May 15, 2024

#45 - Celibate, Yet Side A: Tim Otto on Christian Unity and Gay Marriage

#45 - Celibate, Yet Side A: Tim Otto on Christian Unity and Gay Marriage
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Tim Otto is a man of intentional commitments: he lives in intentional Christian community; he pastors a church in San Francisco; he’s also gay and celibate, while still affirming gay marriage (Side A). Tim talked with co-hosts TJ and David Frank about his book Oriented to Faith, compassionate approaches, “third way” communities and “disputable” theological differences, celibate partnerships, and the importance of close community living.

Tim was a kind and engaging dialogue partner and we loved having this conversation with him! No matter where you land on the faith and sexuality topics, we hope our discussion ministers to you also.

About Our Guest

Tim Otto has lived in an intentional Christian community called Church of the Sojourners for 34 years and is one of its co-pastors. He has a Master of Theology degree from Duke Divinity School, is the author of Oriented to Faith: Transforming the Conflict over Gay Relationships, and loves walking around the Mission District of San Francisco, where he lives. You can find his recent writing on Substack at “Living in Extraordinary Love”:

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Note: We use the terms “Side A” and “Side B” as shorthand quite a bit. If you’re new to the conversation, we recommend listening to our episode #3, “A-B-Y-X | 4 Sides on SSA/Gay Sexuality.” Here’s a quick summary:

* "Side A" generally refers to the perspective that affirms God can bless same-sex marriage and sexual relationships.

* “Side B” recognizes people experience same-sex sexual attraction and may describe that experience by a variety of words or identity terms while still holding to the historical Christian sexual ethic of marriage between a man and a woman, and sex within marriage.


(1:13) Tim's book: encouraging dialogue and love across sides

(8:03) Idolatry of the "traditional family"

(16:11) Taking a vow of celibacy as a side A gay man

(21:38) Our takes: on the authority and continuity of Scripture

(34:27) What traditionalist viewpoints do you find most compelling?

(38:54) What has moved you toward an affirming position?

(42:55) Are celibate partnerships gnostic?

(52:56) What makes a healthy/acceptable marriage? (same-sex, polyamory, polygamy…)

(1:07:18) How does San Francisco influence you?

(1:14:24) Bonus question: the "common purse" in Tim's community

Links and References

For your easier searching…

* Sacred Cows: Exploring Contemporary Idolatry by J.A. Walter

* The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story by Craig Bartholemew and Michael Goheen

* Kevin Vanhoozer, theologian

* Tenderness: A Gay Christian’s Guide to Unlearning Rejection and Experiencing God’s Extravagant Love by Eve Tushnet

* “Century of the Self” documentary is on Youtube

* Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul’s

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Creators and Hosts: David Frank, TJ Espinoza

Audio Engineer: Carl Swenson (

Podcast Manager: Elena

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