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!
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.
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!
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!
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”…
There’s so many ways that this post could be misinterpreted that I almost wish I could put a disclaimer after each section. C’est la vie!
In short, I’m suggesting that the church’s synonymous association of gay with “bad” is more harmful than anything else. Queer sexuality, in particular, needs understanding and not denial. I’m definitely not trying to suggest some sort of post-modern, pop philosophy of embracing yourself, regardless of sin. Instead, I’m trying to say that the church’s insistence on associating queer sexuality with sin is blinding us to God’s purpose in it. That was certainly my own experience, which I share in the story below and hope to unpack in the coming weeks.
My brother sounded sarcastic. I was barely old enough to be in pre-school and had never heard the word “gay” in my life.
“What’s ‘gay’?” I asked, but a grown-up in the room quickly hushed us, mumbling something about it being “bad.” My curiosity was piqued, but I didn’t press any further. “Gay” meant “bad.” I catalogued the definition in my brain, and for years, that’s all the word ever meant. more “When Words Like “Gay” and “Lesbian” Mean “Bad””…
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…