Celibate gay Christian leader urges faithful to ‘normalize’ committed friendships

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In 2010, Wesley Hill helped fan the flames of a growing movement of celibate gay Christians. Now he's taking his arguments a step further. - Image courtesy of Wesley Hill

In 2010, Wesley Hill helped fan the flames of a growing movement of celibate gay Christians. Now he's taking his arguments a step further. - Image courtesy of Wesley Hill

In 2010, Wesley Hill helped fan the flames of a growing movement of celibate gay Christians. Now he's taking his arguments a step further. - Image courtesy of Wesley Hill

In 2010, Wesley Hill helped fan the flames of a growing movement of celibate gay Christians. Now he’s taking his arguments a step further. – Image courtesy of Wesley Hill

In 2010, a seminary professor from Pennsylvania published a short book that helped fan the flames of a growing movement of celibate gay Christians. The professor was Wesley Hill, and the book was “Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality.”

At the end of this month, Hill takes his arguments a step further with the release of a second book, “Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian.” In it, he argues that in order to forge a new path for LGBT Christians, the faithful must reimagine friendship. Garnering endorsements from respected thinkers such as Duke’s Richard Hays and Baylor’s Alan Jacobs, it will no doubt generate much conversation. Here, he offers an exclusive look at the book and his message.

RNS: Let’s start with the foundation. How do you define friendship in a sentence or two?

WH: According to Christian writers of the past, spiritual or Christ-centered friendship—the kind of friendship I’m writing about—is a bond between two (or more) people who feel affection for each other. But it’s also a bond that has a trajectory. It’s a relationship that’s about helping one another along towards deeper love of God and neighbor. I like that but would add that as those sorts of friendships mature and deepen, they often start to become more committed and permanent. It’s almost as if the friends want to become more like spiritual siblings.

Image courtesy of Baker Books

Image courtesy of Baker Books

RNS: Which Bible passages paint a picture of the kind of friendship you’re describing?

WH: Obviously the story of David and Jonathan is an important one. Also the story of Ruth and Naomi, and maybe even, in certain respects, the story of Paul and Timothy, are key exemplars. But I would say my picture of friendship is most influenced by Jesus’ own life. He himself enjoyed special friendships with Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, as well as his “inner circle” of Peter, James, and John. He taught his followers to view each other not just as acquaintances but as family.

RNS: You argue that friendship should be understood as a vowed relationship, much like marriage. Could you imagine this looking like a same-sex partnership–except non-sexual–or is that still off-limits in your view?

WH: Throughout Christian history, friends have made promises to each other. Because I accept the traditional Christian view that marriage is about male and female coming together in a lifelong covenant and raising children, I wouldn’t want to see vowed friendships become a covert way of promoting same-sex sexual intimacy in the church. But I do think that committed, permanent friendships may be one way for gay and lesbian Christians to practice celibacy.

RNS: Sometimes friendships morph over time into erotic relationships, but you don’t believe LGBT persons should have erotic relationships. How do you encourage people to protect against this?

WH: Whatever life choices we’re making, we’re always opening ourselves up to various dangers. If I try to isolate myself from friends that I might be sexually attracted to, then I’m opening myself up to loneliness and despair. On the other hand, if I commit to close, loving friendships, then I’m opening myself up to other dangers, including, at times–but not always–sexual temptation. The key is to find places where we can honestly face our desires, rather than trying to hide them from ourselves. It’s been important for me to talk with pastors, counselors, and spiritual guides, with whom I can be candid about the erotic attractions I develop for certain friends on occasion.

RNS: How do you hope reimagining friendship will help shape the debate over same-sex erotic behavior?

WH: My sense of the debate in the Christian churches is that many people think there are two options: Be gay and celibate and therefore lonely, or be gay and partnered and therefore not alone. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t think those are the only two options. I’m trying to live in a different place: openly acknowledging that I’m gay, pursuing a life of sexual abstinence in obedience to what the Bible teaches, and seeking to fill that life full of friendship and community.

How would our debates about how to love gay and lesbian people in our churches look different if celibacy seemed like a viable option, because deep friendships were a normal part of the Christian life, rather than the bleak occasion for marginalization that it so often appears to be now?

RNS: I like a lot of what you’re saying about friendship, but I feel like the idea that friendship can somehow be a substitute for erotic love is difficult for me to grasp. Humans are made for intimacy, but a dimension of intimacy–though not all of it–is erotic, no?

WH: I don’t want to say that friendship is a substitute for erotic love. They’re definitely different things. In the historic Christian understanding, erotic love is about one spouse complementing the other spouse who is sexually “other.” When the two partners come together, their love opens them to new life—to the “one flesh” of a child. Friendship isn’t like that. Friendship is about two people coming together not for romance or procreation but for companionship, for mutual encouragement, and for serving the wider community. So a celibate person does give up one form of intimacy. But that doesn’t mean he or she gives up intimacy altogether.

