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Displaying all posts tagged "Sexuality".
Summer 2015 Newsletter
September 15, 2015 | Jeanna Boase
Summer 2015 Newsletter
Click article to enlarge or download here.
Introducing The Colossian Way
September 9, 2015 | Jeanna Boase
Introducing The Colossian Way
                           
Join us Thursday, June 25
June 10, 2015 | Jeanna Boase
Join us Thursday, June 25
The Colossian Forum invites you to join us Thursday, June 25 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Western Theological Seminary for Transforming Conflicts over Sexuality and Origins. Experience an alternative to the polarized conversations of our day as our panelists engage important topics. Seating is limited; please register here.
TCF receives generous grant from Equitas Group
March 10, 2015 | Lori Wilson
TCF receives generous grant from Equitas Group
We are pleased to announce that The Colossian Forum has just received a generous grant from the Equitas Group, whose mission is “Seeking justice for the vulnerable and oppressed as well as encouraging holistic and responsive thinking toward that end.” This grant will help underwrite a new curriculum series for churches, equipping Christians to engage potentially divisive conversations about sexuality in a way that fosters discipleship. This project will continue the work that was begun in the summer of 2014 at a TCF colloquium on the topic, also funded by Equitas.  
A Reflection on the Gay Christian Network Conference 2015
February 25, 2015 | Rob Barrett
A Reflection on the Gay Christian Network Conference 2015
Joyful people surrounded me, but I must admit that I felt very alone. Many of these thousand-plus brothers and sisters in Christ had found respite from the loneliness of being a sexual minority by googling “gay and Christian” and discovering the Gay Christian Network conference. One Australian lesbian Christian flew around the world because she needed to be where, for once, people didn’t make wrong assumptions about her and find her strange and confusing. But here I was—suddenly a minority because I’m straight—and I started to understand what my Australian sister meant. Like when a new friend spied my wedding ring and asked, “Are you married to a man or a woman?” I felt like I was reliving my experience of dwelling in a foreign country, where the cultural assumptions and way-things-work-around-here were just different enough that I would often get caught unaware. I felt like starting every sentence, “This is probably really inappropriate for me to say, but…” At registration, they asked if I wanted a red or blue lanyard…What? “Red means no photographs; blue if you don’t mind pictures.” Why would I mind having my picture taken? Oh…right…then people will think I’m gay. I began hearing stories of people coming out and courageously choosing blue for the first time. When news of an expected protest spread, the GCN hosts assured us that our safety was their primary concern. I had flashbacks to visiting a Christian college last year where the chaplain told me the college was approaching homosexuality questions with one top priority in mind: “We don’t want any students to die over this issue this year.” I was reminded of my world of majority privilege where holding my views doesn’t risk my being attacked or spiraling into suicide. This isn’t my normal world, but it is theirs. This culture of uncertainty leads me to question the little things I do without thinking. Am I holding my hands to hide my wedding ring or flaunt it? Did I just inject a reference to my wife into that conversation to signal that I’m straight? Or did I confuse things by implying I’m in a mixed-orientation marriage? I notice others around me adeptly dropping details that help others understand where they’re coming from. Every culture requires new skills. A number of the conference presentations I hear present a common narrative of moving to a marriage-equality position as the traditional Christian position is found wanting – at least in practice, if not in theology. There’s a feeling in the air that everyone will eventually end up becoming affirming. The traditionalists are just holding out against the inevitable. That’s hard for some of my more conservative gay Christian friends to hear: the pressure comes from all sides— and from inside—to conclude that God smiles on same-sex sex. I have breakfast with a man who invested years into trying to become straight. His story included a pattern of resisting and then falling to temptation, of running off to the city for anonymous sex. He had married a woman as part of trying to get on the right track. No one could blame her for divorcing him. I’m sad for him, but nobody needs to remind him that these were moral failures—he’s very aware. Then he surprises me by saying he just can’t reconcile his faith with affirming same-sex behavior. His earnest struggle to be faithful—failures and all—is impressive and leads me to pray for him. He’s got a hard row to hoe and the Christian support he needs isn’t easy to come by. One of the many beautiful parts of this culture comes from the common experience of having to hide and keep secrets. To be gay and Christian is to risk condemnation from both the gay community and the church, so most have learned to live with being guarded. So they know the other side: how much of a gift it is to hear somebody out, no matter what crazy thing they’re saying, and to give them a hug. There will be plenty of time for criticism later. So I start opening up and asking my questions and sharing what I’m thinking, sometimes saying some pretty crazy things as I try to sort out what’s going on inside of me. The resilient welcomes are refreshing. The morning of the protest, I find myself in a tilt-a-whirl of Christian attempts at faithfulness. Supporters from area churches form lines to protect conference attendees from the protestors. Christians protecting Christians from Christians, [as someone noted]. A man with a megaphone yells at me, “You’re going to hell!” followed by “Haven’t you ever read the Bible?” Well, actually I have, and actually I’m straight, and actually you have no idea who I am. And you don’t know anything about the people I’m with, either. I appreciate the supporters who smile and say, “God loves you!” and “You are welcome here!”, but they don’t know me either. I feel alone again. But a gay friend runs up to me—she’s serving doughnuts to the protestors—puts her arm around me and walks me through the confusion. Maybe I’m not so alone. Becoming a minority for a few days builds a bond with those who suffer these pains every day. I’m a different person for spending a few days of disorientation among so many every-day sexual minorities, as they enjoy a moment of solace from the lonely pressure of being different. I pray that the Holy Spirit is at work within me—and within these newly discovered sisters and brothers—for the glory of Christ.   As you know, TCF has begun to help the church address difficult questions surrounding faithful expressions of sexuality. Instead of endorsing one or another side, we invite Christians to work on these questions together, trusting that Christ’s reconciling love will guide us – together – into all truth. In January, two of our staff members attended the Gay Christian Network conference. This conference gathered LGBT Christians, their friends, family, allies, and pastors together for worship and mutual support. We attended to deepen our friendships with Christians who seek to engage these questions faithfully. The experience was fruitful for our staff, although – as you will see – their reflections on the conference differ markedly. Their posts highlight just how varied our life experiences can be and, therefore, just how critical it is for Christians to be in genuine conversation with one another, working together to transform our conflicts into opportunities for faithful discipleship.
