The “celibate gay Christian” movement: How should we think about it?

Michelle Boorstein has a must-read piece in The Washington Post about the celibate gay Christian movement. It features Albert Mohler, Wesley Hill, and some others from the evangelical movement. The article begins with a discussion about Eve Tushnet, a celibate Roman Catholic lesbian.

Today, Tushnet is a leader in a small but growing movement of celibate gay Christians who find it easier than before to be out of the closet in their traditional churches because they’re celibate. She is busy speaking at conservative Christian conferences with other celibate Catholics and Protestants and is the most well-known of 20 bloggers who post on spiritualfriendship.org, a site for celibate gay and lesbian Christians that draws thousands of visitors each month.

This is an interesting article not least because secular people tend to find celibacy strange and even subhuman. That comes out in the article, and it goes to show how far we’ve come as a culture to think that sex is the end-all be-all of human existence. But that is where we are, and that is why the average person reading about celibacy just sort of scratches their head and says, “What? Really?” The answer is yes, really. Celibacy is celebrated in scripture for those to whom it has been given (Matt. 19:11; 1 Cor. 7:7). It is no surprise that God would call some people to walk this path.

The article is also interesting because it highlights an intramural conversation that evangelicals are having about sexual orientation and same-sex attraction. The so-called “celibate gay Christian movement” is known for its emphasis on teaching gay people to use their same-sex attraction to serve God. On this view, same-sex attraction is not sinful so long as it is celibate. Another excerpt about Tushnet’s experience,

She urges people not to focus so much on the sex they can’t have and instead find other places to pursue intimacy, such as deeper friendships that could be seen as spouselike, co-living arrangements, public service and the arts as ways to express intimacy.

“I use the image of a kaleidoscope — the jewels inside are desires. If you turn it one way, it’s lesbianism. If you rearrange them, it can be community service or devotion to Mary,” she said during a recent interview.

Tushnet argues that same-sex attraction can either be aimed at unholy ends, or same-sex attraction can be used for good purposes. The unholy would be lust and fornication. The holy would be deeper friendships, public service, religious devotion, etc.

I have to say that I really appreciate Christians that are fighting the good fight and striving to live chaste lives in faithfulness to Jesus. Wesley Hill and Julie Rogers are two evangelicals featured in the piece who are doing just that. I am in their cheering section for the vocation that God has called them to.

I still think, however, that there is confusion about same-sex attraction. What I have been writing about in recent posts is in large part a response to the Christian affirmations of same-sex attraction that are on display in this article. Tushnet sees same-sex attraction as “sanctifiable,” as it were. But this is certainly a category mistake. Once the sinful elements of lust and fornication are removed, same-sex attraction is no longer same-sex attraction—at least not the way SSA has been defined clinically.

The defining element of same-sex attraction is desire for a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. Once that desire is removed, it is no longer SSA. It is just friendship. In that sense, same-sex attraction is not a means to better, more holy friendships. It is an impediment to them. When one feels himself desiring a sexual relationship with a person of the same-sex, the only appropriate response is repentance from sin (2 Tim. 2:22). It is not right or helpful to think of that sinful attraction as the foundation for building holy friendships. It is not.

The nature of those attractions, as a matter of fact, is precisely what is in dispute at the moment. My hunch is that the Roman Catholic influence at spiritualfriendship.org has something to do with our differences over this question. Roman Catholics have historically approached the issue of indwelling sin much differently than Reformed protestants. The Roman Catholic view of “desire/lust” (or “concupiscence”) is that it is not necessarily sinful. As I mentioned earlier this week, the evangelical position has in the main taught the opposite. Reformed evangelicals believe that the Bible teaches that desire for sin is sin.

This conversation is ongoing. If you want to get caught-up to speed, read here. You might also catch a couple recent posts by Owen Strachan (here and here). You can read the rest of Michelle Boorstein’s piece here.

