Too Often, the Welcome Mat is Bad News for Sexual Minorities

In an effort to be seen as loving, friendly, and welcoming, religious organizations put out the welcome mat for LGBT people. But once in the house, the reality of donor-distress-driven policies emerge. A kinder and more honest approach would be to say, “You’re not really welcome as you are. Enter at your own risk.” Read the latest example in Time’s piece by Julie Rodgers.    

Gay Christian Network Third Way Workshop: Notes On Power and Privilege

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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.

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Beyond the Elevator: A Report from the Gay Christian Network Conference

“What conference are you here for?” the respectable looking woman in the elevator inquired, innocently enough. We three middle aged men with the GCN conference lanyards around our necks stole a quick glance before one of us answered, “The Gay Christian Network,” hoping for the best. The woman stepped back reflexively, raised her eyebrows and saucer-eyed us while letting out a drawn-out Texan, “Ohhh…,” a word pregnant with polite discomfort. We smiled and stared at the floor until the doors opened. Continue reading

A Pacifist’s Thoughts on Being Among “The Weak”

One of the frustrations I have discovered writing about LGBT questions from a Third Way perspective is that I, and many of us who take this perspective at present, end up writing from the standpoint of the “strong”. As a result, I am constantly in danger of coming off as condescending (a perennial temptation for “the strong”) and am regularly accused of arguing for an approach which would privilege my take on the relevant theology. Continue reading

O Holy Night, the Bastard Jesus, and Donald Trump

The baby born in a manger became a rabbi with a unique gift: to make the soul of the outsider feel its worth. As Greg Carey notes, his dinners with prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners–serious outcasts–were as much a sign of his kingdom as his teachings, healings, and exorcisms.

Perhaps because exclusion was part of his own experience. Continue reading

Dr. Larycia Hawkins and More Wheaton Woes

urlWheaton College is in the news again, this time for suspending Dr. Larycia Hawkins for asserting that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. (Check out recent coverage in The Atlantic and New York Times.) Wheaton also houses one of the biggest collections of the works of C.S. Lewis in the world. Lewis’ Mere Christianity is on course to sell nearly 100,000 copies again this year. I’m partial to this little gem of a book because it fostered my return to faith after a brush with adolescent atheism.  Continue reading

The Daunting Costs of Implementing Third Way

It’s been nearly two years since I proposed Third Way as a new approach to the full inclusion of LGBTQ people with the release of A Letter to My Congregation. Many existing churches have transitioned to Third Way, including congregations in a new church network called Blue Ocean Faith. Several other church plants have launched with Third Way as part of their foundation—a much easier task than transitioning an existing congregation. From the collective experience of many churches, transition to Third Way is challenging. It requires, so far as I can tell, five things. Continue reading

Thanksgiving, SNL, and Overcoming the Scourge of Religious Intolerance

Many of us will soon gather for Thanksgiving dinner with extended family and remember what an odd, glorious, and Saturday-Night-Live thing a family is. Family! Nobody is born or adopted into a family they have chosen. We get assigned, like roommates in a freshmen dormitory. And often we find ourselves thrown into close proximity with people we seriously wonder about. Continue reading

The Chorus is Swelling: This is a Disputable Matter

In A Letter to My Congregation, I offered criteria to suggest when a matter might legitimately be regarded as a “disputable matter” in the church, invoking the gospel demands of Romans 14-15. But there is one criterion which is fairly simple: a matter is disputable when it is actually disputed in the church—when we find that faithful Christians who love Jesus, seek to be guided by the Spirit, and take the Bible seriously, find themselves disagreeing. Continue reading