These brief ruminations are offered in response to the latest episode of Unbelievable featuring a dialogue between David Bennett and Justin Lee. Bennett and Lee are both gay, but Bennett insists that celibacy is the only morally acceptable option for the gay Christian while Lee insists that the gay Christian can pursue monogamous samesex relationships.
First, I appreciate Bennett’s eloquent defense of the cruciform nature of Christian discipleship. There is no doubt that celibacy is a daunting call for most people, but gay Christians are not the only people who face it. For example, consider the man whose wife suffers a debilitating stroke on their honeymoon, one which leaves her permanently disabled. We would not consider the man now exempted from his wedding vows even though he finds himself facing a life deprived of the emotional, intellectual, and physical intimacy of another person. People face the challenging call of Christian discipleship in many ways, and the life of celibacy for the gay Christian is but one of them.
Second, I appreciate Lee pushing back with the example of the intersex person. Bennett appears to take the position that the intersex person should be deprived of a marital relationship because their genitalia and/or genetics fail to conform to the binary categories of heteronormativity. But one must wonder about the logic here. The fact is that scriptural writers never addressed the question of intersex identity. And that raises a significant question about how we should think about the issue.
Would Bennett be fine with an intersex person marrying if their parents had undertaken aggressive surgery in their infancy to construct the genitals they lacked? If so, then why should that surgery be the moral requirement for entering into the sexual intimacy of marriage?
Finally, I appreciated the irenic way that each side shared his perspective. It was an open exchange free of the judgment and finger wagging that often derails dialogue on these contentious ethical issues.