appropriately celibate

This was posted over at StandFirm. I concur: one of the finest statements thus far in the “listening process” we were enjoined to undertake. While I might quarrel with the author’s unwillingness to seek therapy or “healing,” I too applaud his vow of celibacy. God bless him.

I can’t begin to respond to all of the points being made on this thread, but call this my modest contribution to the “listening process.”

Before I became a Christian, I understood perfectly well that there was one Biblical standard for human sexuality: that of lifelong, faithful, heterosexual monogamy.  No exceptions!  As a sexually active gay male, that was one of the best reasons I had for not wanting to be one (a Christian, that is).  The Church was honest with me, and I was more than happy to return the favor.

After my conversion to Christ, my understanding remained fully intact and I knew what was expected of me.  In order to be faithful to Our Lord and the demands of the Christian faith, active participation in a gay lifestyle had to go, and so it did.  I have been practicing sexual abstinence for fifteen years now and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It may seem strange to many, but I have actually come to find it quite liberating.

Having said that, let me add that I still don’t have a “straight” bone in my body.  Although I have participated, to my tremendous benefit, in so-called “ex gay” ministries and counseling, I never pursued reparative therapy or imagined that becoming a heterosexual was something that God had in mind for my life.  To be sure, celibacy isn’t for everyone, and I am very happy for those who have gone on to achieve the necessary healing in their lives which has enabled them to become Christian husbands and fathers (and yes, God be praised, that does happen!), but I do not envy them, or feel particularly deficient because I am unable to follow their example.  I have developed a real sense that God is calling upon me to be faithful at all times, but not necessarily “successful,” where heterosexuality in itself is the norm by which such success is measured.

Perhaps I am one of those people who discovered, upon becoming “a eunuch for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven,” that this was simply a vocation to which God would have eventually called me in any case, regardless of my sexual orientation.  As scripture says, “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Amen!  I may never know the tremendous joy, or bear the awesome responsibility, of being a husband or a father, but I do know what it would mean if I abandoned my commitment to chastity and returned to active involvement in a homosexual lifestyle, “monogamously partnered” or otherwise: the effective renunciation of my faith in Christ and a willing involvement in mortal sin.  It would be both spiritually and intellectually dishonest for me to pretend otherwise.

God loves us all very much, exactly as we are, and the Christian life is one of joy, celebration, and fulfillment.  But I think the call to conversion is also an invitation to place ourselves, our very lives, between the hammer and the anvil as God undertakes the serious business of forging us into new creatures in Christ, to the extent that we will allow Him to do so.  There is a real sense in which we simply must “count the cost” of discipleship if we are to become Christians at all.  (And I have tremendous respect for the honest pagan who says, “No, I simply cannot believe any of this, and I am not prepared to live this way.” Such persons can be safely entrusted to the “Hound of Heaven.” I am confident that He too appreciates their honesty, and manages to catch up with quite a few of them!) We are always free to decide for ourselves that the cost is too great, but we are never free to decide on our own just what that cost is going to be.  Ultimately, we must accept it upon God’s terms or not at all.  He seems to want all of us, all that we are, and all that we have, and, unless we turn Him away, He simply will not settle for anything less.  Our sexuality doesn’t change a thing.

As I struggle with temptation, and against any residual tendencies towards despair and resignation (and I do again and again), I am always drawn to the words of St. Peter to Our Lord: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” To whom else, indeed?  And so for me, the journey of faith, and the challenge of faithfulness, continues.

Thanks for “listening,” and God bless all here!

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