A new topic of discussion in many “Side B” (traditional sexual ethic) groups is that of celibate partnerships. Right now, those of you who don’t partake in such groups are probably thinking: What on earth are those?! What does that mean?
A same-sex celibate partnership is an intimate coupling between two same-sex attracted (SSA) or gay-identifying individuals. Bonded for life in a way similar to marriage but, of course, minus the sex. It is a life devotion in which the united individuals become family.
I have already seen a few celibate couplings form between guys. I’ve been mostly watching from a distance, but other times I’ve contacted those folks to ask questions. Sometimes I view them with a lot of envy.
Some cynics might say these relationships are just “Side A” (gay-affirming) relationships without sex. Indeed, I have seen a few that seem to model Side A relationships almost exactly the same way in appearance, even though they’re platonic.
I can’t say those hold much appeal for me.
This is such a brand new concept in relation to human history. I’m merely musing in this post and asking questions about the concept of celibate partnerships. These are simply my current thoughts, and they may change in time. I reserve no final judgments or opinions here.
I’ve written that one of my biggest fears is being alone. I’ve always worried that because of my singleness and beliefs on sexuality I’d end up being that creepy old loner guy down the street who the neighbors gossip about.
It seems like a nightmare scenario for my future.
Naturally, I’d love to live with someone and share my life despite my singleness. If I were to live with a straight guy, of course, I’d always live with the dreaded possibility of his eventually dating a girl, then moving out when they get married.
Living with random roommates doesn’t hold much appeal to me either. I’ve lived with “invisible roommates,” and it may be more dreadful than living completely alone.
I’d like someone to come home to at the end of the day. I could come home from the worst day ever and yet have that all go away as I drift into my brother’s arms.
I want a warm refuge when ghosts haunt my hallways in the deep, dark hours of the night. Someone with whom to share life.
Over the past couple years, I’ve discovered that I click with fellow Side B men infinitely better than with straight men. I’ve also experienced the deepest and most meaningful relationships of my life with these particular guys.
Since the dreaded prospect of some girlfriend intervening with these types of men isn’t as nearly a high possibility, this arrangement would be very ideal!
What if he and I could be a step more than just mere roommates? What if we were . . . a family?
Vowed friendships are actually nothing new. Such formalities existed in medieval times. In his book, Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill writes:
“The way in which these spiritual unions had often been sealed in the medieval era was with a liturgy, performed in view of but also outside the doors of the church, signifying that these pacts were sanctioned by divine authority but were also folkloric in origin rather than sacramental. In the Christian East, such rites, as Pavel Florensky notes, already bore a more overtly spiritual character. With adelphopoiesis, the rite of brother making, the two friends who were making promises to each other shared Holy Communion, partaking of the presanctified elements from a common cup, and exchanged crosses with each other. After they traded kisses, the Scripture was read: ‘Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’ (Ps. 133:1 KJV)”
Aha! So, this has been a thing before. Would it be possible for this adelphopoiesis concept to be brought back in a modern way? Frankly, a lot of those subjects hold much appeal for me.
Regarding a celibate partnership for life, there’d be that feeling of stability. If you were to devote yourself to one person and he to you, you would be together forever.
Since you’d be family and brothers before God, yet celibate, obeying the traditional biblical sexual ethic, there wouldn’t be anything sinful present, would there?
Hold on a minute. We need Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park to remind us:
Indeed, is this something that SHOULD be done? Why all the pizazz of an ancient ceremony? Would simply being friends together be enough? Could there be emotionally damaging effects for people who attempt celibate partnerships?
Also, what if the dreaded emotional dependency were to rear its ugly head? Since celibate partnerships are inherently platonic, perhaps they could be sort of “polygamous,” for lack of a better word?
Indeed, if one were to have multiple “partners” (even if they didn’t live with you), one could have “backups” in the event of dramatic fallings out or death. That way no one is ever left out.
What other theological questions arise from celibate partnerships? As well as political and ethical ones?
Regardless, if many Side B men are to pursue celibate partnerships, it may take a few brave pioneers to discover what platonic partnership lives are actually like. Lots of trial-and-error may be involved with hopefully the errors not being too terrible (and not leading to the creation of a celibate divorce court TV show).
I didn’t set out to write this blog to make any statements or grounded opinions. I’m still unsure at the moment. At the very least, I do want to live with my closest Side B brothers, with or without the fancy life partnership title, complete with an official adelphopoeisis ceremony.
What do you think of this concept of adelphopoeisis? Would you consider a celibate partnership for yourself? Are celibate partnerships appropriate or biblical? Any hardcore theologians wanna take a stab at it?