The False Teachings Regarding Celibacy from City Church of San Francisco
Here we go again. I’ve seen this issue come up before with other Christians, other churches, who hold all sorts of falsehoods about celibacy. I will be offering comments and criticisms of the views presented in this letter from a San Francisco Church – a link, with excerpts from the page, is below.
The Bible teaches that abstaining from sexual behavior is for all single persons, regardless if they are hetero, bi-sexual, or homosexual, or of some other orientation.
Furthermore, the Bible does (Link): not teach that God “gifts” people with celibacy or that only some, only a few, will be celibate, or that (Link): life long celibacy is an heroic feat possible for only a minority.
Review a bit of my life story: I am over the age of 45, a hetero-sexual woman who long desired marriage, marriage did not happen for me (and it may never), yet I am a virgin, but God did not remove my sexual desire. I still have a desire for marriage, and also a libido.
If I can remain celibate this long, and I have in fact done so, there is no reason for this San Francisco church to imply it is cruel, impossible, or unrealistic for LGBT persons to remain celibate over a life time.
While being celibate over a lifetime is not always easy, it is in fact possible.
Remaining celibate for a long time comes down to self-control and choice, not some magical rare gifting where-in God only zaps a few people with celibacy and removes a sexual drive. The Bible says all believers in Christ (Link): have self-control but churches such as this one operates under the assumption that this is not so.
A Letter From The Elder Board
…..WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THIS NOW?
1. God is bringing LGBT Christians through the doors of City Church.
As you read this perhaps you, your friend, or family member are one of them. They desire to follow Jesus, and are eager to live faithfully to the gospel and desire spiritual growth. Some have been living celibate lives and want to know if we can talk out loud about this.
Others report they have become Christians at City Church. Some report that while they were raised in the church, they left it, but have returned and experienced great renewal.
And many hope for a life long partnership one day that will fulfill their basic human need of belonging, companionship, and intimacy.
Others are already married or partnered and know this is a safe place for them to grow in their relationship.
2. Our pastoral practice of demanding life-long “celibacy”, by which we meant that for the rest of your life you would not engage your sexual orientation in any way, was causing obvious harm and has not led to human flourishing.
(It’s unfortunate that we used the word “celibacy” to describe a demand placed on others, as in Scripture it is, according to both Jesus and Paul, a special gift or calling by God, not an option for everyone). In fact, over the years, the stories of harm caused by this pastoral practice began to accumulate.
Our pastoral conversations and social science research indicate skyrocketing rates of depression, suicide, and addiction among those who identify as LGBT. The generally unintended consequence has been to leave many people feeling deeply damaged, distorted, unlovable, unacceptable, and perverted. Imagine feeling this from your family or religious community:
“If you stay, you must accept celibacy with no hope that you too might one day enjoy the fullness of intellectual, spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical companionship. If you pursue a lifelong partnership, you are rejected.” This is simply not working and people are being hurt. We must listen and respond.
3. We feel a growing sense that this counsel is not necessarily the way of the gospel.
While members of the LGBT community have always been welcome at City Church, we prevented people from joining our church if they were unwilling or unable to practice lifelong celibacy. ….
..SUMMARY: WHAT HAS ACTUALLY CHANGED HERE?
…On the other hand, we want to be clear what this now means. We will no longer discriminate based on sexual orientation and demand lifelong celibacy as a precondition for joining. For all members, regardless of sexual orientation, we will continue to expect chastity in singleness until marriage.
/// end excerpts from City Church web page
If your church position is that any and all sexual behavior is fine and peachy, so long as the person is married, AND you’re arguing you are now hunky dory with homosexuality, that would mean, I take it, that you are saying you are fine with LGBT marriage, and are saying LGBT persons may have same-sex relations so long as they are married to their same-sex partner?
And what if marriage never happens?
I’ll tell you what happens and what should happen:
The person has to remain celibate, if they claim to be a Christian who wants to respect God, God’s morals, and what the Bible has to say about it.
Look, guys at San Fran church, I would dearly love to marry, but no “Mr. Right” is materializing on my front door step.
I may never marry.
If I were still completely a Christian (I am quasi agnostic currently), I’d have to sexually abstain. And I am HETERO. You should expect no less from LGBT persons.
In my time blogging or Tweeting about being a hetero celibate, I have heard from other other HETERO celibates, some in their 40s, 50s, and older, all of them to date have been Christians, I believe.
These heterosexuals are still abstaining – many of them wanted to marry, but they never met the right person, so they remain single.
Please stop acting as though life long, or decades-long, celibacy is so very difficult that it’s this impossible standard nobody can achieve, so you drop it as a biblical sexual ethic.
Just because something is difficult does not mean it stops being right or possible.
Just because it seems that everyone else is doing something (i.e., sex outside of marriage) does not mean you should just say, “Aw, screw it, nobody is living this celibacy stuff out any more, let’s just drop this expectation!”
Where does the Bible say to base morality on popularity or on how many people are doing or not doing something?
If everyone began robbing banks tomorrow, would your church start saying,
“We no longer demand our members to be honest, and work for a living to pay their bills, but it’s okay if they rob banks.”
If you wouldn’t slack off on other biblical mores such as stealing and robbing, why would you do so in the area of sexuality? Why is sexuality an exception here?
Due to liberal political correctness, is that it? That’s not a solid reason, either.
I have to laugh at all the liberal Christian and ex-Christian accounts, blogs, and groups I follow on Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere, who keep arguing that Christians have turned virginity (or celibacy) into idols – oh no they don’t. This post serves as another example of that.
Christians are ditching and dumping celibacy and virginity teachings faster than you can blink and eye.
There is no so-called Christian “idolizing of virginity” going on, as liberal and ex Christians proclaim – spare me.
Christians should be among the forefront of society defending sexual abstinence, but here they are, acquiescing to culture. Or they (Link): don’t want people to be angry with them, nor do they be perceived as “mean”
They are fine with fudging on biblical ethics in the process.
I have to say, every time I see these types of web pages – such as the one published by this San Francisco church – all I can think is that they are robbing some Christian celibates of a motivation to continue sexually abstaining, since they continue to chip away at a basis or rationale for anyone to remain a virgin or celibate.
Churches like this one are sapping hetero celibates of the the strength to keep going and holding on. Churches such as “City Church” are supporting LGBT persons at the expense of hetero celibate adults – enough of that! They should knock that off.
By the way (and I’ve already tweeted them a link to this blog post)…
the (Link): San Fran City Church Twitter account
(Link): Typical Erroneous Teaching About Adult Celibacy Rears Its Head Again: To Paraphrase Speaker at Ethics and Public Policy Center: Lifelong Celibacy is “heroic ethical standard that is not expected of heteros, so it should not be expected of homosexuals” (ie, it’s supposedly an impossible feat for any human being to achieve)
(Link): False Christian Teaching: “Only A Few Are Called to Singleness and Celibacy” or (also false): “God’s gifting of singleness is rare” – More Accurate: God calls only a few to marriage -and- God gifts only the rare the exceptions the few with the gift of Marriage
(Link): Singleness Is Not a Gift
(Link): Pastors avoid ‘controversy’ to keep tithes up, author says – Confirms What I’ve Been Saying All Along, Re: Churches: Contrary to Progressive Christians, Churches / Christians Do Not Support or Idolize Sexual Purity, Virginity, or Celibacy – they attack these concepts when not ignoring them