We started off the month of February 2018 by diving into some issues that we don’t talk about a whole lot in church. First, we looked at how an excess of sexuality in our culture has warped the way we think about this gift of God, then we launched into a longer conversation about the intersection of same-sex attraction and Christian faith.
During the month of March, coinciding with the season of Lent, we created midweek opportunities for our Elevation community to engage in a process of listening to and learning from others about the diverse ways we tend to think about this complex and often controversial theme.
The goal of this exercise was to raise our collective understanding of the various views that people in our Elevation community and in the broader Christian community have about the intersection of same-sex attraction and Christian faith. We believe that this learning process will help us have healthier conversations about this and related topics and grow in our appreciation of those who see things differently than we do.
During this season, our Steering Committee will be having parallel conversations, learning from both the materials used during the series and from the experiences of participants. We realize that questions around this theme have real implications for how we do life together as a church, so we will position ourselves to listen well to one another and to the Holy Spirit as we seek to honour God in our leadership of Elevation.
As we take these steps, our Staff and Steering Committee would invite you to pray along with us – that we would grow together in understanding, that we would be able to love each other well in the tension of not having all the answers, and that a deeper unity in Christ would be our reward!
If you did not participate in our learning sessions but would like to get caught up, please read on…
For starters, below are links to the two sermons in February’s SEX-XES series and the discussion questions that were used to guide the first leg of our journey exploring the intersection of same-sex attraction and Christian faith. Participants who may have missed one or both sermons should listen to them now.
(In case you’re wondering, no, there isn’t a sermon missing; Part Two was left out to highlight the limitations of talking about such an important theme in the context of a Sunday morning gathering.)
Session One Resources
“The only hope for authentic Christian fellowship is that we learn how to disagree. Too much is at stake to not learn. So much that one of the most critical capacities of the Church in our generation is precisely this: How can we agree to disagree, and do so in a way that actually fosters our capacity to witness to the gospel of Christ Jesus?” – Gordon Smith, How to Disagree…Graciously
In Session One, we will prepare ourselves to engage in healthy conversations about a topic that many of us do not see eye to eye on. Before we get together, please read this letter received by Julie Rodgers, a Christian writer and speaker, and what she wrote in response. Julie writes from an affirming perspective while helping to build bridges between LGBT individuals and Christian communities.
Next, please set aside some time to watch the following video, starting at 0:19:15 through 1:24:44. The title says it all: “A Thoughtful Dialogue on Sexual Differences.”
In this video, Justin Lee and Wesley Hill discuss Biola University’s Biblical Position Paper on Same-Sex Behavior, which is fairly representative of a traditional view of sexuality and marriage. They demonstrate how to engage in healthy dialogue about this topic as they share both the similarities of their stories and the differences in their convictions about how to live faithfully as gay Christians.
(If you want some more background on the conversation, you can watch from the beginning, or you can read Biola’s paper here, although we will dive further into the Biblical discussion in Session Two.)
While you’re watching, keep the following questions in mind, as they will help form part of the conversation during Session One:
- What did you hear that you had not heard before?
- What bothered you?
- What inspired you?
- What feelings did you experience as you listened in on their conversation?
To hear more from Justin Lee, check out his book, Torn, here.
To hear more from Wesley Hill, check out his book, Washed and Waiting, here.
Session Two Resources
In preparation for our second session, participants are asked to read or view a variety of resources which will provide an introduction to some of the different ways that Christians approach the Bible and, specifically, the passages most frequently tied to homosexual activity.
While we have acknowledged that there are more than two ‘sides’ to this conversation, there are generally two ways of understanding how the Bible speaks to same-sex sexual activity – either in a prohibitive way or in a way that leaves room for committed, monogamous same-sex relationships. We have gathered some resources under these two broad categories and would ask you to engage with all of the material, regardless of how well you think you may know one side or the other.
We have created two layers of resources – the first is the material we are asking “Everyone” to engage with, and the second are “Extras” for those who would like to explore this theme more, either prior to getting together for the Session Two conversations or afterward.
TIP: If you want to save some time when watching videos in YouTube, click the ‘Settings’ icon and increase the playback speed!
Before you dive in to some position-specific arguments, read this brief segment from a book by Preston Sprinkle where he explains the significance of engaging what the Bible says about this important theme:
Reading: “My Journey” (People to Be Loved, p.13-21)
Traditional / Non-Affirming / Historical
Article: Eight Theses on Sex (An article by Hans Boersma on the over-arching theme of Christian sexual ethics.)
Article: The Bible & Same Sex Relationships (A brief summary of the traditional reading of Biblical passages related to homosexuality by British pastor, Sam Allberry, who himself experiences same-sex attraction.)
Video: N.T. Wright on Gay Marriage (A brief clip from an interview with scholar N.T. Wright in which he explores the narrative arc of Scripture. Note: The clip cuts off mid-sentence as the discussion heads in a different direction.)
Reading: “Epilogue” (A brief summary at the conclusion of Stanley Grenz’ book, Welcoming But Not Affirming p.153-157)
Reading: “Lost in Translation” (A section from Preston Sprinkle’s book, People to Be Loved, p.103-120, where he explores the interpretation of malakoi and arsenokoites in greater detail.)
Progressive / Affirming / Revisionist
Reading: “Imagination and Biblical Interpretation” (Read this section from James Brownson’s introduction to his book, Bible, Gender, Sexuality p.9-13)
Reading: “A Closer Look at the Prohibitive Texts” (Read part of a chapter from Ken Wilson’s book, A Letter to My Congregation, p.53-61, 73-80. For the sake of brevity, we have only included part of the chapter here. The remaining section is included in the “Extras” section below if you would like to read more.)
Video and Article: “A Brief Biblical Case for LGBTQ Inclusion” (Watch the brief video featuring Matthew Vines and then read the accompanying article.)
Video: “Why I Changed My Mind on Homosexuality” (A sermon given by pastor Danny Cortez. His specific discussion of the Biblical texts starts at 13:47 and ends at 41:46.)
Reading: “Reviewing the Seven Passages” (From James Brownson’s book, Bible, Gender, Sexuality, p.268-280)
Reading: “A Closer Look at the Prohibitive Texts” (Additional content from Ken Wilson’s book, A Letter to My Congregation, p.61-73)
Additional resources will be added here. If you have found something that has been particularly helpful for you, please email the Pastoral Team and we will consider adding it to this space.