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People Find Another Way to Be Both Gay and Christian — but It Stirs Liberals and Conservatives Alike

"We believe ... that God created human beings male and female, and that any sexual intimacy outside of a faithful, lifelong marital union of a man and woman is contrary to His plan."

(Source: Shutterstock)

As homosexuality and gay marriage gain increased social acceptance, there's a rarely discussed group that is also beginning to become more prevalent and vocal: those with same-sex attraction who remain celibate.

An activist in Ukraine's first gay pride demonstration seen through the rainbow flag during the action in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, May 25, 2013. About a hundred gay and lesbian Ukrainians and those from other countries took part in the gay pride rally, protected by hundreds of riot police. Antipathy toward homosexuals remains strong in Ukraine. Credit: AP AP

In a new Washington Post report, the collective of gay individuals who abstain from relationships is described as "small but growing," with reporter Michelle Boorstein speaking with numerous individuals who consider themselves part of that movement.

Take, for instance, Eve Tushnet, 36, a Catholic lesbian who is celibate. After having a liberal upbringing and attending Yale University, she said everyone she knew before her conversion to the faith opposed the Church's teachings on sexuality.

So, when she willingly decided not to enter into gay relationships, she became, as Boorstein noted, "an outlier."

"[Celibacy] allows you to give yourself more freely to God," she said.

Tushnet believes that gay Christians who choose abstinence should not focus on their decision not to engage in sex and should, instead, look for intimacy in other places, like public service, the arts and deeper friendships, according to Boorstein's report. 

Celibate Christianity is controversial, though, leading people on all sides of the aisle to express varying levels of skepticism.

Consider that embracing celibate gays forces some to concede that homosexuality might not be a choice after all; likewise, it also forces some critics to abandon the notion that it's possible to change one's sexuality.

The dynamic tends to also frustrate gays and lesbians who are fighting for a level of marriage equality that would allow them to be in same-sex relationships, while also participating in church communities. To these people, celibacy simply isn't an option.

Boorstein also spoke with Julie Rodgers, a lesbian who works at Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Illinois, where she serves in the chaplain's office and works with gays and lesbians on campus.

Two men hold hands while walking on Castro Street in San Francisco, Thursday, June 27, 2013. The Supreme Court issued rulings Wednesday that struck down a provision of a federal law that denies federal benefits to married gay couples and also cleared the way for state laws that recognize marriage equality. Credit: AP  AP

Rodgers, who doesn't believe in the reparative therapy that some evangelicals have used to try and cure homosexuality, personally embraces celibacy.

"Evangelicals are really trying to figure out what to do. There is a real panic about how to move forward. How do we think and talk about sexuality?" she said. "We haven’t had a robust understanding around celibacy in the past. We are trying to find a congruence between faith and spirituality that does not try to align with traditional marriage but does recognize that we can live without sex, but we can’t live without intimacy."

People like Rodgers continue to discuss the issue, with support for celibacy growing among some cohorts.

There's an entire blog dedicated to this community called Spiritual Friendship. Founded by Ron Belgau and Wesley Hill, two celibate gay Christians, the blog delves in-depth on these issues, embracing a "traditionally Christian sexual ethic."

"We believe ... that God created human beings male and female, and that any sexual intimacy outside of a faithful, lifelong marital union of a man and woman is contrary to His plan," reads a description of the blog. "But we also believe that marriage is not the only way of life God calls us to, and so we seek to explore different ways of serving God in celibacy."

Read more about the growing gay celibacy movement here.

(H/T: Washington Post)

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Front page image via Shutterstock.com

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