RNS: I mean, if I told a heterosexual married couple to stop having sex and just nurture friendship, there is no doubt–literally no doubt–that they would not be fulfilled pursuing a “friendship only” path. Doesn’t that say something?

WH: All Christian heterosexual couples have to live without sexual “fulfillment,” in some sense. Normally, marriage involves periods of sexual abstinence, and sometimes, through circumstances beyond the couple’s control, it may even involve lifelong sexual abstinence or ongoing sexual dissatisfaction. But I admit that traditional Christianity is asking gay and lesbian people to make a hard choice. Much like the believers St. Paul describes as “groaning” and “waiting eagerly for the redemption of their bodies,” we gay Christians are called to a challenging, often painful obedience, and I trust that God’s grace is there to sustain us and catch us when we fall.

RNS: Let’s get practical. Give me one thing–only one–that you think churches should do to promote and nurture your kind of friendship?

WH: I wish more churches would recognize that certain friends are, for gay Christians, our “significant others.” Right now, if you’re gay and celibate in a lot of conservative churches, you’re probably going to feel under suspicion–or worse. If you sit with your best friend in church, if you go on vacation with your friend, or if you spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her and her family, you may get raised eyebrows or else just blinking incomprehension. I’d like that to change.

I’d like to see close, committed, promise-sealed friendships become normalized in churches that continue to teach the historic, traditional Christian sexual ethic. What if we treated it as important, honorable, and godly for a celibate gay Christian to commit to a close friend precisely as a way of growing in Christian love? That would make a big difference in how we currently think about homosexuality.

  • John

    This article confirms that this debate continues to evolve within the church and its theology and practice. It recognizes that it is possible and beneficial for gay persons to be welcomed, loved and involved in churches that uphold the traditional views of marriage. Deep friendships are valuable and much needed in the church for many reasons, and should not be looked at with suspicion. I am glad to see gay persons within the church espouse such beliefs, and hope the church continues to change its hurtful historical stance.

  • Frank

    Liked the idea that you brought up, “…It’s been important for me to talk with pastors, counselors, and spiritual guides…”.

    The church is sadly lacking pastors and counselors and spiritual guides who put their heart, soul and mind in talking to people and providing them godly counsel and who can show genuine care and compassion to others.

    We need more godly men and women(that are genuinely passionate about the well-being of fellow men/women), who can be a spiritual coach just like they had in the early church.

  • Bob

    Or, you could just accept that much of the Bible — second-class status of women, death penalty for working on Sabbath, death penalty for non-virgin brides — reflects the biases of the times in which it was written. Like these other proscriptions, the anti-gay parts of the book can be moved past as well.

  • Jonn McDaniel

    Good interview, as always. I would simply say I just don’t get gay Christian celibacy as the sole requirement to be gay and a Christian. Falling in love with someone, choosing to create a covenant around a monogamous relationship with that person, and expressing one’s self intimately through a healthy sexual relationship is completely normal, natural, and healthy thing–whether straight or gay.

    Some Christians erroneously try to make an incongruent connection between the natural desires in a committed same-sex relationship with the natural desires of something else, i.e. murder–saying that they both may be a natural inclinations but both are sin. But it’s not the same. It would be more accurate to make the comparison to the natural desires in a committed opposite-sex relationship.

    There is a plethora of information anyone can search and read for themselves about incorrect biblical translations (and misunderstandings around culture and context) of the word “homosexuality” and the issue of same-sex relationships, along with the obsessive cherry-picking of certain verses while ignoring surrounding texts. I don’t need to address all of those here. They can (and should) Google it themselves.

    The issue, as I see it, is more about sexual promiscuity and honoring the covenant two people make together rather than obsessively making sure they abstain from expressing themselves sexually with the person they love and are committed to.

    (On a side note, what would our churches look like if everyone became just as obsessed with extramarital sexual contact between opposite-sex people and addressed it with the same ferocity that some do about sex between a committed same-sex couple? There would be far more empty places in our churches…)

  • opheliart

    Bob,

    not all read Holy Scripture as you see. If you don’t like what it says and it reads offensive to you … don’t read it. We see its Spiritual Symbolism.

    Peace

  • Holly

    As a retired, single, United Methodist clergywoman I appreciate this perspective regarding healthy, Christian relationships between single Christians and others (married or single). Loving our brothers and sisters in Christ should seldom involve sexual intimacy. Sexual intimacy for Christians is properly celebrated only within marriage to a person of the opposite sex.

