With Steve Calverley
We all know what the divide is about. One side holds a belief that homosexual
behavior is immoral and the other holds that this belief, like the biblically-based
arguments which supported slavery,
is evil. Disagreements about the morality of homosexuality extend in
many directions. They are ripping apart communities of faith. They
have led to the promulgation of half-truths and lies in the name of science.
They have prevented us from listening to, much less honoring, the life
journeys of others.
Jesus said, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold,
I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will
be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16).
Can disagreeing Christians model Christ’s love in a way that will draw
nonbelievers towards God? Can we not only speak our truths in love, but
open ourselves to hear what God might be saying through the journeys of
those whom we call adversaries? Can email with strangers help us relate
to loved ones whose views cause us pain? Can we witness to those on the
Internet who will never go near a church? Can we hear the voice of God
in a gay person? In a person who has moved away from same gender behavior
and identity? In a transsexual? Can we hear the voice of God in others?
Can we who are Christian join together in prayer and ask God to help us
put away fear and meet each other as brothers and sisters in Christ?
is a cyberspace initiative with a mission to provide models and resources
for building respectful relationships among those on both
sides of the homosexuality issue.There is a Bridges-Across website,
and a Bridges-across working
group. We are beginning to plan three bridges-across email lists: journeys,
faith, and science.
Joe Dallas, author of A Strong Delusion: Confronting the “Gay
Christian Movement” reminds his readers not to attack the character
of homosexuals, that “if character were the issue, homosexuality would
be legitimate.” Dallas writes (p.217) “I knew far too many lesbians
and gay men who were responsible, likeable, hardworking people: I have
known far too many heterosexuals who were outright despicable. Keep the
issues straight. The character of the person is not in question. The person’s
Despite the strong theological disagreement, dialogue becomes a possibility
when people on both sides of the divide acknowledge that there are some
people of good character on the other side. It becomes even more of a possibility
when we come
together as Christians and join with Roberta
Showalter Kreider in saying, “I want those who differ with me,
because of their own religious convictions, to know that I feel that they
also are sincerely seeking to follow God. I hope we can keep seeking together
and trusting that God will guide us. Thank you for listening to my story.”
working group consists of individuals who disagree about the morality
of homosexuality. Most of us are Christians, some do not believe in God.
Several of us are gay and several have friends or family members who are
gay. Two of us left same gender behavior and identity behind. One is an
InterVarsity student leader. Some of us struggle with the concept that
someone could be ex-gay. Others struggle with the idea that if someone
is truly ex-gay then that implies that gays can chose to be ex-gay and
should choose to be ex-gay. We have encountered people who disapprove of
our mission but many have expressed appreciation for undertaking a difficult
and needed endeavor. Some are suspicious but hopeful, others suspicious
and very doubtful. We have come together knowing that religion gets in
the way, yet realizing that religion can pave the way. We do seem to get
hung up on who someone is, and who someone has become. Some think one can
not be the way they are, others think another is not honest when they say
they have had a transformational experience.
In his booklet Homosexuality
and the Bible, Walter Wink, the author of the Powers
Trilogy, closes with these words: “I know a couple, both well
known Christian authors in their own right, who have both spoken out on
the issue of homosexuality. She supports gays, passionately; he opposes
their behavior, strenuously. So far as I can tell, this couple still enjoy
each other’s company, eat at the same table, and, for all I know, sleep
in the same bed.
“We in the church need to get our priorities straight. We have
not reached a consensus about who is right on the issue of homosexuality.
But what is clear, utterly clear, is that we are commanded to love one
another. Love not just our gay sisters and brothers, who are often sitting
besides us, unacknowledged, in church, but all of us who are involved in
this debate. These are issues about which we should amiably agree to disagree.
We don’t have to tear whole denominations to shreds in order to air our
differences on this point. If that
couple I mentioned can continue to embrace across this divide, surely
we can do so as well.”