DMINLGP

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

Experience Matters

Written by: on March 24, 2017

My daughters, Clara and Ellie, sleep in the same room although Ellie does have her own room.  Being ten and six, they go through the same routine.  They brush their teeth, we pray and tuck them in to bed.  I always forget some of the routine, and it happened again last night.  As I tucked them in, I turned out the light in their bathroom, closed the door to their room and turned out the hallway light.  I quickly was asked by Clara to undo everything I have just done.  I tried to explain to her that nothing is there when the lights go out, but she was not buying it.  She likes the light on to see for herself.

In Andrew Marin’s book Love is An Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community, Marin seems to have his own moment where the lights came on for him.  He explains his story as a heterosexual Christian boy and being pretty homophobic.  He thought nothing about using the words that can be deemed so hateful to the GLBT community.  However, his stance changed once he had several friends come out to him.  At that point, he had to grapple with the stances of his faith and the experiences he so cherished with his friends.  Through this experience and many more, Marin gives us key insight and thoughtful analysis in engaging the GLBT community.

Analysis:

The main take away for me has been percolating in me for some time now. I could probably at one time be characterized like Marin was in high school.  The issue (and I hate calling it an issue because it seems like I am trying to score political points in a debate) seemed foreign to me.  It seemed so black and white.  All that changed when I began to have personal experiences with people that were grappling with same-sex attraction in their own life.

 

I agree with Marin that we have not always dealt with this community well.  During the 1980s and the AIDS crisis, the church seemed to cast more stones and discuss the judgement of God more than they tried to minister grace and display compassion.  There have been organizations and ministers preach message with such inflammatory content.  It really makes one wonder if the people in the church know anyone with same sex attraction.

As I stated in my previous blog, my doctrinal position has not changed.  However due to personal experiences with people in my life, I have gone on a sort of vision quest in order to understand the GLBT community in hopes to have a better and more elevated conversation (If you would like my book list, ask me in the comment section).

Conclusion:

Here is my point.  Until you experience life with people who happen to have same-sex attraction, then it is easy to throw stones quickly.  It is easy to quickly default to our doctrinal position. I know I do. Because I have a doctrinal position on this issue that I believe is researched and pretty solid, I often want to blow my loved ones out of the water with it thinking it will when them over. However, I do not think that is the best way to connect with the GBLT community.  Grace, mercy and love will be the only thing that opens the door to the doctrine that we I so desperately want to unpack.

About the Author

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Jason Kennedy

I am a pastor of a thriving church in Grapevine, Texas. With two little girls (5,8), and a wife that is a medical doctor (family practice), life is non-stop.

16 responses to “Experience Matters”

  1. Nice one Jason. I appreciate your honestly and stories.
    As you go on your vision quest to understand, what would it take to shift your doctrinal stance? Would it be possible? Just like the light going on, isn’t part of a vision quest the stance to get a vision?

  2. Jason Kennedy says:

    AP,
    Great question. I do not think anything would change my doctrine on the matter. I sincerely have studied the matter and not just within those who believe like me and have come away with a conviction on the matter. It is a sexual sin, and I really cannot pivot off that. I think there are some black and white issues and this seems to be one of them. I have heard all the debates of why it is not (I have studied them intensely), but see no reason why the Bible is wrong on this issue. I believe Paul is saying exactly what he means.
    My vision quest really is helping think through a new vision for engaging this community.
    Let me give you a few examples so far from my “quest:”

    – All writings and communication (pulpit or conversations) will be seasoned with humility and grace. Therefore, past blogs or writings on the matter that do not line up with this have been pulled down. For the record, a person in that community that I have talked about has told me that I come off sincere and with humility whenever I address this lifestyle.

    – I try when I can to communicate my own sin and the sin of the church. I try to live by the “plank eye” philosophy. I think we often times make GLBT “sins” more abhorrent than say my own lust, greed, etc. I have really fallen into the camp of “ALL HAVE SINNED…” I think often times we don’t like to admit to our own sin and that makes us look like hypocrites.

    – People are not issues. This one I have been doing often. We typically want to make immigrants, homosexuals, teen pregnancy etc. issues. When we make them issues, we somehow dehumanize it. Therefore, where there is no humanity, then I do not have to show compassion. I try to humanize it so people know there are real people involved in these “issues.”

    – We will put our money where our mouth is. Often times we tell people they need to change without understanding the consequences of that change. For instance, now GLBT folks have families, shared income, shared assets, shared mortgages, shared kids, so coming to Christ and walking out of that lifestyle can be as difficult as someone in Islam (Islam converts typically have to abandon their families and are alone). This makes the decision extremely difficult. If the church is not prepared to embrace, feed and possibly house folks who are left alone after their conversion, then we preach a message that lacks compassion.

