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”

A Celibate Lesbian’s Cold Hard Look at Sexual Immorality in the Church

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. more “A Celibate Lesbian’s Cold Hard Look at Sexual Immorality in the Church”

The Love Language of Physical Touch in a Sexualized World

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. more “The Love Language of Physical Touch in a Sexualized World”

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”

LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella

This post is the 6th 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. On Friday, we’ll conclude the series by addressing a few lingering questions that still remain. So if you have a question, please shout it out! Either 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!

LGBT words like gay, lesbian, and bisexual and more precise than same-sex-attracted for the Christian.

Seeking Clarity on Sexuality but Getting Confused

One smaller but influential reason why some Christians prefer to use “same-sex-attracted” over “gay” comes down to accuracy. They believe that “same-sex-attracted” fits them better and avoids misunderstanding.

And I get where they’re coming from. Accuracy is important when it comes to language. You definitely shouldn’t call yourself gay if you’re not gay! But on the other hand, if “gay” doesn’t fit your experience, “same-sex-attracted” is unlikely to do any better.

For example, when I ask a person for their ethnic background, I’m usually asking for more than just “I’m a minority,” or “I’m a non-minority.” I want to actually learn something, something that helps me understand them. Something like, “I’m Hispanic,” or, “I’m Polish on my dad’s side.” I’m asking for something specific.  

And it’s the same thing when it comes to sexuality. I want to know more than just “I’m heterosexual,” or, “I’m non-heterosexual.” And “same-sex-attracted” doesn’t do that. It’s a catchall term for a vast array of non-heterosexual experiences that are tremendously different from each other and require tremendously different responses. more “LGBT Words Are More Precise than the ‘Same-Sex-Attracted’ Umbrella”

Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’

This is the third post in a 7-part series called “Gay or Same-Sex-Attracted?” I’ll be publishing every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over the next two weeks, and each post will cover a new reason to use the words “gay” and “lesbian” as a Christian. Please feel free to share your thoughts. I love having dialogue and feedback!

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!

Words like Gay and Lesbian Not Any Less or More Holy Than Same-Sex-Attracted

 

Korean’s despise Donald Trump. And I mean really, really despise him. (Having lived in South Korea for a year, I can reliably confirm their disdain with some level of accuracy.)

Knowing this about the country, let’s imagine that you visit South Korea and go out to dinner with a group of locals. Everyone thinks you’re Canadian, but you’re not. You’re American. You awkwardly find a way to clarify your nationality, but when they realize their mistake, things get weird. The first thing that crosses their minds is, “Hmph…voted for Trump.” They smile stiffly, finish their meal, and politely say goodbye.

Now, whether or not you voted for Trump is completely irrelevant. The point is: Would you appreciate being judged like that? Based on nothing more than your nationality? Or would you rather they thought something nice? Maybe something like, “An American! Must be friendly!”

I can’t speak for everyone, but I generally prefer when people assume nice things about me. Thankfully, Koreans are usually good at that. But the same can’t always be said about Christians, especially when it comes to the LGBT+ community. more “Gay Doesn’t Mean ‘Sin’ And Neither Does Same-Sex-Attracted Mean ‘Holy’”