Archives For Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the seriesHomosexuality, the Bible, and the Church

As some of you know, Eternity Bible College is offering a class titled “Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church,” which I’ll be teaching. I’ve got to admit: I was very nervous about teaching this course. Who knows what sort of people will show up? And who am I to teach on such a volatile topic?

In any case, I decided to go through with the class and I’m glad I did. The 80 plus Blog-Adfolks that showed up last Tuesday night were a delight. I am super excited about what God has in store for us this semester.

In order to best serve the class, and those interested in the class yet unable to take it, I’d like to post a weekly blog summarizing our class time. If you’re one of the 80 taking the class, please feel free to post questions, comments, or thoughts about the weekly lectures on this blog. And if you’re looking in from afar, I hope this blog series will give you a sense of connection with the course.

Week 1: Introduction, Definitions, and Overview

Aside from introducing the course and the assignments, my main goal was to put flesh on the “issue” of homosexuality. As I’ve said before, homosexuality is not an issue to be studied but a people to be loved. So, to “incarnate” the topic, I introduced several “friends” of mine to the class—friends who were personified by empty chairs set on the stage. They are:

John—who grew up in a conservative Catholic home but has since left the faith (more or less) after realizing he’s gay. John is now married to another man and together they have a son. John is antagonistic toward conservative Christians and the gospel as it is traditionally understood.

Kevin—who is married to a beautiful wife and together they have 2 children. Kevin, however, was coaxed into a homosexual relationship when he was 13, a relationship that lasted for about 4 years. Kevin, however, has no same sex attraction whatsoever. His teenage homosexual encounter though has left him scarred—sexually—even to this day.

Maddie—who is a Lesbian. When Maddie was 9 years old, however, her dad chained her to a toilet in the basement and fed her scraps for 3 months. He then apologized, released her, and warned her that he’d kill her if she told anyone. He then proceeded to rape her for the next 4 years. Maddie, now, isn’t attracted to women, but she chooses to be a Lesbian because she vows that “no man will ever touch me again.”

Justin—who was raised in a healthy Christian home, whose mom was not domineering, whose dad was not absent, whose sisters didn’t dress him up in pink, and who was not sexually abused. Justin was (and is) a staunch Bible believing Christian with a healthy family. But Justin realized he was attracted to the same sex when he was 14. And now, Justin is a self-professed “gay Christian.”

Marshall—who has a similar upbringing as Justin, except Marshall believes that acting on homosexual desires is a sin. So, Marshall is still attracted to guys, but is committed to celibacy because of his convictions about same sex relations.

Stacey—who is biologically a female, but from the time she was 4 years old believed that she was a boy. As a kid, she assumed that when she grew up, she’d become a man and marry a woman. Biologically, Stacey is female; but psychologically and mentally, she identified, growing up, as a male. She realized that she was transgendered. She didn’t choose to feel this way. Who would? But now, Stacey is a believer in Christ and helps other transgendered men and women (and parents) work through what it means to experience gender confusion.

Eric—born into a Christian home, found out he was gay at 14, mocked and beat up throughout high school, kicked out of his home after “coming out,” and committed suicide at 19. One of many who have gone down this route.

What do these beautiful people have in common? They all could be swept under the umbrella term of “homosexuality.” Yet their stories are as different as night at day. The point? “Homosexuality” is such a complex and imprecise term; it’s hardly useful until you put flesh on it. And once you put flesh on it, you’re left with many questions stemming from a pile of complex stories.

Yes, but is “homosexuality” a sin?

We can’t answer this question until we define exactly what we mean by “homosexuality.” Are we referring to a woman who was chained to a toilet and raped by her dad, who feels little to no attraction to women, yet, for complex reasons only pursues relationships with women? Or are we referring to the 19 year old who blew his head off because his same sex attraction led to isolation, loneliness, and dehumanization? Or the Christian dude who’s only attracted to guys but believes it’s wrong to act on such attraction? Or the Christian dude who’s only attracted to guys but believes it’s okay to act on such attraction?

As heterosexual Christians, we need to understand and define what exactly it is, and who exactly it is, that we’re referring to when we say gay, homosexual, and homosexuality.

Language is power. Wielding it can do more damage than a razor sharp sword.

