“I’m lonely”, I said a few weeks ago in a phone conversation with a friend. I wore my favorite grey hoodie with the hood pulled over my head as I leaned against a bookshelf in my empty apartment. A few of my closest friends recently moved away, and not only are they top-notch folks that I miss for who they are, they’re also glue-like folks who bring people together.
When they left, they left a hole significantly larger than the size of their lives because the relational dynamic they created dissolved along with their physical presence. “I know I just feel lonely tonight, and that when I wake up tomorrow I’ll be bright-eyed and chipper, but I can’t keep from blowing this moment up into an entire future strung together by thousands of nights like tonight until I become an 81 year old sitting in a cold cabin with cats scurrying around while I listen to Lesbian Campfire Music and reflect on the tragedy of a long life shared with no one.”
I can be dramatic. But few things are as adorable as elderly intimacy. Whether it’s lifelong friends laughing together or an old couple holding hands, elderly intimacy wins the Most Adorable award in my mind. The laughter and hand-holding tell stories of years of intimacy created over witnessed embarrassment, shared silence, long rants, quotes read aloud, being let down, saying “I’m sorry”, choosing forgiveness, choosing vulnerability, choosing “Yes” day in and day out for a shared lifetime. It looks sacrificial and painful and comforting and boring and beautiful and—when it’s shared with the same person for tens of thousands of nights in a row—adorable.
“This whole celibacy in community thing is kind of an experiment,” my friend and I agreed. “There’s hope for a life of congruence, honesty, integrity and intimacy, but we can’t look ahead to others to see if it actually works out for them—if they remain faithful and the Church pulls through to become the family we long for it to be.” We’re not delusional enough to think no humans anywhere have ever been committed to lay celibacy and established intimate relationships with others in the process, but when it comes to the modern Gay Christian Panic that’s swept over us the past few decades, this is a newer path.
The ex-gay narrative lost momentum once we observed the trajectory of the ideas played out over time, and as we look for answers on how to be fully integrated, relational men and women who are intimately connected with others, the celibate-finding-family-in-the-church vision is the primary direction we’re headed.
We’re imagining and recovering ways of sharing life that involve all those things that lead to flourishing: every day moments of laughter, hospitality, vulnerability, service, coffee in the mornings and beer in the evenings with the family we’ve chosen for the long haul. It’s exciting and it offers a realistic biblical hope because it’s precisely the vision Scripture paints for the Church. I’ll seek it out, hope for it, and strive to live into it until the day I die (by the grace of God).
I have to be honest, though, and say there are nights when I fear this is only viable in my twenties because many share my situation. I fear friends will slowly marry off or move away and the intimacy they experience in their family unit will move with them, while I remain. I fear our communities will be elated by the imagined gains dangling before us with mobilization, and people will bounce from city to city, dissolving true community and creating “communities” that will dissolve again when the next opportunity arises. I fear I’ll cycle through friendships that are meaningful but disposable, and my life will become tens of thousands of nights strung together by ever-changing faces and shallow introductions.
I hope and I fear and I hope. My friends and I have spent a lot of time thinking about what we can do to create the kinds of communities that will offer an answer to the problem of modern loneliness. We’ve talked about spiritual friendship, communal living, turning down opportunities for career advancement out of a commitment to be rooted in a long term community instead.
Many people—gay and straight, married and single—are imagining ways of sharing life that will strengthen single people, married people, gay people, straight people, churches and communities, and we’re filled with hope that this might lead to flourishing across the spectrum. We’re tasting it in the present and imagining what it could eventually become if it extends for decades. We’re sharing that vision far and wide with great hope.
But on nights like the recent one, where I stood in my empty apartment with the hood pulled over my head, I’m reminded of the vulnerability of hope. My hope is in God: that He’ll give me the strength to be faithful in what can often seem a daunting endeavor, and that He’ll be faithful to provide me with what I need. And my hope is in the church: that others will share my heart to see Christians being family to one another in long-haul, every day intimacy kinds of ways.
It’s vulnerable because I can’t will that into being. I can’t force it. I can’t say “Yes” for other people in churches planted in communities across the country. So I guess this is me using this tiny corner of the internet to let Christians who stumble upon it know that we need you to say “Yes” too.
Julie Rodgers shares life with inner city youth in West Dallas. She also writes and speaks about faith and sexuality, so check out her blog or find her on Twitter:@Julie_rodgers.
I don’t know if this will help, but one of my closest friendships is with a man who I met in my early twenties. We lived as housemates for a couple of years, and then were in the same city for a year after that. Eventually he discerned a vocation to a celibate community, Madonna House, and moved first out into rural Ontario and later to western Canada and Belgium. I went through a lot of anxiety, fearing that our friendship wouldn’t survive these upheavals (he was in Belgium for a number of years and we were hardly even able to talk on the phone). A little over a year ago he was called back to Canada and I was afraid that when we got together again things would have changed so much in both of our lives that we would be more distant — the kind of thing that often happens when old friends meet up for coffee, talk half-awkwardly, and then don’t really talk anymore except an occasional note on Facebook. But it wasn’t like that at all. One of the most striking things was how our experiences apart, which were completely different, had led us to many of the same conclusions. It felt like we were joined together in a spiritual sense that transcended the physical and geographical barriers, so that our friendship was able to grow even when there was almost no direct communication. I think that’s part of what spiritual friendship involves — yes, the daily intimacies, but also something concrete and permanent that can survive separation and that points us towards the enduring faithfulness of Christ Himself.
Melinda, this was so encouraging to me. Thank you for sharing this story—seriously. You make a good point about the nature and quality of a relationship being more important than proximity (though obviously we need both), and that intimacy can grow in newer and deeper ways when we move in different directions in various seasons.
I find that on nights that I’m really lonely and experiencing the fears that I wrote about here, I’m usually not thinking very rationally. What you wrote about rings much truer with how I’ve seen my relationships unfold over time, and I have no reason to think they would all suddenly die off and I would be totally isolated down the road when the trajectory has been toward more intimacy as years have passed. I guess it’s just a matter of learning to trust in God’s faithfulness and the faithfulness of dear friends, and to remind my fears of that reality when they decide to run wild. Your story offered a lot of hope and resonates with me more than the gloomy picture I sometimes imagine with the old lady and her cats.
lol…if you’re ever a lonely old lady with cats look me up. I expect to be a lonely old widow living in a lovely century farmhouse that’s too big for one 🙂
What I really appreciate on Spiritual Friendship is the authenticity and vulnerability shared by the contributors here. It is through the brutal honesty that you share that I find solace as I too struggle through so many of the exact issues written about on here. There is beauty and humanity, that I don’t find very often. Whenever I have something weigh on me that I could never understand or articulate, I find someone on here writing about exactly that. Thank you so much. What you wrote was beautiful, Julie.