60 Responses to The “celibate gay Christian” movement: How should we think about it?

  1. Christiane December 14, 2014 at 2:08 am #

    An interesting post, DENNY, thank you.
    One aspect (please correct me if I am wrong) of the difference between Catholic and Evangelical thought may be on the topic of ‘guilt’ over ‘temptation’. I do not fully understand the Evangelical position, but I know that in Catholicism, in order for something to be considered sinful, it must also be freely willed . . .
    Catholics look at the Temptation of Christ as an example of how He experienced the same fully human condition of being tempted as we are tempted, but He did not agree to willingly give in to that temptation, and so for Him there was no sin committed.

    We humans have many temptations that are NOT chosen. We are, as humans, suffering from a wounded nature (as Catholic’s call our condition), we are put to the trial severely and are often tempted to turn away from God. But in my faith if we refuse to turn away from Him in order to act on that temptation, then we do not sin. If we freely turn from Him and give in to temptation, then we are sinning and in need of repentance, His forgiveness, and a return again to the Lord. We WOULD be sinning IF we chose to place ourselves in settings where we know we will be strongly tempted, and if we have fallen and seek repentance and God’s forgiveness, we must also make a commitment to avoid these ‘near-occasions of sin’ settings.

    • Denny Burk December 14, 2014 at 2:21 am #

      A temptation isn’t a sin. It only becomes sin when we do evil in response to it either in desire or deed.

      • Bob Wilson December 14, 2014 at 2:30 am #

        How can you be tempted by something you don’t desire?

        • Denny Burk December 14, 2014 at 2:43 am #

          That’s how Jesus was tempted. He faced temptations (like the devil offering him the kingdoms of the world), but he never desired to do evil (see Heb. 4:15). He always only desired to do his Father’s will (John 5:19).

          • Don Johnson December 14, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

            Jesus wanted the cup to pass from him, but this was not the Father’s will. So I might say Jesus wanted to want the Father’s will, but not that “he always only desired the Father’s will” as you wrote.

            • Denny Burk December 15, 2014 at 10:23 am #

              I think John Piper’s article “Are There Two Wills in God?” answers the issue you’re talking about here.

          • Bob Wilson December 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

            Sorry, but as others have said, this is not true temptation. I’ve never had a desire to try cocaine, so offering it to me is not a temptation and I deserve no admiration for passing it up. For real addicts to pass it up it requires true dedication and they are the ones to be admired.

            • Denny Burk December 15, 2014 at 10:30 am #

              We have to be careful not project our own experience of temptation onto Jesus. As descendents of Adam, our experience of temptation is riddled with sin. Jesus’ experience of temptation is different from ours in that regard (Hebrews 4:15). He never sinned in desire or in deed. Jesus never had a desire in contradiction of the moral law of God. That’s the difference.

      • Brian Bowen December 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

        Where does Scripture ever refer to same sex marriage as “evil”?

  2. Don Johnson December 14, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    How can one have a temptation that is really a temptation if one does not have a desire that that temptation can affect? It seems to me that then it is not really a temptation. What sense does it make to say that one is tempted to do X but one does not desire X?

    • Denny Burk December 15, 2014 at 10:30 am #

      We have to be careful not project our own experience of temptation onto Jesus. As descendents of Adam, our experience of temptation is riddled with sin. Jesus’ experience of temptation is different from ours in that regard (Hebrews 4:15). He never sinned in desire or in deed. Jesus never had a desire in contradiction of the moral law of God. That’s the difference.

      • Don Johnson December 15, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

        ESV Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

        It seems to me that you do not agree with this verse.

        • Denny Burk December 15, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

          No, it is precisely because of this verse that we should not project our sinful experiences onto Jesus. Jesus suffered temptation “yet without sin.” Our experience of temptation crosses over into sin all the time. That is the difference. Are you suggesting that Jesus desired to engage in sin? That Jesus ever looked at a woman lustfully? The he ever broke the tenth commandment? Anyone who answers yes to any one of those questions has a sub-biblical (indeed sub-Christian) christology. I’m sure that’s not what you mean, but that is the implication of saying that Jesus ever desired to do sin.

          • Don Johnson December 15, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

            At the least, I read this verse very differently than you.

