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Much of today's culture defines bridge-building and reconciliation as a one-way street that leads to full theological, political and social agreement. Yet Christ demonstrated a different path of religious and cultural engagement to establish his kingdom here on earth. In light of such countercultural principles, the Christian community needs a new view on the issues that divide conservative believers and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Using the practical applications Andrew Marin ...
Much of today's culture defines bridge-building and reconciliation as a one-way street that leads to full theological, political and social agreement. Yet Christ demonstrated a different path of religious and cultural engagement to establish his kingdom here on earth. In light of such countercultural principles, the Christian community needs a new view on the issues that divide conservative believers and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities. Using the practical applications Andrew Marin has learned over the last decade of living and working in the LGBT neighborhood of Chicago called Boystown, as well as his international speaking and consulting ministry, this six-session, video-based study offers a variety of practical teachings, insights and life lessons. Rather than avoiding the topic of homosexuality, Love Is an Orientation aims to equip the Christian community to bridge the gap between LGBT and religious communities. This is not a study about “fixing” gay people. It’s about getting to know people, engaging them, and loving them like Jesus does. Designed for use with the video.
Love Is Our Orientation
Many Christians see a GLBT person's "out and proud" status and automatically group that individual into a broad category of God-hating militants. To begin this journey of building bridges, however, we need to put ourselves, as much as heterosexual Christians can, into the cloudy circumstances and daily life of what it is to live attracted to people of the same sex.
(Love Is an Orientation, p. 23)
Describe a time when you knew someone loved you, whether you felt like you deserved it or not. What did they do that communicated love? How did that experience impact you?
Video Teaching Session #1
Use the following outline to follow along with the video or take notes if you wish.
Love must be our orientation.
Reminder: "Love the sinner; hate the sin," versus, "Love the sinner; hate the sin in our own lives."
Reminder: "Right from the gate, I can't relate."
Power and privilege
Be a servant, a listener, and a learner first.
Outward interaction: building bridges
False models of the ideal situation
Difference between validation and affirmation
Cultural reconciliation versus biblical reconciliation
Live and love in real time.
1. Andrew observes in the video presentation that if you are a straight person, "right from the gate, you can't relate." If we can't relate, then we must become learners. On a scale from 1–5 (1 being unwilling, 5 being eager), how willing are you to learn about someone who is gay? How willing are you to learn about gay culture?
If you lean toward the 1 end of the scale, what is causing you to hesitate about this learning process?
If you lean toward the 5 end of the scale, what inspires you about this learning process?
2. If you have ever done so, describe a time when you sat down with someone who is LGBT and listened to their story. Without revealing names, what did you learn about them? What did you learn about yourself?
3. What do you think a biblical reconciliation with LGBT people might look like in your church? If you were to switch perspectives, would an LGBT person agree with your description of reconciliation? Why or why not?
4. We can sometimes be attacked for engaging people who are different than we are. When that happens, Andrew says, we must genuinely work to love our enemies. Explain how you will seek to live at peace with those who might consider you the enemy if you try to build a bridge. How might you be attacked?
How will you show love toward them?
1. Read aloud 1 John 3:23: "And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us." Imagine that a lesbian couple started attending your church on a regular basis. Explain what it would mean to love them as the Lord commanded us. What are three things you would do or say to the couple to try to communicate God's love to them?
Put yourself in the shoes of the couple. Do you think they would agree these three things communicate God's love? Why or why not?
2. Colossians 4:5–6 says, "Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Paul is giving the Christians in Colossae some sage advice on how to interact with those who aren't from their community. Historically, would you say the church has been wise or unwise in its actions toward the LGBT community?
How can your church make the most of every opportunity in its interactions with LGBT people in your community? Are these actions that will be described as wise by the LGBT community? Why or why not?
When you think of a potential conversation with an LGBT person, what might a dignified conversation that is "full of grace" sound like? What kind of questions would you ask?
How will you seek to communicate love, respect, and transparency as you talk with an LGBT person?
3. In the video, Andrew mentions Jesus' interaction with the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5–13 or Luke 7:1–10) as an example of biblical reconciliation: " Jesus is the hinge: he came, died, rose again to reconcile God to human and human to human."
The Romans were the ruling occupiers of Israel at the time of Jesus. They were the ones with the power. But the centurion realized his power wasn't enough to heal his servant. As a Jewish man in that culture, Jesus didn't have much perceived power. Yet the centurion knew differently. He was willing to lay down his power because he needed Jesus. Jesus' response to this interaction was, "Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith" (Matthew 8:10).
Describe the power you have, either individually or culturally.
How willing are you to put aside your power in order to be reconciled to someone who is LGBT, and how will you go about living intentionally past the power structures culture has dictated?
How might Philippians 2:3–4—"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others"—affect how you think about this?
An essential component of learning how to love is learning how to listen. If your group has time, complete your study by opening your heart and listening to one of the stories from the Real Stories section on the video.
Then go around the group and ask each person to tell one insight or action step they will take away from this session. Pray for each other and the stories that you heard as you shared.
Choose one of the following steps to further explore the session topic or to act on what you've learned. You may want to keep a journal of the steps you take, or discuss them in your next group gathering.
1. Brainstorm some ideas of what your community could do to engage in bridge-building activities between conservatives and LGBTs.
2. Name one thing you will do this week to learn about LGBT people or their culture. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Visit one of the websites under the heading in Appendix A that feels least like you (e.g., if you consider yourself conservative, visit a site under the heading "Progressive").
Read about the history of LGBT people in the United States.
Read an LGBT news outlet online, for example, the Windy City Times, Washington Blade, Metro Weekly, 365gay.com, Frontiers LA, or the Advocate.
Ask an LGBT person if they would be willing to share their story with you over coffee. Take care to listen and ask open-ended questions. No preaching allowed. And pay for the coffee.
3. Read the following Scriptures. Ask God to give you ideas of how to apply each passage to building a bridge with the LGBT community.
1 Timothy 4:15
Excerpted from Love Is an Orientation Participant's Guide by Andrew Marin. Copyright © 2013 by Andrew Marin and Ginny Olson. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
How to Use This Study
SESSION 1 Love Is Our Orientation
SESSION 2 Building Bridges
SESSION 3 Theology of Bridge Builders
SESSION 4 Answering Tough Questions
SESSION 5 Adolescents and Sexuality
SESSION 6 Living in the Tension
Appendix A: Website Resources
Appendix B: Living in the Tension Guide
Appendix C: Leader Tips