26 Apr Charting a New Course: On Gayness, Celibacy, and the Christian Life
I executed operation “room-to-sit” a few weeks ago when a friend visited my apartment. It’s a familiar routine now that I live in South Korea, where space is limited in my one-room studio. When she arrived, a stack of notebooks decorated my couch, which I embarrassingly cleared to make room for her. One was a prayer journal, another a thought journal, another a creative journal, another…
Well, I tried explaining the notebooks… but I think I just succeeded in looking strange.
I’m a writer. Most of the time I’m happy to just scribble stuff down in a notebook, or on a post-it, or in the margins of a book I’m reading, or even on my phone. It’s my own little way of sorting things out, and it’s come in handy more than once. Usually it’s just for me, but sometimes I decide it’s worth sharing.
In fact, when I started this blog, it was born out of a desire to publish some of the material in my ever-growing mountain of notebooks. I wanted a space for people to connect with my thoughts and experiences, and blogging seemed like a natural option.
As a result, over the past five years, I wrote extensively about education and social justice in low-income communities. It was a controversial hook to hang my hat on — but that’s where life took me, so that’s what I wrote about. And I’m truly glad for the dialogue it opened up with other people.
Lately, though, I’ve begun to feel it’s time for a change. Don’t get me wrong. I could keep writing about this topic for the next ten years and not get bored! But I’ve neglected other subjects in order to keep things focused. Now I’d like to shift that focus onto something new.
Where to now?
Over the past decade, I’ve spent a lot of time considering the Christian life as it relates to LGBT+ people. As a celibate, gay Christian myself, it’s been a rather long and isolating journey. Many of my family members and closest friends know it well, but it may be surprising for some to learn that I experience same-sex attraction at all, let alone call myself “gay.”
I’ve been open about my sexuality for years, but I find myself living out of a de facto “closet” in Christian communities. For better or worse, heterosexulaity is the assumption among followers of Christ, and I’m not trying to criticize anyone. Sexuality just doesn’t come up all that often, which means that there’s just not many opportunities to “come out.”
I know I’ve got a strong personality, but I’m really a go-with-the-flow kinda person. Even though I stopped keeping secrets a long time ago, I typically talk about things in my life when they happen to come up. So consider this an explanation of sorts. If you are surprised by the revelation that I’m gay, please know that I never intended to deceive. Chances are it just didn’t come up.
So where are we headed? In short, I want to start blogging about issues that affect LGBT+ people in the Christian church.
Why talk about “gay” stuff?
To be honest, I wavered between a few different ideas for a while, but several things convinced me to go this route.
First, gay and Christian and celibate female writers are few and far between. When I do a google search, I find the same handful of Catholic women time and time again. Search deeper, and you might find a few others. But the lack is pretty clear. The church needs more women who are faithful to Scripture and willing to dialogue about sexuality.
Secondly, and on a personal level, coming out to people in the church means fielding a plethora of questions that I’m unable to answer to everyone’s satisfaction in the limited space of one conversation. Time just doesn’t allow it, and misunderstandings often result. Worse, people who don’t know me very well are sometimes inclined to make assumptions or even gossip about me, implying things about my life that simply aren’t true. It gets awkward and frustrating. I’ve often thought that I need a place to clearly articulate my thoughts on sexuality. For myself as much as for others.
So what’s the goal?
As I’ve charted my own course through these choppy waters, I’ve found that some of the most helpful people are those who have a calling similar to my own. Unfortunately, those people are hard to find. If you’re a straight Christian simply wanting to learn, it’s frustrating to be stuck with such a limited number of resources. If you’re gay, it’s frustrating and it’s isolating.
So I want to add my lot to the small but growing number of celibate, gay Christians who are opening up. Over the next year, I plan to talk about some of my experiences and share what I’ve learned through the ups and downs of it all. I’d like to be a resource for those in the church who have LGBT+-related questions, whether gay or straight, celibate or not, and I hope to connect with people in the process. My intention is not to convince anyone to adopt my opinions. I’m interested in simple dialogue with people whose minds are open to learn, whether we agree or not.
We’ve all got things to learn, after all, and I plan to keep on doing so. This blog is a part of that process!
Taking It Slow
I plan to do about 1-2 posts per month, and I’m also considering an occasional series for content that requires more length — but we’ll tackle that beast when we get there! I’m also super interested in content suggestions from other people, so please reach out with ideas and contributions! Plain old comments are always welcome too.
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