That’s encouraging to hear, Michael. It’s always healing for me to really resonate with someone else’s words or stories (as I so often do with other writers here as well), and I’m grateful to hear Spiritual Friendship has been nourishing to you in that way. Thank you so much for sharing and contributing to the safe place that’s created when others read comments like yours and resonate.
My heart breaks for you while reading this. I wish I could reach out and help you. I agree this is vulnerable and beautiful, and I know it is helping many in the same situation. We have a seventeen year old son that is SSA and this is what hurts me so deeply for him when I think about his future. I’m praying for both of you tonight.
Thank you for this heartfelt response, Debbie. Celibacy does come with feelings of sorrow and loneliness at times, but I can assure you it also comes with joy and rich intimacy. I experience both—I think most people experience both, whether married or single—and they ebb and flow with the seasons of our lives and communities.
In sharing my fears, I don’t intend to say I think that WILL happen for those of us who choose this path, but to highlight the need for other Christians to know these fears are there so they can better understand how to go about sharing in this process with us (for the good of all those in a community). I’m very hopeful that we’ll experience deep intimacy throughout our lives, but part of creating that intimacy is sharing honestly about nights like these and fears like these—alerting others to the real needs of gay Christians so they can be a part of the solution.
I’m encouraged to hear your son is seeking to be faithful in this area of his life, and I’m grateful to know he has a compassionate mom like you supporting him. I’m confident the Lord will continually meet Him in unexpected ways and places (as He has me), and lead him into a place where he can flourish.
Thank you for your reply Julie. I too hope we can one day be more open to others in our lives who are not “just like us”. I’m always a bit afraid of what our son will face when he leaves home for college. Its a cold, hard world out there and he’s been home educated most of his life. Prayer is all that sustains me. Thanks again for being so open about your crosses.
Debbie…this is my first posting on this site, ever. I’m glad that you have loved your son to the extent that you have made the effort to seek out resources like SF to join him in his struggles. I’m a 41-year-old celibate SSA missionary with a conservative evangelical missions organization. I have only recently begun to actually deal with my struggles in a healthy way, as for years I didn’t know that such resources as SF even existed. Having gotten no help with my struggles early on in life, I felt consigned to a life of secret shame even in the midst of devoting myself to the calling that He has given me.
I live with three guys where I am in Europe. They are nationals/”indigenous” people. One of them, a 20-year-old aspiring college student, knows of my struggle and loves me very well in the midst of it. He even stepped outside of himself and started showing me physical affection this past year because, in his words, he saw “that I need this and he wants to help me by showing me physical affection.”
There are several other nationals along with him who are very, very close friends who know all of my brokenness, and it has even allowed them to grow in ministering to me, despite the general recognition that I am the elder “shepherd” of the bunch. I also have American friends on both sides of the ocean who have loved me so well through the years and love me even better now that they know more fully who I am. When I am with them in the States, they treat me as adopted into their families and even say that they feel like I’m one of their sons. I am adopted by my friends’ families here.
Do I struggle with fears of loneliness and being alone? Absolutely. I have to be careful not to allow that to drive me. But God has brought so many people around me who love me well (I’m Skyping a counselor in the US regularly who regularly expresses amazement at this fact), and I know that it’s simply because of who God has made me to be and who God has made them to be and the fact that we found each other in our pilgrimages seeking Him.
So, continue to show your love to your son in courageous ways as you are already doing, continue to support him and encourage him toward God and how he can live out his life in pursuit of knowing God, and rest in the hope of the sovereignty of God and the fact that God loves your son a whole lot better than you do. I genuinely hope and trust that God will bring people around him who love him well, who encourage him, and who walk with him in realizing all that God wants to do in his life.
Thank you for your encouragement. It means more than I can express. I will pray for you when I’m praying for our son.
We found out about our sons struggle when he was fourteen by chance. We were heartbroken and didn’t know where to go for help. I began searching the internet and discovered Narth. Our son didn’t want the help at first but after a year he came to me and asked for help. We visited with a therapist via telephone and he really clicked with the counselor. They’ve been having hour long sessions each week since then. He has made much progress in many areas especially in his relationship with his father. It’s so much better now and we didn’t even realize that there was an issue between them before.
I’m not sure how this will go for him. I want to believe that there’s hope for a complete cure but I’m confused by what I read online. Have you heard of Richard Cohen and his book Coming Out Straight? I’m reading it now but I also follow young catholic bloggers that feel they will never be able to change and are learning to live a chaste life.
Its all so new and under researched that I don’t think anyone has a definitive answer.
Again, thank you for your kind words. God bless and keep you.
The debate on ex-gay therapy won’t end soon, but there may be a few reasons why some Catholic bloggers (and some Protestant bloggers, and plenty of Catholics and Protestants who don’t blog… including myself… and let’s not forget the Orthodox…) are reluctant to hope for change.
Firstly, some have tried ex-gay therapy and found that they never became straight. The more reasonable ex-gay groups (e.g. Exodus, before it closed down) shifted toward saying things like “The opposite of homosexuality isn’t heterosexuality, it’s holiness,” in recognition of the fact that many people do not experience any change after therapy.
Secondly, others may not have tried therapy, but may be familiar with the results from research in the area. Dr. Warren Throckmorton analyzed a recent study from Jones and Yarhouse (incidentally, Dr. Yarhouse just posted here for the first time). Google “The Jones and Yarhouse study: What does it mean?” to read his analysis of the rate of successful “change,” with a discussion of what “change” actually means.
Bless your heart. Are you familiar with Linda and Rob Robertson? Linda has started a group for Christian moms whose kids are same sex attracted. I think you would probably learn a great deal from her.
I am resisting a strong urge right now to be directive. Instead of telling you what you should and should not do, I will simply let you know about my own experiences attempting to change my sexual orientation (i.e., be “cured”) through years of prayer, ministry, and counseling. At the end of it all, I found myself becoming suicidal, and then had to take a huge, huge, huge step back.
Despite the one-sided story that NARTH attempts to portray, attempting to change sexual orientation can have dire consequences. The evidence to date would suggest that the vast majority of people who attempt to change their orientation will find it to be ineffective (something like 99%). There are a number of people (probably less than 10%) who find a way to meaningfully have relationships with those of the opposite sex (most of these I suspect are actually bisexuals, but the data isn’t good enough or specific enough to say that with any certainty.) And a good number of people are significantly harmed, suffering spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. Most of my friends who were in ex-gay ministry with me have since become affirming in their own LGBT identity, several of them were severely depressed and/or suicidal at some point throughout the process, and most no longer identify as Christian because their religious faith crumbled when misunderstood ideas about orientation disillusioned them to all of Christendom.
So, please be very careful what pressure (both explicit and implicit) you place on your son. Be aware of the potential risks that are involved with the sorts of things people at NARTH are peddling.
