Saturday Symposium: Reasons for Choosing Celibacy

Good morning, readers. By the time you see this post on Saturday morning, the two of us will be almost a full day into a weekend retreat with some of our dearest friends. Please pray for us during this time of much-needed spiritual rejuvenation. We’ll be (mostly) unplugged until Sunday evening, so it’s going to take us a bit of extra time to reply to all responses from last week’s surprisingly popular question. We’ve read them all and have spent the whole week reflecting. We’re eager to get back to you with our thoughts.

Even though we’re out of town and away from the internet for the weekend, we didn’t want to leave you without a new Saturday Symposium question:

How this works: It’s very simple. We ask a multi-part question related to a topic we’ve blogged about during the past week or are considering blogging about in the near future, and you, our readers, share your responses in the comments section. Feel free to be open, reflective, and vulnerable…and to challenge us. But as always, be mindful of the comment policy that ends each of our posts. Usually, we respond fairly quickly to each comment, but in order to give you time to think, come back, add more later if you want, and discuss with other readers, we will wait until after Monday to respond to comments on Saturday Symposium questions.

This week’s Saturday Symposium question: “Why did you choose celibacy?” is probably the most predictable question we receive, both in real time and from blog readers. It seems almost everyone involved in the conversation about Christianity and the LGBT community has an opinion about celibacy, particularly the issue of why some LGBT people choose to become celibate. There are hundreds of reasons a person might choose a celibate way of life. In your opinion, are some of these reasons better than others? Are some more problematic than others? Do a person’s reasons for choosing celibacy matter? Do they matter more for LGBT people than for heterosexual, cisgender people who choose celibacy?

We look forward to reading your responses. If you’re concerned about having your comment publicly associated with your name, please consider using the Contact Us page to submit your comment. We can post it under a pseudonym (i.e. John says, “your comment”) or summarize your comment in our own words (i.e. One person observed…). Participating in this kind of public dialogue can be risky, and we want to do what we can to protect you even if that means we preserve your anonymity. Have a wonderful weekend!


Sarah and Lindsey

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7 thoughts on “Saturday Symposium: Reasons for Choosing Celibacy

  1. I chose celibacy as it was the most honest way to reconcile my sexuality and my faith. I think it helped that being raised in a liberal Anglican church (and being a bit of a bookworm) I didn’t go through the angst that is usually(?) associated with being young and LGBT. It was just something that was a part of me – the real question was what I did with it and the answer has changed with my evolving understanding of ethics and my faith.

    I tend to see celibacy as a sanctification of my sexuality as sacramental marriage is for heterosexuality. Perhaps that’s one explanation for my comparatively blase attitude to my sexuality compared to many LGBT Christians, celibate or non. For various reasons, I just never grew up thinking that heterosexuality was some ideal I was missing out on as I saw it as another state which is equally liable to place the person in grave moral and spiritual danger.

    What is interesting to me is the deeper I go into my faith – I am currently in the process of becoming a Catholic – the more openly queer I have become, which I find a bit amusing. The deeper my moral/theological/philosophical understanding has become, the more I am able to be reconciled my whole self.

    • Your last paragraph–that aligns very closely with our own experiences of growing into celibacy as a vocation and seeing what God has to reveal to us about who we are and how we are made. Lovely statements there!

  2. It seems like for a lot of folks the idea of celibacy for gay people/couples is viewed as being the acceptable sexual ethic equivalent to reserving sex for marriage in a straight relationship. My wife and I have just started thinking about this as we look to the future of raising our kids. We were both raised with a rather traditional view of sexuality, in that sex should be saved for marriage. Homosexuality was viewed as sinful in a sort of academic way, mainly just ignored. We now both feel it’s not right to treat homosexuality as a sin, and our political and social views reflect that. The question for us now is how should we raise our kids and direct the development of their sexual ethic. We really have no idea yet what that will look like, but we do think that sexual ethic should not differentiate between between gay and straight.

    That idea may be a bit off topic, but I think related to celibacy it should be an option of spiritual discipline available to both straight and gay, but not mandated of either.

    • We see celibacy as a meaningful vocation, regardless of the sexual orientation of the person who embraces a celibate way of life. Too often, churches discuss marriage as the default vocation for heterosexual people and celibacy as the default vocation for LGBT people. It would be nice to see the conversation moving more in the direction of, “How is God asking me to live? What is God asking me to do?” We will pray for you and your wife as you discern how best to raise your kids in terms of directing the development of a sexual ethic. Though we don’t know what it’s like to be parents, we appreciate the challenge of approaching these topics with kids and adults in different stages of life.

  3. ” …For various reasons, I just never grew up thinking that heterosexuality was some ideal I was missing out on…” It would be nice if I could more clearly and more frequently articulate this to people. Many difficult , unhealthy situations could be avoided. People would have greater capacity to reach their potential.

    • Amen to that. This is why for all I am a very traditional sort of Christian, currently converting to Roman Catholicism and all that jazz, I am very critical of the way that Christians of the same theological bent deal with sexuality and sexual ethics (and also of the way celibate LGBT are beginning to be used in the ‘marketing’ of the Church, as it were). So often it feels like yet another form of works righteousness, which is why being LGBT and celibate, you’re constantly either being accused or accusing yourself of maybe being a fraud who’s actually asexual or self-hating etc. etc.

      There should be an honesty in our lived faith about identities and how some might find it difficult to live in a certain way, and we are not meant to focus on that but rather, on the getting up and trying again. Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a lot of respectability politics under the guise of religiosity/piety at work. People are more concerned by how they think something should look, or appear rather than how it is (I often found this in discussions relating to Science and Religion, for example). I worry that the practical teleology of our Faith is being missed out on, or ignored, in favour of self blaming and guilt and what in some cases are actually unhealthy situations taken as evidence of piety.

      I’ll stop before I go completely off topic. I keep meaning to blog more often, but real life keeps getting in the way!

    • And another “Amen to that!” from us. We believe it is very damaging when churches, communities, and individuals hold up heterosexuality rather than healthy, holy expressions of sexuality as an ideal.

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