A great post by Andrew Asdell.
Celibacy isnâ€™t a word we use a whole lot these days. It is a â€˜churchyâ€™Â word that means a person will not engage in any sexual intimacy for either a period of time or for oneâ€™s entire life. But Iâ€™ve also come to see that itâ€™s a positive calling towards serving the Kingdom without the responsibility of a spouse. While a life of celibacy is what God has for all of us who are unmarried, it is not assumed that many believers will take on this burden for a lifetime. The assumption is that all will eventually get married and pursue a spiritually, emotionally, and physically intimate relationship with their spouse. But for me, I had to work on figuring out what it would look like to never pursue a sexual relationship with another. I had to face a future that would set me apart from my friends and peers:
I would never have that one person whom I cherished above all others.
I would not have that partner who walked with me through all of lifeâ€™s good times and bad.
I was choosing a life where I would have few people to look to as my role model. I was choosing to spend many evenings alone. I was choosing to open myself up to a deep pain and loneliness that would be hard to combat no matter how strong my faith was. I still have times where it feels overwhelming to look ahead to my next 60 years. However, I have remained convinced that this is the life God has for me.
I will not lie to you. This is often a difficult road to walk, trying to be faithful to the Gospelâ€™s demand on my life. We all are called to sacrifice much in order to best follow Christ. My sacrifice just happens to include sexual intimacy.
I have continued along this path as I have served among you and share life with so many of you. Several close friends have been there every step of the way. Theyâ€™ve cried with me, encouraged me, welcomed me into their families, and allowed me to pour out onto them all the extra time and love I have to give.
And what about sharing our struggles?
Some of you may be wondering right now why I would feel the need to share so much of my story with everyone here today. Trust me when I say this was not a decision I came to lightly.
While I have several â€œsafe spacesâ€ where I can talk about the joys and sorrows of my life, the broader Church has been very much a â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tellâ€ environment. I read a sermon this summer that explained this really well.
Pastor Dan Scott from Christ Church in Nashville preached on homosexuality back in June or July. Some of you may have read or listened to this same sermon as Pastor Bill and a few others shared it on Facebook. I appreciated the entire thing, but a couple of points really stuck with me. Allow me to highlight them:
â€œIt would be far healthier for a church and its people if a homosexual person were able to appropriately reveal their struggle than to force him or her into a â€œdonâ€™t ask, donâ€™t tellâ€ situation. When congregations quietly accept a personâ€™s contribution to their church while suppressing the reality of their struggle, it corrupts the integrity and witness of that church. It also creates denial mechanisms that disillusion individuals who grow up in that church.â€
â€œThe bottom line then is that many people we love are attracted to members of their own sex. Just like the rest of us, they struggle to live godly lives. If they are not welcome among us, or if we must shame them into an unreasonable silence about the nature of their struggle, we simply donâ€™t have much to offer the world except condemnation. For all these reasons, we must become more mature in the way we deal with our friends, family and brothers and sisters in Christ who experience same-sex attraction.â€
Itâ€™s as if what we communicate by our silence is that I will remain a welcomed part of this community as long as I donâ€™t talk about this aspect of my life. I would not say that this is intentional, but it is an unhealthy dynamic that exists within the church. I came to see that one of the only ways to help make the church a safer place was to step up and speak. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m up here sharing this morning. Thatâ€™s why Iâ€™m opening myself up to answer any questions you all may have. I donâ€™t have all the answers, but Iâ€™ll gladly share my heart with you all and keep the conversation going.
That final paragraph…