    This is not a “gay” issue. Spiritual friendship should not be limited to people with same sex attractions. As a single, celibate woman, I would hope to find holy, intimate, and non-sexual relationships with Christians of any gender and marital status. As a pastor, I have loved married men and women. I have loved gay men, single men, and single women. These relationships are only possible because I have stayed within the boundaries of Christian propriety, and I have a high regard for the marriage vows others have made. It is unfortunate that this is being framed as a “gay” issue. It is not. It is a wider issue that the entire Christian community needs to address. How can we love one another as Christ has loved us? The answer to that has very little to do with sex.

  • drdanfee

    Thanks for this all too brief interview exchange.

    I applaud your bravery in being willing to focus on the missing physical intimacy domain, while also trying to draw out the substance or meaning of ‘spiritual friendship’ as explained by Hill and others. There is actually a web site devoted supposedly to spiritual friendship, if I recall, but it stays at a high, abstract (mainly) intellectual level. So, most of the time the site posts fail to bother with human embodiment, except perhaps as a sideshow distraction from faith and spiritual maturity, and/or except mainly as embodiment is synonymous with ‘sarx’ rather than ‘pneuma’ …. St Paul’s books, I believe?

    What this carefully and persistently omits, of course, from an empirical point of view is that human pairbonding is varied, yet always substantial, and always embodied in ways and at depths that sideshow distraction presuppositions plus ‘sarx’ presuppositions, simply fail to understand or appreciate.

    Back to celibacy for a moment. I am still pondering what differences, if any, might obtain between ‘folks/believers called to celibacy’ as a spiritual charism, and ‘folks/believers called to intimacy/pairbonding but leaving out any tangible physical intimacy domains because of the enduring Christian deep suspicion of human bodies.

    (I’ve often wished I could write a clear, thoughtful book on that profound skepticism of human bodies.)

    Some people walking these paths do not express or appear to be diminished by bearing the burdens of all those faith communities which appear to have too simplistically collapsed ‘sarx’ into body. That is, though they admit how the physical intimacy domain which must primarily remain empty of company including pairbonding in core relationship that can ‘leave something like blessed marks on and inside our particular lived bodies ‘; they have found apparently real ways to thrive, or at least survive, that loss.

    Others – myself included for 14 years of that kind of pathway at least – seem unavoidably diminished and dried out at multiple levels – physical, emotional, spiritual – resulting in various iterations of what I came to recognize in myself and other people as the maiden aunt/bachelor uncle syndrome, circa some past quaint era. I vividly recall how a work supervisor asked me one day, with all interest and sincerity: How did you get to be such an old lady at your age?

    Then having dated a bit, I confirmed for my own self how pair bonding and intimacy and undeniable realms of sensuality-sexuality deepen and intertwine between significant others worth the name.

    I am left with the working notion that goes like this: Religions often have such powerful suspicions of human nature and human bodies that a great many world faith communities have simply failed to grapple with pair bonding plus intimacy plus sensuality-sexuality as anything but pulling good life down hill, along a continuum that seems to apply from sideshow distractions to really nasty, dirty, evil phenomena. For example, I’ve been surprised to repeatedly read how any and all same sex attractions, more or less grieve deity if not outright making God nauseous and disgusted.

    See a beautiful guy or woman who makes your chest, stomach and bones almost ache with the brute, deep wonder of that sight = God is wretching up horrible, stinky spiritual vomit.

    I really cannot name even one faith community which I have personally known as a pilgrim over more than six decades among various Christian churches which even really begins living wholesomely in these vexed human directions. Alas. That’s finally a whole lot of emptiness, pretend ‘community’ that looks to judgment plus discipline to exemplify the human best. A very difficult load that feels painfully mixed from base elements of putting on an expected or required social church face, of silencing any emptiness or suffering or loneliness, of ever acknowledging the happiness claimed by other people while we all studiously avoid what is happening for the worse in the frequently mandated silences of so-called celibate discipleship. Alas.

    Oh well. That’s my two cents at the moment. Thanks again.

  • Doc Anthony

    Might as well get rid of John 3:16 as well.

  • Doc Anthony

    (reply intended for Bob’s post.)

  • opheliart

    The Savior said, “Brother Thomas, while you are still in this world, listen to me and I shall reveal to you what you have thought about in your heart.
    ” Since it is said that you are my twin and true friend, examine yourself and understand who you are, how you exist, and how you will come to be. Since you are to be called my brother, it is not fitting for you to be ignorant of yourself. And I know that you have understood, for already you have understood that I am the knowledge of truth. So while you are walking with me, though you do lack understanding, already you have obtained knowledge and you will be called one who knows himself …” Gospel of Thomas

  • Ted

    It’s sad to see the beautiful path of spiritual friendship perverted by self-hatred, and exploited by straights as a fig leaf for their bigotry.

    Serious Biblical exegesis – the type that acknowledges there is no direct cognate for the 20th century neologism “homosexual” in Koine Greek – recognizes that the Bible condemns lust and condones love, no matter the genitals of those involved. Sometimes babies are the result, sometimes they’re not (thank God, on our rapidly over-populating planet), regardless of how two people express their mutual love and affection.

