Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How Do We Dialogue?

I was just thinking…

...about methodology and the human ability to dialogue. Let me back up a bit—I will not be with you all on Sunday, as I have accepted an invitation to speak at a retreat in New Mexico over LGBTQIA identity and the bullying phenomenon. It was requested that most of it be educational and gospel-related, but also to have a short session on how to respond to the statement, “You’re Christian and you’re all right with homosexuality?  How?”  While I tend to just sing “Jesus Loves Me” in response to this question, having a clear statement ready, including theological and Biblical points while not degrading into proof texting (“See these eight words? There. That’s the only point that needs to be made ever!”) is more desirable.  Getting this ready, I did some research online, and a few things stuck out to me— 

First, both sides of the debate remind folks that the majority of people discussing this are not extremists, and to treat the other with respect and courtesy. Second, focus on the shades of grey and what the core message of the gospel is.  And third—this was the incredible part—both the open and affirming camp and the dogmatic doctrine camp had scriptures, bible stories and responses set, with just the texts inverted. That is, the pro-gay website points out the cultural imperative of the Roman soldier asking his “boy” be healed; the anti-gay website responds that cultural arguments are unsound interpretation and it was a story of Gentile acceptance and there is no proof the Roman soldier is gay. Both sides did this for every single text, story, and argument from the other side, and I don’t think they were working in conjunction with each other. 

These arguments are like a chess game where once the first player moves, both stare at the board for a while and say, “Well, it’s a stalemate in 36 moves, but a stalemate means you don’t win,” and then they don’t continue the game because they know how it will end. If someone showed up to my office tomorrow to exhort me to give up my views on LGBTQ equality, I might politely listen, I would definitely show him the door, and I would not change my mind. I’m assuming I’d get the same treatment if I went to a church unlike us to encourage them to become open and affirming. 

So how do we dialogue? We listen to one another, we respect one another, we offer our views, we hear theirs, and then we stay in relationship outside of the issue. A street preacher will never win me over as I go out carousing in downtown Fort Worth, nor will I convince her that her sign is offensive and probably misspelled. What if she got to know me? What if I got to know her? What would happen? Who would be inconvenienced in our Holy dialogue? She would. We’re right about this. But we are called to act with compassion and see people for people and not just their views, and I believe that’s the key. 

Wow, that went a little too deep a little too fast!  The charming Don Manworren will be preaching this Sunday, and I hope you find him as informative and efficacious as always. I will be back in the office Tuesday, hopefully with a sun tan—it’s warm in New Mexico during the winter, right?  Because it’s a desert? 

Shalom y’all, 


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