As I mentioned in my recent sermon, I have learned a lot from the celibate, gay Christian community over the past several years.
One such voice is author and blogger Eve Tushnet. Eve shares her perspective as a lesbian woman in the church who loves Scripture and embraces Jesus’ teachings about sex, marriage and lust. She has chosen celibacy as a part of what it means for her to be faithful to Jesus. One way Eve does this is by channeling her sexual desire into a Christ-centered desire to serve another person.
“The major misconception is that church is asking you to repress your desires,” she said. But the church is really asking for those with same-sex attractions to transform their sexual impulses into other forms of love.
“I find that very powerful,” she said. “I began to see my task more as figuring out how I can live in a way that’s loving toward others—how can I pour out my love in a way God has shown me.”
There can be deep love within friendship, she said. Yet the thing that’s been most helpful to her, she said, is turning the human drive to have an intense, sublime encounter with the other into service to others. She volunteers at a Christian pregnancy center. She has sought to offer radical hospitality to women in need, she said, but there is a wide array of “vivid, beautiful” ways to sublimate desire.
What a beautiful example of faithfulness to Jesus. As Kortney mentioned in her post on Wednesday , our sexuality encompasses so much more than physical acts of sex. It includes family, friendship, community, creativity, delight…. And I would also add to that list compassion through serving others.
If you’re up for it, let’s take the challenge to respond to our uncontrolled or misplaced sexual desires by choosing to engage in our sexuality by sacrificially serving others, whether that be through volunteering at a pregnancy center, building houses for under-resourced families, or serving a meal to our homeless community.
Here are other examples of folks who have made the meaningful choice to open up about their sexuality in the church:
- Wesley Hill has written two books on his choice to remain single & celibate:
- Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality
- Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian (note: this is the book that has had the greatest impact on my view of lust in recent years)
- Gregory Coles tells his story in his new book: Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity
Hill, Tushnet, and others blog together at a site called Spiritual Friendship. One such contributor, Kyle Keating, has become a personal friend in recent years.