    People need to stop hating homosexuals. This includes some homosexuals.

  • Ted

    Sometimes bigotry arrives wrapped in a soft, lovely package.

    Please stop using sloppy Biblical exegesis to excuse yourself for denying a whole class of God’s creation a form of loving expression you’ve personally spent your own life taking for granted.

  • Shawnie5

    “Serious Biblical exegesis – the type that acknowledges there is no direct cognate for the 20th century neologism “homosexual” in Koine Greek…”

    No, serious Biblical exegesis does no such thing.

    The word translated “homosexual” today literally means “man-bedders,” but that hardly makes a substantive difference.

    “… the Bible condemns lust and condones love, no matter the genitals of those involved.”

    The Bible condones agape and phileo “no matter the genitals.” Eros is the stuff of marriage according to God’s design in creating male and female.

  • Ted

    Unless, of course, you are misinterpreting specifically to confirm your pre-existing bias against all the homosexuals God keeps creating.

    And you are.

    The Greek refers to sexual encounters with temple prostitutes, not loving relationships between consenting adults.

    Please stop hating homosexuals. It’s un-Christian.

  • Doc Anthony

    The “gay theology” stuff has been debunked already.

  • Ben in oakland

    It’s all very well for you to claim, as a minister, that other people should live exactly as you do. But your reasons are questionable. As a heterosexual, you could meet a man and you could get married, and all would be nice in your world. You wish, by churchly statute, if not legal statute, to deny gay people the same comfort in life that you willingly forego.

    This makes it very much a gay issue.

    but then, you don’t really believe what your bible says, do you? I asked you this question before, and you deigned not to answer. Your bible clearly states that women are not to presume to speak or have authority over men in the church. This has been taken by a great many Christians, and Christian denominations, to mean that you should not be a minister.

    Yet, here you are. Your biblical answer is not an answer that you would apply to yourself. I guess it’s all a matter of whose Christ is being crucified?

    I don’t agree with this young man’s choice– I think he’s drunk a dram too much of the sacramental Kool-Aid, and truly believes he is going to appease or please his particular, peculiar version of god– or the people who would despise him if he EVER changed his mind, and still won’t trust him (I’m guessing) around their children. Personally, I’d advise him to find a better class of Christian, a better class of church, and a better class of God to hang out with. But it IS his choice. And I can respect it.

    Where I object is when anti-gay Christians– I know you think it’s the same thing as loving us, but that is also something I disagree with– try to use his personal decision to advance their agenda for all gay people. It’s his choice, not mine, nor is it the choice of a great many Christians who have ceased mistaking a vicious and ancient prejudice for the word o’ god.

  • Shawnie5

    “The Greek refers to sexual encounters with temple prostitutes, not loving relationships between consenting adults.”

    No it does not. Every ancient writing concerning both the NT and the OT on this subject confirms that it was a comprehensive prohibition.

    “Unless, of course, you are misinterpreting specifically to confirm your pre-existing bias”

    I have no “pre-existing bias.” I’d gladly OK same-sex relationships if any sensible biblical case could be made for it. There is none.

    “Please stop hating homosexuals”

    Non-issue. There are several homosexuals whom I love dearly. Their behavior is unbiblical nevertheless. C’est la vie.

  • Greg

    I like the Gospels of Bartholomew and Andrew better, but the Gospel of Thomas is fun to read too. I almost forgot about that one.

  • Greg

    Johnathan makes some great points in the article. If a person wishes to spend eternity in heaven when the lights go out, he/she must find ways to keep temptations only as temptations, and not succumb to those temptations, and commit grave sin. Excellent challenge Johnathan!

  • Drdanfee I think a friendship between us might be in order. I was just coming to terms with Paul’s deep, Stoic suspicion of the sarx during my journaling earlier today. Please visit my website and send me your contact info via the “Contact us” page. Blessings and peace be upon you.

  • @Ted,

    Bingo!

  • Drew

    Maybe so. What of it? The Bible also supports xenophobia, misogyny, and slavery. Yet, we’ve moved or are moving past these things.

    Why are gay people required to make this sacrifice that benefits no one?

  • “But I admit that traditional Christianity is asking gay and lesbian people to make a hard choice…”

    What a ridiculous and unnecessary choice!

    Let’s get down to brass tacks and stop this dangerous namby pamby baby talk.

    What exactly is the problem with safe anal sex? You are not into it? Great – don’t do it. Vaginas are not exactly without their problems.

    Where did Jesus personally specify all this information? What is this despicable claim that says only men and women can enjoy sex together?

    And what about married men who have safe anal sex with their wives who might be into that? Why let them stay married?
    Why are marriages never dissolved by the church when they have the wrong kind of sex?