            I read Scripture as saying that Jesus had desires but that he did not express them in sinful ways. For example, after fasting he was hungry and this really means he was hungry and had a desire for food; furthermore, his desire for food was not sinful, but it seems to me that your argument could imply that it was.

            • Denny Burk December 15, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

              No, there’s nothing wrong with desiring food. Food is not evil. The real temptation was in the fact that Satan was offering the food and that he was tempting Jesus to forsake God’s purposes to serve Satan’s purposes. And we can say with confidence that Jesus never desired to serve Satan’s purposes. Again, there is nothing sinful about food per se. So it is not wrong to desire it.

              Desiring fornication, however, is different. Gay sex per se is sinful. To desire it is sin. Likewise, adultery per se is sinful. To desire it is evil. To desire non-marital sexual activity is the definition of lust. That is the difference.

              • Don Johnson December 15, 2014 at 3:54 pm #

                I agree that Jesus never desired to serve satan.

                I agree that people trying to be faithful interpreters of Scripture come to conclusions that you do. But it is not clear to me that your way is the only faithful way. There are certainly many translations that would lead a reader to conclude that homosex is always sinful.

                I agree that adultery is a sin, but did you know that at the time of Jesus the Pharisees taught that the only way to commit adultery was to have sex with another man’s wife? They taught that a husband having sex with someone not his wife did NOT break the marriage vows (although it was a sin). I think Jesus corrected them in Matt 19, this was one of the seven misinterpretations of Torah by the Pharisees that Jesus corrects there. This “adultery only if a wife is involved” idea was also part of Roman law, they were taught that a husband was NOT an adulterer if he had sex with slaves, etc. as long as they avoided married women.

                My point is that not knowing some details about the way words were understood in the 1st century might lead one to make some mistakes in interpretation. So the definitions of arsenokoitai and malakos can be critical.

                • Johnny Mason December 15, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

                  Don, are there any cases where homosex is not sinful? You seem to be implying as much,

                  • Don Johnson December 15, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

                    I think it is helpful to look first at a different example. (Conservative) Presbyterians believe in infant baptism while (Conservative) Baptists believe in believer’s baptism and since an infant cannot believe in Jesus, they do not baptize infants. According to Paul, if one cannot do something in faith, it is a sin for them. So someone that believes as Baptists do could not baptize an infant in faith and it would be a sin for them to do so. But it would not be a sin for a Presbyterian. Yet I believe that both Baptists and Presbyterians are trying to be faithful interpreters of Scripture, yet they disagree.

                    So anyone that believes what Dr. Burk (for example) teaches on homosex could not in faith do homosex. But Dr. Burk does not claim to be an infallible interpreter of Scripture. This is sometimes where the idea of clarity is claimed, supposedly Scripture is clear that homosex is always a sin, it is supposedly so obvious that any and all interpreters of Scripture that are trying to be faithful MUST declare that homosex is a sin. It is only if they are unfaithful that they might claim otherwise, so write off such people as liberals that do not accept Scripture as authoritative.

                    I think it is possible to be trying to be a faithful interpreter of Scripture and conclude that in some cases homosex is not a sin, while in other cases it would be a sin. Now one might not agree with that interpretation and think it is mistaken. But then we are back to a situation similar to the baptism conundrum, where people attempting to be faithful to Scripture disagree.

                    • Ryan Davidson December 16, 2014 at 3:00 am #

                      @Don

                      I get what you’re saying, but I do wonder whether baptism is an apposite comparison.

                      Slavery may be a better comparison. After all, Scripture never expressly condemns slavery, yet the abolitionists were convinced that it nonetheless did. In reality, the truth was probably somewhere in the middle. Scripture probably did condemn slavery as it was generally practiced in the Americas, but not in all instances (as the abolitionists had argued).

