5 Keys to Faith & Sexuality Dialogues

FullSizeRender_1Several years ago, I began to wonder if the strategies LOVEboldly was employing for hosting dialogue between LGBTQ folks and conservative Christians might work in other contexts too?  I joined a listserv and, before I knew it, had met five strangers who agreed that the LOVEboldly approach, and others hosting sexuality and faith dialogues around the country, could be used as a model for connecting people on all topics across our most sacred divides.  After all, if we could succeed in hosting productive dialogues on sex and faith, what barriers couldn’t we scale together? Together, the six of us presented at the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation in October 2015.

One year later, our team has reunited to join the estimated 10,000 folks who have gathered from across the globe to attend the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City.  I’m tickled pink to be in their company again, and to have the opportunity to take LOVEboldly’s work to new audiences.

The six of us represent our own sort of diversity. Our group includes a Mormon, a humanist, an ersatz monk, a progressive evangelical Christian, a Unitarian Universalist, and a Marxist Christian. We are straight, gay and lesbian, female, male and genderfluid.  Over the past year and a half since we all first met over email, we have exchanged hundreds of emails discussing faith and sexuality.  Together, we agreed to each present the “one key thing” we want people to know about dialogues on sacred topics (such as faith and sexuality) in under three minutes.

Now, if you didn’t know, I am verbose.  Distilling eight years worth of work into three minutes provides no room for nuance, examples, story-telling, explanation, or practical ‘boots on the ground’ advice and it really has felt like torture to whittle it down.  Just three minutes.  Just one thing.

Well, I threw a little fit.  And then I rebelled.  So, what I offer you here is, yes, three minutes of material, but five keys I’ve discovered to faith and sexuality dialogues.  Now, after an introduction that nearly surpasses the length of the actual content of what I will offer, here it is in all of its succinct glory.

  1. We often approach sacred conversations for the wrong reason. Listening to, learning from, and serving those with whom we disagree must be our primary goal – even if it sometimes results in our own marginalization. Some might disagree with me, but I think we must enter dialogue not to transform others, but to be open to our own transformation. 
  2. We often approach sacred conversations in the wrong order.  The culturally dominant position, if there is one, must start with being a student rather than a teacher, a servant rather than a leader. We must earn the right to be heard before we speak.  To be a force for healing, we must be willing to apologize, both in word and in action for ways we have individually and communally wronged one another.  
  3. Dialogue can’t work when you’re too triggered.  Dialogue can be destructive for those who are dealing with open wounds from recent or very personal marginalization. It is not helpful for the abused to dialogue with the abuser. A certain level of healing must be attended to before re-engaging ideologies that hurt.
  4. Sacred convictions should not be checked at the door. Once rapport is built and we’ve earned the right to speak, we must share openly and completely honestly with one another.  We cannot lie to each other.  We must honor one another with the truth and accept the truth from one another – even when it hurts.
  5. There is hope. Even across sacred divides, dialogue can and does work. Sacred beliefs need not be sacrificed for the sake of harmony. To the contrary, sacred belief can be the very facilitator of true peace. Dialoguing with honesty and kindness makes us more like the kind of people God means for us to be.  It makes the world more like God means for it to be.  So don’t ever give up on it.

We are so grateful to all who attended and shared their wonderful insights with us at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. For resources pertaining to our presentation, click the links below:

Monday News: Uganda’s New Anti-Homosexuality Bill

Today (Feburary 24, 2014), Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a controversial anti-gay bill into law, despite international outcry. The bill, called the ‘Jail the Gays Bill,’  originally called for the death penalty for homosexual acts when it was first proposed in 2009.  Although the death penalty was removed from the final draft, prison sentences of 7 years, 14 years, and life are the new penalties for violating this law. 

 Under this law, LGBT people face life imprisonment if:

  • someone engages in a sexual act with a person of the same gender
  • someone marries a person of the same gender
  • someone touches another person of the same gender with ‘intent’ to engage in a sexual act

Also, prison sentences for anyone(including a straight person) who tries to support LGBT people:

  • 7 years in jail for officiating a marriage between people of the same sex
  • 7 years in jail for trying to aid or counsel LGBT people
  • 5-7 years in jail for offering premises or supplies to LGBT related activities
  • 5-7 years in jail for directors of any business or non-governmental organization (NGO) who supports LGBT people
  • Similarly, any national or international company or human rights organization in Uganda, which supports lesbian, gay, bi or trans people (including their own employees), could face 7 years jail and de-registration of the company (Montreal Gazette). 

Human rights groups like Amnesty International have expressed concern that this law could essentially outlaw much of their work in Uganda, making it extremely difficult to legally advocate for increased gay rights, or even offer adequate health services to LGBT Ugandans.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights warned the law was “formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone”.

 According to President Museveni:

“Homosexuals are actually mercenaries. They are heterosexual people but because of money they say they are homosexuals. These are prostitutes because of money,” Musaveni said.

He added “there is something really wrong with you” if you were gay, adding that he didn’t understand how a man could “fail to be attracted to all these beautiful women and be attracted to a man”.

The LGBT community in Uganda face frequent harassment and threats of violence, and rights activists have reported cases of lesbians being subjected to “corrective” rapes.

In 2011, Ugandan gay rights campaigner David Kato was bludgeoned to death at his home after a newspaper splashed photos, names and addresses of gays in Uganda on its front page along with a yellow banner reading “Hang Them”.

Currently, there is a petition from All Out that is calling on Ugandan leaders, global governments, corporations and religious institutions to take forceful action to denounce the law. To sign this petition, go to http://www.allout.org/kill-the-bill.

Amnesty International Statement

 

 

At LOVEboldly we embrace controversy, dissenting opinions and even a good debate now and then. However, we also value civility, kindness, and respect. Therefore, please feel free to share your opinion, but keep it constructive, considerate, and civilized. If you choose to be rude we will delete your comment. Do so consistently and we will ban you. And yes, we do get to define the terms.

Consider This Perspective – Derek Webb Part 3 (Advice to a Gay Person)

The first two parts of our video interview with Derek Webb have been among our most popular posts ever! In the first one Derek briefly talked about the lack of conversation about LGBT folks in the Christian music industry, and in the second he argued that everyone ought to have a gay friend. In this installment Derek offers advice to LGBT folks trying to resolve the potential tension between their faith and sexuality. In the whole series, Derek has demonstrated his humility and passion, but in this video we really get a glimpse of his heart. This one is truly beautiful. Thanks brother!

 

What do you think about Derek’s words in this video? How about his thoughts in the series as a whole? Anything to add? Anything you take exception to? Let us know in the comments section below. LOVEboldly!