    If the church lets married men and women have anal sex without dissolving the suppose ‘sacrament’ of marriage over it – what’s the big deal about Gays doing it?

    Again – WHAT DOES THIS MAN KNOW that I do not?
    What information does he have about God and HOW do I examine that information? I’d really like to know!

    The Bible? Don’t be ridiculous.
    If you followed the Bible you would have slaves and be committing capital murder all the time – so don’t waste my time.

    Wesley Hill is like a slave telling other slaves to be good for Jesus (1 Peter 2:18). It is despicable.

    Homosexuality is not only a form of sex – it is a form of LOVE!
    And it is HEALTHY AND GOOD for loving people of any gender to have safe sex as a way to express that love.

    If your God is against that, then he is profoundly evil and so are your preachments.

    Love is the only thing worth living for and this fool thinks it is dispensable!
    Shame on this disgusting religion and those who so unthinkingly promote it.

  • @Shawnie,

    “I’d gladly OK same-sex relationships if any sensible biblical case could be made for it.”

    Congratulations.
    You have lived your life and learned nothing more than whatever your little old granny taught you about JEEBUS!

    “Ignorance is not only what you don’t know, it is what you WON’T know.”
    – Aron Ra

  • “Why are gay people required to make this sacrifice that benefits no one?”

    Exactly. Well put.
    The good news is gays are not required to do any such thing.

    One finds such nonsense only in these barbaric, primitive philosophies, written in ignorance and filth 2000 years ago by men who did not know where the sun went at night.

    A gay person joining a church is like a slave going back to its master. I have no clue why they rationalize it any other way. Who knows whether Jesus supports gays? What is the difference? One cannot change their orientation anyway so Jesus can go to back to Hell (where he spent the first Easter :-/ according to ‘scripture’).

    And looking at how Jesus had no problem with slave owners, I see no reason to grant the benefit of the doubt to this self-centered desert yokel.

  • Shawnie5

    I’ve already forgotten more than enough history, law, philosophy, language and theology to spot a dishonest new atheist propagandist every time. Sad indeed that so many others are not as fortunate.

  • @Shawnie,

    “If already forgotten more books than….”

    And yet you are stuck on the Bible the Bible the Bible the Bible the Bible…

    What good is an education if it silences everything past First Grade Catechism? Good grief.

  • Ted

    “Debunked”? How do you “debunk” Biblical exegesis?

    You don’t. You simply “confess” reconfirmation of your pre-existing bias with your latest level of proof texting.

  • Ted

    Your self-aggrandizing ego is showing, dear. Go feed your cat.

  • Ted

    I pity the homosexuals you think you love.

    And, I’m sorry you lack the mental flexibility to admit when you’re projecting your bigotries onto ancient mistranslations.

  • Ted,

    “Projecting your bigotries…”

    If it is not bigoted to preach Jesus to a non-believer
    It CANNOT be bigoted to preach anti-Jesus to a believer.

    Religions are just ideas, Ted.
    And there are no good religions as far as I can tell.

    You have the right to sell cigarettes and pass them off as candy.
    I have the right to call it nonsense and to warn your gullible customers.

    “Kill homosexuals” – Yahweh (Leviticus 20:13)
    “The only cure for homosexuals is that they be put to death” – Pastor Robbie Galaty, Tennessee Megachurch, Sept 4, 2014

    The product you are selling is dangerous nonsense.
    That doesn’t mean I’m a bigot. But you might be.

  • Ted – sorry that screed all meant for Shawnie, as usual – not you.

    She won’t read it but I intended for it to address Shawnie not you.
    I’ve been agreeing with everything you’ve been saying.

  • Shawnie5

    Do you have a substantive scriptural/historical rebuttal to the points I made, other than your personal speculations about me?

  • Salvation is about faith and trust in Jesus Christ. Those who are saved are covered by the righteous blood of Christ. Don’t demean the power of Christ’s sacrifice to redeem anybody.

  • Holly

    Following the teaching and example of Christ is a choice. Choosing to do so is the way to eternal life, peace, and to holiness. It is the WAY out of confusion, slavery to sin, and darkness. Wesley Hill has made a clear choice to live his life as a disciple of Jesus. So have I.

    The Risen Christ appeared to me one day in 1975 as I was walking on the campus of the University of Florida. It was truly a life-changing moment for me when my eyes were opened to scripture and my heart was “strangely warmed”. (You may note my reference to the experience of John Wesley and the unnamed disciples on the road to Emmaus. My point and my testimony is that Jesus STILL does that kind of thing today. It is not simply a reflection on what has happened in the past.)

    I will continue to testify to the presence of the Risen Christ even when others try to silence me, or when my testimony falls on deaf ears. And I will choose to live according to the teachings of Christ. I believe it is important for disciples of Christ, like Wesley Hill and other celibate Christians to speak up, and to demonstrate that sexual behavior is a CHOICE. Sin is a CHOICE, and holiness is a CHOICE. Such a testimony and a witness does not impose this choice on anyone else. It simply presents the choice of celibacy as a positive and real option. Marriage to a person of the opposite sex is the other positive option according to traditional church teaching. Other sexual choices are not positive options.

