Sharing Life More Deeply
Same-sex attracted Christians who are committed to celibacy often live alone, and this can be lonely. While some feel that this is the only way for them personally, others really want to find a way to share life with others. This article looks at the principles and practicalities of sharing life with other people at a deeper level than the typical church/work relationships.
Finding a long-term housemate
We are not talking here about taking in a lodger or sharing a house for convenience, but a significant commitment to share life as well as the living space. It would be unwise to choose just anyone who happens to be available. The two of you must know each other well and get on with each other, ‘warts and all’. All parties involved also need to understand fully and completely what they are taking on and talk through the details of spending a lot of time in close proximity throughout all life’s ups and downs. They must be totally honest about their motivation for sharing and be transparent with themselves and their friend(s) about their expectations about living together and what boundaries to set.
Some people might find sharing a house too intense or fraught with temptation. Another option would be to move close to other members of a church community, perhaps as part of a church planting project, and arranging with others to share meals, house-keys, pets, and so forth.
Agreeing on the details
It is a big thing for adults to give up their independent living and share a house, but a much greater commitment for them to combine their assets and buy a house/flat together. This is an arrangement which cannot be easily reversed, and it is very important to anticipate together the possible future life events that could lead to one person needing to withdraw from the arrangement and how that would be handled fairly for both people. Even if they are not buying a house together, it is still important to consider how much of each person’s possessions become common property. Of course, none of these arrangements are the same as a lifelong “till death us do part” relationship, so there needs to be a way of dividing up common assets if one person needs to move on in the future.
It would be easy for two good friends sharing a home to focus all their energies on each other, but they must watch out for it becoming exclusive or emotionally dependent. Each person must have other friends and be involved in some different activities. It is an opportunity to model good wholesome friendship and to demonstrate a better love than the world does. It will look different from the Christian nuclear family, which has marriage (and perhaps children) at its heart.
Community and Ministry
A shared house offers a wonderful possibility for using the home for mission and fellowship. More space to accommodate guests and more hands to prepare food allows greater opportunities for hospitality (1 Peter 4:9). If it is big enough, then visitors may stay overnight and this makes the household more transparent to observers. A more significant step is to keep an open house, where friends may just drop in, but of course, this needs some boundaries. This outward focus will help the house-sharing friends not to become exclusive or inward-looking.
Your home may still not look like an ‘ordinary’ family home, but it is different rather than inferior. It will allow you to do things differently and reach a different set of people. Even married people may like to have somewhere to go outside of a clamorous home.
Of course, a rich and abundant spiritual life is fundamental for all of us. But Christians sharing living space must keep Christ as the focus, praying and seeking God together. As well as each person developing their personal relationship with God, it is good for fellowship and prayer to be an important part of home life (Acts 2:46).
Considering the appearance
Any pair of friends sharing a home will have to consider the impression they give to others – both Christian and non-Christian – and of course, especially if they are both openly same-sex attracted. This is perhaps easier to navigate where the household consists of more than two people sharing. There will inevitably be some misunderstandings and disapproval and only so much explanation that can be given. But Paul writes, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality” (Eph 5:3). So, we must work hard to dispel any rumours or suspicion, however ill-founded. Remember that the reputation of the church is at stake and, by association, the name of Jesus.
But those who are confident in what they are doing can give an honest account, model good friendship and take the opportunity to share the Gospel through this radical pure living within God’s boundaries. There needs to be proper accountability to one another and also to other Christian friends. It may be wise to discuss this arrangement in advance with a church minister or elder.
Foreseeing the challenges
The most obvious challenge is that of sexual temptation. This should be worked through candidly in advance of living together. If one person has a strong attraction to the other, then the whole arrangement is almost sure to be unwise. The Bible says, “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18), and moving into a shared house with someone you are strongly tempted to sleep with cannot be described as fleeing!
More generally, it is simply not easy to share living space with anybody. There will be friction, misunderstandings, hurts, need for time out etc and these things must all be faced and worked through. The Bible calls us to “bear with one another” (Col 3:13) and repeated forgiveness is an essential habit within a healthy household.
It is also good to talk through coping if one person is ill (physically or mentally) or faces serious financial or family problems.
Holding lightly to this world
Remember that you are friends, not spouses. Sometimes friendships change and friends move on for good reason. Perhaps one person’s work or family situation will move them elsewhere, or God may call them to a new place. Perhaps more painfully, the other person may get married or you may decide together that the living arrangement is simply not working out as expected. This is hard to face and reminds us that only God is 100% reliable. By investing in other relationships and getting involved in church, you can prepare for the inevitable disappointment that this would bring. So, enjoy the companionship while you can, hold everything lightly (1 Cor 7:29-31) and keep open to God.
In the end, nobody can meet our varied and diverse personal needs, including loneliness. Only God can do all that, and so we must journey closely with Jesus. All others are just travelling companions along the way.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33).
This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.
Download the Summer 2020 edition of Ascend