Building a Theology of Celibacy and Friendship for the Church

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Video Presentation Outline

I. Introduction
II. Singleness and Celibacy in the Old Testament
III. Building Block 5: Singleness as the Undivided Life (read more here)
IV. Singleness Embodies Union with God
V. Same-Sex Friendship and Community in the Church
VI. Seedbed Band Meetings

Discussion Guide

Discuss any major takeaways or memorable moments from this teaching session. Did you learn anything new? Was anything particularly challenging? How would you summarize this presentation to a non-Christian friend?

1. Biblical Foundations
Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” (Mark 12:24–25)

How does Jesus’ statement about the afterlife make you feel? Does it surprise you? Are you indifferent to it? How do you reconcile this statement with the gift of family for fulfilling our Christian vocation?

2. Theological Foundations
I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. (1 Cor. 7:7–8)

Much is made of how family, marriage, and children reflect the divine love between the persons of the Trinity, and between Jesus Christ and his church—and rightly so. What do you make of celibacy as an additional symbol of undivided love for God? How can celibate people uniquely embody and witness to God’s covenant love? Consider how they point to the future reality remarked on in Mark 12.

3. Practical Implications
“Though challenged, though injured, though tossed into the flames, though nailed to a cross, a friend loves always.” (Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship)

On a scale of 1–10, how would you rate your appreciation for the importance of same-sex friendship? Do you have friends of the same sex who know you intimately and authentically, who speak both encouragement and accountability into your life? What steps could you take to pursue this kind of spiritual friendship, and what criteria would you use in moving toward an individual or group in this manner?

“As soon as we are fully conscious we discover loneliness. We need others physically, emotionally, intellectually; we need them if we are to know anything, even ourselves.” (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves)

This is an excerpt from Timothy Tennent’s new book, For the Body Video Study Guide. Through these pages, you will:

  • Understand why our bodies matter on a host of issues
  • Discover a positive vision for human sexuality
  • Be equipped to live & engage culture from a biblical perspective

Tennent explores the contours of a robust Christian vision of the body and human sexuality and the variety of different ways we are called into relationships with others. This book is a call to a deeper understanding of our body and an invitation to recapture the wonder of this amazing gift. It is a theological vision that informs our self-understanding, how we treat others, and how we engage today’s controversial and difficult discussions on human sexuality with grace, wisdom, and confidence.

Get it from our store here

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Timothy C. Tennent is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary and a Professor of Global Christianity. His works include Invitation to World Missions: A Trinitarian Missiology for the Twenty-first Century and Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology. He blogs at timothytennent.com and can be followed on twitter @TimTennent.

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