“Over Coffee, “ a book by Dave Thompson, is a fictitional conversation between himself and a pastor regarding a gay church member. The church member desires to be a part of the church and also partnered with his current love interest. In this book Thompson mentions a study by Dr. Alfred Kinsey. The Kinsey Scale rates the heterosexual and homosexual tendencies of individuals. The results were published in 1948 in his book “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” and found that 50% of males were exclusively heterosexual in their adult lives, 4% were exclusively homosexual, and 46% were spread fairly evenly over different combinations of both orientations.
This scale made me question two things about the general conversation regarding homosexuality and the church. Firstly, there seems to often be a double standard when it comes to lesbianism. In other words, sometimes individuals that are completely against male homosexuality are lenient and see it as “different” when it comes to women. For these individuals, watching two men kiss or dance, for example, might be seen as disgusting while watching two women kiss or dance is viewed as erotic.
The second thing that came to mind after reading about the Kinsey Scale was the idea that we like things black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. This scale seems to suggest that there are shades of “gay” when it comes to this topic. Topics such as the death penalty, abortion, war, etc. are sometimes difficult to navigate without these gray areas. Should homosexuality have nuances as well? Is there a difference between a man who wants to “experiment” sexually and one who has never been with a woman, and monogamous with the same male partner for years, for instance. Should monogamy and promiscuity be part of the conversation or not?
I’ve recently read a book by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch called “The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st-Century Church.” In it the authors discuss the process of “incarnational missiology.” They are specifically focusing on cultural issues and how much one becomes like the culture they are serving. The same question I think could be of interest to the questions regarding homosexuality and the church. In fact, this seems to be the question of the church member in “Over Coffee.” The church member wants to know, how much might I be involved in the church and also be an “out” gay person? And also from the pastor’s standpoint, what is incarnational living and serving, if the pastor takes a biblical stance against homosexuality.
All in all, I think that it is a good thing to have conversation and discussion about controversial topics, especially in the right forums, where they make a difference. Pure coffee is delicious, but depending on the beans and the roast we know that there are different hues, flavors and textures. This conversation is like coffee, and today the range of ideas surrounding this topic within Christianity is full of variety.
What topics and questions might you raise with Dave Thompson over coffee?
How do you like your coffee?