                      I see this issue as analogous. In the few instances where gay sex is mentioned, the references are all negative. Further, Scripture always links sex to procreation, which cannot occur as a result of gay sex. So, it’s awfully difficult to conclude that Scripture is ambivalent to gay sex. Even so, our current practices tend to depart in the opposite direction, e.g., improperly valorizing heterosexual desire, failing to uphold celibacy as a higher calling than marriage, upholding views of masculinity and femininity that are too focused on the nuclear family and that improperly frown on various non-sexual forms of same-sex attraction, etc.

                      From what I can tell, Eve and others are seeking to find a biblical balance between these non-biblical poles, and thereby to avoid the kind of needless carnage that grew out of the slavery debates.

                    • Don Johnson December 16, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

                      Ryan,
                      There are lots of examples where believers differ on doctrine. I chose baptism as that is one of the “milk” doctrines that all new believers are supposed to be taught before going on to the “meat” doctrines on other things. Yet believers cannot even agree on exactly what those “milk” doctrines are.

                      I basically thought like you do before I started investigating. I think one challenge is that Christians tend to read the OT thru the lens of the NT, but this is exactly backwards, the OT provides the foundation and context for the NT.

                    • Johnny Mason December 17, 2014 at 11:10 am #

                      Don, you seem to avoiding the question. You make it seem like men having sex with men is not a sin as long as the reader does not interpret it as such. This is a strange rationale. Gay sex is either a sin or it isn’t.

                      Your reasoning seems to allow for Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses to be faithful to Scripture, since they only differ on interpretation.

                      Also, you claim that the OT should inform the NT, which I agree with, yet when making statements such as this: “So the definitions of arsenokoitai and malakos can be critical.”, you betray that principal. You are using anything but the OT to inform your reading of 1 Corinthians.

                    • Don Johnson December 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

                      I think most evangelicals have been taught that it is fine to ignore much of the OT, since major parts supposedly do not apply in either the Dispensational or Reformed Covenant systems. I think this is a big mistake as I think it all applies.

                      Are there ways to read Scripture and conclude that homosex is always sinful? Sure, there are many ways to conclude this, especially if you use some translations that make this claim.

                      My claim is that there are faithful ways to read Scripture where homosex is not always sinful for everyone. Now these ways may be incorrect (who claims to be an infallible interpreter but the Pope?), but I do not see where they are unfaithful.

  3. Jay December 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    Denny, I think the problem you are having with some of what Tushnet and others in the movement are saying is this statement: “The defining element of same-sex attraction is desire for a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. Once that desire is removed, it is no longer SSA. It is just friendship. ” That may be the DEFINING element but it is by no means the only element that can make a same-sex relationship something more than friendship – the other element is romance. Put all together however these things can give gay (small G) people unique gifts. We can have a strong attraction to others of the same sex, perhaps stronger than many heterosexuals and yet those attractions may not include things like lust or sinful desire – rather simply a desire for greater intimacy for those of the same sex. I believe this is some of what Tushnet and others are touching on – that we need highlight the importance of celibacy and friendships (two things explicitly sanctioned and blessed in scripture) and that some gay people are uniquely equipped in many ways to do this. Your phrase “JUST friendship” highlights a great problem within the church – that we too often relegate these relationships, friendships, to a status less than what can be experienced within the bonds of holy marriage and/or romantic relationships, and that is simply not the case. The church needs to re-embrace and lift up the idea of friendship again – restore it to its honorable place as in the early church – for the sake of celibate people definitely, but also for the sake of us all.

  4. Dal December 14, 2014 at 5:36 pm #

    No, I don’t agree that this is acceptable to God. It’s the “Identity” they label themselves as. How about a celibate pedeophile? Or maybe a celibate rapist? pretty silly? yes it is, the label we should be seeking is “Christian” not “Gay, straight or anything other, because anything other is not of God.

