This is Day 5 of 7 of my Devotional Series on Celibacy written a year ago. While much of my thought process has changed since then, it is important to share where I sincerely was in my journey with God and my vocation.
“1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” Hebrews 13:1-3 (NIV)
So far we have reflected on the first three characteristics of celibacy: commitment, spiritual life, and vulnerability. The heart of the celibate Christian tradition is radical hospitality. You see the commitment to hospitality in monasteries and consecrated religious orders. I love the Rule of St. Benedict which reminds the monks “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ.”
How can LGBT+ celibates renew the Church’s understanding of radical hospitality? From the examples of monastics and personal experience, here are some practical suggestions:
If your situation allows, consider having a guest room at your house. Monasteries usually have guest housing when people need to make a spiritual retreat. Consider holding space for others in this way, especially if someone is transitioning to your city or is encountering unemployment.
Foster outward friendships and relationships. A blessing in my celibate partnership is Kyle pushing me to focus on others. Brainstorm with your roommates, close friends, and partners about which people you are encountering, and how you can combine resources to bless them.
Lean into your celibate freedom. Be available to have that late night phone call with your distressed friend. Take an acquaintance to the airport for their early morning flight. Watch your friends’ kids so they can have a night out for once. Drive a friend to go grocery shopping or church if they don’t have a car. You may have the time and resources that others don’t.
Break bread with others. Meals can be acts of sacred hospitality. Host people over often and let them feel like part of your home. Host singles and friends estranged from family over the holidays. Don’t just do a “friendsgiving”; make them part of your Thanksgiving.
Allow imperfection. Jesus invited himself into Zaccheus’ home before Zaccheus said a word. You don’t have to have your physical or spiritual house in order to welcome someone in the way you would welcome Christ. It’s okay if your place isn’t spotless or you’re missing that fancy bottle of wine. Let your hospitality be a gift in whatever state. You have grace to give and receive.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of suggestions, but it can be a good start for wherever you are in your celibate journey. Celibacy isn’t restricted to saying “no” to sex. It’s saying yes to hospitality, yes to freedom, and yes to a new family in Christ.
Almighty God and Father, open our eyes to see fellow human beings as image-bearers. Remind us that how we treat our guests reflects how we treat your Son. Forgive us of our tendencies to look inward. Deliver us from conceit as we look to our example, your Son Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.