    This is a very long answer to your question, but these are the thoughts spinning in my head. Thanks.

  3. Pablo Morales says:

    Jason, my experience with the book was similar to yours. It did not change my doctrinal position. Even though I have not been a “Bible basher” on this issue, the book reminded me of the importance of showing grace in the way I interact with people struggling with same-sex attraction.

    You mentioned in your blog and in a previous conversation that you have researched this topic extensively. Is there a particular book that you would recommend that deals with the exegetical issues in a more robust way? I find the reading of these past two weeks to be exegetically weak.

    Pablo

    • Jason Kennedy says:

      Pablo,
      Here are a few:

      Same Sex Marriage – James White
      The Gay Gospel – Joe Dallas
      Can You Be Gay and Christian – Michael Brown
      A Queer Thing Happened in America – Michael Brown

      The first three (and particularly Dallas’ book) go through each Biblical argument. The last one is a history of how we got here.

      Jason

  4. Jason,

    Thanks for your honesty and for your insight. In the world of pastoral ministry there are always moments to “distribute grace.” How have you managed to interact with “repeat offenders”, those who identify the issue but continue in the practices? Is there a way to bring discipleship to them for life change? Do you have a way in your church to help along the journey?

    Kevin

    • Jason Kennedy says:

      Kevin,
      I will be honest. I am still in my infancy on this topic. I will say that this is where I have to lean into the Holy Spirit’s wisdom. I am still formulating my ideas.

  5. mm Phil Goldsberry says:

    Jason:
    Very transparent post. I agree that the church has not done well with the gay/lesbian community. Though we have failed on the “conversation”, did we miss the theology?

    Marin’s “Big 5” is where I see the challenge on theology. I don’t think the failures to date with “conversation” should cause us to bend/shift the theology. Your thoughts….

    Phil

    • Jason Kennedy says:

      Phil,

      Sin is sin. I do not think you can pivot from that. This is the desire for many. However, I do not think you can bend, and believe me I have exhaustively studied this….worked with original languages as well. Most people want to give intent to the way the Bible was written….but you cannot. Even if you could, the writers seem pretty clear….this is a sin issue.
      I am all for having conversations, but at some point you will get to the question of whether it is a sin or not. I think we have to recognize its a sin while acknowledging our own sin nature.
      Here’s my crude illustration:
      I am born as a male with a sex drive. In my most carnal nature, I want to have sex with every pretty woman I see; however, I do not because I believe that God’s word defines marriage and sex.
      Therefore, just because I have a desire does not mean that I bend to it.

      After all, the root of all sin starts with desire. The decalogue seems to make that clear.
      Jason

  6. Claire Appiah says:

    Jason,
    Thanks for your insights regarding our neglected duty in the body of Christ regarding GLBT’s and the paradigm shifts we need to make for any meaningful and sustainable conversations with this community. We have failed to see our shortcomings in this respect.
    I thought of myself as broad-minded regarding people of all demographics until I read Marin’s book. He exposed personal prejudices I didn’t know I had. It is not as though I favored one group of people over another or had any disdain for any group. But, people I came into contact with, I immediately categorized them, put them in a box, affixed labels on them, and let my presuppositions run wild as to their self-identification, value systems, and belief systems. I didn’t look at them as God-bearers with intrinsic value. I didn’t see them as persons with the same yearnings as I have to know God and draw closer to Him. To stay attuned to His voice and to maintain an intimate relation with Him. According to Marin, I need to develop a love orientation to all people, gays and lesbians included. You are correct, “Grace, mercy and love will be the only thing that opens the door to the doctrine that we I so desperately want to unpack.”

    • Jason Kennedy says:

      Thanks Claire. Insightful comment. I believe that we have to work on how we communicate the Gospel message. I do have doctrinal beliefs that do not pivot, but the way I communicate those are just as important as the message itself sometimes.
      Jason

  7. Aaron Cole says:

    Jason,

    Very well stated! I appreciate you and your heart on this subject. I respect a very difficult road that you walk and my prayers for you and your critical role in this area have increased. Love you bro!

    Aaron

  8. mm Rose Anding says:

    Thanks Jason,
    you have written a blog sharing your experience and biblical truth which gives an example how to build the gaps between the Christian and GLBT community. The very scriptures that show us that homosexual activity is a sin, make it very clear that it is not a unique sin. It is one example of what is wrong with all of us.

    Thanks for the enlighten of the gap between the two communities.
    Blessings ! Rose Maria

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