Ultimately, I think Linda and Rob say it better than I ever could, since they can speak from the parental perspective. If you haven’t seen this yet, please watch it. It was a speech given at the most recent (and final) Exodus Conference last summer:
Julie what you write is full of hope and I am always grateful for the positive messages you write which sometimes are born out of difficulty… the discussions and ideas you and Spiritual Friendship share about intentional community and church family are tangible and have inspired me along the way… I guess we will go through ebbs and flows… nothing is guaranteed in life, there is no guarantee that even a marriage will last or that friends will stick around but I have found when friendships are forged that are true they stand the test of time, and although it is hard to part the coming back together is a celebration…both my grandparents on either side of my family lost their spouses early and had to live out their lives widowed and alone. I think that was hard for them. In my grandads’ case he made the decision to move into a seniors community early rather than stay in the house. As long as we have choices and options and find those people we have a connection with it truly is a blessing to live that out whether we are single or married, gay or not. So I hope more people will say yes to that vision too.
Always great to hear from you, Kathy! I agree with you that changes in relationships also open up opportunities for a different kind of connection that are worth celebrating. You’re right that we have choices, and I imagine the depth of our relationships are largely based on the extent to which we’re willing to enter in and open up. I hope that as we ask others to say “yes” to entering in, we’ll be intentional about our part as well.
As a single man at 28 I have seen Christian community change as my friends get married and move on. I have experienced a couple of cycles of this actually. Right now I am in the middle of a vibrant (mostly single) young adult community in DC. I am so excited to see how this generation of faithful, celibate Christians will shape the church going forward, and I can’t help but think the body of Christ (and Lord willing, my church) will be a much richer and healthier place because of their presence. A lot of good thoughts to digest here, but I just gotta ask, and please forgive my ignorance, what the heck is lesbian campfire music?
Enoch, I laughed out loud at your question. I make up terms all the time, and that’s the term I made up for female folk singers who are usually talented musicians and kind of depressing (think: Patty Griffin, Brandi Carlile, etc.). Anyway, it’s always great to hear from you; it’s encouraging to hear your experience as a straight man with such influence in your church. Thank you for bringing such a hopeful perspective to these conversations and seeking to live this out in your local church!
haha, i was wondering the same thing…back in my day it was Indigo Girls..lol….
Wow, Julie. So eloquent. You took the words right out of my heart and expressed them better than I could have. Totally relate to you my friend.
At one point you referenced, for example, making choices about career etc for the sake of community. I think how things turn out for some of us will be based on these very practical, intentional decisions. Sometimes I think celibate gays are waiting around for something to happen, praying for something to turn up, hoping the Church will get its act together, etc. But a lot depends on us too–the choices we make. That is something I am thinking about for my own life–such as whether to join an intentional community, or places I might choose to live after school is over. How my vocation fits into decision-making etc.
One of the gifts I think we have to offer the Church is a message about reclaiming the notion of extended kinship networks. So many people are suffering from the fragmentation in our culture, whether its the elderly or moms struggling with small children alone without support of aunts and uncles and cousins, etc. Maybe we all need to think about how the ways we have pursued “the American dream” has perhaps led to more tragic outcomes than we imagined. Maybe rooted community is more important than the “perfect” job, etc. But I also say this knowing that to take my own advice would mean sacrifice for me since I too am chasing dreams that have left me vulnerable to lots of uprooting.
I suspect that many of us are wrestling with our own desires for independence and freedom even as we long for community. Making the decision to be rooted in order to have the community we desire will involve the same kind of sacrifice and selflessness that marriage requires. Commitment to anything, even the very thing we want can still be hard. And I wonder if perhaps its easier to dream of and pine for community than it is to make the decisions necessary to live it out.
Karen, YES. I couldn’t agree more. As always, your comment rings so true and challenges me in ways I think we all need to be continually challenged.
On the one hand: I totally agree with you. I tend to look at a situation and think, “What do I need to do to make this happen?” I look at the kinds of choices you mention here and that I alluded to, and think about how I need to structure my life to make that happen. That seems right to me—that we would take matters into our hands, play our part, and make the sacrifices we need to make to thrive.
On the other hand: when I look at the landscape on the whole, I think of a lot of my gay Christian friends who have felt quite marginalized in the church. It doesn’t seem right to me to look at them and ask what they, the marginalized, need to do to make their already seemingly (to them) unbearable situation more bearable. It might be TRUE, and we might have conversations from time to time, but something in me wants to say the burden has been placed on those who felt marginalized for too long, and I want to see that evened out a little. That doesn’t excuse gay people from the need to make choices that will ultimately lead to the flourishing we’re talking about (relationships require sacrifice from all sides), but I would hope to see the church at large recognizing their part in the “mutual sacrifice” since I sometimes get the feeling the burden has been primarily placed on the marginalized.
What do you think? I’m open to hearing that sounds whiny and that I need to reconsider. I am with you here and was about to just gush about how much I totally agree in every way, so I guess I’m just adding to it in saying I think it’s a both/and that requires commitments from all. I guess I just don’t want to see any group in the mix feeling like the burden lies totally on them. Anyway, THANK YOU for always offering such insight with such grace.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about this topic and how Wesley Hill and others on this blog have talked about helping the Church to create a committed community that would put relationships at large above individual relationships or jobs or whatever else my pull us away from that community. I think it’s wonderful to imagine a future where singles and families all intermingle and truly become one big Family, but I feel like, at this point, most people aren’t ready for that and we’re decades away from really seeing that lived out. I’ve been wondering if those called to singleness and celibacy need to be the ones to get the ball rolling. To come together and make our own community that values each other over all other areas of our lives and make a promise to the family we create together.
Hey Julie–I totally agree it needs to be a mutual sacrifice. It makes a huge difference when couples in my life make that little extra effort to really include me into their lives and remember to invite me to things vs. the couples who only hang out with other couples etc.
I wonder though what *concretely* we are wanting from the church? It all seems rather vague sometimes. “Accept us, love us” etc. But what does that mean? Invite me to the house for dinner once a week? Let me move in with you?
I have the potlucks. I have the friends to hang out with. What I am desiring is family which is shared household with people I am covenanted with for life. What I would really love is to be integrated into an actual family. But I don’t know of many people who would actually do that. And what happens when the kids move out and its the empty nest? Does it seem like an odd third wheel when the couple probably wants to have their own space to revitalize romance once the kids are gone etc? We don’t have a culture with shared living with extended family for the most part (although there are still cultural pockets that practice this).
It seems like before a Christian family could integrate me in, there would first have to be a concept and culture of extended family in general. If people don’t want to live with their own flesh and blood, why someone who is not? I am not sure how to change that culture really.
Its just not enough to go through life with cycles of roommates that come and go–even if they stay for long stretches. At least its not enough for me, but that could be because I am older and I have been through the roommates and the intentional community already for 20 years etc.
