It is Not Heroic To Be A Celibate Homosexual

Perhaps most important of all from a pastoral perspective, rehabilitating the category of friendship will help us avoid the temptation of privileging the celibacy of one section of the single Christian population over another. The underlying values of Christian hero-worship have often aped those of the hero-worship of the wider culture, from the asceticism of Athanasius’s Life of Anthony onwards. That is a most unhelpful tendency and seems to be manifesting itself at this time in the matter of sexuality, making those who identify as celibate gay Christians into particularly heroic figures. As one unmarried Christian woman friend said to me recently: ‘Why all the special applause for celibate “gay” Christians? I am single and “straight”. I am celibate because that is simply what single Christians are meant to be. Yes, I am often lonely. Yes, I am at times sexually frustrated. But nobody lionises me or my situation as I seek to be obedient.’

—Carl Trueman, Friendship: Loss and Gain

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. Interesting. I think the LGTB movement is the devil’s fulcrum, his weapon to undermine the Christian church. I also think the idea of the heroic celibate gay Christian is only a first step to broader acceptance of gays in the church. Sexual deviancy tends to be a strong perversion, and I doubt that a celebration of celibate gay Christians in the Church would produce much actual celibacy.

    I am not saying that we should single out or humiliate Christians who struggle with homosexuality. I am saying that sin should remain shameful because it is in all cases an affront to God and that for which the wrath of God is coming. All Christians have been called as our response to the great gift of Christ to resist sin at every turn, no matter what our particular temptation may be, knowing that we have the certain hope of glory in Jesus Christ.

  2. Fair point. But not to give cover to heroism, Trueman’s straight and believing friend still has a place she can aspire to find respite for what ails her–believing homosexuals with similar frustrations do not have that option. So there is a difference between the two, and some who are given to keeping score might say that the latter group is a little further behind the eight ball.

    • Hey Zrim,

      The church is and must be open to all struggling sinners and certainly everyone is welcome to come hear the law and the gospel preached! The church should mercifully receive anyone who identifies as a sinner and identifies their sin. Those, however, who identify impenitently as homosexuals or murders or thieves etc cannot expect the church to deny the Scriptures and our confession simply because society now says that a particular sin is an unalterable stat of being. E.g., I know of 2 congregations that host members/attenders who have been convicted of sex crimes. They are welcome to hear the gospel but society has placed a stigma on them and so there are special arrangements for their attendance to worship. Their crimes will be no less crimes if (when?) society decides that children have consented to sex. I’m sure we agree about this.

      So, when we talk about a “believing homosexual” we need to add a qualifier or two: a penitent sinner who struggles with SSA (same-sex or homosexual attraction). Why should those who’ve been involved in sexual sin forever define themselves by that sin? Why should the church be taken captive by secular sexual identity politics? Being repentant or penitent makes all the difference here as to how the church regards one. If one is impenitent, then our first word to them is the law. If a person is penitent, then our first word to them is the gospel but let’s leave identity politics outside the church doors.

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