A big thank you to Matthew for writing our first guest post! Matthew and I connected on Twitter shortly after the 2018 Revoice Conference, and quickly developed a mutual respect for one another. I appreciate his willingness to learn from the broader LGBTQ+ Christian community. Because many of my readers are single, celibate gay Christians, I believe it is important to share a variety of stories that can be helpful to this largely unsupported demographic. As a disclaimer, the views presented by guest contributors are not necessarily representative of my own views.
My name is Matthew. I’m a single, straight, and Christian man, currently in a season of life where I’m at peace with God taking me down a path of either lifelong celibacy or lifelong marriage. As I write this post, I’m both taking advantage of all the opportunities that singleness provides, and actively participating in the dating world as a means for the path of marriage, all while being at peace with either path. How did I arrive at this state of peace, you might ask? It was through celibacy that God brought about this peace that I now share with you.
This peace didn’t arrive overnight though. Celibacy was, for the better part of my now 14 year walk with Christ, something that I never gave much thought. I knew, according to 1st Corinthians 7, that it was an “option” for me, but one that seemed unlikely and honestly too difficult to pursue. It seemed difficult for me because celibacy involves the foregoing of sex (no further explanation needed for that). Also, the loneliness that was (and still is for many people) associated with celibacy made it seem even more difficult. These were the all too common factors that convinced me to dismiss celibacy. Marriage, on the other hand, was a given: one day I will be married to a woman and live the rest of my life within that context. That truly seemed like a given to me, or so I thought.
When did this journey begin? My earliest memories of interest in celibacy were in early 2018 when I read Party of One by Joy Beth Smith. The book discusses celibacy (among other topics) and so I believe that was when God planted the seeds of interest in me. But the watershed moment for this journey was the Revoice conference later that year in July. For those familiar with Revoice, that should likely come as no shock. For those unfamiliar with Revoice, celibacy is heavily discussed at Revoice. And so during this conference, God essentially urged my spirit to no longer dismiss celibacy but accept it as a legitimate path that God could take me down. And thus the journey began. There are many things God has taught me on this journey, but one very important thing He did, was use celibacy to take something good away from me and reveal to me something exceedingly better.
You see, when marriage was a given, it was like I could look ahead and picture part of my future with near absolute certainty: I’m married to a woman who loves me and I love her, raising children who love me and I love them, attending church with my family, living in community with others as a married man, serving my wife and children practically and spiritually, doing family devotions with my wife, helping my children with their schoolwork, attending sport events and cookouts, travelling with my family on vacation, spending the holidays with them, attending graduations, watching my children grow up and perhaps get married and have children of their own, and growing old with my wife. There were a lot of good things to look forward to, or so I thought.
But, as celibacy slowly but surely became a serious option, this once certain future slowly but surely disappeared. Now all I see is an open future, in which I could either be celibate or be married. I can no longer picture a married life, and all of its associated events and milestones, with the near absolute certainty I once had. All that was given for me, was taken away from me. And it terrified me. Why? Because I had something taken away from me that gave me some kind of assurance that my life wouldn’t be a waste. This future marriage, as hypothetical as it truly was, assured me that I will have people in my life (a wife and children) who will love me and I will love them. But if that future is no longer a certainty and an assurance (and never was those things to begin with), then what am I looking forward to? Or should I ask… who am I looking forward to?
It’s amazing how something as good as marriage can distract you from something better. That should be no surprise, good gifts from God can and often do become idols, and marriage is no exception. With this hypothetical future now gone, I no longer have it there to distract me from the one and only certainty and assurance I need: God Himself, my blessed and eternal future. Every step I take in this life, whether in celibacy or in marriage, will be one I take with Him and towards Him. I’m pursuing Him first and foremost. All of my desires to love and be loved find their apex, ultimacy, and fulfillment in God. His love never fails. And in that assurance comes peace. And from this peace comes the freedom to love God and others in whatever way God calls, whether I’m celibate or married. He is trustworthy.
As I said, God used celibacy to take something good away from me and reveal to me something, or rather, someone exceedingly better: Himself. I don’t know what my future will look like exactly, and that’s okay. I don’t know if I’ll be celibate or married in the next five, ten, or even twenty years, and that’s okay. But I do know the God in whom I have entrusted my future. Whatever my future will be, He will be with me always. He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). And “surely goodness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
You can follow Matthew at @RumseyME