    • Jay December 15, 2014 at 1:03 am #

      Dal – There is big G Gay which means you accept your homosexual desires and have decided to live that sort of lifestyle. There is small g gay which means nothing more than homosexual. It is understood to be synonymous with Same sex attracted and homosexual, nothing more. Besides rapists and pedophiles are things which are against the law. AND keeping the word gay has opened up so many bridges with the larger Gay community – allowing there to be calm and respectful discussion on this issue and I think, in the end, pulling more Gay people back into the church because it doesn’t immediately set up an Us vs Them mentality it says, we are you, we just have different but important ideas regarding sexuality. Think about this before you jump on the judgmental bandwagon

      • Dal Bailey December 15, 2014 at 2:19 am #

        Jay, pardon me, but you obviously seem to think that just because it’s a small g that it somehow makes it OK. No, never buying that at anytime it’s “OK to be gay”

        Leviticus, Corinthians, Matthew all have passages which either point out that homosexuals won’t be acceptable to God or that marriage is between male and female.

        Anything else is false.

        • Jay December 15, 2014 at 11:11 am #

          Dal – you’re completely missing the point. And Besides the word homosexual that is used in the Bible was not a word used in Biblical times. The actual Greek word found in the Bible cannot be directly translated to mean homosexual – that’s just the best word we have to use for the translation

          • Dal Bailey December 15, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

            If you want to play the “well they didn’t mean it that way” game, go ahead and play by yourself then, it’s only yourself you are fooling.

        • Jay December 15, 2014 at 11:13 am #

          And While I’m at it the Bible makes it VERY clear that it is the action of sleeping with someone of the same sex that is the sin, not what you call yourself. Nowhere in the Bible does it say if you call yourself gay or homosexual you will not be allowed into Heaven. 🙂 God doesn’t care what you call yourself he cares what you do and how you live your life.

          • Dal Bailey December 15, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

            And to identify with the sexuality is still keeping a foot there.

            • Jay December 16, 2014 at 2:26 am #

              No Dal, what it’s doing is opening up the possibility of important dialogue with the larger gay community for much needed healing and with that the hope that more gay people will come back to the Church.

              • Dal Bailey December 16, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

                The gay community doesn’t need “Healing” what they need to do is understand their way of life is sinful and unacceptable. Doesn’t matter if you’re using a small”g” or a big “G” It’;s all SIN to me.

            • Jay Roberts December 16, 2014 at 2:31 am #

              When alcoholics go to meetings they don’t deny that they are alcoholic, they get up in front of everyone and proclaim it. They don’t pretend that they are suffering from anything other than what they are. While there are important differences between the two camps, this is similar to what small g gay folks are doing – that and keeping gay as part of how they describe themselves opens up a world of possibility for important dialogue with the larger Gay community – it opens up opportunities for fellowship and evangelism that wouldn’t be there if they didn’t use this term.

              • Dal Bailey December 16, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

                Jay, there’s a major difference in those camps, why you chose them is beyond me. However, I state again. to be “Born again” means dropping ALL of your past. Holding onto the “gay” part simply means to me you’re NOT fully committed to changing your life.

                • Jay Roberts December 17, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

                  Dal – I hear what you’re saying but I’m not sure you are hearing me. They have dropped all of their past. Being gay is just stating a real and present reality – that they are homosexual. You don’t stop being a homosexual (having romantic feelings of the same sex) just because you become Christian. In the same way people don’t stop being alcoholics when they become Christian or people who are divorced (remember divorce is a sin) don’t stop being divorced. And this latter group might very well decide in certain situations to call themselves divorced. Would you have a problem with that too? Small g gay means nothing more than homosexual. When you become a Christian and dedicate your life to God you don’t stop being a sinner.

                  • Dal Bailey December 17, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

                    If they were adhering to the “Spirit” of the passage, they’d then say “I reject my past completely and totally and won’t have anything to do with it” since they are keeping that “Gay” in their designation, then they are NOT fulfilling one bit.

                    Go ahead and disagree, nothing you say will change my mind.

  5. Ryan Davidson December 14, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    I, like others here, become confused whenever this issue arises here. It strikes me that the word “desire” can have a range of meanings, and that confusion results when there’s insufficient effort made to elucidate what someone actually means when he or she uses the word.

    Our English word “desire” can certainly include very specific kinds of desiring, such as the mental enactment of specific sinful acts with specific people. See, e.g., Matt. 5:27-28. But it need not refer to anything that’s so specific. Desire can also be fairly generic, describing general predilections that have not yet ripened into any kind of specific intent to commit a sinful act. So, just talking about “desire” doesn’t seem to do justice.

