand where I'm coming from otherwise. 

Gay Attractions Create the Context for More Than Just Sin

Freudian psychology would reduce human attraction to the outworking of sexual desire, and the church has allowed such thinking to flourish, whether we realize it or not. Human beings are more than sex, and our desires are more than sexual. But far too many Christians buy into a narrative that defines gay people exclusively by our potential for sexual activity (code: potential for sin). By doing so, they rob us of our humanity. Same-sex attraction has thus become something for which LGB Christians must constantly apologize, even if those attractions have nothing to do with sex. Even if those attractions might create the context for godly living. In response, my interview with Lauren Melissa last Tuesday gives a sharp rebuttal to sex-oriented thinking. Asexual people are walking, living proof that the vast majority of human attractions can and do exist apart from sexual desire. And this means something profound for gay, lesbian, and bisexual Christians who believe in the traditional sexual ethic. It means we don’t need to apologize for everything we feel.

This is the second 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
Attraction is not reducible to sexual desire

Today, I'm doing something a little bit out of the ordinary for my blog. I invited guest-contributor Lauren Melissa to do an interview discussing the various forms of attraction, and I'm excited to share it with readers! As an asexual person, Lauren has thought about attraction on a much deeper level than most. In a world where people equate attraction with sexual desire, she's had no choice! Her life and knowledge shed light upon the various forms of attraction that all people experience and which exist apart from sex. In fact, my conversations with her over the years have played an instrumental role in helping me understand that human attraction is not primarily about sex. This conversation is particularly important for celibate gay Christians because mainstream Christianity often reduces gay desire to simply the desire for sex, thereby reducing gay desire to simply the desire for sin (amongst Christians who believe a traditional sexual ethic). But attraction is far more nuanced than sexual desire alone.

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 following article was originally published over at Equip Your Community. Equip is a Christian non-profit which seeks to help church leaders better serve those who are sexual minorities. If you'd like to learn more about Equip, check out their website and subscribe to their newsletter! Taking...

I'm excited to share these reflections from guest writer Pieter Valk on the popular movie Call Me By Your Name. Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts below, keeping in mind that reactions to this film vary across the spectrum, and that's okay. We look forward to hearing your thoughts!  
Pieter Valk reflects on his experience watching Call Me By Your Name as a celibate gay Christian seeking meaningful relationships.
 
Pieter Valk is the director of EQUIP, a Nashville-based team of missionary consultants who partners with churches to become places where LGBT+ people can belong and thrive according to an orthodox Christian sexual ethic. He is also a clinical mental health counselor that serves LGBT+ college students. Learn more at EQUIPyourcommunity.org.
Call Me By Your Name is a very broken story. At some level, it is just a story of a hormone-filled adolescent boy exploring his sexuality and seeking pleasure wherever he can get it. He finds love that, while honest and physically intimate, can only be as mature as a 17-year-old kid can muster; the other half of the pair is a mid-20s man who resists the relationship but ultimately relents for a fun, temporary adventure that is incompatible with the practicalities of adulthood. More often than not, the love is a self-serving use of another’s body for personal pleasure. And yes, there were moments that felt increasingly pornographic when I had to look away—I am glad I saw the movie with a trusted safe friend to process with afterward. Both constructive and nonconstructive emotions have lingered, and I am still ambivalent about whether it was good for me to have seen the movie or whether I would recommend someone else see the movie. Nevertheless, it is powerful for me to see people like me portrayed as normal people in mainstream movies.

In this post and others, I'm attempting to build a case for changing the culture of the church, because much of our current atmosphere makes celibacy feel like a death sentence. If we ever hope to achieve a biblical vision of community, this absolutely needs to change.    Celibate gay and lesbian Christians need actual, authentic, love in Christian community.

Churches that seek to be faithful to the traditional sexual ethic face a tough reality. For better or worse, most people find love through marriage. It's not the way things ought to be, but it's the way things are. And if that's the way things are, we've got a problem. Just how exactly are gay Christians supposed to experience love if they can't get married to the people they love?

Christian community must provide a viable path for expressing love outside of marriage. Without it, we’re just as “anti-love" as all the caricatures portray. Unfortunately, despite everything the Bible has to say about love, evangelical theology remains woefully inadequate on the topic. This means that love outside of marriage is difficult if not close to impossible for people to find, carrying huge ramifications for celibate gay Christians. So it's time to change.

What I'm saying in this post regarding sexual desire is pretty simple, but it's difficult for people to swallow. I'm saying that sexual fulfillment does not come through a sexual relationship but instead through sublimation to Christ. It's astonishing to me that this needs to be said, but it does. Christians will accept the fulfillment of virtually every single other desire through satisfaction in Christ and Christ alone, but when it comes to sexual desire, they stop short. Suddenly, we've got to find satisfaction through something else. Sure, they say, fulfillment comes through Christ. But sexual fulfillment? That comes through a committed, monogamous, heterosexual marriage. If we ever hope to create an effective response to our culture's rampant sexual indulgement, this absolutely needs to change. Sexual immorality runs rampant in the church because it forces its gay, lesbian, bisexual, and queer members to follow the traditional sexual ethic but no one else. A celibate lesbian's take. LGBT+ people aren’t the only ones who need convincing about celibacy. And yet the conversational burden largely falls upon gay people in the church. Let’s face it. It’s easier to talk about what “they” need to do instead of what “I” need to do. So let’s shift the conversation and talk about the collective Christian us. The church. About 80 percent of evangelicals have premarital sex, and 1 out of every 3 born-again adults get divorced (which is the same statistical rate as unbelievers). Christian men of all stripes view pornography to the same degree as the outside world (in some cases even more), and roughly 60 percent of pastors use or have used pornography. We’ve become so calloused to the repercussions of sexual immorality, that even when a major evangelical leader admits to sexually assaulting a minor, his entire congregation gives him a thunderous round of applause. The latent hypocrisy behind these statistics destroys the believability of Christianity. It burns a hole through the heart of whatever relationship the church pretends to pursue with the queer community. And it reinforces the idea that celibacy does nothing more than cover up a deep-seated homophobia in the church. Like a foul-mouthed parent who expects their child to quit cussing, the church overlooks its own promiscuity while condemning its homosexual members for theirs. But it’s time for this to change.

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.