Christian Faithfulness and Human Sexuality
BOOK CONTRACT SIGNED
I am very pleased to announce that I have just signed a contract with Cascade Books (Eugene, OR) for them to publish the manuscript that emerged from this eCircle on “Christian Faithfulness and Human Sexuality.” The title for this book will be Respectful LGBT Conversations: Seeking Truth, Giving Love, and Modeling Christian Unity. George Marsden has written a Foreword for this book, which will be released in the summer or early fall of 2017.
Since my hope for this book is that it will be received as only the “beginning,” not the “end” of an important ongoing conversation, I hope that upon its release the contributors to this eCircle and the readers of this conversation will consider the possibility of using it, or promoting its use, in their various spheres of influence.
I want to once again thank my conversation partners for this eCircle, as well as George Marsden and the many readers who followed this conversation. This project would not have been possible without you. I am most appreciative.
February 11, 2017
THANKS TO ALL; A BOOK IS FORTHCOMING
My nine-month electronic conversation (eCircle) on “Christian Faithfulness and Human Sexuality” ended on March 31. 2016. We had a strong readership for this eCircle , with slightly over 34,400 Page Views.
I first want to express my deep thanks and appreciation to the 21 “conversation partners” who posted essays on the nine topics that we covered. In stark contrast to the combative exchanges that often take place in public discourse about controversial issues, every one of these conversation partners demonstrated admirably that Christians who disagree strongly about complex and controversial issues can present and discuss their disagreements with great generosity and respect. Thank you for so effectively modeling humility and love in your postings.
I want to give a special word of thanks to one of my conversation partners, Julia Stronks, Professor of Political Science at Whitworth University, who during the planning stage, helped me to shape the substance of the topics and Leading Questions for this extended conversation.
Finally, I want to thank Brian Workman and Dan Hefferan from the Five Espressos Company for their splendid work in managing this eCircle on my web site.
After two of my earlier eCircles (an “Alternative Political Conversation” and “American Evangelicalism”), I published books intended to provide “coherent summaries” of the highlights of the electronic postings1. Similarly, I am in the process of preparing a potential book manuscript intended to capture in a coherent manner the highlights of this conversation on Human Sexuality. Since I have been writing a chapter draft during the month after completion of each month-long electronic conversation, I am aiming to have a completed manuscript available for publication review by the end of the summer of 2016. Some major themes that are emerging in this manuscript are captured in the sub-title for my tentative book title: Respectful LGBT Conversations: Seeking Truth, Love, and Christian Unity. As soon as I obtain a commitment from a publisher for this book, I will post an announcement on this web site.
Thanks again to all who made this respectful conversation possible.
1 Evangelicals on Public Policy Issues: Sustaining a Respectful Political Conversation (Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian University Press, 2014), and A Future for American Evangelicalism: Commitment, Openness, and Conversation (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015).
Topic #1: Voices from the Gay Community (July 2015)
Leading Question: What are your beliefs about morally appropriate relationships between persons who experience same-sex attraction?
- Eve Tushnet, Catholic Patheos Blogger
- Essay: The Hidden Paths of Love
- Response to Justin Lee: Eve’s Response to “Three Ways I Was Wrong”
- Response to Justin Lee: Eve’s Last Post: I don’t Think There Are Monks in This one
- Justin Lee, Executive Director, The Gay Christian Network
Topic #2: Biblical Understandings (August 2015)
Leading Question: What is your understanding of biblical/theological teachings relevant to issues being raised by Christians who identify themselves as members of the LGBT community?
- Mark Strauss, University Professor of New Testament, Bethel Seminary San Diego
- James Brownson, James and Jean Cook Professor of New Testament Western Theological Seminary
Topic #3: Biology, Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology (September 2015)
Leading Question: What is your understanding of the best findings from the academic disciplines of biology, anthropology, psychology and sociology relative to same-sex attraction, sexual orientation, and sexual behavior for human beings?
- Christopher Grace, Professor of Psychology & Director, Center for Marriage and Relationships, Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University
- David Myers, Professor of Psychology, Hope College
- Essay: Most Are Straight, Some Are Gay, And Why It Is That Way: The Science and Future of Sexual Orientation
- Response to Christopher Grace: Science, Faith, and Sexual Orientation: Round Two
- Response to Christopher Grace: Science, Faith, and Sexual Orientation: Concluding Thoughts
Topic #4: Constitutional Framework for Dealing with Public Policy Issues (October 2015)
Leading Question: How should the U. S. Constitution inform Christian thinking about public policy issues in America?
- Micah Watson, William Spoelhof Teacher-Scholar-In-Residence Chair and Associate Professor of Political Science, Calvin College
- Essay: The Constitution and Agreeing on How to Resolve our Disagreements
- Response to Kathy Lee: A Perspective on Perspectives
- Response to Kathy Lee: Final Thoughts on Our Constitution
- Kathy Lee, Professor of Political Science, Whitworth University
- Essay: Christians and the Limits of the Law
- Response to Micah Watson: Response to Micah Watson’s “The Constitution and Agreeing on How to Resolve our Disagreements”
- Response to Micah Watson: Some Final Thoughts
Topic #5: Same-Sex Marriage: Pluralism (November 2015)
Leading Question: Given the pluralistic nature of American society, what stance should Christians take relative to public policy for or against same-sex marriage?
Adding a Third Conversation Partner
Dear Readers: I had not anticipated that our two conversation partners for our current topic (Julia and Mikael) would have so much public policy agreement (see their initial November 1 postings).
