After a process of discernment and confirmation, brothers make four final commitments: family, celibacy, obedience, and simplicity:
We believe God has called us to make permanent family with each other. While we cannot completely avoid the pain of broken relationships because of the fallen nature of this world, none of us are meant to connect deeply with people only for that connection to be severed. We were not made for that kind of love. Most obviously, this pain is one of the reasons God instituted marriage—because it would be bad for men and women to connect sexually and have children and then be torn apart. And that’s why He instructs us not to engage in those things outside of a covenant. God saw something that would bring greater pain to our lives (to connect deeply only to be torn apart), He called it a sin, and He asked us to stay away—for our sake.
What if God intends deep, committed family for everyone?
For single people, the Church often suggests that our only option is to endure our loneliness as opportunities for sanctification and deeper relationship with God. But what if God intends deep, committed family for everyone? What if we all need that, married or celibate? What if precisely the way God has called celibate people into deeper relationship with Him and to be sanctified is through family? What if God doesn’t want us to connect deeply in friendship only to be torn apart later any more than He wants us to do that in marriage?
We are convinced that those called to celibacy need committed family just as much as married people. We believe a call to celibacy is a call to just as much human intimacy as married people and no great intimacy with God than married people. We all need to know who will greet us when we return home each day to share a meal and stories from our day—and we need to know that those same people will be there thirty years later. Our commitment of family is a commitment to remain in the Nashville Family of Brothers. This commitment is in response to discernment that God has called the individual to commit to the Nashville Family of Brothers as his family—a family he will not abandon relationally or geographically.
Scripture, 1500 years of Christian history, early Church Mothers and Fathers, Early Reformers, modern Protestant theologians, and the streams of Christianity that represent the majority of Christians today and throughout time have a strong consensus about the vocation of celibacy: The vocation of celibacy is distinct from the universal period of abstinent singleness. Like the vocation of marriage, the vocation of celibacy is committed, permanent, has specific theological purposes, has specific practical purposes, and involves a provision of grace to do it well. The vocation of celibacy is a call to renounce romance, marriage, and sex for the purposes of doing Kingdom work mutually exclusive with raising children. The vocation of celibacy is of equal theological and practical beauty as marriage. Every person has the same inherent (and incomplete) capacity to do celibacy or marriage well, and everyone should ask God to which vocation He has called them. Our relational vocation is given and called, not chosen. And the vocation of celibacy is a call to no deeper relationship with God or any less relationship with others. It is still a call to deep relationship in the context of committed family.
With this commitment to celibacy, we close the door to romance, marriage, and sex for the purposes of fully committing oneself to kingdom work uniquely available to celibate people.
the vocation of singleness is a call to no deeper relationship with God or any less relationship with others.
Brothers commit to living simply for the sake of the kingdom. In 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, Paul encourages every Christian to live as if their physical possessions were not their own. Our home, food, and service will be in common, but even in our personal finances, we will seek to minimize waste and maximize the impact of our finances on the gospel.
We are currently developing our Rule of Life—the document that will guide the rhythms of our family and expectations of brothers. Brothers will commit to meet the expectations spelled out in the Rule, including how we will govern ourselves, accountability, management of shared finances, participation in rhythms, etc.