    Then, one has to confront the complexities of what’s meant by “sexual orientation.” The APA’s current definition, which is subject to constant change, is three paragraphs long and includes a number of non-sexual forms of attraction and also accounts for the social relationships and the socio-cultural environment in which attraction is expressed.

    Then, consider that sin and temptation are not mutually exclusive categories in practice. For example, lust is a sin, but it is also a temptation to commit a particular physical sex act (which is a different sin). So, certain temptations may themselves be sins. But there are temptations that are just temptations, which have not yet ripened to the point that one desires to commit a specific sin. Of course, on top of that, there isn’t a single desire that any of us has that isn’t corrupted in some way by original sin.

    All this to say…I’m not sure that we’ve sufficiently narrowed down the question so as to permit a useful answer. So, I have my doubts as to the utility of the inquiry. If Denny and Eve were discussing specific concrete situations, I’m guessing that they would generally arrive at similar conclusions as to the nature of the sins in question.

    It does occur to me that there may be a desire to suggest that the male-female sex-based binary also requires a corollary gender-role binary, e.g., in terms of idealized visions of masculinity and femininity. After all, Eve’s thesis does cut against that proposition. But that proposition owes more to Freud and his progeny than it does to anything in Scripture or in the Christian tradition. After all, Paul confers the highest status within the church to those who adopt non-sexualized gender roles. See, e.g., I Cor. 7 (viewing sexualized gender roles as an accommodation for human weakness). This is fully consistent with Jesus’ limitation of marriage to the present eschatological age. See Matt. 22:30. And, for those of us who are Reformed, this is echoed in the answer to Q138 of the Westminster Larger Catechism, where marriage is given to those who lack the gift of continency (implying that continency is preferred). After all, this notion of valorizing heterosexual desire is something that has little progeny in the Church prior to the post-WWII period, and didn’t pick up much steam until the “biblical manhood” movement emerged in the ’80s. But if this is just some roundabout way of trying to hold onto the Danvers Statement, then we ought to have that discussion.

    The Danvers Statement (and the corollary notions of “biblical manhood” and “biblical womanhood”) assumes that a gender-role binary is necessarily implied by the male-female sex binary of Genesis. I suspect that most folks who write at Spiritual Friendship, including Eve, would reject that proposition. So, that may be the root of the difference here.

    • Dal December 14, 2014 at 10:38 pm #

      Ryan, you said a lot, but no reader would understand what you are meaning. I say “Remove the label for it’s against God” trying to discern sexuality and sin and temptation is simple when you look at scripture.

      Second Peter 3:14 warns of this position and attitude saying: “Therefore, beloved, looking for these things, be diligent, spotless, and without blemish, to be found by Him in peace.” As born again Christians, we are to be found ”spotless – and without blemish.” Those who defile, are not, and cannot be, in this category.

      To say “I am a “Celibate” gay Christian is hypocrisy.

      • Christiane Smith December 14, 2014 at 11:22 pm #

        Hi DAL,
        do you feel that the condition called ‘same-sex attraction’ is freely chosen by a person;
        or do you see ‘same-sex attraction’ as a ‘trial’ which is visited on a person by the evil one ?

        • Dal December 15, 2014 at 12:53 am #

          I believe that when born, our sexuality is fixed. As we grow up, we then realize our attraction to others. If in the case of same sex, then you have a choice, follow Gods path, or your own.

          • Dal December 15, 2014 at 1:22 am #

            I am sorry, I didn’t fully answer that question. It can be said it’s due to outside influence, it can also be said that it’s a mental defect ( Once it was labeled such) but as far as conclusions go, I can’t truly say why some are gay and some are not.

            But that misses point that the lifestyle is not acceptable. There’s no mistaking that.