So, in keeping with our conversation goal to present and discuss differing views on each of our nine topics, Julia, Mikael and I have agreed to proceed in a different manner for the rest of this November conversation.
Adam MacLeod from the Jones School of Law at Faulkner University, who has a different view than Julia or Mikeal as to whether “allowing same-sex marriage is good public policy,” has agreed to join the remainder of our November conversation as a third “conversation partner.”
This mid-course adjustment changes the format for the rest of November to the plan that is described below.
- Mikael Pelz, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Calvin College
- Essay: Public Policy on Same-Sex Marriage: The State and the Church
- Response to Adam MacLeod: Marriage, Raising Children, and the Ideal Family
- Julia Stronks, Edward B. Lindaman Chair and Political Science Professor, Whitworth University
- Essay: Advancing Biblical, Civic Justice Even If You Believe Homosexual Relationships are Sinful
- Concluding Statement: Where Should We Go From Here?
- Adam MacLeod, Associate Professor of Law, Jones School of Law, Faulkner University
- Essay: Marriage is for Children
Topic #6: Anti-Discrimination Laws (December 2015)
Leading Question: Both states and the federal government have anti-discrimination laws relating to employment, housing and consumer protection for members of the LGBT community. Should faith-based institutions, both non-profit and for-profit, be eligible for exemption from these laws?
- Chelsea Langston-Bombino, Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance of the Center for Public Justice
- Essay: SOGI Laws and Religious Freedom for Faith-Based Organizations
- Response to Kathryn Brightbill: Response to Practicing Religion in a Pluralistic Society
- Response to Kathryn Brightbill: Respect is Not the Same as Unconditional Affirmation
- Kathryn Brightbill, Safety Net board member
- Essay: Practicing Religion in a Pluralistic Society
- Response to Chelsea Langston: Response to “SOGI Laws and Religious Freedom for Faith-Based Organizations”
- Response to Chelsea Langston (December 20)
Topic #7: Voices from Younger Christians (January 2016)
Leading Question: Due to a perceived “generation gap,” some Christians wonder whether present controversies relating to faith and LGBT issues will “fade away” as a younger generation moves into positions of influence in both faith-based and secular institutions. As a member of this younger generation, how do you view the future relative to LGBT issues in American society in general and in Christian churches in particular?
- Matthew Lee Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy Blogger
- Isaac Sharp, PhD candidate, Union Theological Seminary
- Essay: Current Trends and Future Prospects
- Response to Matthew Lee Anderson: Respectful Disagreement on the Possibility of “Agreeing to Disagree
- Response to Matthew Lee Anderson: Lessons Learned
Topic #8: Churches and the LGBT Community (February 2016)
Leading Question: Different Christian churches have taken various positions relative to their engagements with LGBT individuals, a number of which are variations of the following general categories:
- Welcoming but not affirming
- Welcoming and affirming
- Accepting, without taking a position relative to “welcoming” and/or “affirming” because the theological issues are “disputed matters” and we agree to allow disagreement
How do you recommend that churches engage with LGBT individuals and why?”
- Tim Otto, Associate Pastor, Church of the Sojourners
- Essay: A Third Way is Possible
- Response to other Contributors: The Will to Hear
- Response to other Contributors: God Doesn’t Care (about rules, God cares about human beings)
- Weldon Nisly, Retired Pastor, Seattle Mennonite Church
- Essay: What God sets before us: being a welcoming and affirming Church
- Response to other Contributors: Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love
- Response to other Contributors: The Way Forward in the Church
- Father Chris Schutte, Christ Church Phoenix
Current Topic: Case Study Conversations Regarding LGBT Issues at Christian Institutions of Higher Education and Within Churches and Denominations (March 2016)
Case Study #1: Eastern University
- Julie Morgan, Communication Studies Department, Eastern University
Leading Questions: How has Eastern University engaged LGBT issues? How were LGBT students involved in your conversations and what were the results of their involvement? What lessons have you learned as to ways for Christians to talk respectfully to one another about their disagreements? What worked well? What didn’t work at all?
- Essay: The Dialogue Process: Case Study of Eastern University
- Response to other Contributors: Response to Jeff and Jessica
- Response to Other Contributors: Response and Evaluation of Process
Case Study #2: Sammamish Presbyterian Church
- Jeff Lincicome, Senior Pastor, Sammamish Presbyterian Church, Sammamish, WA
Leading Questions: How has your church engaged LGBT issues? What are the implications of the results of your engagement for the common distinction between being “welcoming” and being “affirming” of LGBT individuals? What lessons have you learned as to ways for Christians to talk respectfully to one another about their disagreements? What worked well? What didn’t work at all?
- Essay: Family Values
- Response to other Contributors: The Harder Right
- Response to Other Contributors: What if I’m Wrong?
Case Study #3: Zion Mennonite Church, Ohio Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA
- Jessica Schrock Ringenberg, Pastor, Zion Mennonite Church, Archbold, Ohio
Leading Questions: How has your church engaged LGBT issues? How have you navigated denominational expectations as your church has discussed LGBT issues? What are the implications of the results of your engagement for the common distinction between being “welcoming” and being “affirming” of LGBT individuals? What lessons have you learned as to ways for Christians to talk respectfully to one another about their disagreements? What worked well? What didn’t work at all?
- Essay: Holding the Body Together: Case Study of Zion Mennonite Church, Ohio Conference of MC USA
- Response to other Contributors: Respecting One’s Context
- Response to Other Contributors: Cultivating Christ in our Midst