Apr 21, 2023Liked by Dani Treweek

I can't help thinking of people like Gladys Aylward, Corrie ten Boom and many others, who longed to marry yet died single. How can anyone look at their lives and say they would have been 'more effective' if they hadn't wanted marriage?!!!

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Another great post. I especially appreciate your thoughts about the very idea of "choice" as the great divide which is being posited. It pushes in the direction of a finality and infallibility no one possesses or can claim. Is God obligated to ratify my volunteering to do anything in particular? Can I know now exactly what will or won't happen in the future? And doesn't this cl

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Apr 22, 2023Liked by Dani Treweek

Insightful as usual! This parsing is a helpful antidote to the pressure I have sometimes felt (either from myself or from others) to discern if I am indeed "called to singleness" permanently. I have always been willing to embrace singleness as a lifelong calling, but trying to figure out if that is actually God's will for me has caused undue stress. I've come to realize that it's better to simply embrace my present state without trying to pretend I have the foresight to know if it's my lifelong vocation. Do I think it's likely? Yes. Will I flat-out refuse to consider other options if God leads me towards a viable romantic relationship? No.

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To see the law by Christ fulfilled

To hear His pardoning voice

Changes a slave into a child

And duty into choice. ---Cowper

I think he has missed so much about the purpose of our lives as Christians that I don't even know where to start. Married or single I belong to Him. My life wasn't fruitless when i was single. I didn't suddenly become fruitful when I got married. Being continent (celibate?) was simply a part of being a faithful Christian. Being sexually faithful to my spouse is how that is expressed now. I didn't suddenly embrace self control when I married. Married or single it's about Jesus. Maybe getting married will turn some people into a somewhat less distracted Christian, but I don't know if they'll really be a better one.

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Love your work Dani!

Turning our young brother’s argument around, choosing marriage does not ensure more effectiveness, more endurance and better training, greater expertise, deeper investment in God’s work in this world, more personal ownership of their place in that work or readiness to count and pay the cost for the 1 in 4 Anglican marriages that experience DV or abuse!

Also note the determinism in his construct. There is no sense of growing or learning unless you choose at the outset!

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I guess there can be two ways in which one might be termed “involuntarily celibate”:

1) one would have liked to have gotten married, but it just never worked out (you didn’t find the right person, you kept on waiting willingly for marriage but it never happened etc). This is what the term “incel” typically refers to in the broader culture

2) those who are celibate, not because they have been chosen to, but because they have been forced to. E.g: those who don’t acc believe in a traditional sexual ethic, but are not going out with or having sex with those they would like to (e.g: a same-sex partner, premarital sex etc.) because if one did your community or family would ostracise you or kick you out of the house etc.

I would agree with you that the first one isn’t really “involuntary celibacy” in reality, for God has given you that celibacy, and it is actually chosen in a sense because one is choosing to live by what God wants (you’re still choosing to not have sex because you’re not married, whether or not your unmarried status was intended), and it is not that which is spiritually dangerous, but rather a) the belief it’s spiritually dangerous, and b) any unwillingness to accept that gift from God. I don’t think there can be a meaningful distinction between this form of celibacy as compared to Pieter’s form of celibacy, at least not on a basis of chosen/unchosen.

But I do think that the second form of celibacy is genuinely “involuntary” and is spiritually dangerous. Celibacy is good because God has given it to you at that point and one has chosen to accept that from God at that moment. But if one isn’t actually accepting it because it is what God has given to you at that moment, but because it would not be safe for you to do so, because you run the risk of being ostracised by your family or community, or you risk intense shaming, or in some countries it’s illegal, then that is genuinely involuntary, and is not good. I don’t know if Pieter considers both of these as “involuntary celibacy”, or merely the latter, but if he is talking about the latter, then I think he’s right. The solution to the dangerous situation of being celibate only because it is unsafe for you to do so and not because God wants you to be is to change the reason your celibate to because that is what God wants of you in that moment. It is also important I think to make sure that we can help people for whom not choosing celibacy would be unsafe, because then we can make that celibacy meaningful and helpful and give them the choice to actually do so for God. I wonder if this is what Pieter was thinking about when talking about “conscripted celibacy”, given that his audience is gay celibate Christians (and many who know them e.g: parents), who do experience this not infrequently. But if he means to include the former form of celibacy then I agree I don’t think his argument is theologically coherent or accurate, and is quite unkind, arrogant and ignorant.

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