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!
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…