I’m really excited about this class, but a little fearful, too.  I’m hoping it will be a safe place for us all to explore and wonder about these issues of same-sex attraction that have been tearing our denomination apart for so long.  Last summer I complained to my wife, Jan, that it seemed that no one was willing to live in the tension until we could all figure it out.  I kept thinking of Gamaliel in Acts 5, who when confronted with Peter and the other apostles making trouble in Jerusalem, advised the elders in the Sanhedrin to leave them alone, because “if this plan or this undertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them– in that case you may even be found fighting against God!”  I don’t think any of us clearly knows God’s will in these matters, but each side wants to declare an answer and be done with it.  No one seems to be willing to live with the question as long as it takes to truly discern God’s will.  So Jan poked around on the internet and found The Marin Foundation, dedicated to living in the tension, and meantime, elevating the conversation between the G/L/B/T community and evangelical Christianity.  Their materials are designed to inform both sides of the other’s position and concerns, and get them talking to each other.

So I’m hoping this class will do that.  Admittedly, most everyone from our church is likely already aligned with the conservative Christian viewpoint, but in the materials we’ll hear from the other side, too – so expect to be challenged, and maybe convicted.  My goal is not so much to impart information or to have us, either individually or corporately, reach a position on these matters, as much as it is to just immerse ourselves (even vicariously through his materials), as Andrew Marin has done, in a different culture and open our hearts and minds to taking a fresh look at things, maybe to have our hearts changed and become inspired to be the true Body of Christ to our hurting G/L/B/T brothers and sisters.  We’ll certainly talk about whether or not their same-sex sexual behavior is sinful or not, whether they should marry, and whether practicing gays should be ordained, but my primarily goal is not to reach conclusions on these issues, but to just wonder together about them for a while, and try to discern how we are called to love people with same-sex attraction in the name of Jesus Christ.

So if you want to engage in a peaceful and collegial exploration of these issues, please join us.  Meanwhile, if you’d like to start getting up to speed on the positions of both camps, I recommend you log onto http://gaychristian.net.  On their homepage, in a box on the right of the screen, you’ll see a link called “The Great Debate.”  If you click on that, you’ll be led to two essays, one by Justin, the other by Ron.  Justin takes defends the position that the Scriptural prohibitions against same-sex behavior is not talking about committed monogamous relationships as we have today.  Ron’s position is that Scripture prohibits all same-sex behavior, so he has chosen celibacy.  Both Justin and Ron are gay Christians.  Their essays are each well-researched and deeply reflective.  They are fairly long, but contain a lot of information and would be good place to get a quick summary.