    The testimony of women has been questioned and silenced throughout Christian history. (Starting with the disciples who discounted Mary Magdalene’s testimony that she had seen the risen Christ.) But, for the most part, the Bible does NOT support the silence of women. St. Paul’s instruction was directed to some women who were disrupting worship. In another passage in the same letter he offers advice to women preachers (prophets). My call to preach and teach in the church has been validated and tested. So I will continue to speak (and write) God’s challenging words.

    Nothing in scripture supports the idea that homosexual behavior is positive, good, or worth celebrating. As much as you dislike the truth, scripture consistently condemns the practice. I will not condemn homosexual people, but I WILL not simply discard the warnings of scripture even though our society now chooses to take a different course.

    I commend Wesley Hill for his bravery in discussing this taboo subject (celibacy), and I will pray that God will surprise his antagonists in this comment section by revealing the risen Christ once again. If He came to a murderer like Saul, and a libertine like me, he can come to you too.

  • Garson Abuita

    Is it in your view a comprehensive prohibition on same-sex relationships, or just specific sexual acts — or a specific sexual act? If the latter, I’d think you’d be all in favor of what the interviewee is proposing.

  • Christine

    People are hard wired for relationships and it must be hard for gay Christians to live according to God’s standards. If they want committed friendships, they should. I really don’t see why it is anyone’s business or why it is controversial.

  • Drew

    If you mean that it’s hard to live without companionship and intimacy, you’re absolutely right.

    Why do people continue to hurt themselves and each other for the sake of Biblical fidelity? It seems to me that the worship of this book trumps love, compassion, kindness, and common decency far too often. Quite disgusting, actually.

  • Ben in oakland

    So, what you are really saying is that God spoke to you, and told you that all of the church fathers for centuries were completely wrong, and that you should be a minister.

    But God hasn’t spoken to multitudes of gay people to tell them that the church fathers were completely wrong, and that he has no problem with it.

    Gay people have also been silenced for centuries. Again, I guess it is really a matter of whose Christ is being crucified,

  • Holly

    The church has listened to the voices of gay people and celibate people throughout the centuries–people like the author of the above article who see that following Jesus is better than engaging in forbidden sexual activities. Celibates (like Jesus, St. Paul, St. Francis and the priest on the corner) are positive role models for the Christian church.

    Mary Magdalene, the apostle Junia, and the daughters of Phillip are role models for me as a woman who is not ashamed to boldly preach the Gospel.

  • Shawnie5

    It’s a matter of behavior. I have no problem with what the author is proposing although I fail to see the point of solemnization.

  • Thanks for reminding us of the deep need for relationality in humanity. I think it’s one of Christ’s greatest lessons (see especially John 17). I support same-sex relationships and marriage but I can also totally get behind the covenanting of friendships–especially spiritual friendships–that need not have a sexual aspect to be genuine and meaningful.

  • ben in oakland

    The church has listened to the voices of gay people … throughout the centuries.

    Ok, so you will promote fanatasies that have never occurred, and will not answer simple questions.

    Thank you.

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  • Christine

    Actually, Christians do a great deal to help poor and marginalized people all over the world, giving both their time and money to help people. One great example is Compassion International. Most organizations that help poor and struggling are Christian. Unfortunately , too many Christians don’t apply the words of the Bible in how they treat LGBT people. That causes harm to many people. This is starting to change and I hope it will change even faster. All people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.

  • Greg

    Jon, of course Jesus cleanses us of our sins, but we must repent (Act 3:19), meaning we must turn away from sin. So often Jesus emphasizes to keep going, don’t go back to your earlier ways, that he “who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’ (Luke 9:62), that if you keep [His] commandments, you shall remain in [His] love (John 15:10), but, if you do not remain in [Him], you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:6). So, “he who endures to the end will be saved.”(Matt 10:22). St. Peter says the same in 2Ptr 2:17-22.

  • I don’t know any healthy Christian who doesn’t repent on a daily basis of sin, including myself. We need to start giving each other the benefit of the doubt. You don’t know anything about me. You don’t know what I do or don’t do, think or don’t think. All you know is that I’m your brother in Christ. Treat me that way.

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  • Billysees

    Bob,

    “…just accept that much of the Bible…reflects the biases of the times in which it was written.”

    Well said.

    Compare with what Paul wrote —
    1. …our knowledge is partial and incomplete…
    2. …we see things imperfectly…
    3. All that I know now is partial and incomplete…
    (1 Corinthians 13:9,12)

    When we read this honest assessment about his own writings, It can easily be realized that ‘we must do’ what he wasn’t able to do, and that is to help reveal ‘more’ of the work of the ‘Spirit’ in every generation.

