It is not uncommon for me to be asked, “How did you speak with your kids about your job?” What these parents are really asking is for guidance on how to speak to their own children about homosexuality. Particularly for Christian parents, who either hold to a traditional understanding of marriage or are somewhat uncertain about how they will interpret Scripture regarding committed same-sex relationships, this can seem to be a daunting task in our current cultural context. (note: In this post, I haven’t addressed parents who hold affirming views – simply because their conversations with their kids about this matter will be relatively straight-forward) For those who have no gay friends and a simplistic commitment to avoid anything they disagree with, this matter of communication isn’t that challenging. They simply tell their children it is wrong and that is the end of the conversation. But many Christian parents recognize that it is more nuanced and complex than that.Details
An interesting aspect of my work these days is the opportunity to have conversations with people who hold different perspectives on the question of whether a covenanted same-sex relationship is an appropriate life choice for a disciple of Jesus. In the early years, most of my conversations were with Christians who held to a traditional understanding that sexual intimacy ought to be reserved for the marriage between one man and one woman. At that time, Christians who held an affirming view of same-sex relationships were seen as a very separate group – perhaps perceived by those with whom I was talking as dangerous, not particularly serious about scripture or the Christian faith, or misguided by their emotions. That separateness was not an easy barrier to dismantle with people – mainly because their focus was not on the shared faith in Christ with affirming folks – but on the moral differences in viewing a faithful discipleship journey for gay people.
Fast forward to today, and in the course of any given 24 hour period I might have several conversations with people from very diverse perspectives. In fact, sometimes those conversations happen within minutes of one another. Sometimes, the individuals with whom I’m speaking assume that I share the same perspective they do …. And sometimes they assume that I don’t. When a person’s position is explicitly stated, some degree of “us vs. them” often creeps into the conversation. Sometimes I am assumed to be part of “us” and sometimes I’m assumed to be one of “them”.Details
Yesterday I had the opportunity to engage two very different audio accounts of a Christian person holding a traditional view of marriage speak about homosexuality. The first was the President of Fuller Seminary, Dr. Richard Mouw, speaking in an address to the Fuller community about these matters. The second, was Kirk Cameron, perhaps best known as a child actor from the show Growing Pains, in an interview with Piers Morgan.
Mouw was very clear in his articulation that after much study, reflection and conversation with scholars and colleagues who hold an affirming view, he continues to hold a heteronormative view of covenanted and consummated relationships. However, in the midst of this articulation, he shared his story and journey that acknowledged his relationships with gay Christians in long-term committed partnerships, his encounters with their faith and vocational callings into ministry, and his first-hand experience in navigating deep friendship in the midst of differences. While clearly affirming his own traditional convictions, his generosity of spirit acknowledged both the humanity and the faith of those who hold different convictions on the basis of their prayerful and thorough wrestling with Scripture. Mouw encouraged us to find common ground in elevating and promoting fidelity. He spoke of the principles from which Christians ought to engage this topic – and it almost sounded like he took a page from the generous spaciousness playbook: he spoke of humility and generosity and grace. And he spoke of Fuller needing to be a place of hospitality where different views were engaged robustly without fear.Details
Sometimes I forget. I don’t mean to …. it just happens. I forget the powerful feeling of being trapped, with no space to ask questions, wrestle, consider options, or simply honestly reflect on one’s experience and faith journey. I forget because I know so many gay Christians who have already made the difficult journey to internally and externally come to terms with their sexuality. Some of these friends are deeply committed to traditional views and to living a single celibate life with a sense of both serenity and adventure. Some of these friends are living authentically in a mixed-orientation marriage where they love their spouse, their family and are navigating the rhythms of grace. Some of these friends are dating or in a committed relationship with a same-sex partner. Regardless of the manner in which they are integrating their faith and their sexuality, these friends no longer live in fear, dread or paralysis. They have disclosed the reality of their same-sex orientation. They have wrestled with diverse perspectives and have identified and own their core beliefs and values. And they are putting the supports and encouragement in place such that they will live in alignment with these beliefs and values – just like any other Christian person prone to wander and live inconsistently.Details
Some time ago, I spoke at a church about the concept of generous spaciousness. It was a relatively small church plant made up of people from many different walks of life. It was a group of people who were really trying to experience a sense of true community together. They talked about hard things together…Details
Since the GCN panel, I’ve probably been thinking more about Exodus than I have for a while. As I have said before, I still know a lot of people serving within the Exodus network. I don’t know how many of them would still consider me a friend – but I continue to care about many…Details
I’ve thought a lot about the power that the straight majority holds in the conversations at the intersection of faith and sexuality. I remember back in my Exodus days hearing a term like heterosexism and the attitude that it was a more insidious term of the gay agenda than even homophobia (which was assumed to…Details
Driving home today I saw a barn in ruins. I didn’t have my camera with me, but it looked a lot like this photo I found. What struck me about the image of this barn was that the roof seemed to be strong and intact – continuing to fulfill its protective role. But underneath the shelter of the roof, the barn itself was in disarray. It seemed to me a good metaphor for the current state of reorientation ideology.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the system that upholds a focus and expectation that those who experience predominant same-sex attraction can and should pursue a shift towards opposite sex attraction. The system’s protective mechanism connects reorientation to other more politically inclined measures.Details
It is understandable that the descriptive term generous spaciousness creates some inherent challenges. Some people resonate with it and seem to have a gut sense of what it is all about. For others, it is a term that fails to bring clarity to an already complex conversation. Part of the thinking behind coining such a…Details
The weekend before I went to Cambodia, I had the opportunity to go down to Denver to speak at the 3rd Symposium on the Evangelical Church & Homosexuality hosted by Highlands Church. Mark Tidd is the pastor there – and some of you may remember that Mark came to Toronto to participate in New Direction’s…Details
I wanted to take a bit of time for reflection before posting some final thoughts on the Cambodia experience. It has been so interesting to me how God interweaves experiences and conversations together to help us grasp some of the bigger picture. I’m grateful to those who have listened and reflected with me. I went…Details
Cambodia is known to be a place where human trafficking is a tremendous issue. Perhaps you have heard about rescues from brothels and tragic stories of very young girls enslaved by the sex trade. In an earlier post I wrote about going to a café run by the organization, Daughters of Cambodia. Later in the…Details