The Full Email from Dr Sam Bloore to Webworm
For full transparency, here's his entire email.
This is the full email Dr Sam Bloore sent to Webworm a few days ago. Make sure you’ve read Bethlehem College’s Message to Gay Students: Be Celibate for context.
from: Sam Bloore
to: David Farrier
date: Aug 25, 2023, 9:52 PM
Thanks for the email and the chance to respond. I also appreciate you taking the time to chat on the phone.
As I mentioned, we are currently moving house, so I apologise for the brevity of the reply and that it is arriving at the last minute.
I can’t speak to the wider situation at Bethlehem College – but I suspect that they (like many Christian churches, schools and communities) are trying to have more frequent, and hopefully less divisive, conversations on topics like these. Initiating them isn’t easy, but in my experience there’s a widespread and growing acknowledgement that the church has either avoided or over-simplified these discussions in the past and there seems to be a genuine commitment to at least attempt to do better.
I had been asked to introduce a few themes to a group of parents and respond to some questions they had sent in.
Initially I thought that my own position would not be that helpful – likely too conservative for some and not conservative enough for others. But when I saw that the questions revealed that many of them were likewise trying to navigate that same middle space in an increasingly polarised area, I thought that I might be able to offer some comments. Their questions all had a similar theme – How do we live our faith with authenticity to ourselves and generosity to others who may not share our commitments or values?
As we discussed, here is some further context to your questions on the celibacy and identity content – hopefully I’ve captured it here more succinctly than I was able to verbally.
Essentially, I was drawing on material from books written by Christian authors who describe themselves as gay or same-sex attracted and who have chosen a celibate life-style.
The Plausibility Problem: The church and same-sex attraction – Ed Shaw
Gay and Catholic: Accepting my sexuality, finding community and living my faith – Eve Tushnet
7 Myths About Singleness – Sam Allberry
Gay Girl, Good God: The story of who I was and who God has always been – Jackie Hill Perry
Spiritual Friendship: Finding love in the church as a celibate, gay Christian – Wesley Hill.
They note that celibacy for single Christians – whatever their age, status or orientation – is just one option. They know that it is not an option that will be right for everyone, but it is one that they feel doesn’t get much airtime in 21st-century culture – it earns them ridicule in most non-Christian settings and, increasingly, in church settings as well. Nevertheless, they claim to have found genuine contentment in that decision to remain faithful to their interpretation of the traditional Christian ethic.
Over the years I have seen their stories help others who find themselves (in)voluntarily celibate – i.e. by choice or by circumstance – again, whatever their age, status or orientation. Often they have remarked that the tone and content of those stories around celibacy and identity is honest, but not accusatory – something they have appreciated in an area where ongoing differences of opinion are inevitable, but hostility isn’t. That’s why I felt it was important to include it as an option and mostly used direct passages or paraphrases from their books when discussing it.
I hope that helps to give some context.
David here again. That was Sam’s full email.
As I stated in my main piece — celibacy is fine if that’s your thing. But the active suppression and hatred for your authentic self that compels it is not.
If there are any Christians reading who find their minds exploding over this stuff (and I’d include Dr Sam Bloore) I’d encourage them to read Matthew Vines’ take. Matthew is the founder of The Reformation Project, and the author of God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships:
“The most crushing burden of mandatory celibacy, however, is the way it requires gay Christians to view their sexual selves: it requires them to actively loathe and renounce every sexual desire they ever experience.
Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount that it isn’t enough to avoid sinful actions. We also need to renounce the very temptations to those actions. So while adultery and murder are sinful, lust and anger are morally culpable as well (Matthew 5:21-30).
Applied to same-sex relationships, that means that, if all same-sex relationships are sinful, then all desires for those relationships are also morally culpable and must be renounced at every turn.
The fruit of that perspective is torment and destruction. It should be commended to no one, and pastors who recommend it are setting up their LGBT parishioners for a world of needless hurt, misery, shame, and failure.”
And schools who send that message out to parents and kids — well, you can see why I get worked up about this shit.