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”

Redeeming Singleness: A Helpful Resource for the Unmarried Life

I’m in the process of reading an excellent book called Redeeming Singleness by Barry Danylak. While it can be a bit dense at times, I’m finding it to be incredibly helpful in developing a theological defense of the unmarried life as better suited for the kingdom of God. Here’s an excerpt:

“Did Paul have children of his own? Lots of them: Timothy, Titus, and Onesimus, to name a few, and whole churches of followers of Jesus Christ. We too, like Paul, are called to be spiritual parents. Not only in begetting children through the gospel but in raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord until they too are mature disciples. Paul’s letters to his churches are examples of his parenting of his young churches. And, like Isaiah’s barren woman, Paul’s legacy was greater than that of any physical parents, for Paul’s progeny were those begotten in Christ through the limitless power of the gospel for an eternal inheritance in heaven….

Jesus’ primary concern in his ministry is not to provide a prescription for living well in the land but to bestow spiritual life— a new life in the Spirit that is eternal life. Such new spiritual formation is the process of becoming Jesus’ disciple. Hence, though in the New Testament we are not given any explicit mandate to marry and procreate physical human beings, we are given a new mandate to create more spiritual human beings, disciples in the form of Jesus as we find in the words of Matthew’s Great Commission…”

As far as books about singleness go, this one’s a gem. It focuses on the theological underpinnings of the single life as opposed to the “self-help” style of most books about singleness these days. If you’re wanting a resource that’s heavy on theology, I highly recommend it!

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”

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”