On another note, as we think about our needs, I am also mindful that the church is full of people in need. Single moms who are barely making it and can hardly have time or energy to be thinking about celibate gays. People who are suffering from cancer. Those who are going through marriage problems and divorce. Parents struggling with kids getting into trouble. People losing their jobs and wondering how they are going to keep a roof over their heads, etc. In other words, sometimes I think people don’t give more because they just don’t have more to give. So how can we find ways to come alongside each other and give to each other? I am sure there are plenty of others sitting in the pew wondering why the Church is not there for them more too.
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We humans always want what we don’t have. The old teaching that we have a God shaped vacuum within us and our hearts are restless until we find our peace in Christ remains valid, true, and needed. When I finally surrendered to the fact that my primary mission in life is to care and be with my mentally ill Son, I found great peace and meaning. Remember that Brother Lawrence found his greatest blessing while on kitchen duty.
Julie, beautiful and raw, as always. The CS Lewis quote rang so true; we do NOT experience community in the US nearly as much as God intended. We are individual Lone Rangers. I wonder if this community you envision is part of breaking into the culture and bringing what God intended, at least community-wise? I wonder if that’s what the hippie communes in the 60s envisioned, minus the celibacy? I love community, though I don’t have it (yet) like I wish I did. But not to have Rob and the kids?? [Slow exhale.] Nope, not gonna picture it. More power to you in hearing God’s leading, my friend.
I couldn’t agree more with this cycle of hope/fear! A long time ago, I read in an Amy Carmichael book, that when she had resolved to remain single and was planning to go to India, that the devil would often “take her mind into a cave and paint terrifying visions of loneliness.” She always combatted that by claiming: Christ will be enough for me. Sometimes I feel like I am just wandering around the Body of Christ, looking for people to give my loyalty to. And then I fear loving too much, because, people move on. I think working to reclaim the true family nature of the Church in such a transient, individualistic culture, can be a gloriously beautiful thing. I always think about the 100-fold of relationships that Jesus promises those who renounce biological family to follow Him. I think we celibate people can teach the Church a lot how to be that 100-fold, in a way that will end up benefiting everyone. God bless, sister!
We can always all move to Melinda’s farm…provided we are allowed to bring our cats 😉
Michelle, I love what you described here about wandering around the church, looking for people to give your loyalty to. I think the conversation can often sound like celibate men and women are wandering around looking for people to meet their needs, and while there’s obviously a give and take where all parties are nourished, I think many are seeking ways to GIVE love away like you described. Thanks for sharing!
Julie, I think your articles are my favorite (shh, don’t tell the others)! Lesbian Campfire Music had me in stitches, and I can tell you I’ve had that conversation, almost verbatim, with a dear friend of mine. We’re contemplating just embracing that vision and selling everything and moving to some cottage on some coast and living out our days as those two adorable old ladies who write books and bake bread and go to church together.
I’m reasonably far down in the smaller numbers on the Kinsey scale, but so much of this hit home for me in such a real way. As much as I would love to have a partner, I cannot put my hope in that, and so I oscillate constantly between lonely fear and hope in God to do something wonderful in my community and my own heart. Thank you for sharing your journey and letting us be encouraged by it.
Thanks for sharing some of your story and situation here, Grace! Yeah, one of the things I love about SF is that we all have different gifts, styles, and perspectives, so everyone can resonate with someone. It sounds like you’re on a good path—seeking to develop deeper friendships, while trying to avoid making an idol out of “the one”. Figuring these things out will probably be a lifelong process for us, but it will be a process in which we encounter the presence of God and grow in Christlikeness (hopefully in community!).
As I read this, I just wanted to pick up the phone and say come home. You are always welcome, here, as you are a huge blessing!
Grams, you’re an absolute GIFT.
“I have to be honest, though, and say there are nights when I fear this is only viable in my twenties because many share my situation. I fear friends will slowly marry off or move away and the intimacy they experience in their family unit will move with them, while I remain…I fear I’ll cycle through friendships that are meaningful but disposable, and my life will become tens of thousands of nights strung together by ever-changing faces and shallow introductions.”
Thank you for expressing those fears; they echo mine. Somehow to know someone else also experiences them is comforting.
I really enjoyed reading this post, Julie. It made me so appreciative of the community that I live in here in Shanghai. My wife and I work at a school, and all of the teachers live in an apartment complex across the street from campus. We work together, we go to the same coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, etc, we hang out together, and we worship together. We really are doing life together. And I think that the lives of married couples and singles are pretty well integrated.
The one down side is that it’s an expat community, so nearly every year, somebody leaves. But on the other hand, somebody new always comes as well. And more people are added to that network of friends, because as you and Melinda both mentioned, we don’t really lose the friendships with those who move away. It would certainly be better if it weren’t so transient, but it’s nice to know that twenty-first century Americans actually live something a little bit closer to the ideal (even if we do so on the other side of the world).
Mike, I so enjoyed reading a little about your experience in Shanghai. That’s TOTALLY the kind of thing I long for, as I’m sure many others here do as well. I’m glad to hear you see it as a gift, but that you’re also able to remind us even that isn’t ideal, that people are coming and going. I do agree that twenty-first century life makes it easier for us to stay in touch (and I’m diggin’ that with my friends’ recent moves), but I also hope we can slowly move toward establishing these kinds of habits in long term situations. Anyway, thanks for helping paint a little more clear picture of the kinds of things many of us hope to see.
What a depressing article. Sacrificing love, relationship, romance, intimacy and sexuality for God. What sort of “god” would ask such a thing of his LGBT children? I pray that some day soon, you may realize that’s not what he expects of you — or any of us. That sort of loneliness is too much to bear. I pray that you will find peace.
The way I always think of it, whether this is theologically accurate or not, is that it all balances out. I hope and pray that I find a wife some day that I can be attracted to and marry and spend my life with, but even if I don’t, I trust God that it will all balance out some day. That the pain and loneliness I experience today will be overcome by a deep joy if not in this life, then perhaps in the next. I also pray that God would use this part of my life to bring joy to others and to make something good that is bigger than myself.
Guyreese: Have you considered finding a husband that you are attracted to and can spend your life with?
I thought a lot about it in college. For a long time, I wanted nothing more than for God to give me some kind of undeniable sign that it was OK. I searched scripture and read articles desperate for something that would convince me that the passages in scripture were being misinterpreted or that it no longer applied, but in the end, in my heart of hearts, I can’t believe that. I could be wrong. I might be a fool sacrificing a potentially happy life with another man without cause. God could be desperately pleading with me to accept my desires and longings, but I just can’t believe it.
The pro-gay narrative also doesn’t allow for people not finding any of those things. I know several guys who have left a side-B set-up but none of them have found a husband. They have enjoyed what they did find (relationships lasting 18 months to 2 years) but occasionally they admit that the reality of gay life isn’t all they hoped for (or were led to believe would inevitably follow from “accepting themselves”).
