What is it about?

Public Significance Statement—This study suggests that pursuing celibacy as a means of resolving conflict between lesbian/gay sexual identity and Christian spiritual identity may prove harmful to psychological and spiritual well-being, similar to sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE). These findings will be useful to mental health practitioners working with religiously conflicted individuals in their coming out and identity reconciliation processes, as well as researchers and advocates who work with religious sexual and gender minorities. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)

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Perspectives

I hope that through this article, religious sexual minorities, as well as those who work with them and advocate for them, will have a deeper understanding of how harmful and detrimental it can be to force them into pursuing celibacy. At the same time, there were some participants who flourished as celibates, generally those who freely chose it. Nonetheless, even those celibates faced challenges related to being accepted and embraced in society and by conservative and liberal churches alike. Those who pursue celibacy should be welcomed and supported by these communities, as well as by mental health professionals who are best positioned to affirm the dignity of those who pursue celibacy in a healthy way and assist those who are harmed to find healthier means of reconciling conflicts between sexuality and spirituality.

Darren Freeman-Coppadge
University of Maryland Counseling Center

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This page is a summary of: “What happens if the cross falls and crushes me?”: Psychological and spiritual promises and perils of lesbian and gay Christian celibacy., Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, April 2019, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/sgd0000341.
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