The Place of Lived-Experience

One of the questions that came up from my “Starting Point” series was about the place of lived experience.  That particular series focused particularly on theological starting point based on different emphasis in scriptural interpretation.  However, throughout church history, leaders have acknowledged that we should make use of several different sources as we try to interpret and discern the best perspective to hold on a controversial matter.  Scripture is often cited, by Christians, as the primary source.  John Wesley talked about a three legged stool – with scripture being the seat.  The other three sources are: tradition, reason and experience.

No Position?

Last night we had a small group of people gather to hear the story and journey of New Direction.  I was asked a fantastic question, one that I have pondered a fair bit.  The questioner inquired about the trajectory and future of New Direction.  He talked about the race issue and the implications of generous spaciousness ….. musing that at some point you wouldn’t want generous spaciousness to include the position that would continue to relegate people of colour to the back of the bus.  He wanted to know whether generous spaciousness was a temporary posture – and one that would give way to a fully and completely affirming perspective – challenging any other position.

What’s your Starting Point? Part 4

I have decided to take one of the papers that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations:

Read Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3

Concluding Reflections:

Many Christians from both Catholic and Protestant traditions have inherited a theology of sexuality that is constructed from a creation order starting point.  The primary focus of such a starting point is the differentiation between male and female.  The concept of complementary persons coming together in one flesh union as part of the mystery of humans imaging God is an inherent core in this theological system.  Such an understanding is supported by reflection on the Genesis creation accounts, and as we see in “Theology of Body” strengthened by Jesus’ assertion of the implications of these narratives in his response to questions about divorce.  This theological understanding has served the church well through many generations where the dominant theological emphasis fit the experience of the majority of people.

What’s your Starting Point? Part 3

I have decided to take one of the papers that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations:

Read Part 1 and Part 2

A Trinitarian and Incarnational Foundation for Sexuality:

 

 

Unlike a creation order starting point that focuses on the complementary nature of male and female as the foundation for a theology of sexuality, Trinitarian theology is focused on the relational nature of the Godhead.  Existing in eternal, self-giving love, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit created the world out of the overflow of their love.  “Because God is an internal community within God’s very being, this collapses the usual difference between the self and the other (that is, otherness as being “external” to one’s self).  Thus, God consists of both the “self” and the other.”[1]  This love is described as perichoresis which is a profoundly intimate interpenetration of three persons.  Trinitarian theology provides a rich foundation from which to envision a radical love that dwells within the communion of persons.

What’s your Starting Point? Part 2

I have decided to take one of the papers that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations:

Read Part 1

A Challenge to the Creation Order Starting Point:

In the summer of 2010 a number of provocative articles were published under the banner of the BioLogos Foundation.  For some, these articles opened a whole new avenue for thought, imagination, and dependence on the Spirit of God to reveal truth on long-held doctrines of the faith.  For others, the articles presented another threat and attack to the fundamentals of a theological understanding of creation, fall and redemption.  On a more particular level, I believe these articles raise very significant implications for a theology of sexuality that is primarily constructed on a creation order foundation.

What’s your Starting Point? Part 1

I have decided to take one of the papers that I wrote for my doctoral program and break it down into several parts for the blog.  I have tried to make it a bit more readable – but it will likely still feel a bit academic.  I hope, however, that it will cause people to think and start some robust conversations:

What’s Your Starting Point ….. in developing your theology of sexuality:

Debates about human sexuality within the church have left a lot of damage in their wake.  Internally, churches have experienced the pain of division and fractured unity.  Ongoing polarity has eroded trust and the capacity to engage with one another humbly and generously.  In some cases, Christians judge one another’s salvation on the basis of their particular perspectives on sexuality.

Nurturing Generous Spaciousness in 2013!

Happy New Year!  As I write that, I am mindful of how easily that can roll off someone’s tongue and how much it can miss the mark of the reality that many are living.  Last year, many people wished me a happy new year.  But neither they nor I had any idea of the unexpected challenges, grief and loss that would come in 2012.  Likewise, when I wish people happy new year now  – we have no idea what lies ahead of us.  Some of us are struggling – spiritually, emotionally, financially, relationally ….. and some of us are doing that in great isolation.  Happy new year? Well maybe not a superficial hallmark greeting …. but as people of faith we do extend confident prayers for one another that the new year will be blessed.

We have a tradition at my church of praying over the calendar at our New Year’s day service.  We talk together about some of the things that are likely to happen in the months ahead, but mainly we simply consecrate each day of the year to God in the knowledge that so many unexpected things may happen.  As a community, when difficult things happen, it is not uncommon to remind each other, “Remember, we consecrated this day to God.”  We live, as a community, in the remembrance that we serve Emmanuel – God with us.  We live in the knowledge that God enters and exits each day with us.

next-generation-truth-telling

My daughter who just turned 14 came home all excited today.  She’d received a very good grade on a poem she wrote and when I read it, I said that it would be a great addition to our blog.  She seemed to like the idea of it being posted – so here it is:

Homo”phobia”~ by Renate Gritter
Phobia, what does it mean?
A fear, that’s at least what it seems to be
What is fear?  A thing that makes you scared
Well then what is homophobia?
The fear of homosexuals?
I think not.
I believe that it is so much more than that.
It’s question-ing love, it’s using wrath
It’s saying, “I can love him but you can’t love her”
“It’s saying I have power, I will conquer”
I think homo-phobia is not fear at all
It’s using “fear” as an excuse to build a wall
That threatens the free
That closes them out
That says, “I love all…..
but wait, not you …. you’re not the same as us”
Some have minds, that restrict,
that assume that there is a way that all must do things
that think every human must fit a criteria or they are weird
they are not wanted
they are “feared”.

how we can find unity in our diversity …..

Today’s post, after a long period of silence on this blog due to an inordinate amount of doctoral work, is in solidarity with Justin Lee over at Crumbs at the Communion Table, his synchroblog, and in celebration of the launch of his new book, “Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs.Christians Debate”.

Justin has asked us to share some thoughts about how to positively address the ongoing polarization caused by this issue.  Let me begin by saying that I think it will be the lives of gay Christians that make the most significant difference when we look at this matter with history on our side.  Gay Christians ARE the bridge. 

Musings for Moving Forward…

There have been a number of happenings in the last few days that I’ve been percolating on …..

A pastor called, having received our invitation to Relevant Engagement.  He wanted to know more about New Direction and how a congregation might begin to engage a more open conversation about these matters.  It seems that about 15% of the congregation are aware that a daughter in one of the church families will be marrying her partner later in the year.  The reality is that people have different perspectives, different questions, different priorities and different concerns.  A conversation, like the ones New Direction nurtures, helps people understand how to extend generous spaciousness to each other, giving each other the freedom to seek, to listen, to wrestle, and to ultimately discern how Christ is leading.

Another pastor came to visit me.  Some time back he’d received an email from a leader he knew who is engaged in ex-gay ministry.  The leader warned the pastor that New Direction had been deceived by the enemy and asking him to pray against us.  This email didn’t sit well with this particular pastor, so he called the leader saying that he’d looked at our website and didn’t find anything that concerned him or raised red flags for him.