Issues of gender identity, sexual attraction, orientation, and practice are among some of the complex and emotionally charged facing the North American Church today. One recent example of the intensity and importance of these issues was evidenced most recently by the letter of apology issued by Alan Chambers of Exodus International to the LGBTQ community and the subsequent closing of this organization.
Varying perspectives on these issues have contributed to the splintering of denominations, divisions in local churches, and no shortage of virtual conversations laden with confusion, anger, and grief. For the sake of the faithful and effective witness of the Body of Christ in the world, it is vital that we pay close attention not only to the content of our discourse, but the character of it as well.
In this workshop, David Fitch and Deb Hirsch seek to offer theological perspectives and practical suggestions for what it might mean to engage these conversations and cultivate relational contexts in ways that can help us move beyond the polarizations and abstract judgments that often mark and mis-shape our engagement of LGBTQ peoples and conversations.
Gospel witness in North American culture has been hindered (even foreclosed) by much of what the Church has done and said in relation to alternative sexualities. This seminar will discuss the things we should not do, the posture we must inhabit, and the necessary pathways we can “be open to” so that God’s Kingdom can break in among “us” in this space of presence with LGBTQ friends. We will discuss the theological and practical issues of being among and with LGBTQ peoples.
The audio download of this workshop is available here and is available for free all day today, 6/24/13 (discount automatically applied when you add the workshop to your cart).
With this workshop as a backdrop, we hope to cultivate a constructive, civil, and helpful conversation around this issue in the coming week in the comment thread of this post.
Missio Alliance Comment Policy
The Missio Alliance Writing Collectives exist as a ministry of writing to resource theological practitioners for mission. From our Leading Voices to our regular Writing Team and those invited to publish with us as Community Voices, we are creating a space for thoughtful engagement of critical issues and questions facing the North American Church in God’s mission. This sort of thoughtful engagement is something that we seek to engender not only in our publishing, but in conversations that unfold as a result in the comment section of our articles.
Unfortunately, because of the relational distance introduced by online communication, “thoughtful engagement” and “comment sections” seldom go hand in hand. At the same time, censorship of comments by those who disagree with points made by authors, whose anger or limited perspective taints their words, or who simply feel the need to express their own opinion on a topic without any meaningful engagement with the article or comment in question can mask an important window into the true state of Christian discourse. As such, Missio Alliance sets forth the following suggestions for those who wish to engage in conversation around our writing:
1. Seek to understand the author’s intent.
If you disagree with something the an author said, consider framing your response as, “I hear you as saying _________. Am I understanding you correctly? If so, here’s why I disagree. _____________.
2. Seek to make your own voice heard.
We deeply desire and value the voice and perspective of our readers. However you may react to an article we publish or a fellow commenter, we encourage you to set forth that reaction is the most constructive way possible. Use your voice and perspective to move conversation forward rather than shut it down.
3. Share your story.
One of our favorite tenants is that “an enemy is someone whose story we haven’t heard.” Very often disagreements and rants are the result of people talking past rather than to one another. Everyone’s perspective is intimately bound up with their own stories – their contexts and experiences. We encourage you to couch your comments in whatever aspect of your own story might help others understand where you are coming from.
In view of those suggestions for shaping conversation on our site and in an effort to curate a hospitable space of open conversation, Missio Alliance may delete comments and/or ban users who show no regard for constructive engagement, especially those whose comments are easily construed as trolling, threatening, or abusive.