Divorced and Celibate: Reflections from the Other Side of Marriage (Guest Post)

Christian attitudes toward divorce and remarriage have been largely redefined in the past century. Historically, Christians were never permitted to remarry with the church, even in the case of a lawful divorce, even if you were the innocent party. Divorced people were expected to remain celibate. More recently, however, many Protestant denominations have abandoned this position. Guest writer Darla Meeks is one person who swims against this current, having chosen celibacy following her divorce rather than getting remarried. 

I encourage you to read her reflections below with an open mind, regardless of where you stand on the topic of divorce and remarriage. There is much to learn from individuals like Darla who choose the path less traveled today.

Jesus' commands regarding divorce, marriage, remarriage, and celibacy are clear.

 

I am a divorced Christian woman. I’ve been divorced for 10 years now, after a 17-year marriage to an unbelieving, chronically unfaithful spouse. Now in my fifties, I have a life that doesn’t include a mate, and I have no children. My parents have passed on. My brothers live in other states. The same is true of my extended family. I don’t see any of them much, except during brief out-of-town visits. I keep in touch by phone, text and social media, but that’s about it.

I’ve had two relationships since my divorce. One of those men rejected me; the other, I rejected. I didn’t have sex with either of them while I was seeing them. In fact, I haven’t had sex in a very long time.

So, my life has little or nothing to do with the traditional, nuclear family.

What say you, Christian family? Am I a sad woman? Am I alone and lonely? Is my life over? Am I depressed and on the verge of suicide?

Even worse, am I a degenerate, profligate, back-sliding individual who has lost God’s greatest blessing (marriage & family) forever?

I say to you, no to all. In fact, by the very grace of God, I am happier than I have ever been as a celibate, single person. more “Divorced and Celibate: Reflections from the Other Side of Marriage (Guest Post)”

Marriage Idolatry: Exposing The Christian Version of Consent Culture

Marriage idolatry may be one of the most concerning spiritual conditions of the church today. But this can be incredibly difficult for people to wrap their minds around because people see the elevation of marriage as a defense against the “attack on family values.” It’s important to realize that I’m not attacking marriage in this post. Instead, I’m attacking the throne upon which we’ve placed it. It’s time we return marriage to its rightful place as a good thing, yes, but not ultimate.

As a side note, I’ve scattered a variety of different images throughout this post because I felt the need to better display the type of mindset that I’m talking about which currently proliferates in the church (all of these images are put out by Christians). This type of stuff isn’t just a fringe ideology. It’s the norm, and it’s everywhere. 

Also, marriage idolatry is closely connected to idolatry of the nuclear family in the church. If you’re interested, check out this related article I wrote a few months ago:

 

Marriage idolatry is ubiquitous in evangelical culture. It represents a version of sexual liberation theology preached from the pulpit.

Marriage idolatry is ubiquitous in evangelical culture. It represents a version of sexual liberation theology preached from the pulpit.

Marriage idolatry is ubiquitous in evangelical culture. It represents a version of sexual liberation theology preached from the pulpit.

The Scandal of Celibacy

Not surprisingly, the concept of lifelong celibacy scandalizes a world gripped by the aftermath of the sexual revolution. Celibate? For life? You’re kidding, right? So improbable does it seem to the modern ear, that celibacy gets blamed for everything from psychological disorders to the sex abuse scandal in Catholicism, as if sexual abuse were uncommon in contexts where men are sexually active.

Such reactions are expected in a world of non-negotiable sexual activity. Sex is a non-option. We enjoy the perception of self-determination the way a child enjoys the choice to do his homework in crayon or in marker. The freedom to determine how he does it distracts the child from realizing that he actually has no choice but to do it.

Such is the world that we live in. We have no choice but to do it. Our freedom exists in the how but nothing else. Choosing a sexless life breaks the most important and all-encompassing but unspoken rule of sexual liberation. Sex is a must.

And lest you think I’m talking about the secular world, let me be clear. I’m talking about the church. more “Marriage Idolatry: Exposing The Christian Version of Consent Culture”

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. more “Are Celibate Gay Christians Allowed to Have Pride?”

Longing & Loss | Reflections from Call Me By Your Name

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. more “Longing & Loss | Reflections from Call Me By Your Name”

Finding Love in the Church When You’re Gay, Christian, and Celibate

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. more “Finding Love in the Church When You’re Gay, Christian, and Celibate”

What Christians Don’t Want to Admit About Celibacy and Homosexuality

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. more “What Christians Don’t Want to Admit About Celibacy and Homosexuality”

Just Because You’re Celibate Doesn’t Make You Single

I’m digging a little deeper into the discussion of celibacy here, focusing on the question of love and intimacy in a celibate person’s life. I’ve found that intimacy is one of the biggest impasses that many people have when it comes to being celibate, but it doesn’t need to be. Hopefully this post begins to address that concern. Please comment or send me a private e-mail through the contact page — I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! And as always, please subscribe to follow future posts!

Celibate gay people can have intimate relationships. Celibacy is not the same as singleness.

