In the last decade, the LGBTQ community has increasingly recognized and supported individuals who identify as asexual, defined as “a sexual orientation in which a person has little or no sexual attraction to others.” As evidence of this, the LGBTQ community updated their initials to LGBTQIA+, where the A represents asexuality. The community has also extended its support to queerplatonic relationships, a type of non-romantic partnership that some asexual people practice as an alternative to traditional marriage. The growing awareness of asexuality in the LGBTQ community and in broader society has also sparked interest in the Bible’s perspective on queerplatonic relationships.
According to the common definition, queerplatonic relationships consist of two or more asexual people of any gender whose emotional connection extends beyond traditional friendship. Although these partnerships are called “queer,” they sometimes include heterosexuals. Similarly, some involve sexual activity even though they are called “platonic.” The emphasis on personal autonomy within queerplatonic relationships means the term’s exact meaning can vary.
Though a queerplatonic relationship may seem unusual to outside observers, what unites people who are in such relationships isn’t necessarily how they define or practice their partnership. Instead, their shared characteristic lies in defying conventional views of identity, challenging societal labeling, and rejecting the traditional framework of relationships, especially marriage as the Bible defines it.
Queerplatonic relationships often exclude sexual activity; however, most involve physical affection, such as handholding and other forms of non-sexual touching. Participants in these relationships are typically seeking emotional companionship and intimacy. They may reject traditional romantic relationships, but they don’t want to be alone, either.
While the Bible doesn’t specifically mention queerplatonic relationships, what it teaches about marriage and homosexuality make it clear that such partnerships are sinful. Marriage serves a holy purpose in God’s plan for individuals, families, and society—a purpose that queerplatonic relationships distort. God created marriage to consist of one biological male and one biological female (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6), with the union of a man and woman forming the most important intimate relationship between adults. Yet, when sin entered the world, it not only undermined the relationship between husbands and wives, but it also led to illicit perversions of marriage and its blessings.
Queerplatonic relationships that include sexual activity violate God’s moral standards. First, the Bible is clear in its condemnation of homosexuality (Genesis 19:1–13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10), making queerplatonic relationships that include sex between people of the same biological gender sinful. Second, queerplatonic relationships that involve sexual activity between opposite-sex partners, whether monogamous or polygamous, also violate God’s righteous standards because the sex takes place outside of marriage.
Additionally, celibate or non-sexual queerplatonic relationships are sinful even if they don’t include sexual activity. While being tempted to illicit behavior is not sinful (e.g., Luke 4:1–13), giving in to temptation can involve more than just actions. For instance, the tenth commandment forbids coveting (Exodus 20:17; cf. James 4:2), a prohibition that focuses on internal desire rather than the external behaviors it might prompt, such as adultery (the seventh commandment) or theft (the eighth commandment). The Bible also condemns several other inward conditions regardless of whether they lead to actions: bitterness (Deuteronomy 29:18; Hebrews 12:15), scheming (Genesis 37:18; Proverbs 24:9), and hatred (1 John 3:15) are examples. Jesus’ teachings on lust further affirm that sin can occur even without engaging in a physical behavior (Matthew 5:28).
Those who participate in non-sexual queerplatonic relationships are guilty of having sinful intentions and desires that defy God’s moral standards (e.g., Psalm 139:20; James 1:14–15). Echoing this concept, Paul teaches that a “mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God,” affirming that a person’s internal state can be sinful, and not just his or her behaviors and actions (Romans 8:7). Furthermore, such relationships also fall short of God’s moral standards for singleness, which include increased service to Him and contentment with Him (1 Corinthians 7:7–40).
Christians have had to carefully navigate the intersection of biblical teachings and LGBTQ proclamations since the queer community’s rise to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s. Now the church must offer a biblical response to queerplatonic relationships. While God instructs Christians to love all people, that doesn’t mean approving of relationships, behaviors, or desires that He has unequivocally forbidden. Taking a stand against sin while loving those who are enslaved to it calls for prayer and wisdom and involves trusting that God continues to graciously rescue people from unholy ways of life through His Son, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:11).