“Romance” and “romantic” are notoriously difficult to define precisely. In this context, they mean something like “the way in which a boyfriend and a girlfriend relate to each other”, or “the way in which a husband and wife relate to each other”, or some idealized version of those—the sort of erotically charged emotional and social relating that tends to accompany relationships that are sexual to some degree. Exclusivity, jealousy, obsessiveness, and an inward focus in the relationship are often a part of this.
As Christians pursue appropriate intimacy with individuals of the same sex, such relationships ought to be modeled according to principles of friendship (and spiritual kinship within the church), instead of patterns and practices associated with “romance.” In other words, we discourage Christians from seeking relationships that are basically “dating without sex” or “marriage without sex.” While Christians attracted to their own sex may experience romantic feelings in their friendships, those feelings ought to be resisted and surrendered to God rather than nurtured or gratified.
Experience has shown that those gay/same-sex attracted Christians who start out with a vision for their relationship of “dating without sex” or “marriage without sex” often end up finding that artificial restriction to be a stifling and implausible deprivation over time as romance irresistibly draws them toward sex. But the problem is not simply that such romantic relationships heighten the risk of sexual temptation. We believe that the romantic in this sense is integrally connected to God’s design for sexuality, which is oriented to drawing male and female together in monogamous one-flesh marital union. While the romantic has a place in marriage and in the development of relationships between men and women that can potentially lead to marriage, it is not appropriate between two individuals of the same sex.
At the same time, we recognize that many cultures at present have an overemphasis on romantic/sexual/marital relationships (not necessarily marriage per se) and an impoverished view of friendship, so that many things get lumped into the category of romance (physical affection, emotional vulnerability, generous and thoughtful gift-giving, devoting quality time, expressions of care, verbal expressions of love, etc.) that have properly belonged to friendship as well for most of human history, and in our view should still belong to it. In many contexts today, the romantic, sexual, or marital relationship in a person’s life is seen as the real and deep relationship, while friendships are minor, expendable, and trivial affairs by comparison. While not wishing to diminish the importance of marriage or the natural family in any way, we want those who are unmarried for any reason also to have access to relationships where they can experience deep connection, emotional intimacy, and interdependence, so that their lives are shaped by loving and being loved. We therefore encourage Christians to expand their vision of friendship by looking at how it has been practiced throughout history, especially in the history of the church.
Revoice believes that the interest in romantic celibate partnership among some gay/same-sex attracted Christians is both fueled by and reinforces this ongoing social devaluing of friendship. We would rather encourage the revival and development of deep, chaste friendship as a kind of relationship available to all regardless of sexual orientation, rather than encourage a special type of gay celibate bond.