Most Recent Conversation: Christian Faithfulness and Human Sexuality

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.

Harold Heie


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?

 

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?

 

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?

 

Interlude

Harold Heie: Christian Values Underlying Respectful Conversations About LGBT Issues.

 

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?

 

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.

-Harold Heie

 

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?


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?

 

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?"

 

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

Contributor:

  • 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?

Case Study #2: Sammamish Presbyterian Church

Contributor:

  • 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?

Case Study #3: Zion Mennonite Church, Ohio Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA

Contributor:

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?