Joe: You said, “The pro-gay narrative also doesn’t allow for people not finding any of those things. I know several guys who have left a side-B set-up but none of them have found a husband.”
That could easily be said of the “reality of straight life” as well. I know straight men and women who are still looking. Some have found it, and the marriage ended in divorce. Some found it, and their partner died. Life has no iron-clad guarantees, gay or straight.
And actually the “pro-gay narrative” never makes the promise that a “Side A” person will find the person of their dreams. Side A does in fact “allow” for the reality that not every one falls in love and gets married. Some do, some don’t. Just like the “straight life”.
The is no guarantee that gay or straight people will find true love and marry. There’s nothing that “inevitably follows” from being gay or straight. The BIG difference is that no one teaches that straight kids must be celibate for life. In fact, I think most of us would agree that such a suggestion would be cruel.
Joe, you asked me, “Would you encourage Christian LGBT youth to conform to the “no sex outside of marriage” sexual ethic that evangelicals endorse?”
I personally believe that it’s wise for both straight and gay youth to wait for sex. Too many teen pregnancies, STD’s and emotional problems result from reckless sexual activity at too early a stage in emotional/intellectual development.
The big difference for straight kids is that they know they can legally marry the person they love. LGBT kids may live to be 100 and never have that same right under law.
So, I would ask you: “Would you encourage Christians to support the basic idea that all people should have the same rights and responsibilities that legal marriage provides?”
Joe: I have been wracking my brain trying to recall anyone from the “pro-gay” side ever giving me the promise (or even the implication) that affirming my sexual orientation and being open to finding a stable/loving same-sex relationship would “inevitably follow”. Who would promise something like that? And who would believe it if they did?
You make it sound like “pro-gay” people are either deceptive or naïve when it comes to finding love. I don’t think that’s true. In fact, my LGBT friends were pretty open about the fact that finding love was not easy. Some relationships blossomed and some didn’t. Since gay bars were about the only place to meet someone, the chances were high that you might find an alcoholic or someone just looking for sex.
Of course, the same could be said of the straight bar scene, but straight people have more options when it comes to meeting someone. They can date openly. Hold hands in church. Introduce their boyfriend or girlfriend to their families. They don’t have to hide that they are straight or worry that their church and family will reject them if they fall in love.
If they do find someone, they know they have the option of getting legally married — and having family, church and social support for their marriage. LGBT people often are deprived of all such support. Pointing out that love is hard to find seems obvious. What you seem to underestimate are the special challenges LGBT people face — including religious teaching that their love is against God’s will.
Michael: Would you encourage Christians to support the basic idea that all people should have the same rights and responsibilities that legal marriage provides?
I wouldn’t. I cannot view marriage as anything but a male-female thing – although I accept that most people today think love and commitment are the minimum requirements for an ‘authentic’ marriage.
I would support marriage equality as a civil right but uphold the Christian definition of marriage.
Joe: You said, “I would support marriage equality as a civil right but uphold the Christian definition of marriage.”
Does that mean that you support the basic concept of equality under law — having the same rights and responsibilities of marriage — as long as it wasn’t called “marriage”?
And by the way, there isn’t one “Christian definition of marriage”. I know many married gay, devout Christians who believe that their relationship is blessed by God.
Joe: It makes your question an impossible one:
How can someone “encourage Christian LGBT youth to conform to the ‘no sex outside of marriage’ sexual ethic that evangelicals endorse” if they can never GET married in the first place?
What you are telling them is “Wait until you get married — and oh by the way, that can never happen because you can’t get married anyway…”
That’s what is known as a “double bind.”
Michael: Does that mean that you support the basic concept of equality under law — having the same rights and responsibilities of marriage — as long as it wasn’t called “marriage”?
If I had a voting option, I would support “civil partnerships” for all (with full legal equality) and keep the current conditions for marriage. If anyone wants to call their CP a marriage, or use terms like husband or wife, then I would honour their choice of words.
I wouldn’t turn down an invitation to a gay wedding unless it had are religious component (gay weddings in churches are unlikely to happen in the near future where I live).
Michael: How can someone “encourage Christian LGBT youth to conform to the ‘no sex outside of marriage’ sexual ethic that evangelicals endorse” if they can never GET married in the first place?
I’m assuming gay marriage will soon be legal in most Western countries. I mentioned it because I have yet to see any evidence that pro-gay Christians will follow a different sexual ethic than secular gay people i.e. if it’s loving or consensual and it’s what you want, then it’s OK. Perhaps with an added emphasis on the psychological benefits of long-term relationships – but certainly no moral commitment.
Joe, I think that’s just the nature of “relationships.” Anyone who’s selling a story that all you have to do to find happiness is date who you’d like to date, is doing just that: selling a story. But wouldn’t you say the experience of your Side B friends who’ve tried dating is similar to most heterosexual you know? That is, they found someone worth dating, they gave it a whirl, but it didn’t work out. I don’t know about your friends, but I’ve got TONS of straight friends for whom that’s the case: they date a string of people, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, and eventually they find someone worth spending their lives with.
It’s the same for gay people. I was once Side B, and I started to date guys. I didn’t date many. I happened to find a compatible guy not long after I started dating, and we’ve been married for 3 years now (together for 6). Most of my friends (gay and straight) haven’t been quite as fortunate. But that’s just the nature of relationships: some work out, some don’t.
“I fear I’ll cycle through friendships that are meaningful but disposable, and my life will become tens of thousands of nights strung together by ever-changing faces and shallow introductions.”
This truly breaks my heart. Julie, please. Reconsider what God is asking you to do. He did not give you a body, hormones, a heart of love, the capacity for romance, the joy of finding a soul-mate, the comfort of marriage, etc. and then ask you to deny those gifts. I simply cannot believe that a loving God would ask such a thing.
I don’t get “depressing” from any of Julie’s posts. She’s sad-vulnerable one moment and chipper the next. That’s how most lives are – and it takes courage to talk about the less than perfect moments.
I agree that it takes courage to be this honest and this vulnerable about how she feels about the prospect of lifelong celibacy.
i was just telling a friend today (who’s married w children) that I am the only single person in my circle. EVERYONE I’m close with is married, which for the most part I’m use to and love and embrace but on some days, when I’m feeling lonely, I’m like “what the heck, who’s gonna go out w me for a possible singles night out or something” or “How am I suppose to meet someone when everyone I know is home in bed with their loved one by 9pm every night”? Last night I was in crisis mode and would’ve done anything for someone to just hold me as I cried. In my mind, this deed is not for just ‘anyone’ nor is it even for friends, but for that someone special to be the ‘comforter’ at the midnight hour when I can’t seem to comfort myself.
