In part one of this series, we looked at four key arguments that Pro-Gay Theology Reformists make surrounding faith and sexuality. In this post, I will examine a more conservative yet still liberal point of view upheld by many gay-identified Christians. Ron, a member of the Gay Christian network, responds to Justin Lee, representing a second point of view in the Great Debate. In a nutshell, he believes gay Christians are called to lifelong celibacy. He also thinks one can embrace a gay identity but does not believe that same-sex relationships honor God.
Individuals who believe this either live a celibate life or have a heterosexual marriage. They also may have a committed same-sex relationship but not have sex. In this case, folks conclude that while it is not a sin to be gay-identified, it is not biblical to have sexual relationships with or be married to, members of the same sex. Ultimately this point of view boils down to how people identify themselves.
The key questions for this position are:
Is there a divine intent for sexual expression?
If there is, how do we determine what it is?
In addition, I believe this position causes more questions than answers. On one hand, gay-identified Christians who follow this approach agree with the Biblical standard for sexual ethics and marriage. Yet, by embracing their gay identity and/or sexual orientation, they feel caught in a catch-22. There is always a lingering question of, “How could God condemn something I’ve tried so hard to overcome and even asked Him to remove?” In a roundabout way, these folks are saying that their feelings, attractions, and desires for the same sex are God-ordained. I have lived in that tension; it consumed my soul for almost four years as I sought to resolve my faith and sexuality. To say the very least, it is a precarious state of being, especially for gay-identified members of faith communities.
Often, more traditional communities place a major emphasis on the idea that marriage and family lead to a fulfilling and complete life. This can lead to isolation for single members who are faithfully pursuing sexual purity through celibacy. In my own personal experience, I have had well meaning Christians approach me to give me a “word from the Lord.” One went so far as to state that I would be married and have children. This seemed ridiculous to me as I was in my early 50’s at the time and past childbearing years. More importantly, I carried a great deal of anger and resentment toward men, and the thought of being physically intimate with one repulsed me. Fortunately, that “word” has not been fulfilled and I have dealt with my bitterness towards members of the opposite gender. I battled thoughts of insecurity over these issues for a few years and finally concluded that if God wanted me married, then He would change my heart towards men and I could entrust my relational future to Him.
Writer Evan Urquhart states, “The fact remains, a celibate lifestyle falls pretty far outside the mainstream for most Americans and presents a challenge to the tolerance of both their churches and the secular LGBTQ community.” For many who are celibate and gay-identified, major questions rise to the surface. Can one serve within their local church body? How will my fellow congregants receive me when I reveal I am gay-identified? Can I find meaningful and healthy same-sex friendships?
In upcoming posts, I will share the traditional point of view, explore the importance of identity, and share my own personal conclusion on these matters.
Thanks for following my journey,