            • Denny Burk December 15, 2014 at 1:27 am #

              Jay and Dal,

              Thanks for taking time to participate in this discussion. Just a quick reminder about house rules. You have to post using your first and last names. No pseudonyms.

              http://www.dennyburk.com/comments-policy/

              Thanks!
              Denny

              • Dal Bailey December 15, 2014 at 2:08 am #

                Sorry, thought it was set automatically

      • Ryan Davidson December 14, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

        @Dal

        You’ve proffered a fair number of conclusions, but I don’t see much in the way of supporting evidence. It strikes me that you and Eve may be working with somewhat different definitions of “gay.” Rather than simply comparing people to pedophiles and rapists, it may do you well do make some effort to understand their arguments and to engage with them in a way that demonstrates Christian charity and love for your sisters and brothers in Christ.

        • Dal Bailey December 15, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

          I realize I was a bit extreme. For that I apologize. But the issue I have is the they still identify with the sexuality. I’m not perfect, I too lived perversely, but when I accepted Christ, I did it completely and not half way. I am a “Christian” not a “Celibate (perverse lifestyle) Christian”

          • Jay Roberts December 16, 2014 at 2:39 am #

            Dal – they only identify with the sexuality because it is a part of them and likely always will be. Not calling themselves small g gay = homosexual = same sex attracted doesn’t mean that they are not these things. You could stop calling yourself a man, and I could stop saying I have blue eyes but that wouldn’t take away from the fact that your or I have these traits. You seem to have the mistaken notion that they are desiring to hold onto their sexuality and that is not what is happening. They are merely describing a reality that exists. Big G Gay is used by those who embrace the sexuality.

            • Dal Bailey December 16, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

              Sorry, but the reality is that if they claim to be “Born again”: then I point to Romans 12:23 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” They still conform to the world and not to God.

              • Jay Roberts December 17, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

                The fact that they are are willing to remain celibate and chaste goes against the world so I argue they are adhering to the very spirit of that passage. What they call themselves does not matter- what they DO does

  6. Don Johnson December 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    How do I (now) think of the “gay celibate Christian” movement?

    My take is that for those that accept the traditional reading of Scripture that classifies all homosex as sin and for those that are given the gift of celibacy, this can be a way to be allowed to be members of some churches that continue to read the Bible in this traditional way. But it seems that they will not be allowed to be members in good standing of churches that believe in Mohler’s/Burk’s understanding of being gay.

  7. Esther O'Reilly December 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm #

    One big problem I see with this article is the suggestion of co-living arrangements for celibate gays (!!) What a disastrous idea.

    • Jay Roberts December 16, 2014 at 2:43 am #

      Esther, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea. I think co-living arrangements for any celibate people gay and/or straight would be a very good thing. One would just have to make sure that you are not attracted in some way to the person or persons you are living with. I’ve lived with many people who are of a sex I am attracted to but I was not attracted to these people and the arrangement worked out very well. This kind of thing could serve as a wonderful opportunity for friendship and intimacy that married people often get and could also serve to really support celibate people.

  8. Christiane Smith December 16, 2014 at 12:43 am #

    a reflection from Gregory of Nazianzus
    ” For that which He has not assumed He has not healed; but that which is united to His Godhead is also saved. If only half Adam fell, then that which Christ assumes and saves may be half also; but if the whole of his (Adam’s) nature fell, it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was begotten, and so be saved as a whole. Let them not, then, begrudge us our complete salvation, or clothe the Saviour only with bones and nerves and the portraiture of humanity.”

    Please know that Gregory of Nazianzus believed that Our Lord remained completely without sin.