To help refine our terminology, I pointed out a couple things. First, the terms “gay, lesbian, LGBT, or SSA (same sex attraction)” are better terms than the catch-all and culturally loaded term “homosexual.” Second, we need to pay close attention both to imageswhat we mean by the terms we use and how these terms are understood by the people whom we’re speaking to (or speaking about).

We didn’t’ actually discuss whether homosexual sex was a sin. We’ll get to that throughout the course. But we did seek to understand with a bit more precision what exactly we’re talking about when we talk about homosexuality.

For the course, we’ll spend about 6 weeks looking at what the Bible says about same sex relations. Then, we’ll look at some of the most salient biological, psychological, and pastoral questions surrounding the debate. Throughout the course, we’ll be listening to several guest speakers from the Christian LGBT community. Some are conservative. Others are more progressive. All of them have unique stories that we’ll listen to.

Above all, we’ll listen to God’s story—what our Creator has revealed to us about gender, sexuality, and marriage.

Many of you have asked about an online version of this course. Unfortunately we are not recording the lectures; however, I will be constructing two Silo courses based on the lectures and discussion, so stay tuned!

Next up: “homosexuality in the Old Testament.” What do Sodom, Gomorrah, David, and Jonathan all have in common? They’ve been misused and hijacked by both sides of the debate. We’ll see why next week.

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the seriesHomosexuality, the Bible, and the Church

This week’s class was devoted to a bit of house-cleaning—sweeping aside biblical arguments from both sides of the debate that seem to clutter, rather than help, the discussion. First, we talked about God’s wrath poured out on Sodom from Genesis 19. Was Sodom condemned because of homosexuality?

According to R. C. Sproul, yes. “In their total lack of shame they have embraced homosexuality and sexual violence,” says R. C. “Many scholars friendly to the liberalization of sexual morality will say the central sin of Sodom was inhospitality and not homosexuality.”sodom

But my question for Sproul is: what do you mean by “homosexuality”? Someone who struggles with same sex attraction? Someone who is in a monogamous, consensual, homosexual relationship? (There were none at Sodom.) Someone who is engaged in extra-marital sex with people of the same gender? As we learned from the first week of class, the term “homosexuality” is so broad that it’s rarely helpful for the discussion.

Plus, Sproul is correct that Sodom has embraced “sexual violence”—they tried to gang rape the two angels—and both Jude and 2 Peter talk about sexual immorality as part of Sodom’s crime. But I don’t know anyone in the LGBT community who would say that gang rape is okay. Somewhere in the middle of the night, there are two ships passing each other.

The question facing the church is: does the Bible permit same sex relations within the context of a consensual, monogamous, and loving relationship? In this regard, the story of Sodom is quite irrelevant.

Next, we looked at a few relationships in the Old Testament that some have taken to validate same sex eroticism. The late John Boswell, for instance, says in passing that “intense love relations between persons of the same gender figure prominently in the Old Testament—e.g. Saul and David, David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi.”

No footnotes. No argument. No evidence. Usually the editor catches such unsupported statements, but for some reason they missed this one. davidcensored1For Boswell, it’s self evident that Ruth and Naomi were lesbian lovers and that Saul and Jonathan were fighting for David’s erotic affections. Now, I’m really trying to read the Bible in an unbiased manner. I want to base my views on what the Bible actually says, not on what I want it to say. But Ruth and Naomi? Really? Would God sanction a lesbian love relationship between mother and daughter in law? I can’t think of a non-cynical response, so let me just move on to David and Jonathan, since there seems to be more evidence there.

You’ve got to admit, there are a few statements about David and Jonathan that raise some eyebrows. “The soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Sam 18:1; cf. 20:17). Jonathan also “delighted very much” in David and “took great pleasure” in him (1 Sam 19:1). On one occasion, David and Jonathan “kissed one another and wept with one another,” since they would not see each other again (1 Sam 20:41). Finally, when David gets news about Jonathan’s death, he cries out: “very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women” (2 Sam 1:26).

I’ve got to admit, I’ve never told my best friend that his love to me was better than the love of women, and if I did I might loose him as my best friend, and my wife would certainly have a few questions. So what do we do with these passages?

What we shouldn’t do is read them through the lens of our own hyper-sexed culture. We should interpret them in light of an ancient Near Eastern context where same gender relationships could be incredibly intimate without being sexual.