Coming Home
February 19, 2015 | Jeanna Boase
Coming Home
Let’s go on a journey together. I promise you’ll like the destination. In fact, I suspect you’ve been thinking about it often today or, at least, unconsciously working hard to get there. If I had you close your eyes right now, I think we could travel there in your mind’s eye. Perhaps it’s that chair in your den where, after a long day at work, you sit and breathe. With a cup of tea in your hand, you feel it happening. You release your weight, your shoulders drop, your head tilts back, your arms rest. You sigh. Most of us have a “sigh space”—that place where physical rest meets emotional, mental, and spiritual calm. Where, if I saw you there, I’d really see you. Not the you that you show the world, but the you with all its cracks and doubts and wonderings—the honest you. Even if we are still searching for such a space in our own lives, we seem to have a way of knowing when someone else has reached theirs. We can sense it in the way they sit or hold their body, the tone of their voice or the look in their eye. It’s surprising where such spaces appear and I certainly wasn’t looking for one when I stepped into the Oregon Convention Center to attend the Gay Christian Network (GCN) annual conference last month. The last thing one expects to find after walking through a gauntlet of protesters waving hate signs and yelling ugly slurs is a place where souls can sigh. But I cannot deny what I witnessed. Not just one or two people, but a thousand people sighing like they’ve never sighed before. Of course, it makes sense. The church has become a place where most lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people have not felt welcome enough to breathe, let alone sigh. The secular gay community, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with Christians who have seemingly condemned them to the deepest levels of hell. As such, there is no place for LBGT Christians to belong. Yet, in that humble convention hall, I saw LGBT-identified people who sincerely love Jesus finally find a place where they could be. Depending on one’s theological position, some would say that convention hall was a false space where people were allowed to openly live in sin. Others would say it was a place where people were finally free to be seen and loved as they are. At The Colossian Forum (TCF), we recognize that spaces such as these can be fraught with disagreement and conflict. Questions of right and wrong, truth and lie, in and out – all hang palpably in the air. The work of TCF is to invite people into these spaces to learn the virtues of Christ and grow in the fruit of the Spirit through worship, prayer, listening, and dialogue. This can be risky work for those with more traditional leanings as it potentially gives a voice to sin and waywardness. It’s equally risky for more progressive individuals, many of whom have witnessed or felt the hurt caused by fellow Christians who have sometimes pursued faithfulness apart from love. But it’s essential work because it invites the church into the divide to learn how to care for each other Christianly in the midst of conflict. At TCF we regularly return to this question: how do we wrestle well with important issues like homosexuality and continue to strive for a faith that is pure and faultless as evidenced by our care for the orphans and widows in our midst (James 1:27)? Standing all around me in the Oregon Convention Center were thousands of “orphans.” People loved by God as his handiwork, but often feeling rejected by the church. People professing heartfelt commitment to Jesus, yet remaining orphans in his kingdom. No wonder the entire hall sighed. In this space, for the briefest of moments, people were allowed to let down their guard, release the tension in their shoulders, and truly be seen. It seems to me that “sigh space” could go by another name: home. As I stood among those brothers and sisters—those beaten up and bruised beloveds of God—I couldn’t help but feel I had come home. Sigh.   As you know, TCF has begun to help the church address difficult questions surrounding faithful expressions of sexuality . Instead of endorsing one or another side, we invite Christians to work on these questions together, trusting that Christ’s reconciling love will guide us – together – into all truth. In January, two of our staff members attended the Gay Christian Network conference. This conference gathered LGBT Christians, their friends, family, allies, and pastors together for worship and mutual support. We attended to deepen our friendships with Christians who seek to engage these questions faithfully. The experience was fruitful for our staff, although – as you will see – their reflections on the conference differ markedly. Their posts highlight just how varied our life experiences can be and, therefore, just how critical it is for Christians to be in genuine conversation with one another, working together to transform our conflicts into opportunities for faithful discipleship.        

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