• Healthy Conversations on Human Sexuality and the Church

Healthy Conversations on Human Sexuality and the Church

Hi Dojo readers,

It’s been a busy month getting our #Refugee-Jitsu program up and running, and things are going great so far! But I wanted to share another recent opportunity I had that was equally rewarding, but quite different than teaching Jiujitsu! 🙂

I was invited to participate in an excellent and honest dialogue here in our Western NC Conference of the United Methodist Church (the denomination to which I belong) on the subject of the Church’s position on same-sex relationships and what that means for our LGBT friends and family members. The conversation took place last Sunday afternoon and was live-streamed to a number of churches around the conference who gathered to listen and reflect on the subject.

I was the token evangelical in the group (an role which I do not mind, given some of the voices who are often put forth as representing historic Methodist orthodoxy in many such discussions!), and each of my fellow panelists were warm, friendly, cordial, and respectful of one another. I liked this dialogue in particular because it gave us a chance to talk TO one another rather than simply PAST (or ABOUT) one another. My only complaint was that it was entirely too short for such an important topic at this point in history.

Here is the video for those who missed it. I welcome any thoughts or feedback as always.

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  1. Justin R Baldwin


    Excellent job at addressing the issue from a theological standpoint. One side seemed to be centered on emotions and eisegetical interpretation, and the other side (you) were approaching it from an exegetical standpoint. Thank you for being loving, and yet faithful to the Word.

    In Christ,
    Justin R. Baldwin+, OSB


    jm Reply:

    Thanks Justin. I appreciate it! (and you can just call me JM…”James” is my Dad’s name! :))

    Yes, I have yet to hear any clergy within our conference (or denomination as a whole, for that matter) even attempt to make a solid, consistent hermeneutical case for accepting same-sex sexual relationships within the life of Christian discipleship. The closest anyone has come has been my friend Sam who I’ve dialogued with here on the Dojo blog in previous posts on the subject.

    Usually in such discussions, my friends on the progressive side start by assuming that Scripture either 1) doesn’t address committed, loving, covenanted same-sex sexual relationships, and is instead only talking about exploitative or religious/pagan practices of homosexual sex or 2) addresses it as within the category of porneia, but we are free to reject its prohibition on the same grounds that we no longer uphold Levitical Covenant Laws. I believe both of these positions are without merit ultimately, but in discussions like these they almost never get around to being covered. Instead the focus is on validating the feelings and experiences of everyone rather than discerning what the Scriptures which Jesus and His Apostles held as divinely Inspired and Authoritative for God’s people actually teaches as a whole.

    In general, we United Methodists do a horrible job of training our clergy and lay leaders to be capable Biblical interpreters (most UM seminaries don’t even require graduates to learn basic Hebrew…which 77% of the Bible is written in!). As a result, our doctrinal/ethical schizophrenia as a denomination should come as no surprise to anyone. We are indeed a house divided…and it’s not even fundamentally over the issue of same-sex sexual relationships. It’s much, much deeper.


    Comment by Justin R Baldwin on February 25, 2016 at 6:07 pm

  2. John Dickinson

    I found this discussion very helpful. This issue is the most difficult one for me to grasp. It has been very hard for me to have discussion around this because of the emotional baggage (mind included) that comes with it. I have many coworkers that are gay and I find them to be wonderful people. But I have to honestly say that I am not able to embrace their lifestyle as they would like for me to. Finding a gracious middle ground is what I desperately seek.
    This is a very charged topic in my workplace. I am going to set a goal to embrace the “Diversity and Inclusion” movement in whatever way I can. Prayers in that regard appreciated!

    Glad I saw you at the Bible Study today.



    jm Reply:

    Thanks, John. Yes there is so much emotional investment on all sides. It’s important to be able to speak honestly and candidly with one another and challenge each other’s conclusions without feeling personally attacked. That’s easier said than done, of course.


    Comment by John Dickinson on August 11, 2016 at 8:08 pm

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