Building Bridges Across the Divide

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?

Bridges Across the Divide

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

behavior is.”

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.”

The Bridges-Across

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.”