    It is also the evidence needed to show that there is no infallibility or finality of scripture.

    We can also realize that in those three points are the reason it is necessary to judge and evaluate a matter or people based on all reasonable, ‘current or modern’ attitudes, experiences and knowledge.

    That can be the best way the ‘newness of the Spirit’ operates in the world.

  • Billysees

    @Ted,

    Seconded Bingo!

  • Billysees

    @ Jonn,

    Needs to be repeated —

    “…I just don’t get gay Christian celibacy as the sole requirement to be gay and a Christian. Falling in love with someone, choosing to create a covenant around a monogamous relationship with that person, and expressing one’s self intimately through a healthy sexual relationship is completely normal, natural, and healthy thing–whether straight or gay.”

  • Glenn Harrell

    98.6 is supposed to be “normal” There is some science here. But me, I have been abnormal all my life at 96.8. (I’m temp dyslexic, just the tip of the iceberg for my abnormality)

    What we all seem to do is to drive nails into water on this issue because there is no scientific agreement on what constitutes “normal”.

    It is interesting to me that, for all the signatures of “Approved as Normal” granted by at least a few in nearly every profession of significance; it appears that relatively few are truly convinced of the “normalcy” of what we call homosexuality and all of its evolutionary cousins.

    We correctly sight and condemn the the hatemongers, whatever the motivation of their hatred.

    We create new laws that hope to forever silence the prejudice born of fear that reacts violently to anyone who dares to be “different” than they.

    We put the bible, Quran, Book of Mormon etc, in their proper place, reducing them Ala Thomas Jefferson, to say or not say what we need to hear or not hear.

    Yet many proponents of the gay lifestyle often wield a big stick that is in concert with their own anger and venom. This is especially true as the laws passed in their favor seem to reflect a hollow victory. It is as though all the divine pronouncements in the world from selected doctors, lawyers, ministers, priests, sociologists, etc.to “be themselves” because we are qualified to brand your lifestyle as “normal”, only provide temporary, if benign confidence.

    “Celibate Gay Christian” is truly perplexing to my small brain. The word gay is in the middle of two giants that have opposed it for time as we know it.

    Maybe another book like this one from Mr. Hill can be the sling and stone to slay the giants of history, the promoted bigotry of Christian history and past, and the slippery science of “normalcy”. ?

  • BEN IN OAKLAND

    I can’t tell from your posting if you are pro or anti. Perhaps you can explain yourself.

    “it appears that relatively few are truly convinced of the “normalcy” of what we call homosexuality and all of its evolutionary cousins.” Dominionist religionists, absolutely,. But virtually every single scientific, medical, and social science organization in the west disagrees.

    “Yet many proponents of the gay lifestyle often wield a big stick that is in concert with their own anger and venom.”

    “Yet many OPPONENTS of the gay lifestyle often wield a big stick that is in concert with their own anger and venom.” Far more accurate. And it’s not a lifestyle. IT’S A LIFE.

    Exactly like heterosexuality.

    “It is as though all the divine pronouncements in the world from selected doctors, lawyers, ministers, priests, sociologists, etc.to “be themselves” because we are qualified to brand your lifestyle as “normal”, only provide temporary, if benign confidence.” The divine pronouncements of so many of the self-appointed divines have also nearly universally condemned EACH OTHER. They have warred on each other for centuries. Death and destruction for millions of innocents have been the result. We are STILL paying the price for the crusades.

  • Glenn Harrell

    Hello again Ben,
    Nice to hear from you.
    My response to this book, author and title include much of the frustration I read in nearly all who commented.

    There is enough false bravado to go around on both sides.

    I interpret my writing and nearly all others as pseudo-scientific and wanna be theologian.

    I won’t pretend to know another person’s heart. But I do hear between the lines pretty good.

    All the attempts at “normalization”, to me, seem to be just that.
    That’s all I am saying.

    I had a medical doctor tell me I wasn’t sick recently, only to find he was wrong. My instincts told me to see another doc and I was right to do so. It appears that many in the gay community (life) are getting their umpteenth opinion, yet no one is convincing them of “normalcy”. I reserve the right to be wrong. I take no joy in being right on this, should that be the case.
    I have lost two very dear friends as of late to suicide over this matter. It is very painful and I can’t imagine their families loss.

    I do not want anything about my life or lifestyle to plague my conscience and I assure you I know when that is the case. When I am truly at peace with this, I need no man, woman, counselor, politician, preacher, priest, doc or lawyer to convince me.

    Further, I do not want to be found as someone else’s judge in matters that pertain to their own journey.

