DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Building a Bridge to Brokenness

Written by: on March 23, 2017

Introduction

The “lens” that we look at life through, are “prescribed” by a myriad of practitioners:  family dynamics, socio-economics, religious involvement/affiliation, and a host of other catalytic influences.  We embrace the fact that we cannot control to whom and where we are born.  We express our DNA through skin, hair and eye color, detached/attached ear lobes, and certain physical attributes.  The “lens” that I was “prescribed” said that the sex you were born was your sex for life, and in time you would marry someone of the opposite sex in a covenant relationship called marriage.

My how things have changed regarding lenses, practitioners, and normality; especially regarding sexuality.  We live in a broken world that needs a Savior – Jesus.  Interesting enough we become the bridge to broken people.  We become light, salt, and a voice for Jesus.

Andrew Marin, in his book, Love is an Orientation:  Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community, encourages bridge building with the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender) community.  Marin chooses not to do his “bridge building” from the comfortable confines of a university or suburban heterosexual church.  Marin said that he, “…began this immersion during my sophomore year in college.  I would go to Boystown with my best friends upwards of four nights a week.”[1]  Eventually Marin gets married, he and his wife move in to Boystown as bridge builders.

 

Summary

Brian McLaren writes the Foreword for the book using the analogy of heroes.  McLaren says, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, the old saying goes.  But the same is true for heroes.”[2]  McLaren says that Marin is a hero who runs into the fray of dealing with GLBT individuals.  After reading Marin’s story, he was not afraid to go where many would “fear to tread”.

The crux and challenge of the book boils down to one statement that Marin makes.  “Christians tend to perceive themselves as morally superior to GLBT people, based on the belief that the Bible allows only three options for connecting faith and sexuality:  be heterosexual, be celibate, or live in sin.”[3]  Even after reading the book and paying attention to Marin’s exegesis of his “Big 5” (Chapter 7), I still lean to the three options.

What Marin did do, is to help with the conversations and communications that need to transpire in bridge building between the GLBT and church communities.  “Over the years I have had many gay people tell me that is someone were to take away their sexual behavior, they would be taking away all they are as people.  Same-sex sexual behavior is the source of the inherent disconnect between conservative Christianity and gays and lesbians.”[4]

Marin shares stories that are truly heart wrenching.  Marin states that, “…research suggests that on average 7 to 15 percent of the GLBT community was sexually abused in their youth.”[5]  This percentage was staggering and the stories were moving.  Couple that with some of the absurdities that Marin heard or encountered with the church community and you have bridges being “bombed” not “built”.

 

 Analysis

There is a need for the church to begin bridge building early.  Marin states that, “Research now reports that the average age of someone who first realizes a same-sex attraction is thirteen years old.  It also shows that the average age of someone who declares their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender is fifteen years old!”[6]

Sexual abnormalities have become mainstream and the fodder for television sitcoms and movies.  The open expression and strong emphasis on GLBT lifestyles acceptance is unprecedented.  Marin states that, “Current data depending on the source, estimate that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders account for somewhere between 1 and 7 percent of the American population.  An overwhelmingly larger percentage of the population – around 36 percent – identify themselves as traditionally conservative, Bible-believing Christians.”[7]

Some of the data and claims on the GLBT community seem to be excessive or exploited.  Is there a need for bridge building?  Definitely!   Can the church learn how to communicate and truly love our GLBT neighbors?  A resounding yes.

 

[1] Andrew Marin, Love is an Orientation:  Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community, (Downers Grove, IL:  IVP Books, 2009), 19.

[2] Ibid., 9.

[3] Ibid., 36.

[4] Ibid., 36.

[5] Ibid., 42.

[6] Ibid., 23.

[7] Ibid., 50.

About the Author

mm

Phil Goldsberry

9 responses to “Building a Bridge to Brokenness”

  1. Phil,

    Great working writing about this subject. I know the book defines the ages of sexual orientation being defined at the age of 13. Do you remember being that age and wondering about everything? If someone suggested you might be something didn’t you explore that mentally for a while? This week I told my students it was okay to stay in neutral…. you don’t have to move into the speeding lane of sexuality just because you reach a certain age. Do you think the world pushes students toward this quicker now to define who you are at 13? Again thanks for a great post.

    Kevin

    • mm Phil Goldsberry says:

      Kevin:

      I was shocked at the 13 age break. With sexuality being in teens face and readily available on their devices (phone or tablet), it has exposed them to sexual exploitation and experimentation from deviant to whatever!

      God’s order for the home has been eradicated leaving teens without any sense of normal or order. The lack of Mom or Dad, drives them to find relationships in one place or another.

      Phil

  2. Hi Phil. I have the same question as Kevin. I get really frustrated with “statistics” like that one in the book about age. First of all, every child is different. Second, there is so much fake, dark, flat out wrong, sexual propaganda out there that to say we decide things by 13 or 15 is simply ludicrous for me.
    For example, I talked to a 17 year old that confided in me that he knows everything about sex because he is so good at it. He was equating the going wisdom that the more experiences you have with more people the better expert you are.
    Anyways. I would think this is a big issue for congregations going through a leadership transition. Does this book help you at all with transitioning a church to a new (most likely younger and different generation) leader?

    • mm Phil Goldsberry says:

      Aaron:

      One of the issues that I am addressing in my dissertation is “culture”. There are so many varying teachings on sexuality, even in the church. If a potential leader decides to shift the moral/ethics of sexuality or marriage, it could split a church into many pieces.

      Great question.

      Phil

  3. Pablo Morales says:

    Phil, after two weeks of reading about this topic, I reached the same conclusion as you did. The exegetical analysis presented in both books failed to persuade me to change my biblical perspective, which still lead me to conclude that there are only two legitimate options for a Christian in regards to sexuality.

    It was refreshing to read some of the testimonies, especially the last one included in the book. In that testimony, a man who chose a celibate life says, “My Christianity informs my homosexuality more than my sexuality informs my Christianity; therefore I tend to consult the Bible regarding matters related to sexuality— not my sexual feelings regarding matters related to my Christianity.” (Kindle Locations 2831-2832). May the Lord use us to guide people through these difficult experiences in a way that is rooted in biblical truth and grace.
    Pablo

    • mm Phil Goldsberry says:

      Pablo:
      It is amazing that “truth” is tested and tried, especially in light of historical truth on sexuality and marriage. I understand that this subject is a “hot topic” but one that has been a challenge throughout Biblical times. Marin’s “Big 5” were subjective from his perspective.

      Shifting truth is not new, it began in the Garden of Eden.

      Phil

  4. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Phil ,
    I like your topic, “Building a Bridge to Brokenness”. This is Marin’s message after spending eight years to get a better understanding of gay and lesbian people. He moved into Boystown, a mostly gay part of Chicago, where he surrounded himself with gay and lesbian people and culture. There are many people with the impression that there is only one religious or biblical view which hindrance building a bridge to brokenness.

    This was Marin’s challenge to straight Christians everywhere to change the way they approach the gay and lesbian community and to infuse the cross-cultural conversation with love instead of division, only through action and relationship that builds bridges, not through words and arguments.
    Thanks for a great insightful blog !

    Blessings and enjoy your Spring Break! Rose Maria

  5. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Rose:
    Marin did expose us to the abuse that has been focused on the gay and lesbian community I do agree that the insensitivity is not conducive to reaching people.
    Marin challenged the “conversation”, and I see his point. His “Big 5”, I do not agree with.
    It was heart breaking to hear the stories of abuse and dysfunction. The church needs to wake up and see the potential.
    Phil

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