“I love you, but…” doesn’t cut it

Discussing our celibacy publicly has its advantages and its disadvantages. We love any chance to talk about what celibacy in our context as a celibate partnership. However, we’re disheartened when our discussions of celibacy get overshadowed by people demanding that we state whether we think certain sexual acts can be permitted in Christian traditions. As we see it, many churches have obsessed over sexual morality to the point where church is the last place people feel as though they will be loved if something goes wrong in their sex lives.

Let’s be honest: communicating love through sexual expression is challenging for most sexually active people at one time or another (or maybe all the time) for different reasons. If you’re a sexually active person who believes that continuous consent is important, it’s natural to wonder whether your sexual partner has been able to communicate consent throughout the entire experience. If a married couple is having more sex than usual in a deliberate effort to conceive a baby, they might be concerned that “baby-making” is more important than communicating love. If you’ve been a victim of sexual violence, experiencing sex as a communication of love might be difficult. There’s an endless stream of scenarios that complicate decisions regarding sexual expression. It’s unfortunate that so few people feel like they can discuss their ethical dilemmas related to sexual morality for fear that Christians will be quick to condemn.

Today we write with a simple intention: we want you to know that we will love you no matter what ethical dilemmas you face regarding your sex life. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing all of the “right” things. We’re all too aware of efforts to dress up sexual legalism in the guise of “Christian” consensus. We don’t devote any time to wondering if any of our friends are doing the “wrong” things, sexually or otherwise. We think oftentimes, “It’s complicated” can be the most accurate Facebook relationship status. We consider it a distinct honor and privilege when friends decide they trust us enough to share something with us about how they understand sex.

We often hear criticisms that celibate LGBT Christians are judgmental not only of non-celibate LGBT people but also of anyone who engages in behaviors outside of a traditional sexual ethic. It’s probably true that celibate LGBT Christians could do a lot more to express unconditional love. Unfortunately, the loudest voices calling for traditional Christian sexual ethics attempt to discourage celibate LGBT Christians from saying anything remotely positive about non-celibate LGBT people. Some voices exalt celibate LGBT Christians as the examples to follow and speak in strong opposition to the idea that non-celibates have anything valuable to say. This approach prioritizes demanding celibacy over showing love. At times, we wonder whether certain participants in this conversation care more about preventing gay sex than preaching the Gospel in the first place.

So here’s where we cut to the chase: our love for you is not dependent on what you do (or don’t do) with your genitals. It’s also not dependent on what kinds of relationships you engage in or with whom.

To us, this seems like basic Christian hospitality. We wonder why this is so hard for so many people. Why is it that Christians are so afraid to show love without including an obligatory morality lesson? Why is there such fear that showing love signals approval for something one considers morally objectionable? Why is it that saying “I love you no matter what” can get a person branded a moral relativist? In our opinion, I love you should never be followed by but… Christ’s love does not come with conditions. Christ’s love is absolutely unconditional. He loves the wicked as much as he loves the righteous. It’s not our place to start imposing qualifications on Christ’s unconditional love. We’re tired of being pulled into conversations where we’re asked to justify our treatment of non-celibate LGBT Christians because, “It can’t possibly be the same as how you treat other celibates.” We simply do not and will not ever consider whether a person is sexually active before welcoming him or her as our friend. We’re committed to loving people with no strings attached, and that means no strings. Whether you’re L, G, B, T, Q, straight, or otherwise, we want you to know that when you visit our home, we’re not going to interrogate you about what you do or don’t do with your genitals. We won’t waste a single moment even wondering about it. Those questions truly are none of our business. They are between you, God, and your spiritual director. If you’re a Christian, we trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in your life and is encouraging you to continue moving towards Jesus.

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