Celibacy & friendship

Wesley Hill is a gay Christian who agrees with the Biblical teachings on homosexuality and is celibate.  He writes for First Things, among other places, and provides a useful perspective on the current controversies about gays and the church.  In a response to the shutting down of Exodus International, he makes the point that the Christian tradition has some rich, practical teaching  about two disciplines that can be of enormous help to gays (as well as non-gays):  celibacy and spiritual friendship (in which same-sex relationships can be fulfilling without being sexual).

From Wesley Hill,  After Exodus, What? » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

Reparative therapy has never owed much to Christian theology in the first place—its roots lie more in Freud than in the teachings of Jesus or the apostle Paul—so it’s high time that evangelicals became much more familiar with what the Christian tradition itself has to offer those who experience same-sex attraction, namely, a long history of practice and reflection on both celibacy and same-sex friendship. These historic Christian resources haven’t been entirely absent from evangelical discussions, but I think most would agree that they haven’t been prominent.

Follow the links for details about those two Christian disciplines (including a whole blog on “spiritual friendship”) and how they can relate to the needs of gays today.

Heterosexuals also would do well to re-learn the art of celibacy and the spiritual value of friendship.

You might want to read Wesley Hill’s book,Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.  Here is the description on Amazon:

‘Gay,’ ‘Christian,’ and ‘celibate’ don’t often appear in the same sentence. Yet many who sit next to us in the pew at church fit that description, says author Wesley Hill. As a celibate gay Christian, Hill gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to wrestle firsthand with God’s ‘No’ to same-sex relationships. What does it mean for gay Christians to live faithful to God while struggling with the challenge of their homosexuality? What is God’s will for believers who experience same-sex desires? Those who choose celibacy are often left to deal with loneliness and the hunger for relationships. How can gay Christians experience God’s favor and blessing in the midst of a struggle that for many brings a crippling sense of shame and guilt? Weaving together reflections from his own life and the lives of other Christians, such as Henri Nouwen and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hill offers a fresh perspective on these questions. He advocates neither unqualified ‘healing’ for those who struggle, nor their accommodation to temptation, but rather faithfulness in the midst of brokenness. ‘I hope this book may encourage other homosexual Christians to take the risky step of opening up their lives to others in the body of Christ,’ Hill writes. ‘In so doing, they may find, as I have, by grace, that being known is spiritually healthier than remaining behind closed doors, that the light is better than the darkness.’

 

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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