Guest writer Josh Proctor shares his thoughts and experiences regarding Valentine’s Day as a celibate Christian with same-sex attractions.
We all can be honest: when you’re single, Valentine’s Day sucks. The holiday seems to just throw it in your face that you’re alone. It’s not even just the day itself, but the weeks approaching the day. February arrives, and immediately the aisles of every store get filled with hearts and candy.
You think you have it bad, though? Try dealing with it as a celibate Christian who will never be in the relationship he desires, because he wants not a wife, but a husband — yet that goes against his beliefs. Now, I don’t say that for you to feel sorry for me. Instead, what I’m saying is this:
Valentine’s Day is hard enough being single, but it’s even harder for someone facing the potential of never having a relationship.
A Uniquely Difficult Day
It’s interesting that we want single people and LGBT+ people to feel welcome in our churches, yet we’re just as passionate as the non-church world in celebrating a whole day set aside for romantic relationships. Beyond being single, it becomes much more complicated for LGBT+ people who feel called to follow God by being celibate.
One of my hardest days was the first Valentine’s Day after I decided to become celibate because of my beliefs. I had recently broken up with my last boyfriend. I was alone. And suddenly, it seemed like neither the church nor society seemed to have a place for me. Beyond the normal feeling of loneliness that all single people go through, I was confronted with the fear that this would be my future every year for the rest of my life. Would I become an old man who was just grouchy because couples were affectionate around him? (Well, to be honest, I was that way even when dating!) In all seriousness, though, on this first Valentine’s Day alone, my future didn’t look too bright.
“Love and Friendship Day”
Then about four years ago, I moved to Colombia (South America, not South Carolina, in case you were confused). It was there that I discovered something interesting: Valentine’s Day is not celebrated in Colombia. Instead, the country celebrates something called “Love and Friendship Day” in November. It serves the same purpose as Valentine’s Day, but with one major change: it includes the celebration of friendship. It brings a necessary value back to friendship that Valentine’s Day fails to give in the States.
Now, this doesn’t mean Colombia isn’t as marriage-crazed as the US! In some ways, it’s even worse. But still, that one day a year is that much easier to deal with in a country that celebrates friendship, a type of love that married and single people alike can enjoy.
Enhancing LGBT+ Inclusion: Rethinking a Holiday
Nowadays, I do not have that hard of a time with Valentine’s Day, mostly because I have truly found happiness as a celibate man. Much of that happiness is due to the fact that I have found deep, life-giving community where I belong. But in my first years of celibacy, things like having Love and Friendship Day instead of Valentine’s Day really made a difference because it included me and my relationships. Everyone could be a part of this celebration — even someone like me.
I doubt Valentine’s Day will ever be replaced with Love and Friendship Day in the States. But regardless, nothing is keeping us as Christians from working to make Valentine’s Day a more inclusive event that restores and celebrates spiritual value both to friendship and to singleness.
How might you celebrate with single, LGBT+ and/or celibate friends this February? How might you help them feel a sense of love and belonging?
Josh has an M.A. in Biblical Literature, and his greatest passion is help people grow in their relationship with Jesus.
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