Introduction to the Conversation on Christian Faithfulness and Human Sexuality
Harold Heie, Senior Fellow, The Colossian Forum (TCF)
Julia Stronks, professor of political science, Whitworth University
PURPOSE and HOPE
The purpose of this conversation is to provide a welcoming space for those Christians who disagree about LGBT issues to express their views and model respectful conversation about their disagreements.
The first seven topics for conversation will be:
- Voices from the Gay Community (July 2015)
- Biblical Understandings (August 2015)
- Biology, Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology (September 2015)
- Same-Sex Marriage: Pluralism (November 2015)
- Anti-Discrimination Laws (December 2015)
- Voices from Younger Christians (January 2016)
The starting point for a monthly conversation on each of the first eight LGBT topics will be for two conversation partners who represent “traditional” and “non-traditional” perspectives on the issue to post their responses to a leading question, after which each partner will reflect on the other’s posting and the way in which the conversation partner is perceived to be seeking to be faithful to his/her understanding of the Christian faith.
The eighth topic for conversation (Churches and the LGBT Community), scheduled for February 2016, will feature three conversation partners who will reflect on alternative approaches that Christian churches can take toward engaging LGBT individuals.
The ninth and concluding topic of conversation, in March 2016, will be devoted to consideration of case studies reporting on actual recent or current conversations regarding LGBT issues at a Christian university and two Christian churches.
Although one cannot predict beforehand the results of a respectful conversation, the HOPE for this project is that these initial conversations will build sufficient levels of mutual understanding and mutual trust between conversation partners to lay the foundation for a follow up electronic conversation that will feature the postings of essays by the conversation partners, leading eventually to the publication of one or more books.
The protocol for postings by the conversation partners for topics 1-7 is as follows
On the first day of the designated month, each conversation partner will post a blog of approximately 3000 words in length, that addresses the following questions:
- In summary form, what is the position you currently take relative to the Leading Question posed for your sub-topic?
- Drawing on your biblical/theological understanding and other formative influences in your life that you identify, what are your reasons for taking the position you have taken? If appropriate, include a “personal story.”
- What do you believe is “at stake” for Christians relative to your sub-topic and what concerns do you have about what could happen if your position is not taken?
By the tenth day of the given month, each conversation partner will post a blog of approximately 1500-3000 words in length that answers the following questions relative to the initial posting of the his/her partner:
- What can you affirm about the other person’s position and his/her reasons for taking that position?
- What concerns do you have about the other person’s position?
- What key question do you think the other person has avoided or has not addressed adequately?
- What insights can you glean from the other person’s initial post as to ways in which he/she is seeking to be faithful to his/her particular understanding of commitment to the Christian faith?
- What, if anything, did you find out about the other person that surprised you or caused you to change your view of him/her?
By the twentieth day of the given month, each conversation partner will post a blog of approximately 1500-3000 words in length that responds to the 10th day posting of his/her partner and answers the following question:
- In light of the conversation that has taken place, what are the issues that you believe both of you need to give more thought to as a basis for ongoing conversation?
The protocols for postings for topics 8 & 9 will be formulated and posted by January 1, 2016
Throughout any month of conversation, any reader of the web site can submit a comment on any prior posting in a “moderated forum” in which one of the moderators will read all submitted comments and post those submissions judged to satisfy the “Guidelines for Posting Comments” that are listed in the Conversation Guidelines.