Here are some of the questions we get asked by church people:
- Do you believe homosexuality is a sin?
- Do you support gay marriage?
- Do you think gay people need to repent?
- Do you think gay people should be leaders in the church?
- How can we love gay people even though we believe gay relationships are sinful?
- How can we welcome gay people when our denomination has clear statements about marriage being only for heterosexuals?
Some of these questions are really unhelpful – mainly because they shut down conversation rather than open it up. The first five in the list are considered “close-ended” questions.
If you are looking for a black and white, yes or no answer – it is pretty obvious you are not relationally involved with people for whom these realities are personal. It is pretty obvious that this is a theoretical orthodoxy text to pass. The person asking the question is probably more concerned with their own anxiety levels and maintaining control of their sense of how things ought to be than they are about engaging in relational connection with sexual minority folks.
The last two questions are a little better. At least these questions are a little more open – there is a bit of an opportunity to share some experiences and thoughts. The conditions presented in the questions articulate the tangible concerns that people have. They represent places where people may feel stuck or where they experience tension. And these can be important things to talk about. I’m just not sure they are the best starting point.
Here are some questions that I hope people in the church will focus on:
- How has your journey of discovery and coming out as gay impacted your experience of faith?
- What has been most spiritually formational in your journey as a sexual minority person?
- How can we as a church address power inequities and move people from the center to the margins and from the margins to the center?
- How can we mature in building community with people who are different than we are?
- How can we explore together how we understand authority in our spiritual lives and in our journey as a faith community?
- How can we learn and grow together to be fearless and wise in wrestling with interpretive questions?
- What will equip us to engage in dialogue about issues we are passionate about with people who have different perspectives?
- What energizes us in our pursuit of Christ-likeness?
- How do we discern who is best suited to serve in various capacities in our communities?
- How do we live in the inevitable tension that acknowledges that we are both sinners and saints?
What questions would you like to see the church focus on?