For the past year, Laurie Krieg, my co-author and I have been writing a discussion guide on the topic of homosexuality. We’ve titled it, Leading Your Church to be as “Gay-Friendly” as the Bible Teaches, and it was written specifically for pastors and church leaders.
We believe the discussion of homosexuality and same-sex marriage will be the debate in the Church, for the next decade. We also believe there is a better way to approach these issues than doctrinal statements alone. But you may be thinking, “why in the world would any biblically conservative church actually want to be ‘gay-friendly’ at all? Really?”
Wouldn’t Jesus expect us to be kind and welcoming to our non-Christian LGBT, neighbors and visitors to our churches? How about Christian men and women right in most of our churches, who have unwanted sexual attractions to their own sex and want to remain pure but are being tempted and are too ashamed to tell anyone, or come to the church for help? What about your students? Would we not want to be friendly by making your youth group a safe place to openly discuss these issues before they head off to college and buy into the affirming theology of Christians who think God is fine with committed, monogamous same-sex relationships? Then there are parents of LGBT men and women who need our friendship and understanding, not judgment. And we could go on!
If LGBTQ people or their families left our churches over theological differences, that should make us sad. But if they left because we were unkind to them, that would make Jesus sad.
Leading Your Church to be as Gay-Friendly as the Bible Teaches is a free, eight-lesson discussion guide for church leaders. It was written to help non-affirming pastors introduce their staff and other leaders, and eventually church members to a biblically conservative but more gracious approach to understanding the experience, language, and theology of LGBT men and women.
This guide goes beyond doctrinal statements of what the Bible teaches on this subject. Christians who complete the eight weeks will feel far more comfortable having thoughtful, biblical, and grace-filled discussions with their friends, neighbors, children, and LGBT men and women. This guide also provides a specific plan of action to begin changing the culture of your church by educating students, parents, and the entire church.
Over the next eight weeks, my blog will introduce the eight discussions we’re hoping pastors and church leaders will begin having, and that we hope you will consider having with your Bible study group. If you want to download all eight discussions at one time, it’s available here. (There’s also a six-week Small Group Edition available for $3.00 each.)
Here’s a preview of each discussion; Eight critical discussions every church needs to have Discussion One: An Introduction—Includes “a word about words” section exploring what we mean by “gay friendly,” and what terms like LGBTQ, “gay lifestyle,” and affirming and non-affirming mean.
Discussion Two: Not all LGBT/SSA Men and Women are Alike—Discusses the differences between Christians who identify as LGBT men and women, and those who consider themselves to be same-sex attracted (SSA). There are LGBT Christians who believe as you do theologically, or might if we made it safe for them to have those conversations with us. Thoughtful, proactive churches will want to tailor their approach to LGBT men and women, depending on their age, spiritual maturity and the sexual choices they are making.
Discussion Three: Six Things Most SSA Christians Would Like You to Know— Shares a story of a Christian young man who struggled with same-sex attraction (SSA). His inner dialogue and perspective may help you see beyond “the issue” to the person.
Discussion Four: How Affirming Christians Interpret the Bible Differently—Looks at a number of the arguments made by those who believe the Bible allows for same-sex marriage and sexual relationships and how to answer them with greater wisdom and confidence.
Discussion Five: Eight Popular Reasons Given for the Affirming View— There’s an element of truth and compassion that drives the affirming view. There are also many false assumptions made and we explore those as well.
Discussion Six: “Why Not Let LGBT Men and Women Marry?”—Juxtaposes same-sex marriage against God’s design for marriage, and explores how the Bible offers alternatives for same-sex marriage. Also included is a discussion regarding, “Should I attend my friend’s same-sex wedding?”
Discussion Seven: What we Believe the Bible Teaches About Human Sexuality—This is a prototype for a Statement of Human Sexuality, the leadership of your church can custom tailor, to reflect the theology of your church for a variety of sexual and marriage issues.
Discussion Eight: A Church Covenant—Changing the Culture in Your Church—This too, is a prototype for a church covenant, your church leadership can customize, which essentially becomes, the “how then shall we live together” statement for your church.
Who is Laurie Krieg? Laurie is an amazing woman of God, who has struggled with a same-sex attraction all her life. As God planned it, Laurie was actually in my church youth group when I was a high school teaching leader. But of course she was too ashamed to let anyone know and too afraid to ask for help.
Laurie Krieg and her husband Matt, are the founders of Hole in my Heart Ministries (http://www.himhministries.com/)–a non-profit dedicated to helping those struggling with sexual identity and addiction through blogging, counseling, and speaking. Matt and Laurie Krieg married in February 2009 after dating and working through Laurie’s lifelong journey with same-sex attractions as a Christian woman. Although Laurie still wrestles with these attractions, they lessen through not only the cultivation of healthy relationships with Matt and others, but also through the daily experience of the absolutely transformative love of Jesus.
Share this Discussion Guide with your pastor. Now is the time for church leaders to be proactive and not reactive, courageous not fearful, and friendly and not hostile to men and women, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who they, or their friends struggle with same-sex attraction. The Christian LGBT community has a good idea of what the church is against, but it’s time they hear from us exactly who and what we are for.
The “loud and proud” may never return to our churches. But our heart’s desire should be that the “silent and scared” would never want to leave, or be afraid of us again.
We need your feedback! So, every Monday for the next eight weeks, I’ll post each discussion. Please ask the Holy Spirit to not only teach you whatever he desires, but for the wisdom and insights we (the authors) need. Is any of our teaching biblically incorrect or unclear? Are there topics you wish we had covered? What could we do to make this Discussion Guide more helpful? Even if it hurts, please give us your feedback!
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