For instance, the phrase “soul being knit to…” is used by Jacob about his son Benjamin: “his (Jacob’s) soul is bound up with his (Benjamin’s) soul” (Gen 44:30-31). This, of course, does not mean that Jacob had david and jonathansexual interest in his son. They had a non-sexual close bond.

Also, the Hebrew word for “take pleasure in” (hapesh) sometimes has sexual overtones, but it usually only means loyalty. Friends could take pleasure in their friends without taking them to bed. And friends can kiss without taking it to second base. In fact, the Hebrew verb “to kiss” occurs 27 times in the Old Testament, but in only 3 of those 27 instances does it refer to erotic kissing. Most often, relatives are seen kissing with no sexual overtones (15 times), and on four occasions we see two men kissing, but again with no sexual connotation. It’s probably our culture (if you live in the west) that assumes that kissing is purely sexual. But ancient Hebrew culture had a much broader view of kissing, and the biblical evidence supports this.

Finally, when David says that Jonathan’s love surpasses the love of women, this probably means no more than David experienced a commitment, loyalty, and intimate relationship with Jonathon that he did not experience with his many wives. It was quite common, actually, for men to develop more intimate relationships with other men than they had with their wives. Interestingly, one of our auditors just got back from living in the Middle East and he said that the same is very true today in Arabic cultures. Men in the Old Testament times didn’t grow up learning the 5 love languages.

But let’s extend our exegetical leash as far as it will go; let’s just say that David and Jonathan had a steamy Brokeback Masada relationship going on behind the scenes. Would the Bible sanction this? Would the Bible set forth David and Jonathan’s extra marital, adulterous, promiscuous fling as an example to follow? Even if Jonathan was Janet, and the affair was heterosexual, the whole relationship would have been condemned, not celebrated, by the moral standards of the Bible.

So, the point of this week’s class was: don’t support the right doctrine (whatever you feel is the right doctrine) from the wrong texts. In my view, traditionalists have done this with the story of Sodom, and revisionists have done this with David and Jonathan.

Now that the deck has been cleared, we can move on to a text with a bit more relevance: Leviticus 18 and 20. Stay tuned!

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the seriesHomosexuality, the Bible, and the Church

Last Tuesday was our third class for “Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church,” and we continued to study what the Old Testament says about homosexuality.

First, we briefly looked at Genesis 1-2 to identify its relevance for the debate. Put simply: Does Genesis 1-2 show that a valid marriage is essentially heterosexual, or is heterosexual marriage simply the typical, though not essential, form of a valid marriage?

We quickly brushed aside the “God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve” argument, since it ignores many aspects of the actual text. For instance, Eve was considered to be a suitable helper for Adam (Gen 2:20, godhatesshrimp222), but was that because she was a female (and not a male) or because she was a human (and not an animal; see 2:19)? Does the “one flesh” statement (2:24) refer to their biological complementarity, or to a new “kinship bond”? And is sex only valid if it has the potential to procreate? This, of course, would rule out homosexual sex. But it would also rule out contraceptives, sex in old age, and the sexual validity of infertile couples.

As you might be able to tell, some of our interpretive options necessarily rule out homosexual marriage, while others could allow for it. My point wasn’t to solve these questions, but to show that Genesis 1-2 doesn’t clearly end the discussion about what validates marital union. We need to look at the overarching biblical theology of gender, sex, and marriage, along with other passages that explicitly mention homosexual activity. Which is why we focused most of our evening on two verses in Leviticus:

Lev 18:22 “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

Lev 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

We began by observing several basic points about these verses. First, the statements are unqualified and absolute. That is, they don’t seem to talk about a specific form of gay sex (e.g. wartime rape, incest). Second, the verses use generic gender categories: male and female. They don’t only prohibit men from having sex with boys or with slaves, for example. Third, both verses use basic sexual terminology—the verb “to lie with.” Most often in Scripture, such terms refer to consensual sex, rather than, say, rape. For instance, Deut 22:22 condemns both man and woman for having an affair. Why? Because it was consensual. But Deut 22:25 only condemns the man because he “seizes” another man’s wife and “lies with her.” The verb “seize” connotes coercive sex, while “lie with” with no other qualifiers most often refers to consensual sex. Leviticus 18 and 20 only use the verb “to lie with.” And lastly, both parties are condemned in Leviticus 20:13, suggesting that the sex-act was mutual.


