Editor’s note: I’m back this week with a more expanded version of weekendlinks. This is my summer rhythm: weeks on the road during which I have precious few hours for reading or collecting things to read for those who follow STRENGTH OF HIS MIGHT, followed by weeks when I’m at home and can devote even more time than usual to the task. I pray your mind is strengthened and your spirit edified today!
Updates to STRENGTH OF HIS MIGHT
- Roundup: In Defense of Revoice
- Guest Contributor Matthew: “On Idolatry“
- Updated the Online Resources page
“Classic” LGB+ Christianity
Last year, Taylor Zimmerman offered a three-part series on “Gay Men and Falling in Love” on the Spiritual Friendship blog. They were immensely helpful to me at the time, having experienced a “breakup” with my best friend six months earlier. I highly recommend these:
- Gay Men and Falling in Love – Part I
- Gay Men and Falling in Love – Part II
- Gay Men and Falling in Love – Part III
Wesley Hill writes, “We need more ways to honor and celebrate our friends!”
Chris Damian on Celibate Dating:
“A ‘partner’ in today’s world has all kinds of obligations, and a specific role in one’s life. Today, it’s simply a better word (and a more significant category) than ‘friend.’”
“If you’re seeking out someone to ‘fix’ your loneliness, then you’ll likely end up with a needy co-dependency which is characterized more by emotional instability than by love and freedom.”
“As someone who is single and committed to celibacy; who is tempted to withdraw and to isolate; who fears that I will have no one to celebrate my birthday with and who laments that when I come home at the end of the day I have no one to share the boring details of my day with and no one to listen to as they tell me about theirs; who wonders when I die if I will die alone, the gospel speaks into my sin and into my fear: you are not alone. You are loved. You belong.”
“My life . . . is sustained by a resounding yes, a yes that is only found in Jesus Christ. Like a diamond that weighs down your hand, that makes you avert your eyes for its rainbow brilliance, coming to know Jesus has continually revealed just how dingy, superficial, and man-made the things were I used to consider treasure.”
- Not all aspects of my gayness are broken.
- Heterosexuality isn’t the same as holiness.
- It’s the wrong prayer.
“When we give our hearts to people we are changed, even if they never give us their hearts in return. These effects aren’t scars — they don’t begin as wounds — and I wouldn’t call them baggage. They’re like paint splashes on our canvas hearts or imprints on our soft, clay souls. They’re the telltale signs, the aftermath, of giving someone the power to change us.”
“St. Frances de Sales said that above all else, we must be gentle with ourselves. Acknowledge the attraction, but then with your will, say, ‘I choose to see him for who he is, as a beloved son of God, not as an object of pleasure to me.’ I find many friends and acquaintances attractive. How can we not? God made men and women in his likeness, and God is Beauty itself. The key is how we will respond to that attraction, and this is where our will must enter into the picture.”
I really appreciate Chris’s observations here. At my age, almost all my Christian friends are married. Those who are around my age have very young children so by necessity I need to spend time at their place or provide a space more clearly welcoming of infants and toddlers. Those who are 10+ years older than I, with adolescent children of their own, are beginning to realize that when I invite them for dinner, their kids are always welcome, too. “Gay Christians are right to worry that they’ll lose their straight friends as soon as they get married and have children, that those friends will withdraw from their former communities into the shells of parenting roles, and that we unmarried gay people will be forgotten. Part of the problem may lie with our married friends in failing to prioritize community and friendships. But the problem lies with us, too, where we structure our homes and activities around the single child-free life. If Christians want to support the celibate vocations of their gay brothers and sisters, they need to continue to show up in our lives. But we also need to have spaces ready for our married friends and their changing needs.”
I did some reading this week on the concept of “romantic friendship.” I offer these links if this is a topic that interests you, too.
- The New York Times: When Your Greatest Romance Is a Friendship
- Wikipedia: Romantic friendship
- Brain Pickings: A Brief History of Romantic Friendship
- Brain Pickings: A Photographic History of Bromance, 1840-1918
- Psychology Today: The Eros of Friendship – What To Do With Platonic Passion?
Defenses of Revoice
See also my Roundup: In Defense of Revoice.
“The process of sanctification in this life is not necessarily about eradicating fallen desires. Rather, we form Christian character when, relying on God’s grace, we refuse to consent to temptations to sin, either in thought or in deed. . . . We understand the turn to spiritual friendship as an Augustinian purification that turns toward a real good, not as a Freudian sublimation that tries to keep as much disordered libido as we can without crossing a line.”
