See what I did there with celebrate and celibate??!?
On Sunday, October 3rd, the focus was on singleness and celibacy. If we’re going to explore God’s design for relationships, we needed to take at least one Sunday to talk about these topics, especially since Jesus or Paul talked about them. In fact, both of them, being unmarried themselves, extolled its virtues. Yet, most Protestant/Evangelical churches rarely address the matter. So, we had to give it some airtime.
Yet, we didn’t just talk about singleness/celibacy because of Jesus and Paul address it. We also brought it to the fore because of its relevance for one of the hottest topics on the planet: homosexuality. When it comes to homosexuality, most people make a binary assumption that there are but two options: either “pray the gay away” or give in & indulge. In fact, there is a whole movement of people who have embraced a third option. (Pieter Valk does a good job explaining how Netflix’s documentary Pray Away buys into this false dichotomy — see here).
I want to introduce you to a few of the major voices within this movement. Not only do I want to introduce them, but I want to extol their writing/speaking to any and all believers, not just those who consider themselves sexual minorities:
WESLEY HILL — Dr. Hill is a New Testament scholar who recently took a position at Western Seminary (same school as Winn Collier. Poppletons and Peterson attended.). Hill is attracted to men and yet, adheres to traditional Christian sexual ethic, and thus feels called to celibacy. He who wrote a brilliant memoir—Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. Everyone should read it, but be forewarned, you may feel convicted about your walk with the Christ and how it lacks the intimacy and sacrifice of which he writes. Find Wes on Twitter or Tumblr or check out his many books.
SAM ALLBERRY — Allberry is a pastor, apologist, podcaster, and speaker. He is a Canon Theologian for the Anglican Church in North America and the author of a number of books, including Is God Anti-Gay?, Why Does God Care Who I Sleep With?, and 7 Myths about Singleness. He also writes at TGC, including an article entitled “Is Celibacy Cruel?” from just a few days ago. To get true a sense of Sam, listen to this 3-minute speech when addressing the General Synod of the Anglican Church in 2017. There’s also a great interview of him here. Look Sam up on the internet.
EVE TUSHNET — Tushnet is a Catholic author, blogger, and speaker. It was while she was at Yale that she was converted from secular Judaism to Catholicism. She has since then gained notoriety for her book, Gay and Catholic: Accepting My Sexuality, Finding Community, Living My Faith.
PIETER VALK — Pieter graduated from Vanderbilt University summa cum laude in Chemistry in 2013, but instead of pursuing that field, he felt compelled by his experience of same-sex attraction to start EQUIP in 2014. EQUIP “helps churches become places where LGBT+ Christians can belong and thrive according to a traditional sexual ethic.” To learn more about Pieter, see his story here. To learn more about EQUIP, explore their website.
REVOICE — Most of these voices and many others are featured in an annual conference/movement called Revoice. This ministry exists “to support and encourage Christians who are sexual minorities so they can flourish in historic Christian traditions.” You would do well to explore their website.
All of these voices (and many more revealed in the links), provide a unique voice in today’s church and culture. Based on their own individual stories and their own wrestling with God and Scripture, they are able to deliver a message of hope instead of simply a message of prohibition.
All four of the people mentioned above have embraced a celibate lifestyle. At a later date, I will introduce a few more voices, some of whom are same-sex attracted, but have entered into heterosexual marriage relationships (otherwise known as a mixed-orientation marriage).