I consider myself a feminist – one who joined the movement to end all forms of oppression. In the past, I have felt profoundly alone in this struggle. I have felt disempowered, vulnerable and angry. The more I experienced and learned about the reality of the world we live in, the more powerless I became. Right now, many people feel trapped by injustice with no real way forward. There is a powerful tide in this world that can overwhelm even our bravest resistance.
The Gospel of Mark teaches that nothing hidden will remain covered and all secrets will come to light (Mark 4:22). In this vein, René Girard’s work on scapegoating effectively busts myths. He uncovers the violent origins of ancient myths. His analysis compels us to examine our own tendency towards victimization and violence. Since our victims often seem to be people marked as different, it makes sense to join the work on accepting our differences. As a feminist, I have embraced Audre Lorde’s call to recognize, accept and celebrate our differences. Too often we victimize people who are physically/mentally/socially different. We exclude or condemn LGBTQ+ people from churches and leadership. We want women and men and people of color to fit into certain categories and punish them if they do not fit. However, Girard writes, “Despite what is said around us persecutors are never obsessed by difference but rather by its unutterable contrary, the lack of difference” (p. 22). As we learn to celebrate our differences, Girard challenges us to consider a bigger threat: lack of difference. This insight holds implications for Third Way and may shed light on some of the strong negative reactions to a Third Way approach. Continue reading
Tim Otto, pastor of The Church of the Sojourners in the Mission District of San Francisco, interviewed Ken Wilson on Third Way for his Oriented to Faith Podcast. Tim is the author of Oriented to Faith: Transforming the Conflict over Gay Relationships. He describes Third Way as “a way of including LGBT Christians while not excluding conservatives.” He gives Ken Wilson the opportunity to clarify Third Way as a faithful path through this painful conflict. They explore critiques from people on different sides of the issue and bring light on matters of moral approval, power and privilege as they dig deeper into the Gospel.
Four of us from the Blue Ocean Faith, Ann Arbor staff team attended the Gay Christian Network Conference (GCN) January 7-10, 2016 in Houston, Texas. This incredible gathering of over 1500 people inspired and uplifted. GCN revealed how people with great ideological and experiential differences can come together and worship in acceptance of one another. Perhaps in part because of the sting most people had experienced from mainstream Christian culture around the acceptance of LGBTQ people, the worship and conversations were rich with God’s presence. During the conference, Pastors Emily Swan and Ken Wilson were invited to give a workshop on Third Way. Emily and Ken invited Cassie Brabbs, our worship leader, and me to share about going Third Way. My portion is included here and reflects some insights around power and privilege that I gained as we transitioned towards full inclusion.
Third Way encourages respectful dialogue while recognizing that the morality of same-gender attraction is a disputable matter in the church. However, Third Way is not a middle way or a compromise. Third Way practices full inclusion on all levels of leadership without discriminating against sexual orientation or gender identity. It is similar to “open and affirming” in that it calls for full inclusion of LGBT people but doesn’t use the term “affirming” since our unity in Christ is not contingent on granting each other moral approval. Instead, Third Way is grounded in a biblical understanding of how to approach one another through disputable matters in the church – without contempt or judgement of one another.
In the spirit of respectful dialogue, Professors David Myers of Hope College and Christopher Grace of Biola University, dialogue on the topic of Christian Faithfulness and Human Sexuality on RespectfulConversation.net. Their dialogue is respectful in tone, rich in language and scientific examples, and emphasizes both important similarities and differences in their approach to Christian faithfulness and human sexuality. It is worth the time to read through their responses to each other – each contributing 3 essays to the conversation.
“I am a creature of God, and…I’m created and intersexed people are created, no less than anyone else, in the image and likeness of God.” – Selwyn/Sally Gross
Some Christians say that the biblical creation story of “male and female” made in God’s image must be God’s purpose for all individuals and for marriage. In addition, some conservative Christians fear that the sexual revolution has led to a loss of important boundaries and want to draw clear lines around these complex issues. However, by clinging to arbitrary categories, Christians close their ears to the voices of people we are called to love – namely, one another1. People’s lived experiences in all our (God-given) diversity related to sex, gender and sexuality cannot be ignored. The lived experience of intersex is one area within this diversity that has frequently been ignored, rejected or marginalized. Continue reading
Dr. David P. Gushee wrote this comprehensive article in Sojourners in January 2015 examining five influential books, all published in 2013-14, that “represent the newest wave of U.S. evangelical reflection on LGBT matters.” His review includes Wilson’s A Letter to My Congregation where Third Way was first introduced. This helpful article gives a brief overview into the changing face of evangelical Christianity today. He notes that while over the past 40 years, evangelical Christianity has changed significantly on issues like gender, race and nation, it has not changed on homosexuality – until now. He writes, “This fight feels like it is reaching a crescendo.” Whatever perspective we bring to these matters – as a scholar, a pastor or simply as a person who cares – one thing is clear: with LGBT folks being among our most vulnerable members, it is time to think critically about how evangelical Christianity approaches this issue. Continue reading
After the Supreme Court Decision to allow same-gender couples to enjoy the same rights and privileges of state-sanctioned marriage, many Christians have responded by crying “Foul!” This, on the grounds that advocates of traditional marriage are now subject to victimization themselves as a harassed and oppressed religious minority. In this piece, Caroline Kittle addresses the issue of privilege (or a sense of entitlement) and how it can affect our response when a previously marginalized group gains more equality. Caroline takes a fresh look at what the “Parable of the Landowner” might say to us. Continue reading
Emily Swan and Ken Wilson were interviewed on Michigan Public Radio’s Stateside with Cynthia Canty which aired June 24, 2015. They start by sharing briefly about their “birth story” of choosing to follow the Third Way in their church community. A few key moments in the interview highlight what Third Way is all about.
J.R. Daniel Kirk is the author of Jesus Have I Loved, But Paul? and Unlocking Romans. He did his work at Duke under Richard Hays. Kirk attends City Church in San Francisco where he heard Ken Wilson speak recently on Romans 14. This is the first of two posts by this evangelical New Testament scholar on Ken’s sermon. Continue reading
Micah Seppanen shares his story and how Third Way helped him find his way through disputable matters. He writes, “…the root question of the culture war is this: what does loving same-sex attracted individuals look like? The Third Way invites us into a challenging sphere where dogmatic enforcement of either response is not loving. If we see same-sex relationships as a disputable matter, a key point for The Third Way, can we learn not to judge others as they live out their convictions?” Continue reading