Taking the Family of God Seriously

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!

Guest post at Equip exploring the meaning of spiritual family and it's impact on celibate gay Christians.

Taking the Family of God Seriously

Celibate gay Christians are frustrated. And not for the reasons you might expect.

Consider how the average congregation revolves around marriage and family. Husband, wife, children — they all sit together as a “family unit.” Couples cluster up two-by-two. If a guy and a girl sit beside each other, it’s because they’re an “item.” Church leaders frequently teach that marriage is the most important earthly relationship, and people commonly say that after your relationship with God, spouse and family should always come first.

But in a world where marriage and family monopolize our love, Christians have little to offer people whose lives don’t fit the “marriage and family” model. When Christians invite believers — gay or straight — into a context where the most normative form of love happens to be the nuclear family, they reinforce the message that celibate people, and in particular gay celibate people, don’t deserve to have love. You might as well invite a child into an ice cream parlor but give him a bottle of water. No kid would be happy with that arrangement.

But that’s the arrangement that so many celibate gay Christians must navigate. And while a great number of straight Christians struggle with the challenges of long-term singleness, most of the straight Christians I know assume they will get married and aren’t interested in settling down into singleness or investing in that possibility.

As much as Christians love to celebrate it, the nuclear family should not be the only expression of love in the church. Nor should it be the most meaningful. Biblical community suffers when Christians prioritize the nuclear family above the people of God.

In fact, healthy Christian community calls believers out of their families and into a new one. A spiritual family whose love for each other surpasses the love between spouses, parents, children, and siblings. Continue Reading…

 

 

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”

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”