If you filled in the blank with a four-letter word, it expresses the sentiment I felt the first time I heard of people choosing celibacy over same-sex relationships. Former gay-identified Dr. Christopher Yuan calls this a holy sexuality: pursuing a relationship with Christ through surrendering our desires and attractions to Him daily and living in sexual purity. From a non-Christian perspective that seems insane, and as a fully devoted Christ follower for almost nine years I can tell you it is hard work. Since the age of 11, I have pursued relationships with other women. As a post-gay experienced Christian I now proactively surrender my sexual desires and attractions to Christ in order to pursue a relationship with God.
In the last eight-plus years I have wrestled with my faith and sexuality in various ways. At times I have held on with a death grip to the idea of finding the right woman and settling down with her for the rest of my life. Yet the more I read the Bible, the more I realized my heart’s desires were seriously misaligned with God’s intended design for sexuality, gender and marriage. If I am honest, I went from a death grip to a reserved compromise where… okay, my attractions have not changed, so I begrudgingly committed to a life of singleness and celibacy.
Eventually, I entrusted my relational future into the hands of God. If marriage is in my future then God will give me the desire for that person. As I age, I wonder what it will look like when I lose some of my independence and health. Will I be banished to some low-income facility or state-run nursing home and left to die alone? Forgotten and alone. Ugh, that sounds dreadful. Yet it is a real concern.
In her book Love Thy Body, Nancy Pearcey addresses how the Church should respond to those who resolve their faith and sexuality and remain single. She leads in with this question for those who have same-sex attractions (SSA): “The most important question is not Where did this come from? but rather How can God work through it?” I have come to see my same-sex attraction as a gift rather than a curse. My attractions and desires sent me on a quest to answer why I was “born this way.” Much to my surprise, I discovered the bottom line was that sin had caused me to experience sexual and relational brokenness. In turn, the process has revealed the nature of God to me as a being who always desires what is best for my life.
Pearcey treats the subject of sexuality with dignity and respect, using the stories of real people who have resolved their faith and sexuality. One of those people is Ed Shaw, a pastor and man who is exclusively attracted to the same sex and has chosen celibacy. She quotes Shaw here: “Many people in the early church chose celibacy, even though it was a huge sacrifice. Why? So the church could have spiritual descendants. Celibates made a radical commitment to their church community as their family.”
She then adds these challenges to the Body of Christ at large:
- To become a richly interdependent community that once again makes it possible for celibates to find their family among fellow Christians.
- We should nourish phila friendships so that singles can experience deep spiritual communion in the family of God.
- Churches should teach that marriage is one kind of intimacy, but that many other kinds of intimacy are possible and fulfilling and can be a means to love and serve others.
- To make Christianity credible, we must create homes that reach out to those who do not have homes or families.
Two Bible verses have surfaced as I finished the chapter in Pearcey’s book titled “The Body Impolitic.” The first is Psalm 68:6, “God settles the solitary in a home . . . ”
The second is Mark 10:28-30 (NLT):
28 Then Peter began to speak up. “We’ve given up everything to follow you,” he said.
29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, 30 will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.”
I believe the Body of Christ is the answer for those who, like myself, have left the security of same-sex relationships and the LGBT community to follow Jesus. Many do not realize that for the last eight years I have been in the process of literally rebuilding every aspect of my life—a very challenging task for a woman in her 50s. The pursuit of a new life in Christ has made it worth the effort. God has faithfully provided what I have needed and surrounded me with people I now consider family.
I will leave you with this statement from “Love Thy Body” :
“Christians have a responsibility to create structures in which celibate singles can enjoy committed relationships and express non-sexual affection. Those who have wrestled with sexual issues have often suffered deeply. They’ve had to work through their Christianity from the ground up, not simply accept it because it’s what they were taught. They’ve made greater sacrifices than most—often giving up hopes of sexual intimacy and a family of their own. To survive they’ve had to dig deeply into the spiritual resources of their relationship with God. As a result, they may become ‘wounded healers’ with deep wells of compassion, sympathy and spiritual wisdom to offer in ministry to others. The Church can benefit from their insight and experience.”
Thanks for following my Journey.