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I love the way you've opened this! As executive director of The Gay Christian Network, I get to hear people talk about this subject all day, every day, and I rarely hear people approach it with the kind of gentle nuance you've demonstrated here. Kudos! I hope to continue participating in the conversation!
Thanks for the kind words!
As Christians, we preach a faith that says there is such a thing as absolute truth. And yet from the beginning of the church, there have been theological disagreements—not only between Christians and non-Christians, but even within the Christian body.
So what do we do? Pretend that it doesn't matter, that everyone is equally right, and that we should just "live and let live"? Obviously not. If some truths are absolute, then that means that sometimes when we disagree, someone has to be wrong. If you and I believe things that are mutually exclusive, we might both be wrong, but we can't both be right. And if we believe that truth matters, then we can't just ignore those disagreements. If I'm wrong about something, then I want my brothers and sisters to hold me accountable.
But at the same time, if we are going to be worthy of calling ourselves Christians, we also need to learn how to be humble, gracious, and loving in disagreement. Otherwise, we're just doing the same thing the world does. No one enjoys being on the receiving end of an arrogant lecture, and it doesn't change anyone's mind anyway.
That tension is something I believe we have to wrestle with. How can we be gracious and loving towards one another without ignoring the disagreements and their importance? Most Christians, I've found, err on one side or the other. Finding that balance is hard, and I think it's a topic worth exploring. Thanks for the opportunity!
The Gay Christian Network
There's no question in my mind that the church often handles gay issues very poorly, and you and I both agree that ex-gay ministries, despite their best intentions, have done a lot of damage.
But you and I have a lot of firsthand knowledge about these ministries that the other folks in this discussion don't have. Most of them have never been in an ex-gay group and don't know what it's like on the inside. In fact, I'm willing to bet that some of them, reading this paragraph of mine, are wondering, "What's he talking about? What damage? What goes on inside these ministries that's so bad?" They recommend these groups only because they're trying to help, and want to lovingly offer support. If we respond defensively, they don't have any context for understanding that except to assume that we don't want our sin brought to light or something like that.
No matter how much we may disagree on theology, Bible interpretation, and the appropriate response to same-sex attraction, I think we absolutely must acknowledge that there is love on both sides and a desire to do the right thing. We could debate the Bible all day long and no one's mind would change. As a pastor of mine used to say, "You can't argue people to the Lord." But if both sides can acknowledge that the other side is doing what they believe to be the right thing (even if they're sorely misguided), then we have a chance to engage in real, productive dialogue that actually may change hearts and minds in the long run—maybe theirs, maybe ours, maybe both.
Saw the link on Nicole Wick's blog and wanted to comment, even though the article is from a little while back.
I'm the executive director of The Gay Christian Network, a nonprofit organization which maintains the largest online community of gay Christians in the world, so hopefully I have a little bit of credibility upon which to draw when I say this:
I do NOT believe that you must abandon your faith position on homosexual behavior in order to be loving to gay people. Nor do I believe that holding a traditional position makes you "homophobic."
There are, of course, Christians who are homophobic. (The term generally applies not only to fear of gay people, but hatred as well.) There are also Christians who are racist, sexist, and bigoted in many other ways. None of these things reflect the love of Christ; they reflect our own human fallenness.
Sadly, there is homophobia in the church. But there is a difference between hating someone and disagreeing with them. You and I may disagree on theological points, but that doesn't mean we hate each other. And I will always defend the Christians who listen and love, even if they disagree with me.
In fact, there are even gay Christians within my organization who believe that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior. We call them "Side B" gay Christians, and they typically commit themselves to lifelong celibacy.
I hope to see a future where we truly can "just get along," as you put it. Just last week, we officially announced a video/booklet toolkit for Christians and churches who hold a traditional view on homosexuality but who also want to show love to gay people. It's all about practical steps to welcome gay people while still staying true to your Biblical beliefs.
It's available here: http://www.gaychristian.net/toolkit
So yes, although I'm sure some people would like to have my head for saying this, I absolutely believe it's possible for Christians to hold the traditional view and still be loving. If not, we'd all be in trouble!
The Gay Christian Network
I know this response is coming months after your initial post, but I think the site you were thinking of is this one: http://www.gaychristian.net
In particular, the two essays you're likely remembering are here: http://www.gaychristian.net/greatdebate.php
I hope that's helpful to you or anyone else who stumbles upon this later!