What I really wanted to say though was that I had a very tight community for a year (7 years ago when I first moved to Indianapolis). We did EVERYTHING together and were growing in numbers! Long story short, we spilt because of someones (non) genius idea and everyone was so hurt because of it that both my best friend and I (who were in the group together) could conjure up tears at a moments notice if we sat and thought about it all. I don’t know what to do about the transient lives we live, it’s hard when people come and go and I (personally) get SO attached…probably because I moved so much as a child. All i can do personally is “stay put”, which I have vowed to do. I hope and pray I get to settle here…..and become an old lady with lots of cats (hopefully with another old person at my side) Thank you for being funny and vulnerable and awesome..
Guyreese: I suppose it does come down to whether or not one believes that the God really does expect his LGBT kids to remain celibate all their lives. I understand that you struggle with the Biblical passages — and I understand that. So did I.
I also spent decades of my life hoping that God would make me heterosexual or at least give me some bisexuality so I could find happiness in heterosexual marriage. It didn’t happen. No matter how much faith I had, no matter how much I read the Bible, no matter how hard I prayed. Many gay people I counseled became depressed and even suicidal hoping for that. Some walked away from God entirely. Some died.
In her article, Julie says: “The ex-gay narrative lost momentum once we observed the trajectory of the ideas played out over time…” Yes, it did. And what was left? Two choices: (1) To accept the idea that God must expect his LGBT kids to sacrifice their need for love, romance, sex, intimacy and marriage and try to find joy in “celibacy within the church community or (2) Consider the possibility that God does not expect his LGBT kids to sacrifice those gifts.
I can respect a person’s right to choose either option. What worries me is teaching LGBT people (particularly teens and young adults) that option #1 is the only one. I have personally seen the depression and despair (sometimes to the point of suicide) that such a teaching leads to.
I completely agree. While I whole-heartedly believe that God’s plan for humanity is not to engage in homosexual actions, I’m not convinced enough that I would impose that one someone else. I’m happy to discuss my views and to hear other differing views because I always believe we can learn more and better ourselves by being open to new ideas. One of the hardest things I’ve struggled with in the last few weeks is what I would tell a young person who came out to me. I would first and foremost express that God and I love them unconditionally. A distant second would be that I would want them to understand this belief that God does not approve of homosexual actions, but I have no idea how to express that in a way that still shows unconditional love. The only thing I have to go on is that I have come to a place where I can hold the two in balance without feeling like I’m deceiving myself.
I am with you as far as telling them that God loves them unconditionally. But I cannot take that next step — and tell them that God expects them to sacrifice romance, love, sex, intimacy and marriage for lifelong celibacy. I especially would not say that to a young LGBT person.
Being LGBT isn’t about the “actions” any more than being straight is. It’s about who we love. I would tell an LGBT person that God loves them just as they are — as LGBT — and that He gave them the gifts of romance, love, sex, intimacy and marriage to be celebrated, not to be sacrificed for fear of eternal punishment or reward.
Would you encourage Christian LGBT youth to conform to the “no sex outside of marriage” sexual ethic that evangelicals endorse?
In her article, Julie admits that the “ex-gay narrative lost momentum once we observed the trajectory of the ideas played out over time…” That takes a lot of vulnerability, honesty and courage to admit. Exodus even apologized for the harm that caused. And I applaud them for it.
Now, I cannot help but wonder if this won’t happen again. What will happen when the “all LGBT people should/must remain celibate for life” narrative loses momentum and we observe the trajectory of that idea “played our over time”? Will there be yet another apology for the harm done?
Julie, you write beautifully. I think this every time I read one of your posts.
I would like to chime in that loneliness isn’t just exclusive to those choosing to be celibate. Those in very happy marriages *ahem* can also feel loneliness (if a little different) because it is unreasonable to think one person (except from Christ) will fill all the needs you fill. In this case, a husband who isn’t a Christian. When you are low in your spiritual journey and you need a Church family to come along side you and support you, that is hard to find. Especially for someone who just moved and keeps moving like I do. Friends take time to cultivate and church friends take a special sort of cultivating that requires you to be vulnerable in ways that are uncomfortable sometimes.
So all that to say, I understand. There are lonely people everywhere.
J, thanks for broadening this discussion a little and reminding us married people feel loneliness too. It seems like we would all benefit from getting outside our comfort zones and establishing deeper relationships with those in different walks of life. I think many of us are thinking not just in terms of the need we feel for intimacy, but also for the love we have to give others. We’ve all probably got both going on, and I hope we will be coming together more and more in our real life communities. I hope you can find this in whatever new city you find yourself in!
Something that strikes me when the subject of celibacy vs. relationship comes up is how often Christians postpone their lives in the hope for the next. The teaching and belief in the perfect heaven is wonderful and desirable for those of us that walk in faith. But sadly we often believe that God asks of us to sacrifice this life in light of the hope for the next. This life is our life. I don’t believe it is separate, or a life that washes away when we enter the next. I believe we are to live this life as though it is the next.
I wonder how we all would make different decisions about sex and relationships if we truly believed that? Is God asking us to say no, no, and no again to somehow cause us to sacrifice our desires, our heart’s needs and hunger? Is God asking us to remain celibate to a point of toxic loneliness so that we learn how to sacrifice those heart desires now so that we may have it better in the next life? In scripture I believe it shows us God’s heart for us, through Jesus’ sacrifice. I think it’s clear that the sacrifice was Jesus’ to pay.
Paul says there is no Jew, nor Greek, no male nor female. I think there is evidence that gender isn’t really the point of intimacy or relationship. Love, connection, fulfillment of the soul is significant. I don’t believe that the default for most of us is to be celibate and single. I think most of us have the capacity and the desire to connect with another human soul and to find our life at its best in that relationship. For most it may be a heterosexual relationship. For others it may be a same sex relationship. That may not mean it is sexual, but it could be.
Hear me, it may not be sexual, but it could be. Fulfilling intimacy does not always have to be sexual.
I believe that out of a theology of sacrifice, many miss out on the intimate connection that could be the very best for their lives. The sense of prohibition of same sex intimacy and fear of breaking that law cause many to live their lives fearfully celibate.
David, a man after God’s own heart, found a significant intimacy with Jonathon. Some say it was sexual. I cannot be sure of that as it isn’t clear. But none the less, David LOVED Jonathon deeply and with an intimacy that would embarrass some. Jesus had an intimate love with the disciple John. It was not likely sexual in nature, but none the less Jesus had no fear of intimacy and found a special love in him.
Is a decision for celibacy out of a sense of deep fulfillment in singleness, or could it be out of fear of true intimacy? I wonder if some who hold fast to a standard of celibacy, because they are afraid intimacy may go “too far?” In so doing do they miss the point of real connection and suffer an ungodly loneliness
I believe that fear is not of the Lord. Decisions, or convictions based on fear then, are not of the Lord. What would happen if we walked in the true freedom that Jesus paid for? I wonder what would happen if we trusted completely that there is no condemnation in Jesus, and all of our needs, and our failures were truly covered at the cross. What would we do with that kind of freedom?