Justin Lee

Now, some people have argued that Leviticus 18 and 20 are probably talking about male cult prostitution—men who had sex with other men out of devotion to a pagan deity. Justin Lee, for instance, leans toward this view in his book Torn (a book which I really like, BTW, and have assigned to my students). In fact, much of his analysis of what the Bible says about gay sex rests on the probability that Leviticus 18 and 20 are talking about cult prostitution.

However, not only does Lee misrepresent his primary source, Robert Gagnon (see Gagnon’s responses HERE and HERE), but he assumes the existence of an institution that most scholars now believe never existed; see Lynn Budin’s aptly titled book, The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). Even if there was such an institution as cultic prostitution in the ancient world, Leviticus 18 and 20 don’t use words related to this (probably mythical) practice (e.g. the Hebrew qadesh or qadeshim). The cult prostitution view has little credibility.

The most popular and persuasive counter argument for the traditional understanding of Leviticus 18 and 20 is that Christians are totally fine with eating catfish, wearing mixed clothing, and other things forbidden by Leviticus. Why, then, do they still observe the prohibitions against gay sex?

Instead of summing up this counter-argument, I let Matthew Vines do it himself. No, he wasn’t a guest speaker—unfortunately. Rather, we showed a clip of his lecture that went viral on YouTube last year. Vines is a gay Christian and he took a two year leave from college to study what the Bible actually says about homosexuality. This sermon represents the fruit of his findings and has been hailed as the most devastating critique of the traditional view of homosexuality.Vines

What I wanted the class to see first hand is that there are at least some gay Christians who are not sacrificing the Bible on the altar of sexual orientation. Rather, they are basing their views on the inerrant, authoritative word of God. And it’s because of, not in spite of, their view of God’s word that they believe that God does not prohibit monogamous, consensual, loving gay unions.

In any case, after working through Vines’ compelling argument, there are several things that don’t seem very accurate about his interpretation of Leviticus 18 and 20 (my response will only make sense if you first watch the 10 min section linked above).

First, Acts doesn’t actually say that the entire law is no longer applicable for Gentile Christians. In fact, Acts 15:20 says explicitly that Gentiles are to refrain from “sexual immorality” (porneia). This is an umbrella term that very well could include all the sexual prohibitions in Leviticus 18:6-23. At the very least, I’d need to be shown that porneia does not include homosexual sex. In any case, Vines’ doesn’t mention this important verse in his discussion of Acts 15.

Second, Leviticus 18-20 is a distinct literary unit. And the vast majority of the commands in this section are universally binding; they talk about things that are intrinsically good or evil and are not culturally bound.

Third, Vines does not represent the evidence very well when he talks about the Hebrew term “abomination.” Contrary to Vines, the Hebrew word does not occur in Leviticus 11. In fact, the Hebrew term toevot (“abominations” plural) only occurs 4 times in Leviticus 18:26, 27, 29, 30, and 2 times in the singular (toevah) to refer to the homosexual acts in 18:22 and 20:13. Now, Vines is correct that the term is used in Deut 14:3 of unclean animals, but most often toevah refers to things like murder, theft, lying, oppressing the poor, etc., things that are intrinsically evil. Not every time, but most of the time. Vines makes it sound like the word only refers to outdated purity laws that separated Israel from the nations. But he only points out uses of the word that support this view and ignores the rest—which are many—that work against his view.

Lastly, and most importantly, Paul seems to draw upon Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 when he coins the Greek word arsenokoites in 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10. This would suggest that the gay sex prohibitions in Leviticus 18 and 20 are still relevant for believers since they were repeated in the New Testament.

I hope this post doesn’t come off as impersonal and clinical. I don’t mean it to be. And if you’ve followed my other blogs on this topic you’ll see that I’m trying hard not to treat homosexuality as just an academic question about Hebrew words. But as I told my class, we have to both befriend people who are LGBT (get to know names and faces and stories) and rigorously study what the Bible says about same sex relations. In this last class, we focused on the latter.

Next class, we’re going to have a couple guest speakers who will help us with the former. Stay tuned! You won’t want to miss it.

This entry is part 4 of 8 in the seriesHomosexuality, the Bible, and the Church

Since I didn’t have time to blog about our 4th class, I’ll sum it up here along with our 5th class.

