The Table Briefing: Engaging The LGBT Community With Truth And Love -- By: Darrell L. Bock
BSac 173:692 (October-December 2016) p. 476
The Table Briefing: Engaging The LGBT Community With Truth And Love
Mikel Del Rosario
Darrell L. Bock is Senior Research Professor in New Testament Studies and Executive Director of Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas. Mikel Del Rosario is cultural engagement assistant.
Because they are afraid of being misunderstood, many people struggle to relate to others who see moral issues differently. This fear makes some Christians hesitant to engage people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. How do we maintain our convictions without ambiguity while obeying what Jesus described as the second greatest commandment—to love our neighbors as we love ourselves? How can we engage the LGBT community with truth and love?
In this Table Briefing, we consider the tension that arises in engaging with LGBT people, the difference between acceptance and approval, and how to challenge people well. We focus on the relational aspect of conversations with the LGBT community.
Tensions In Engagement
The church has been slow to engage the LGBT community. In many congregations, an unhealthy bifurcation between those who regularly attend church and those who do not has fueled a culture-war mentality that tends to drive people away. At a cultural engagement chapel on engaging with LGBT persons, Mark Yarhouse and Gary Barnes joined Darrell Bock to discuss the root of this mentality and a biblical starting point for humble engagement.
Yarhouse: I think there is an “us-them” mentality, that they’re all out there and we’re sort of hunkered down within our
BSac 173:692 (October-December 2016) p. 477
churches. And it lets us have an in-group and an out-group. It serves the culture war [mentality] because “they” are taking strides to damage things that are sacred to us . . . whether that’s around marriage or other issues . . . . That whole dynamic assumes that there are no people within our own churches who are dealing with this issue.
And when you say, “Homosexuality is a sin,” it’s not that theologically it’s incorrect to talk about homosexual behavior as sin. But when you use language that we often use from the pulpit, it actually intensifies and increases the shame the person in the pew feels, and it’s more likely to drive them away from the church. . . . Why would they stay with the church when the church doesn’t even know how to engage and talk with them and love them well?
Bock: I actually think that the cross is a great leveler: We all have the same needs b...
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