I’m not saying that one should engage in a sexual relationship if they aren’t comfortable with that. This would be disastrous. But I am saying that if we looked past the fear, there may be something surprising on the other side that may be God centered deeply fulfilling.
You make some really good points here, John. I don’t think we’re approaching this as an either/or here (celibacy or intimacy), but more of a both/and. There probably are many people who commit to an isolated form of intimacy born out of fear of deep connection, but I don’t think that’s healthy and it’s certainly not what we’re pursuing here. You’re right that we’re all wired for connection with other humans, and I think we can find that connection we’re really longing for in intimate friendships. The choice to look for this intimacy outside of a sexual relationship is not so much out of fear (at least for me, though it could be for many), but out of a deep conviction that it’s not how God intends for us to flourish in relationships or honor Him. Thank you for sharing some helpful reflections here!
Are you SURE that’s not what’s being pursued here, Jules? Couldn’t you say that you fear losing some quality of your relationship with God if you decided to pursue a deeply intimate relationship with another woman?
My first reaction is to talk about why I think it is a travesty for lgbt people to think they are automatically sentenced to a life of celibacy … but I’m sure everyone here has heard the arguments.
But, my second reaction is to ask why don’t those of you who think celibacy is require of you invite each other to live together – to be roommates – to build a life together? Are there so few of you that you are scattered too far apart? Are you willing to live with others who share this belief or does there need to be more to the relationship before you build a life together?
Personally, I don’t know if I could do it. I’ve had roommates and I’ve had extended family live with me and I’m married with kids. Living with extended family was really hard and I would only choose to do that when it is necessary (my mother-in-law could no longer live by herself, my cousin needed somewhere to live for a few months etc.). Having roommates sometimes worked but most of the time it wasn’t much fun and in those cases didn’t last long. The roommate situations that did work included a close friendship with the person I was rooming with. Living with my husband and kids works … there is a love and commitment and connection there that is special and unique … not something that I have with anyone else and it would not have happened if something special didn’t click with me and my husband and that included a sexual attraction which led to a deep intimacy. (I believe that sex connects people in a unique way when it is combined with mutual love and respect and that it helps cement a level of commitment that doesn’t usually exist among people outside of immediate family members)
Those are my thoughts. I’m interested in knowing why lgbt people who believe they have to remain celibate don’t live together in order to alieviate some of the lonliness – why don’t they create communal living situations?
Liz, the values of all of society (not just Christian communities) work against it. The expectation today is that a ‘normal’ person seeks autonomy as a consumer unless they start a romantic relationship or family – and even in a family situation individual choice is given more ‘moral’ credit than self-sacrificial love or duty (hence the high divorce rate). Friends don’t share unless they have to.
Roommates is a compromise for young people or individuals who have fallen on hard times. Any person not seeking to maximise their economic independence (or follow their dream) is viewed as a bit strange or sad – in other words a loser!
I have done what you suggest and I am constantly asked (in a suspicious tone) by well-meaning people at church “Why don’t you buy your own place?” When I explain the situation fully and honestly, there is still that residual frown on their face that says “How odd” – or they end the conversation with a patronising “Oh” that suggests that they don’t think I have my priorities right.
Joe – I think you have an accurate view of the way our society is structured and how most people expect to live out their lives.
I was wondering if the people you talked to at church were other lgbt people who are committed to living out the rest of their lives celibate?
Liz, I think you make an interesting suggestion. Why not form LGBT Christian Celibate communities? Catholic Nuns and Brothers do it — and perhaps having that helps structure and ciommunityu would help to counteract the loneliness they might feel by remaining single, never marrying.
Monasteries and convents function as a spiritual and physical family — living together, sharing meals, worshipping and studying together, being companions to each other, growing old together. The live and die together, not alone. Could LGBT Christian Celibates do something similar?
It would seem to provide many of the things that LGBT Christian celibates feel lonely about. They wouldn’t have to worry — as Julie seems to — that she will end up as “an 81 year old sitting in a cold cabin with cats scurrying around while I listen to Lesbian Campfire Music and reflect on the tragedy of a long life shared with no one.”
Perhaps that was one of the reasons that monasteries and convents were created centuries ago — to give deeply religious people who had chosen a life of celibacy the opportunity to find “intimacy in community”. They could live, grow old and die surrounded by others who have made the same celibate choice, supporting each other in devotion — while also serving society.
In such a live-in religious community, perhaps LGBT Celibate Christians like Julie wouldn’t have to fear that they will “cycle through friendships that are meaningful but disposable” or that their lives will become tens of thousands of nights strung together by ever-changing faces and shallow introductions”.
Liz: I was wondering if the people you talked to at church were other lgbt people who are committed to living out the rest of their lives celibate?
It’s a mix. Many of my side-B gay friends are seeking the kind of community experience that Julie talks about but they are also reluctant to give up their independence. I guess there is no template for communities of “just friends”. The monastic model only seems to be for full-time Christian workers.
I’m lucky because I can be fully open about my situation with everyone at church and did have the opportunity to live with up to (at any one time) 5 other side-B guys. It’s a blessing but it wasn’t set-up up as an intentional community and I don’t know how to go about replicating it.
The comments here are as beautiful as the original post. I found Julie via a link in a Fortunate Families newsletter (I think! FF is a forum for Catholics (parents of gay kids, mostly)) and I think this is my first post. If any of you are gay and Catholic, like me, you know that the ideas espoused in Julie’s posts (celibacy and chasteness) are what the Church teaches.
My circumstance is different from Julie’s in that I’m in a relationship (going on 18 years) and we have a child (she’s 9 and one of God’s greatest gift and blessing in my life). My partner and I are both Catholic but only recently started growing more fully in our faith life…praying together, learning together, going to confession for the first time in ~30 years!, even though we’ve always attended Mass (our daughter is currently in CCD and will have her first communion in May). Surely it’s our daughter that brings my faith and my ideas about same front and center for me.
I started questioning things so much as a result of our growing faith because of what I know about what the Church teaches (celibacy, chasteness) and because of talks with my mom, and with the priest during now regular confession. I obviously cannot speak for God, and certainly I could be deluding myself due to my own sin, but…I know God loves us and EVERYTHING ultimately works to His glory, even our mistakes. Each of us have a path we must walk and for some that is a life of singleness and celibacy. For others, it’s not. For me, I now have an obligation to serve as an example of faith, and of God’s love, to my daughter and a very necessary and important part of how I do that is by loving her other mother, my partner, and being the parent I’ve been called to be.
Julie’s right about the struggles couples have in maintaining intimacy and a love over a lifetime. But she’s also right that it’s a beautiful thing. Indeed, it’s a gift. And even when it’s hard and I’m failing miserably, I try to remember that.
I don’t know why God calls some people to the path of singleness and others not, but I respect Julie’s course and I pray for her and all others like her. We’re certainly all in this together.
