“Any religion that doesn’t tell you what to do with your pots, pans, and private parts isn’t worth believing in.” – Chris Green
Sexuality is an important part of every faith tradition because it is an important part of the human experience. Without it none of us would even be here to begin with. One would think, then, that we have it all figured out. Well… it’s never that simple.
Though we don’t like to admit it, sexuality and the ideas and practices around it have always been something affected by culture. No matter how much we want to live according to the Bible, the fact that Abraham was a bigamist should at least make us think a little deeper.
At Engaged Pentecostalism, we don’t want to skirt that conversation, and by “that” conversation we mean the one around the subject of sexuality, gender and, yes, the place of LGBTQ people in the church. Much of the public discussion so far seems centered around taking sides, signing statements, and getting angry. It’s a conversation in the same way the American Civil War was a conversation, there are a lot of bullets and a lot of dead bodies.
That isn’t the sort of thing we are hoping for.
Our Rules for the Road
As such, we want to lay some ground rules for ourselves and for everyone who wants to share their perspective on this topic. During this first quarter of 2018, a majority of our articles will be focusing in on the theme of sexuality and gender from a Pentecostal perspective. These “Road Rules” are who we hope to be as we engage a subject that continues to cause strife in so many faith communities.
1. This conversation is for lovers.
Sexuality and faith have always been deeply tied together, and there have always been differences of opinion within the Christian tradition. Difference of opinions do not provide an excuse for being a jerk, however. We want to share people’s stories and thoughts, but only in so far as they are committed to honest and charitable approaches to the conversation. If that is you, we want to tell your story!
2. We don’t have a stance, and we never will.
We’re not your church; we’re not your denomination; we’re just an ecumenical group of individuals who think that listening to different and marginal voices is better than engaging in culture wars. We hold our authors to no standard beyond them identifying as Pentecostal or as someone who is engaging Pentecostalism. Our only stance on the subject is what you might have heard in first grade, “everyone gets a chance to hold the talking stick.”
3. Every story is different, and that’s okay.
Every person’s story is unique, and every person’s faith experience is different. Pentecostalism can be cerebral and mystical, logical and impassioned. People’s experience with their sexuality is no different. We want to make room for people to share their journeys around this conversation. Their experiences could make us happy, angry, uncomfortable, or bring us to tears. Whatever the case, it is their story, and we want to hear it.
4. This is an exercise in learning to listen.
Sometimes conversations are just people waiting around to speak. That is not what we are going for. We believe engagement begins with understanding what is going on, and the only way to do that is to actually hear. Luckily, the blog post format helps give people space to tell their stories, and we will protect people’s stories, even going so far as to shut down comment threads if they get nasty. If you want to be part of the conversation, then listen first. Once you do, you can always submit something thoughtful and charitable to our editorial team.
5. We are a community of diversity.
Every post at Engaged Pentecostalism has an editorial note attached. It says that the author’s views are their own, and do not reflect the views of every part of the community. We mean that. Believe it or not, we publish authors views that we as an editorial team do not always agree with. Why? Because we believe their voice matters, and we are not the arbiters of ultimate truth. We’ll leave that one up to God.
I’m sure these ground rules might need to shift as we get further down this road, but we want to put them out their so that we have an ideal to live up to, and so that you have insight into why we do what we do. The conversation around sex, gender, and LGBTQ issues is fraught for so many reasons, but we hope this will be a community of openness and tolerance where people feel the love and value that is their right as bearers of God’s image. We look forward to journeying with you all, and we thank all of you who are courageously offering your own stories and thoughts.
Note from the Editorial Team: Engaged Pentecostalism is a community that values open dialogue and respectful engagement from different perspectives. The views expressed above are the author's own and do not reflect those of every part of the community.