For me the “what might have been,” is the husband I will never have. As a celibate gay man I will constantly wrestle with the intersection of my desires and my convictions. By following my desire to become like Christ through the life of the Orthodox Church, I must always be willing to give up anything that runs contrary to that life. For me, I’ve experienced this sacrifice most profoundly as I slowly grieve the real cost of my celibacy: saying no to a romantic and sexual relationship with another man.
I grew up in the Eastern Orthodox Church and continue to call her home so whenever I see her handling the topic of homosexuality poorly it grieves me. This has never been so true as with the continued debate in Russia over the rights of its LGBT citizens. I feel very strongly that there must be a better way to discuss family values and uphold the basic rights and safety of a country’s citizens than Russia has been demonstrating. The Russian Orthodox Church’s involvement in the current debate only adds additional hurt and only legitimizes the Russian government’s persecution of LGBT people.
We are people who enjoy comfort. It is easy to exist within a bubble where our ideas and world-views are only confirmed and never challenged. We are prone to shy away from opportunities for our own growth by allowing possible friends to remain strangers. Ideological differences are allowed to define and enforce separation often under the guise of safety.
My own experience has shown that this bubble is not truly “safe.” It is far too easily ruptured when an uninvited co-worker, family member or classmate who would otherwise be an ideological object becomes a real person. When this happens I am forced to grapple with the tension that relationship creates in my life. I must embrace a biblical calling to be “all things to all people” and by doing so understand my own convictions. It is only through relationship with others that my own understanding and faith can be fully deepened and formed.
On Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America will vote on a revision of their membership standards. Under the proposed standards, the Scouts will not deny membership to any boy on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone. The standards also affirm that “any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”
As both a proud Eagle Scout and a celibate gay Christian, the vote, and the debate that has proceeded it, is personal.