Two weeks ago, we were blessed to have my friend Lesli Skype in and share her testimony with our class. Lesli has a powerful story, which left some of my students in tears. She identified as transgendered growing up (physically a girl, mentally and emotionally a boy) and also accepted the Lord at an early age. Her church experience, however, was incredibly painful and dehumanizing. She knew Jesus loved her; His followers, however, didn’t. So, after graduating high school she fully identified with the LGBT community. Long story short, Lesli now has a great love for the Lord and for people who struggle with their sexual identity.

It was so encouraging and challenging to hear Lesli navigate truth and love in her approach to homosexuality. One of the things that she said that had a huge impact on

Peter Howson's "Last Supper"

Peter Howson’s “Last Supper”

our class was when one of our students ask her the question: “What do you say when someone from the LGBT community asks you if you think homosexuality is a sin?” Lesli’s answer (borrowed from her good friend Bill Henson) was brilliant. “I tell them: Let’s hang out for 4 weeks, I’ll even buy the coffee. And then, after we’ve established a relationship, we can talk through that question.”

Truth in the context of relationship. Brilliant!

Lesli’s response unintentionally influenced our discussion last Tuesday, when we talked about Jesus and homosexuality. Jesus, as you may know, said that homosexuality is “                                     ” (                 ; cf. the parallel in               ). That’s right, Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, which makes it difficult to enlist Him to support your view—whichever view you hold.

Or does it?

Although Jesus never mentioned homosexuality, this does not mean that He had no opinion on it. He never mentioned bestiality, incest, or rape, but this doesn’t mean that Jesus was indifferent on these questions either (I’m not equating these, by the way). If we say that Jesus would have affirmed consensual, monogamous, same-sex relationships, we’d have to create a very unJewish Jesus. Jesus’s Jewish upbringing unanimously viewed same sex sexual relations as a sin. So while Jesus discussed Jewish questions that were debated within Judaism—the resurrection, divorce, the Sabbath, for example—He doesn’t seem to preach to the choir about issues where there was no debate. But I’ve already blogged about Jesus and homosexuality here, here, and here.

Going back to Lesli’s “4 week request,” her advice correlates with Jesus in His approach to many people He encountered, especially the marginalized. Have you noticed that Jesus rarely fronts people’s sin when He meets them?

  • When Jesus met the Roman Centurion (Matt 8:5-13), who lived a life of idolatry, oppression, and violence, He didn’t talk about idolatry, oppression, or violence.
  • When Jesus met Matthew the tax collector (Matt 9:9-13), He didn’t talk about extortion but invited Him into a relationship.
  • When Jesus saw another extortionist named Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), He desired to have a meal with him. Jesus never mentioned his sin; it was Zacchaeus who after encountering Jesus repented from his extortion.

Now, this does not mean that Jesus was totally fine with idolatry, oppression, violence, and extortion. It just means that Jesus didn’t always feel the need to front such sins in His initial encounter with people. Some sins are best dealt with in the context of a relationship—“come follow me!”

So, on the one hand, Jesus didn’t say: “Hey Matthew, we can be friends and all, but I have to first let you know where I stand on the issue of extortion…”

Jesus and outcastOn the other hand, Jesus’s relationship with sinners doesn’t mean that He was indifferent to sin. Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) is one of the most stringent ethical demands in religious history. But Jesus offsets such strict morality with radical grace to those who fall short.

Therefore, we—who believe that homosexual practice is a sin—should model Jesus’s approach. He unconditionally loved people whom He believed were sinners (which is everyone) and didn’t always bring up their sin as a pre-requisite to relationship.

When He does, when Jesus does lay into someone for their sin and demands quick and drastic repentance, it’s usually toward religious, judgmental hypocrites, who looked down their noses at all “those other sinners out there.”

Heterosexual Christians need to remember that we are plugged into God’s life support of grace. It would be ironic—indeed, dangerous—to magnify the sin of others while sanitizing our own slander and greed (1 Cor 6:9).

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the seriesHomosexuality, the Bible, and the Church

This week’s class was amazing! As I’ve told my students throughout this course, I want us to blend rigorous study with personal stories; the word of God and the flesh of people. Homosexuality is not just an issue to be lonelystudied, but a people to love.

This is why I invited Matt Jones to come speak to our class last Tuesday night. Matt is a graduate of Wheaton College and a student at Fuller Seminary. He worships Jesus. He loves people. He has a huge heart for the poor and marginalized. And Matt is a Side B gay Christian committed to a life of celibacy. “Side B” simply means that he doesn’t believe it’s within God’s will to act upon his same sex attraction (if he was “Side A,” he would).