When you’re a single, Christian woman committed to a traditional sexual ethic, sooner or later you reach an impasse: either get hitched to a guy or be single and lonely for the rest of your life. The predicament is hard enough when you’re straight. But as a lesbian, I found my situation to be far worse. I saw myself stuck between a rock and a hard place, and I couldn’t see any way out.

I couldn’t imagine marrying a guy. Just thinking about it made me sick to my stomach. But neither could I imagine being single. I couldn’t imagine lacking the relational intimacy that comes from sharing a life with somebody else. And while I’d read plenty of Christian articles on the blessings and benefits of singleness, I saw them as little more than lackluster appeasement. A half-hearted attempt to make single people satisfied with a way of life that isn’t satisfying at all.

I had bought into the modern hierarchy of relationships, with marriage sitting at the top. Unless I got married, I could never experience the greatest expression of love between people. I could be miserably married or miserably alone. A catch-22. And there was nothing I could do about it. Or so I thought. 

Fortunately, God’s vision for human flourishing looks very different. more “Just Because You’re Celibate Doesn’t Make You Single”

Where Have All the Celibates Gone? The Crisis We Face

I’d like to spend the next few posts talking specifically about marriage, celibacy, and singleness. I don’t plan on doing a series, but I do want to zero-in on issues related to celibacy. Please feel free to comment! Or if you prefer something private, send me an e-mail through my contact page. And if you’re interested in keeping up, please subscribe!

Also, I want to just clarify that I’m not trying to tear down marriage in this blog post. What I’m trying to tear down is the unhealthy degree to which marriage is prioritized at the expense of celibacy. Hopefully this comes through, but if not, I want to make sure it’s clear! I think marriage is a beautiful relationship. I also think it needs to be put in its proper place.

Celibacy is valuable. More Christians need to pursue the celibate life. Gay Christians shouldn't be the only ones.

Putting All Your Eggs in the Marital Basket

Right now we face a crisis in the church. The result of blind exaltation of concupiscent love in the form of marriage. The product of children raised to think, “When I get married…” instead of, “If I get married….”

Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the relational condition of the church:

Single women turn 30 and wonder when their life will start.

Young men prematurely rush down the aisle to take their vows, as if doing so will protect them from “sexual sin,” but the rate of porn addiction in the church is higher than ever.

Pressured by an atmosphere intoxicated by romance, people who shouldn’t get married nevertheless do get married, and we bemoan the rate of divorce in the church.

Even those who really should get married nevertheless prioritize their marriage over relationships with anyone else but God, and we wonder why loneliness continues to grow.

LGBT+ Christians see marital love elevated to the top of a man-made relational hierarchy, and we act surprised when they want to get married like everybody else.

The church’s alternative to “hookup culture” has created a flood of people rushing to get married and barely anyone trying to be celibate. All this, ironically, as marriage rates steadily decline among evangelicals. more “Where Have All the Celibates Gone? The Crisis We Face”

Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

This post is the final in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” Each post covers a reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. Please share your thoughts in the comments or through my contact page. I look forward to hearing from you!

To check out other posts in the series:

  1. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Navigating the LGBT Language Police
  2. Christianese Like Same-Sex-Attracted Pushes Away the LGBT Community
  3. Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’ 
  4. Why Gay and Lesbian Identities Don’t Undermine Identity in Christ
  5. Why Homosexual Christians Are Called To Identify With Gays And Lesbians
  6. LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella
  7. Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions

Or to read the full article:

Also, I feel the need to clarify that I am a celibate lesbian and fully committed to a traditional sexual ethic as outlined by Scripture. If you haven’t read my About page or previous posts, this could get lost in the conversation. I want to avoid misunderstandings as much as possible, so hopefully this information is clear!

Questions related to the "gay v. same-sex-attracted" debate. Identity, labels, sexuality, and more.

The “gay vs. same-sex-attracted” debate continues to sow discord in the church. For LGBT+ Christians, it causes unnecessary division, relegating many to the margins who nevertheless have valuable things to offer the church.

Having experienced the repercussions of this controversy, I wanted to provide both hetero and homosexual Christians with a resource for understanding the practical, philosophical, and biblical basis for calling yourself “gay.” The past series emerged not so much to criticize those who prefer “same-sex-attracted” but rather as a means of supporting those Christians, including myself, who call themselves “gay” and “lesbian.”

My hope is that Christians who prefer “same-sex-attracted” can respect and appreciate “gay Christians,” even if we disagree. We’re not dealing with an issue of core doctrinal significance. It may be important, but dividing the body of Christ over language is unnecessary. We’re on the same team. We can agree to disagree on a relatively minor debate and still work together in the end.

So hopefully this series can work towards unity and not division. Of course, despite my best efforts, I definitely did not answer every question related to the issue! If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Here are a few common questions that came up: more “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted? Answering Some Lingering Questions”

Charting a New Course: On Gayness, Celibacy, and the Christian Life

Gay, celibate Christian blogging about celibacy and issues that affect LGBT+ people
Last month, I announced that I would be introducing a new topic to the blog. Read below to find out more!

 

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. more “Charting a New Course: On Gayness, Celibacy, and the Christian Life”