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August 5, 2014 / Randall

Gay, Christian and … celibate: The changing face of the homosexuality debate [COMMENTARY]


Eve Tushnet, a 35-year-old whose book “Gay and Catholic” comes out in October, is fast emerging as a significant voice on sexuality and Catholic teaching.

“I felt like there’s a lot of things I don’t understand, but I can do my wrestling and doubting from within the church,” she said.

This article talks about how after the ex-gay movement (which tried to “turn” homosexuals into heterosexuals – something that even the leaders of the movement eventually admitted was impossible) fell apart, some gay Christians are making the choice to remain celibate rather than engage in same-sex relations – something they believe is not God’s will for them.

This puts them in a fraught position – wedged between two two sides of an on-going discussion where stereotypes and accusations run rampant.

Straddling one of America’s deepest cultural divides, Vanessa Vitiello Urquhart wrote in a recent piece for Slate that celibate gay Christians present a challenge to the tolerance of both their churches and the secular LGBT community.

Here’s my take on the matter.

If a Christian has thoughtfully and prayerfully thought through the issue of their sexuality and what they want to do (or not do) with it, then I think the church needs to respect whatever decision they arrive at. It doesn’t mean that their decision is immune to criticism or questioning, but at the very least, their decision should be respected.

So when it comes to Christians who are attracted to those of the same sex and choose to remain celibate, my guess is that they have thought, talked, and prayed through this issue FAR more carefully and thoroughly than most (if not all) straight Christians who have also chosen the path of celibacy (and this would be especially true for those who are caught up in the purity movement).

And if that’s the case, then I fully celebrate their decision.

One caveat. If groups that exist to support celibate gay Christians (like Spiritual Friendship) become a movement, I think there could be a danger of them teaching the next generation of gay Christians that the only option they have regarding their sexuality is to choose to be celibate. Thus, years down the road, if they’re not careful, celibate gay Christian groups could perpetuate the very same sort of narrow, unthinking, self-denying damage that the purity movement has done for straight Christians.

But that doesn’t seem to be happening now. Right now, it sounds like the discussion is still healthy and vibrant and that gay Christians have the freedom to make their own informed choices.

And I think the straight Christian community could learn a lot from that.

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