“As I sat there taking in the sermon that November morning, my hyper-vigilant self was pleasantly surprised. Delighted, even. Somehow, in a talk about family, I—a single, celibate gay man—felt not only seen, but included, edified, and even valued for my role in the family. I’m not going to give a recap of the talk because that’s not the point of my story, but let me just say that I was deeply encouraged by the way my pastor spoke about family using Jesus’ definition of family, the truer reality of the spiritual family we are born [again] into. Usually evangelicals talk about church being a family as if it’s just a nice metaphor, a bit like how your cringe-worthy boss might talk about your workplace being a ‘family’ (remember Michael Scott in The Office?) or how millennials joke about having a ‘work-wife’ who they’re best friends with at work but would never actually hang out with in real life outside of office hours. We talk about church family as a nice idea, but when we get to the nitty-gritty of doing life together, it’s hard for this to feel like more than just nice imagery.
So when it got to the sermon on family, it was such an encouragement to hear ‘family’ spoken about as so much more than the ‘nuclear family’ unit. My pastor didn’t just add a token mention of single people/people without kids at the end of his sermon, but he actually opened by acknowledging that in a Christian worldview, ‘family’ means the body of Jesus—the shared community of the church.”