Evangelicals and Same-Sex Issues: Some Practical Scenarios For Discussion

Summary

A few discussion starters for Evangelicals thinking through same-sex issues. It is unlikely that many of the following cases will be represented in any one church, but any of them could be. The discussion questions are aimed at leaders, but may be of more general application. For simplicity I have omitted examples involving direct family connections, and I've focused on cases involving young people; but feel free to adapt the questions to your needs. (Minor edits, 30 Sept 2014.)

(1,600 words)

Common and general cases

Dave -- young guy in your church

A adolescent in your church, who is clearly nervous about speaking to you, tells you he is "pretty sure" he's gay. He asks you to promise not to tell anyone, including his parents, believing he will lose his friends, family and church if they find out. A survey shows two-thirds of adults in your church think gay people mainly need to be told to repent of their "lifestyle", and a third of those also think they pose a serious danger to children. On the other hand, a section of the youth group don't see why "just being who you are" could be a problem.

Nick -- leader in your church

A leader in your church is same sex attracted. He has been through many years of counselling, depression and loneliness, has persevered in ministry, at which he excels, and has remained celibate. However, he has experienced no change whatsoever, and sees no hope of changing. What he wants more than anything is love, a life partner and a family, but is not sexually or romantically attracted to women.

Kim & Jen -- same-sex married couple with a family

Two young women in your local community were legally married in Canada last year and are raising two children. They are a schoolteacher and a journalist by profession. They grew up in Christian families, have been thinking a lot about God lately, and have begun attending your church on account of a relative in your congregation.

Joe & Ken -- next door neighbours

A young same-sex couple (unmarried) have moved in next door. You have been friendly and welcoming, and see them now and then. While speaking one day, they are surprised to discover that you are an Evangelical Christian, and think that you must be only pretending to be friendly. Joe, who went to a Christian school where he was bullied by other students, says to you with visible anger, "Look, normally I wouldn't have this conversation, I'd just let it go. But I really want to know what you think here. Aren't you supposed to believe that we're evil and disgusting? Isn't that what the Bible says?"

Some cases based on real-life stories

Susan -- a defamed ex-missionary

Susan is the daughter of an influential family in your rural congregation. She became a missionary to a third-world country, and was involved in church planting there for several years in a Muslim-majority region. She had been same sex attracted all through her teenage years without having told anyone, and finally raised the matter with her supervisors in the mission. They appear to have panicked, forbade her to have any further contact with her churches there, and sent her home. They had a letter distributed throughout their organisation which carried and fuelled speculation and rumour about her, which she fears has endangered her co-workers. She has returned to your church, in spite of family tensions, while she works out what to do with her life.

Joan & Kelly -- ministry colleague with a lesbian daughter

You went to Bible College with Joan, and remain good friends. With her husband, she now pastors a church several hours drive away, and seeks your advice about a family matter. She believes her daughter Kelly, now 25, has always been same-sex oriented; she was not surprised when Kelly came out after moving away to attend university. Kelly is not presently aware of any church that fits her Christian beliefs that would accept or understand her, so only attends her parent's church when home. As soon as it is legal to do so, Kelly wishes to marry her best friend and girlfriend, whose story is similar. Joan knows that nothing would mean more to Kelly than for her parents to perform her wedding.

Ian & Sarah, vs. Kevin -- experiences of therapy

Ian went through a reparative therapy program which encouraged him to be celibate or heterosexually married. Three years ago he met Sarah, and they are now married, but without children. Ian he says that nothing has changed for him, that his marriage was sincere but misguided, and that he is immensely sorry for his wife. Another man in your church, Kevin, went through the same program as Ian, but he believes that his attraction to men has been "much reduced" as a result, and that he could marry and be happy. He speaks to various groups on this subject, saying everyone experiences some degree of 'sexual brokenness'.

Vicki & Todd -- transgender relationship

A couple in their late twenties ask to enrol in your church's Preparing for Marriage course. They have been members of the church for six months, are very much in love, and you see them both as genuine in their faith. Vicki tells you that she was "designated male at birth", but never saw herself as male, nor was ever comfortable with being male. She has lived as a woman all her adult life, and no-one in your congregation, except Todd, has been aware of any difference. She began hormone replacement therapy four years ago, and intends to have surgery in the United States next year, then change her legal gender to female and marry Todd.

About this document

"Evangelicals and Same-Sex Issues: Some Practical Scenarios For Discussion" <http://180.org.au/some-practical-scenarios-for-discussion_20140906.html>. Copyright ©2014 Nigel Chapman , <nigel@chapman.id.au>. Published 6 September 2014. Licensed CC BY-SA <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/au/>.

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