So I invited Matt to come tell us his story. What was it like to experience same sex attraction at age 11? How did your parents respond when you came out? How did you feel growing up in a conservative Christian environment where gay jokes were as frequent as Bible drills, and anti-Homosexual sermons dehumanize “them” even though “you” are sitting right there in the third pew from the front?

As you can imagine, Matt’s life had its struggles. But it was in college when everything came crashing down. He finally came to grips with his sexuality and publicly admitted that he was exclusively attracted to guys. That’s when the depression hit the hardest. Trying to figure out life, school, and your place in the church as a gay man is a lot for a 19 year old to bear. Matt’s theological convictions remained conservative and he wasn’t convinced that it would be within God’s will to pursue a homosexual relationship. So when Matt thought about the future, he imagined sitting all alone in a cold, dark, lonely apartment building. “Is this what you created me for, Jesus?”

When Matt graduated, he landed an internship position at his church back home. However, he felt that it was only right to tell his pastor that he was only attracted to guys and that he would probably never marry a woman. His pastor was surprisingly gracious and understanding, even though he hadn’t encountered anyone in his church with this “issue” in more than 20 years. (Which makes me wonder: who was ministering to the same-sex attracted people in the church all these years? If not their pastor, was it Oprah? Ellen? Pastors: we’ve got to create safe space to walk with those who experience same sex attraction in our churches; “they” are “us” whether you know it or not.) His pastor said he had to tell the rest of their staff about Matt’s sexuality, “but don’t worry, they’ll be totally cool.”

But the meeting was less than cool.

“But what about the kids! We can’t let you around our kids”
(Matt: “I’m not a pedophile, and just because I’m attracted to men doesn’t make me incapable of ministering to youth.”)

“We can’t approve of someone with your…lifestyle.”
(Matt: lifestyle? I’m celibate. I’ve never had the faintest sexual encounter. I’ve never even been to first base.)

Matt left that meeting feeling dehumanized. As he sat in his car he wanted to scream. But it was at that moment that he decided to love. “I will not let the pain people cause me to determine my unconditional love for them.” Matt decided to engage in a lifestyle—a lifestyle of cruciform love. cropped-sfbanner-bluelewisAnd Matt also stayed at the church. He knew that the pastors were godly men. Perhaps they could learn more about homosexuality, but they love Jesus and His word. Matt believed and still believes that he can learn from them.

Grace. Humility. Unconditional forgiveness. There’s more of Jesus in Matt than most Christians I’ve met. He’s traveled around the globe to serve the poor. He’s played with orphans in Guatemala and talked to former drug addicts in South Africa about Jesus. Matt has given himself to a life of love and service, to manifest Jesus to other beautiful people made in God’s image. And no longer does Matt view his future through the dim mist of loneliness; he now considers his celibacy as an opportunity to spread the fragrance of Christ in a dark and broken world.

“Most single people are told that their singleness is a giant ‘no.’ No sex. No marriage. No relationship. Only loneliness. But my celibacy—as much as it’s a daily struggle—is not just a ‘no’ but filled with many ‘yeses’.” Yes to people, love, and community.

Community. That’s a crucial ingredient in Matt’s recipe for joy. Matt’s lifelong celibacy would be unbearable if the church doesn’t reciprocate Matt’s undying love. It’s not up to Matt (and other singles) to muscle up and create joy in a room by himself, or to fill all his free time with service to others. It’s up to us, the church, to make sure we don’t treat singles as second-class citizens in the kingdom, or as incomplete until they find their mate. Singleness is not a stage to get through, but a gift to be stewarded—even if for a time. It’s up to the rest of us to make sure we’re not sending the message that it’s a stage to get through. We need to drown the Matts among us in affection, value, and love.

People can live without sex, but we can’t live without love and relationship, and Matt’s life is filled with both. He no longer imagines that cold, dark, lonely apartment as his lot in life; he imagines, rather, being tackled and tickled by a pile of orphans who have been given life through the love and laughter of man in love with Jesus.

On behalf of our class, thank you Matt for sharing your heart with us!

Matt is a contributor to the Spiritual Friendship blog, which is an excellent resource. Check it out!


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