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  • Writer's pictureScott Carr, Jr.

Suffering, Vocation, and Celibacy

Calvin emphasizes that Christians are those who are “consecrated and dedicated to God in order that we may thereafter think, speak, meditate, and do, nothing except to his glory” (3.7.1). The goal of life is not self-preservation, but pursuing the glory of God (3.7.2). Living such a life requires denying the sin to which we are inclined and pursuing righteousness (3.7.3). As Christians take up their cross (Luke 9:23) and follow this path, they will encounter suffering (3.8.1). The Christian’s suffering produces virtue in his or her life by teaching “trust in God’s power”, humility, patience, obedience, and repentance (3.8.2-6). Suffering also directs Christians toward the future hope of eternal life. Suffering prevents Christians from resting their hope in the present world, filled with sin and death (3.9.1), but points them to the hope of eternal life in the Kingdom of God at the final resurrection (3.9.5). As the Christian endures and waits for that day, he or she may use the earthly things God has graciously given for the uses God intended them, but they must not be clung to tightly (3.10.2, 4). For those who do not have earthly riches, they are called to be content in their situation and place their hope on the treasure of the Kingdom of God rather than on gaining worldly wealth (3.10.5)

Wesley Hill applies these themes to his own vocation of celibacy as a gay Christian. He primarily defines himself as one who is washed by the waters of baptism and waiting for the full consummation of the Kingdom of God (61-64). On the day of resurrection, he fully expects to no longer be gay (112). In this present age, he lives faithfully according to that future reality even in the midst of temptation and struggle. God continues to confront all of our disordered desires with both judgment and the promise of mercy, including our sexuality (80-85). Hill believes God makes demands on him to live celibately because God has both created and redeemed His body. The vocation of celibacy requires continual submission of sexual desire to the God who invites us into fellowship with Him and His Body, the Church (84-86).

Calvin, John, John T. McNeill, and Ford Lewis Battles. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.

Hill, Wesley. Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016.

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