“Imagine that you experience unwanted same-sex attraction, and out of allegiance to King Jesus, you commit yourself to a life of celibacy precisely because you believe Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 6 are true and good and beautiful. Now imagine that a fellow Christian cites this very same passage to show that you are “perverting biblical teaching,” are being “biblically unfaithful and fundamentally unsound.” That’s like citing Paul’s prohibition “do not get drunk with wine” (Eph 5:18) to condemn a Christian who’s tempted to drink but has been twenty years sober. . . . Instead of sitting in the stands lobbing linguistic critiques, we should be rushing to the field to bring them water. . . . Revoice is a diverse gathering of sold-out Jesus followers who believe in God’s design for marriage as a union between two sexually different persons. . . . I endorse Revoice out of a deep admiration and profound appreciation of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are walking the narrow road in the midst of so much misunderstanding and critique. . . .
“Let me remind us again: everyone at Revoice agrees that marriage is between a man and a woman and that same-sex lust and sexual behavior are sin. In this day and age (at least in the West), these are radical claims. Do we really want to ostracize those who have questions about the finer linguistic nuances within this historically Christian perspective? What is needed—and desperately so—is not a posture of “you’re biblically unfaithful until you stop using an acronym,” but “because you’re my brother or sister, help me understand where you’re coming from—and here’s a cold bucket of water to refresh your soul.” Despite the dozens of clarifying articles written over the past several years that explain what Wes Hill, Ron Belgau, and others mean when they say “gay,” critics continue to rehash the same old points—ones that have been either clarified, corrected, or refuted. I can’t help but wonder whether Revoice critics are not listening to understand, but listening only to critique—or not listening at all.”
“The use of the term ‘I am gay’ does not necessitate the adoption of a sinful identity. . . . I view same-sex orientation (SSO) as a stable pattern of attractions. This pattern of attractions falls under the biblical category of ‘weakness’ (ἀσθενείᾳ). It is a result of the fall, owing to sin in the world, and not the way it’s supposed to be. This is the same category as a disability or disease. Paul uses this word to describe his thorn in the flesh given to him by God through Satan (2 Corinthians 12:9) and the very nature of our fallen bodies (1 Corinthians 15:43).
“Desires for friendship and love and service are not bad desires in and of themselves. Furthermore, same-sex attracted folks should be encouraged to cultivate friendships with the same sex that display these very things. Where I have been unclear is that if those desires arise from a weakness, a fallen reality, a disordered attraction as described above, then there needs to be a step before they can be faithfully pursued. In other words, if the source of a potentially good desire is an attraction that is disordered, then even if it is a potentially good desire it will end up in a disordered place. Disorder does not magically result in order. So the desire needs to be detached from the disordered source and rightly ordered toward the God glorifying end it is intended for. It is here that the biblical language of ‘taking every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Corinthians 10:5) can be helpfully applied to our desires. I take the desire captive, put it to death as it were, and resurrect it from a pure heart that seeks the pure telos (or end) the desire is intended to be oriented toward.”
“There’s no past tense to struggles with sin there, unless you’re in Heaven—in which case, I assume you are not listening to Mohler’s briefings or reading my blog: you have a better Source of instruction readily available. . . . Before putting forward a verb tense as the basis for a major doctrinal claim, it would be wise to consult the verb tenses of other verses relevant to the same claim, to make sure that all use the same tense. . . .
“I presume that Mohler is not a closet Pelagian, and I do not think that his argument here should be seen as his coming-out party. I think it would be fairer to say that Mohler is a confused Calvinist, who, in trying to make an important point about sanctification, ended up making a claim that was much too sweeping.”
“Ultimately, holy, God-honoring friendship requires inner transformation of the heart; there is little chance of overt sexual activity with a straight friend, but that doesn’t, in itself, prevent lust in the heart. And two men who struggle with sexual attraction to the same sex can, if they mortify their desires for sexual sin in both thought and action, also cultivate a holy and God-honoring friendship. The key to this growth in sanctification is to, with God’s help, always resist lust, both in the heart and in external relationships. . . . However useful it may be to have a picture of sanctified friendship, it is even more useful to know how to go about sanctifying friendship. If I want to get to Louisville, a map that shows the route from where I am to Louisville is worth much more than a good picture of what Louisville itself looks like.”
We hold that there is always sin in the saints, until they are freed from their mortal frame, because depraved concupiscence resides in their flesh, and is at variance with rectitude.
Ran across this post from 2011 and was shocked. That Mohler has gotten the biblical counsel on marriage and celibacy so utterly wrong negatively colors everything else he teaches. This entire article lies somewhere between hubris and heresy, with the exception of this sentence: “Without doubt, an unmarried Christian with the gift of celibacy is more free for Gospel service and Great Commission deployment than a married pastor.” Since that is true, Dr. Mohler, just imagine how “free for Gospel service and Great Commission deployment” a full-time, unmarried Christian minister with the gift of celibacy is!
Just for Fun
“Perhaps you need $675.07 on some other grounds, and are too shy to say so; a beloved cat, doubtless, is suffering from ennui, and requires intensive aromatherapy and stress counseling.” 😂