I was brought up in a loving, moral, church-going family and benefitted from Christian input at Sunday School from a very early age. From around about the age of 10 or 11 I became very conscious of being attracted, both emotionally and physically, to my male school friends rather than to my female school friends. I hadn’t chosen to have those feelings and I spent most of my teenage years fighting against them and tormenting myself with guilt over them. Finally, aged 17, I reluctantly started to identify myself, inwardly at least, as being gay.
A well-meaning Christian friend put this question to me and I confess that it made me quite angry. I was surprised by the strength of my reaction and have spent some time subsequently reflecting both on the question and my response to it.
About a year ago, I confessed my struggle with same-sex desires to a couple of my friends. I acknowledged that I could not fight this battle alone. I had tried unsuccessfully for nearly 25 years. If I was going to be victorious, I needed someone to come alongside me and help me. My two friends were very loving and gracious as I unburdened myself to them. That night, I installed an accountability app on my phone and my friend, Roger, became my accountability partner. We never made any kind of formal commitment to help each other. Nor did we discuss what accountability should look like.
Enjoying God and experiencing satisfaction in Christ are exciting elements of the Christian life. In addition to enjoyment and satisfaction though, St Paul makes this assertion in 1 Timothy 6:6: “But godliness with contentment is great gain”
When asked to write this article I was forced to the realisation that I am a 30-year-old male choosing celibacy. That is probably relatively unusual, so I must know at least something on the issue. The teacher in me couldn’t resist loosely dividing this into three areas: what does it mean to be celibate, what can help us achieve that goal and why bother?