    If I join the Pilot club, I don’t want the Lions, Exchange, and Kiwanis clubs trying to make me live by their charters and respect their beliefs and mandates necessarily. They can invite me to their meetings but not attempt to enforce. If I joined the Pilot Club on my own free will, I fully expect to not only follow the charter and rules for belonging, but to do so willingly and faithfully.

    This is what far too many “Christians” try to do in their reactions to social/moral issues that may affect them and their belief system. They, in effect, want all people to act like them, without being one of them. They want people to live by a bible that few of these Christians know well enough to use wisely. According to them, those who do not want anything to do with Jesus or this bible are somehow supposed to believe, respect, and abide by its teachings. These are also the ones, ironically, that the media will choose to represent Jesus and His church on TV and radio. This is tragic.

    Many “professing” Christians are judgmental to those without and yet will overlook, if not condone, the sins of their own within. The world sees this hypocrisy clearly, even if they do not.

    The Jesus they claim to follow never did this. He invited people to come to Him, to open the door of their heart, but never forced Himself in. This same Jesus never said, “Change your ways or I won’t love you” as they suppose and preach.

    He said, “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest. Take the yoke I give you. Put it on your shoulders and learn from me. I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest. This yoke is easy to bear, and this burden is light.” Matthew 11

    This writer, Mr. Hill, just created yet another club.
    Maybe he can get people to join. I don’t know.

  • Thanks, Glenn. Your example of clubs actually helps me understand this discussion a lot better. It seems to me that people in the club don’t want anyone outside the club to have different rules, perhaps so those in the club won’t be tempted. I think it’s an attempt to keep the tribe safe by policing what goes on in neighboring territories. I think I agree with you, Glenn, that Jesus took a different approach, drawing rather than pushing, calling rather than shouting. No wonder he was able to build a movement of people from the margins. I didn’t mean to pontificate myself but thanks for the insight.

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  • ben in oakland

    “It appears that many in the gay community (life) are getting their umpteenth opinion, yet no one is convincing them of “normalcy”.”

    I don’t know. Perhaps it’s true. I don’t know anyone who needs anyone else to tell them they are normal, and have met very few of them in my life. There are certainly gay people who suffer from self hatred. but more likely, they are suffering from religion-induced guilt and self-hatred. These are the only self-identified gay people I have met in my life that are seeking someone else’s opinion to be “normal”.

    Your friends who committed suicide would probably fall into this class. I agree with you. It’s a terrible waste. But this is what self hatred does, and what it is for when inculcated under the color of “sincere religious belief.”

    I thoroughly agree with just about everything else you say. Thank you for your kind and benevolent response.

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  • Billysees

    Glenn,

    “Many “professing” Christians are judgmental to those without and yet will overlook, if not condone, the sins of their own within.”

    How true and unfortunate. It shows that we more easily love and treat more lovingly what we know best. That’s reasonable.

    The remedy is to be careful of being judgmental. It can have bad consequences. If we’re not to ‘sit in the seat of the scornful’, couldn’t we also say that we’re not to ‘sit in the seat of the judgemental’.

    Better yet, simply keep this in mind and that should help solve any issues —

    Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven….Luke 6:37

  • Glenn Harrell

    I agree with you Billy. We all want to feel secure within and without.

    I used the club example because, for me to feel secure in my faith, I need to know what my faith calls for.

    There is a place for being judgmental, however. If I take the oath of a Medical Doctor, those within my profession will see to it that I fully understand and agree BEFORE I sign the dotted line. They will judge me if I break my oath and bring discredit to the profession.

    These same “judgmental” people (each physician) who hold all physicians accountable do not expect or judge you and me (non-physicians) by their own very strict rules and regulations. We aren’t one of them, no matter how much we know about them and their craft.

    So my point about “the church” (take your pick of examples in both Protestant and Catholic versions) wants those who have nothing to do with them to “behave and act right” by the Bibles standards. Then they slap one anthers wrist, hide, cover, and look the other way when they themselves commit grievous acts of sin, determined by their own standards. The phony healers, prosperity gospel, and seed-faith clowns for example–why aren’t they shipped off to “Christian Prison” for treason?

    To carry the analogy on a bit further, If the Medical community defiled its oath at the rate of the “Christian Church”–we would have a severe shortage of doctors.

    The Christian church as of late has become more like the sleezy slice of our lawyer community, “One call, that’s all-baby”.

    Just so that we know this is nothing new. The Bible is hard on it’s own, even if the church leadership is not:

    “In my other letter I told you not to have anything to do with immoral people. But I wasn’t talking about the people of this world. You would have to leave this world to get away from everyone who is immoral or greedy or who cheats or worships idols. I was talking about your own people who are immoral or greedy or worship idols or curse others or get drunk or cheat. Don’t even eat with them! Why should I judge outsiders? Aren’t we supposed to judge only church members? God judges everyone else. The Scriptures say, “Chase away any of your own people who are evil.” (I Corinthians 5)