    As to how Our Lord and High Priest understands and sympathizes with our weaknesses, whether through His Incarnational assumption of a human nature,
    or through the depth of His own experiences with temptation,
    there is also a THIRD way Our Lord directly faced the evil coming from our sins: His Crucifixion.
    In short, He knows us better than we know ourselves.
    “We are sinners, but we do not know how great.
    He alone knows Who died for our sins.” (John Henry Newman)

  9. johnhughmorgan3 December 16, 2014 at 1:55 am #

    Denny – Regarding celibacy, think about this for a moment. The very lifestyle that Paul, Jeremiah, Daniel, John The Baptist, Elijah, Lazarus, Shadrach, Meshach, Obednego, Martha, Hagar, Ruth, and Jesus himself chose while on this earth has been stereotyped into the abominable world of sexual orientation, homosexuality and vile affections. The very life that Apostle Paul honored and recommended as a gift for those who careth for the things that belong to the Lord has been cast into the perverted world of unnatural lust and same sex attraction. Even the phrase “celibate gay Christian” is an oxymoron. Such does not exist. Celibate Roman Catholic lesbian? That actually made me laugh. Maybe you and other wordsmiths need to work on a new vocabulary, because even putting the word “celibacy” in the same train of thought with homosexuality and the scandals of the Catholic church is offensive to those who have been called to care for the things that belong to the Lord.

    • Paul Barth December 16, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

      Great point. Yeah even the terms “gay” and “homosexual” and “sexual orientation” are deceptive concepts. Sodomy does not make you “happy” and it isn’t a genetic or medical “condition.” It’s sin, plain and simple.

  10. Paul Barth December 16, 2014 at 5:03 pm #

    Great article! Thank you for talking about this subject and standing firm against this shady tactic! I was discussing this with someone who claimed to be a “gay Christian” he claimed that the Apostle (and thus the Holy Spirit Himself) didn’t understand sexual orientations like we do today. To posit that the Holy Spirit didn’t understand something that he believes is real is in itself a ridiculous notion, but also in Romans 1 the Apostle explicitly calls deviant sexual orientations a “debased/reprobate mind.”

    Repentance is changing your mind as well, not just refraining from a certain action. You don’t see other Christians claiming to be proud theives, adulterers, fornicators, pedophiles, etc. The Bible says “such WERE some of you,” as in they no longer are. Why would a Christian want to identify as being proud of their past sin that they are supposedly deeply sorry, contrite, and penitent about?

    If a sodomite “sexual orientation” is natural and not sinful, then you would also have to say that people who have a “sexual orientation” toward animals, children, dead bodies, etc. is also natural and not sinful as long as they are celibate. This is all just a blurring the line tactic by the LGBT activists. I hope our pastors and churches don’t get duped by this and I hope they teach their people biblically about this. Certainly homosexuals can be saved, but they must fully repent of their sin, not be proud of their unnatural affections and perverse “orientation” which is just a debased mind.

    • Jonathan Bee December 17, 2014 at 4:33 am #

      agreed where do you draw the line Denny?

      surely the desire to have sex with someone who is not your wife- aka lust is a sin?
      is it now okay to desire rape?

      these people are not acting on it, but is it okay to desire this?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The “celibate gay Christian” movement: How should we think about it? | Denny Burk | SBC Open Forum - December 15, 2014

    […] This is an interesting article not least because secular people tend to find celibacy strange and even subhuman. Continue reading ? […]

  2. Morning Mashup 12/17 – Grace Satisfies - December 17, 2014

    […] The “Celibate Gay Christian” Movement – I am intrigued by this discussion. When Denny Burk speaks to sexual ethics, we would all do well to listen. He writes, “The defining element of same-sex attraction is desire for a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. Once that desire is removed, it is no longer SSA. It is just friendship. In that sense, same-sex attraction is not a means to better, more holy friendships. It is an impediment to them. When one feels himself desiring a sexual relationship with a person of the same-sex, the only appropriate response is repentance from sin (2 Tim. 2:22). It is not right or helpful to think of that sinful attraction as the foundation for building holy friendships. It is not.” […]

  3. Friday’s 5 to Live By | Biblical Counseling Coalition Blogs - December 19, 2014

    […] Denny Burke offers balanced, introductory thoughts on The Celibate Gay Christian Movement: What Do We Think About It?  […]

  4. What Is “Gay”? | Spiritual Friendship - December 19, 2014

    […] of their SSA. Nevertheless, sexual desire does seem to be the defining element. As I mentioned in a recent post, the defining element of same-sex attraction is desire for a sexual relationship with someone of […]

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