Fantastic article, Julie! This has been my fear as I’m ever nearing my thirties. More and more of my church and college friends are marrying and the more marriage ceremonies I attend, the more they hurt. I often feel pressured to be the one who reaches out to maintain friendships too. So that sucks a lot.
The American church has treated friendships as deposable, as you mentioned. But maybe that’s where we step in. We’ve been taught that friendships are second best. If you don’t love me more than anyone else in this world, then who cares. What I admire about you, Julie (and the other SF writers), is that you don’t accept this standard–you refuse to be second-best. Married or not, we all need a community. I wrote a post this week on my blog that kinda ties into this thought. If we expect all meaning and happiness to come from one relationship, we’ll end up ironically lonely, like Addie Zierman discusses in her memoir, “When We Were on Fire” and Marina’s character in the film “To The Wonder” demonstrates.
It was probably said before in this conversation, but we need find a way to commit to friendships in some sense like we do to marriages. It not only keeps gay Christians from living miserable lives of isolation, but enriches the lives of married people who cannot have all their needs met from their spouse. We’re designed to live Heaven on Earth now. We miss that in our isolated family units, struggling alone. Together, married and single, we experience God’s kingdom now in the community of the church.
I read that post you wrote and really enjoyed it! Thanks for sharing here and for offering some encouragement in the process. Looking forward to reading more from you and getting to know you in the process.
Julie, I am sorry you felt lonely that night.
What I am sad about is the church being the cause of loneliness for so many people. The church roots disposable friendships and hands you scissors to cut people outta your life!
When loneliness strikes because of the church’s chastisement of friendships among different parties, it isn’t looked upon as correction. Eventually it becomes a seething resentment.
Loneliness recently made me dramatic too.
I told my ‘spiritual friends’ to take a hike! They didn’t like my acquaintances on a social media site. They didn’t like the fact I mentioned wine or beer. They didn’t like the music I referenced. Guess what? They were causing more loneliness!
After this empowerment episode, I regressed because those that were what I called ‘intimate friendships’ I used the very scissors on. When the church creates the expectation of friendships and then frowns when the status quo is not synced, steel barriers are formed, not boundaries.
For now, my church is online. My community is online. Temporal I know. Thanks to you, this aim of bridging God’s Grace over the divergence in opinions is a work in progress.
How is it going to be done? I have no clue, but I dream of the time when I can enter the church and pass by the stone throwing table and not get whacked.
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I am wondering if LGBT Celibate Gay Christians who are lonely and seeking non-sexual intimate community could do something similar to the Episcopal Sisters or the Gay Order of Mychal? Working with children, serving in hospitals, nursing homes. It would seem to give a sense of purpose to the choice of the celibate LGBT lifestyle, communion and companionship for fellow celibates — and serve humanity at the same time.
“As Hartigan recalls, “I entered a religious order when I was, like, 18 or 19, I guess. I entered the Christian Brothers, and I left because there was an issue with another one of my classmates. They asked him to leave because they assumed he was gay. So, I said, ‘If he’s not good enough, then I’m not good enough.’”
Along with two other devotees, Hartigan resolved to turn that gendercentric stigmata into a sectarian stimulus, whipping devotion into a specific shape: the Gay Order of Mychal (GOM).
“Hartigan testifies, “We decided to open the door, and come out of the closet, because most of the work that’s done for religious orders is done by gay people.”
In current Catholic religious orders, Hartigan explains, “You can be gay, as long as you maintain celibacy, and you follow what the Vatican says. You can be in an order, but you must hide who you are. It’s time to stop that. We [GLBT folk] need to have the credit for what we do.”
Like their patron, GOM members minister through good deeds, not mere words.”
I’d like to suggest that LGBT Celibate Christians watch this video. I know it’s Episcopal and many LGBT Christians are more Evangelical in their “style”, but these folks seem to be a peace with the decision to be celibate. Why not start LGBT Celibate communities using such a model?
They live together and work with their local communities — to teach children, aid the poor, help seniors. They raise gardens, do artwork, study and worship together. They become family, there for each other — sharing meals, sharing life, helping each other in sickness and not die alone.
They seem happy, not lonely and fearful of a future of regret of having missed out on relationship. They don’t see worried that they will “cycle through friendships that are meaningful but disposable” or that their lives will become “tens of thousands of nights strung together by ever-changing faces and shallow introductions”.
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God’s design for romance is to be only between one male and one female and romance is to be a prelude to marriage which is again to be only between one male and one female. God’s design for sexual intercourse is to be only in God’s design for marriage which is again only to be between one male and one female.
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Romance is for everyone.
“Romance is the expressive and pleasurable feeling from an emotional attraction towards another person associated with love.”
If straight people can feel this way then gay people can feel this way. The agony of the sexual minority person is to be denied their romantic feelings. Feelings which lift their hearts in a most noble and chivalrous way. To be told they are evil, shameful or worse has caused so much self hatred and pain. I have been thinking lately about the difference between having romantic love for an individual and acting on those desires. If we recognize love and attraction for what it is we can still make choices based on honor and respect for the vision Jesus has for us and how we live in this world.
We have lost the art of romance in a highly sexualized culture. The word itself is derived from chivalry not sexual fulfilment Romance is both innocent and passionate. Innocent in it’s vulnerability because romantic love is transparent; passionate in it’s desire because romantic love enlivens us. I don’t think God is denying us those passions- yet the channeling of passion is what yields His beauty within us- those delicious fruits He wishes us to acquire. It is once we truly embrace romantic love and surrender those desires in generosity that we truly start to get a vision of Christ.
This has been a very interesting read. It all just stopped in February, guess all was said about the matter. I am a sixty-seven y/o gay single man. My advice to the young is to determine to stay in touch with your close friends. I have lived a self absorbed life with little thought to the future. I get melancholy at time thinking about my long ago friendships. Had I known better I would have tried to keep up contact. When in my thirties I earnestly prayed to God to let me know if being Gay (in my mind it meant sex as we’ll) was or was not OK with him. Since I received no answer I took it as a yes. The longest committed relationship I had since that prayer was two years. I have had countless sexual encounters and none were fulfilling. I believe God created an innate desire for intimacy, a sense of belonging, a need to express love. At the age of twenty I realized that I was gay, I had had sex with boys since the age of fifteen but had not actually put a label on what I was doing. I broke down and cried when I realized that I was homosexual and that I was the only homosexual that did not dress up in women’s cloths (the dark ages in main stream society thought). I met a man when I was 22 and we fell in love and were together for seven years before falling out of love. He is my best friend along with his partner of thirty-two years. I am fine with being celibate at my age, I never get depressed or feel sorry for myself. I came back to Christ after thirty-five years this past February and have been dealing with Gods demand that same sex actions are forbidden. I do not think that is fair and really do feel sorry for young people that are convicted to be celibate against there personal desires. I think about this scripture when trying to understand God: Isaiah 55: 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says Yahweh.
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