In labeling myself a "Christian celibate gay man", I am using an identity marker, a term that says something about who I am. So I think that it is important to say up front and out loud that I do NOT believe that my sexuality is the main, or most important aspect of my identity. Rather, it makes up a part of who I am as a whole. When I think of my identity, I think of a pie chart where all the various different pieces of the pie form the totality of Nick Roen. My sexuality makes up a relatively small piece of the Nick Roen pie.
In saying, "I am a christian, celibate, gay man", I am not saying that this is where I find my identity. For some reason, however, many times when I have used this type of label to describe my sexuality, people - especially Christians - have jumped all over it and think that this is my main identity marker for myself. This really puzzles me. If I were to say, "I am a student," or "I am allergic to ragweed," they would have no issue, and would not think that I am finding my main source of identity in my allergies or studies. But I'm using the same nomenclature...I AM such-and-such. Everyone talks this way..."I am a mom." "I am a professor." "I am a scientist who studies Panda bear feces." (Never heard that one before?) And yet that doesn't mean that these people are finding their main identity in these things. They are simply stating ONE aspect of who they are. That is all that I am doing - describing the part of "me" that makes up my sexuality.
Okay, end rant. So...why do I end "Christian celibate gay man" with the word "man"? It is a grammatical reason. The only time that I use this label is when I talk about my sexuality. (I hope that is obvious.) And when I talk about my sexuality, the fundamental aspect that I want to highlight is the fact that I am a man.
How am I communicating that? Here is a basic sentence: "I am a man." The word "man" is what is being linked to the subject "I" by the verb "am". What am I? A man. Now, say I add adjectives to the sentence like this: "I am a christian, celibate, gay man." It is still clear that what is most basic is that I am a "man", not that I am christian or celibate or gay. The adjectives modify "man" as the fundamental identity. (See the diagram below if you are a nerd like me, and like to see sentences visually represented.)
Number one, it is biblical. When God created humans, he created them male and female (Gen. 1:27). God intended there to be a difference between men and women, and the fundamental difference is that of sex. No, not the act of sex, but the identity of what sex we are. So it matters that I am a man, and not a woman. That is the primary reason that I can't have a romantic relationship with another man...I'M A MAN! And so I want that to be the main component of my sexuality that all the other descriptors modify.
Number two, the sex of a person isn't a given in today's culture. Increasingly, sex is seen as something that is fluid or changeable. So I want to shout that I am a man, and that it is fundamental to my sexuality. My maleness isn't a tertiary issue! Now, this doesn't mean that there aren't people who have legitimate struggles with who they are as a man or woman. Transgender struggles are just as real as my struggle with being gay. Many people have much pain in their lives because they feel like a man in a woman's body or vice-versa, and I want to be sensitive to that. But feelings cannot be the ultimate dictator in how we live. I as a gay person and someone else as a transgender person are not free to choose how we will live apart from God's revealed will and revelation. This is why I want to make it explicit that when it comes to my sexuality, I am first and foremost a man.
Okay, next time I will talk about why I start the label with the word, "christian."