Sunday, June 10, 2007

Thoughts On Celibacy, Part 3: The Church

I am very sorry for how late this post is. I had intended to get it done last week, but it turned out that staff training at the summer camp I'm working at was way more intense than I thought it would be. I haven't had much time to myself, and though they do have wireless here, it is very, very slow.

Another reason this post is late is because I really wasn't sure what it should be on. When I started this series, it fit into three neat little categories: the calling, the life, and the church. They were all difficult to write about, because to tell you all about my beliefs regarding them, I had to do a lot of reflection and figure out exactly what I did believe. Even then, I was left with new questions and ideas. I hoped to address some of them in the comments, but since I'm at camp I really don't have time to reply to all the wonderful comments that people have left, even though I'd love to.

This post is about celibacy and how it relates to the church. It's the most difficult of the three topics to pin down, because the church is not a simple entity that has black and white opinions about all topics. It's a massive group of independent (and imperfect) individuals with diverse backgrounds and personality types. Naturally, reactions to and opinions about celibacy are going to vary from congregation to congregation, and even from person to person.

While some people will react strongly against a person actively choosing celibacy (since they see marriage and sex as a duty, not an option), others will openly respect and support those choosing this life. Catholics come to mind when I mention the latter, but they are not the only Christians who support celibate individuals. They just seem to have more of a defined stance on the issue.

That is not to say Evangelicals don't support celibacy. Like I said in the last post, we probably all know Christians who have active roles in their local churches and have never married. They may not have deliberately chosen celibacy, but nonetheless the fact that they are unmarried does not make them any less than the other members. Perhaps in some congregations it would, but like I said, the church is not a perfect cohesive group.

In regards to homosexuals like me who are choosing celibacy, the situation is a little different. Regular concerns about openness are thrown into the mix, and one has to wonder if a straight celibate individual is more accepted than a gay one. Personally, I have no idea. Many would say that sexual orientation shouldn't matter at all to someone pursuing celibacy, and to that I would agree. But one of the best parts about the church is that it should be a place where we can openly talk about our struggles, our feelings, our desires, and our temptations.

The key word in the there is "should," of course. By no means is the church perfect, and even people who don't struggle sexually can have a hard time bringing their concerns to a congregation, especially if that congregation is made of Christians who also don't share for fear of what the others might think. In my view, telling Christians about struggles I have maintaining chastity is no different than a married man telling about his struggles to maintain a healthy marriage.

It's important, I suppose, to remember that the church is made up of individuals, and I am a part of it. If I want ideas, attitudes, and opinions to shift, the best way to do it is to be as open about myself as possible. If I feel that God is leading me down this road, then I can feel confident in the fact that He won't lead me poorly. My life can be a living apologetic. Sure, some may doubt my intentions. They may think that I'm doing this simply because I'm afraid of what society thinks of homosexuality. On the other side of the spectrum, they might think that I'm doing it because I don't have enough faith that God can "change" my orientation. Neither is true. I don't care what society thinks, and I think God can do anything.

However, there is always the question of what He actually will do, and what He wants for each of our lives. If God wants me to marry a woman and start a family, then I'm sure He will make that happen. If not, then I will follow Him anyway. One of the biggest themes of the Bible is that obedience to God has never led anyone astray. For me, part of that obedience means celibacy. Some don't get it. The church may not get it. But God gets it, and I rejoice in that fact.

If you would like to share you experiences concerning celibacy and the church, please do so. If I have time to reply, I definitely will. Other than that, my first group of campers comes today, and I am very excited about working with them. Wish me luck, and God bless!

Thoughts on Celibacy, Part 1: The Calling

Thoughts on Celibacy, Part 2: The Life

10 comments:

James Reggio said...

If I want ideas, attitudes, and opinions to shift, the best way to do it is to be as open about myself as possible. If I feel that God is leading me down this road, then I can feel confident in the fact that He won't lead me poorly.

Amen, and amen.

Thank you for sharing your convictions; it's both encouraging and refreshing.

May the Sovereign Lord renew you in worship today, Jay. Have a blast with your campers.

Norm! said...

". . . If God wants me to marry a woman and start a family, then I'm sure He will make that happen. If not, then I will follow Him anyway. One of the biggest themes of the Bible is that obedience to God has never led anyone astray. For me, part of that obedience means celibacy. Some don't get it. The church may not get it. But God gets it, and I rejoice in that fact."

It sounds like you have a good idea of your journey. I wish you the best and hope you find a church community that will support you in your journey.

BTW, I'm glad to hear you got the camp counselor job. As a former camper, it seemed counselors worked 24/7, so I doubt you'll have time to blog much.

Brandon said...

"One of the biggest themes of the Bible is that obedience to God has never led anyone astray. For me, part of that obedience means celibacy. Some don't get it. The church may not get it. But God gets it, and I rejoice in that fact."

Amen to that! Stand firm in your beliefs, Jay. And have fun at camp.

God bless.

kurt_t said...

Yeah, you're right, Jay. I don't get it.

Your belief system just doesn't work in my head.

MR said...

The chuch has been very important in helping me to remain celibate. By the church I mean individual Christians who have a strong friendship with me. I don't think I would succeed without the love and encouragement of God's people.

Yes, I am an active part of an organized church, but that alone would not do it. I really need that close fellowship with a few who I am open with. Having that has helped me immensely even though many in the church have wanted me to hide my struggles with SSA.

RikFleming said...

Thank you for your blog. It is good to find people who are of like-mind and have the same struggles. It lets me know that I am not alone. I am linking your blog to my own at:

http://gaychristianjournal.blogspot.com/


Rik Fleming

Jane said...

Jay,

Sorry for the lengthy comments. They always look so short in those comment boxes.

Ya know, "Side B" works in my head a little more each day. I'm always catching myself refering to homosexuality as a temptation or sin. Either that is conditioning or unconsciously I do believe it is wrong and consciously I'm just not going to admit it. But celibacy is definitely something to keep thinking about.

I'll be around on these blogs too. If I can figure out what to e-mail some year, I might do that too. Well better go, thank you for writing about all of this and have fun at camp. :)

Jane

ciku said...

Question,

does God call women to celibacy and are there examples in the Bible and what would be the purpose of such a call??

Jay said...

I can't think of any perpetually single women in the Bible. I do think that if God could theoretically call men to celibacy, though, then He could certainly call women similarly.

Laura said...

Hi,

I've just stumbled across your blog and very glad I did!

At last! Someone speaking about celibacy in a positive light! Very refreshing.

Just to give some context... I am a woman. I am not gay (sorry, from some of the comments here I felt like I ought to specify that!), yet I feel I may be being called to lifelong celibacy -AND- I am excited by the prospect!

I've just read this article below which pretty much sums up all the reasons why it excites me:

(I'm not actually Catholic myself, but think I can agree with a lot of what is being said here)

http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0114.html

I am very fed up of hearing talks/sermons on being single where the speaker is clearly unhappy with their life and clinging on to every last hope that God will at some point send 'The One' into their life.

Don't get me wrong, I know that if you are called to marriage then singleness must be incredibly painful. And I am not trying to deny that it isn't tough.

BUT I do wish there were more people in the church who could be a bit more positive about it and quit trying to marry us all off!

Sorry for ranting but I'm just happy that there are people somewhere out there in the world that have actually chosen to be celibate!

Laura