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. 

"It is what it is"

The worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself. ~ Mark Twain

Acceptance of one’s life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices. ~ Paul Tournier

These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed. ~ Ricky Martin

 

We had an email inquiry yesterday that got me writing about acceptance.  Wes, my colleague, asked if I’d written anything for the blog on that theme – and while it has come up here and there – I couldn’t think of a post with that emphasis.  Now for many of our readers who are out and comfortable with their identity some of the following may seem like it is from an age-gone-by.

Prophets of Peace

Wes and I have been working through Jean Vanier’s book, “Finding Peace” in our staff devotions.  I love this little book and have prayed through it many times.  Vanier’s context is working with adults who are intellectually and physically differently abled.  This is quite distinct from the arena of faith and sexuality and those who find themselves outside the majority status of gender and sexual orientation.  However, his insights about humanity, about finding peace in the midst of difference, are universal and often deeply inspiring as we seek to go about our work through New Direction.

Vanier says, “The world is divided into many thousands of more or less hermetically closed groups.  If each group is sure that it is better than others, how will peace ever come? It is difficult to dialogue with others if we cling arrogantly to the idea that we are right or that our power and technology are a sign of our humanity and goodness.  Walls and barriers exist between people because of language, but also because of fear – each group fearful of those who are different, fearful of losing its identity.  People resist opening up to others.  Aren’t we all in one way or another enclosed in a secure group, in our culture, our religion, our family, our network of friends?  Family and different types of groups are needed for human growth, but when they become sealed they engender rivalry, conflict, elitism.”

Yesterday, I quietly prayed and lamented a world that became more entrenched in its polarization.  How do prophets of peace speak into the madness of boycott and counter-appreciation events?  How does a peace-maker respond to the reality of pain and anger and reductionism on both ends of the spectrum? 

The other side of the coin…. when gay people long for reconciliation with their conservative Christian family

Last week I read about a young girl, just 16 years of age, in Kentucky who was attacked by two men shouting anti-gay slurs.  Her jaw was broken, she lost several teeth and one of the younger boys with her suffered a concussion trying to protect his friend.

Then today I read about a woman in Nebraska who was bound, had anti-gay slurs carved into her skin, doused with gas, and had her house set on fire.  The woman managed to escape the house.  But one can only imagine the long difficult road ahead of her to recover from this level of trauma.

A friend left a video link on my facebook wall that tells the story of a profoundly hurtful family response to the partner of a gay son who had died in an accident. 

For the straight conservative Christian trying to repair a relationship with a gay loved one …..

I heard from a Christian who described a pretty common experience.  The Christian has a loved one who is gay and the relationship has deteriorated to the point that the gay person, as the Christian perceives it, is angry and demanding that if the Christian wants to have a relationship with them, they’ll need to affirm gay marriage and become an advocate for LGBT people.  The Christian person does want to work on restoring the relationship, but also feels that what is being asked puts them in a position of compromising their Scriptural beliefs.  The Christian is wondering where they can begin to try to open communication.

This is my response:
You describe a common but difficult relational impasse with a gay loved one.  There may be a number of inadvertent things you have communicated (through body language, tone of voice as well as words) over time that have built up the anger in your loved one.  Anger is almost always a secondary emotion – it is often a protection for the pain that one feels.  When you feel different in a way that you feel others perceive as wrong, immoral, broken, a problem etc. you develop a very strong sense of self-protection – and this can commonly manifest as anger.  They may be angry about things that you are unaware of.  Or their anger may be amplified by other matters that have nothing to do with you.  So, if you can remember that their anger is probably covering a lot of pain – that may be helpful.

One way to begin to break down the patterns of hostility and distance, would begin with this kind of introduction: