The Top 10

Since starting this blog six weeks ago, I’ve been given some great gifts from others. Here’s my top 10 list of the best things that have come my way since then.

1. Song: Parker Millsap’s intense, cutting song Heaven Sent (Lyrics here)

A good friend shared this song with me, I’m not sure why. It’s only about a pastor whose son comes out as gay. Timothy and I really like it and think you will, too.

2. Book: Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible and the Church

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the purpose of this blog isn’t to convince you of a particular position. It’s to share the journey of our Study Team and to encourage conversation. The 5 authors in this book are so bright, have such good arguments, and are so gracious to each other. Buy it. Read it.

3. Theological Conversation: HERE

I wish there were more conversations like this in the theological world. Strong disagreements so graciously handled. Nicholas Wolterstorff, revered professor at Calvin College, came out in support of gay marriage. His former student, Matthew Tuininga, who is now a professor at Calvin College himself, wrote a thoughtful response from the traditional perspective. They clearly respect and love each other, and they pull no punches.

4. Website: http://www.respectfulconversation.net  

Howard Heie, Christian university educator and senior fellow at The Colossians Forum, writes that “You cannot predict beforehand the results of a respectful conversation.” He’s done a remarkable job creating space for sincere disagreement and helpful conversation about LGBTQ issues in the church.

5. Article: Spirit of Truth, Come

I found this to be a profound little piece on unity in the church, reliance on the Holy Spirit, and what real conversation looks like for believers.

6. Email from a friend

Christian leaders from differing theological positions have written emails like this one. I suspect one reason is that it’s not safe for them in their contexts to have these conversations – at least not openly. This one’s from a pastor with whom I’ve never had these conversations:

Hey Bill,
I’m reading your blog.
I’m reading your blog on “when my son came out (part 1+2)” and weeping.
Weeping for lots of reasons.
But, I just want you to know how thankful I am for the insight, the wisdom, the honest reflection, the vulnerability and life you are living.
Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.
I’m with you in this. I’m with you in this journey and for every part of it.

7. Email from an “Enemy”

This is actually from a friend, but when people push back on me it can feel like they are an enemy (not sure if that happens to you, but I would guess it might). As I reread it, I realized how much truth there is in it because my ministry has indeed shifted to care more about LGBTQ people and issues. This friend gave me the gifts of his honesty and his insights, and I’m grateful.

Bill,
          I wanted to email you and let you know that I would like to unsubscribe. It isn’t that I don’t care, or don’t want to pray for you,  it is just that the updates and blogs have become very myopic around only one thing. Honestly, it just isn’t the updates and stories you used to tell. It is very focused on the LGBT stuff you are doing. I appreciate that, and know that is where your heart is now, but it just isn’t for me.

Hope that makes sense. You are a friend and I value that. I didn’t want to be offensive, but just honest that I probably don’t fit the updates and prayer list anymore.

8. Courageous Person

A friend whom might be called ‘asexual’ took some time out of their work day in January to talk with me about their life (they prefer gender neutral pronouns, since they don’t identify with their birth sex). They allowed me to fumble through my questions – many of them very awkward; they shared honestly about their sexual development as a teenager and their experience coming out to their mother; they freely exposed all their questions about sexuality and gender and God. This friend is not a Christian but has served City Church on any number of occasions, helping out where needed. They’ve demonstrated true curiosity, gracious engagement, and real courage.

9. Team

Our LGBTQ Study Team has been one of the most remarkable groups I’ve ever been a part of. They cover the map in terms of their perspectives on the questions at hand, and yet have been gracious, passionate, truthful and united in following Jesus in mission. It gives me hope that Christians could be united

10. Son

Timothy has been so kind to me to let me go on this journey, which included exposing his life story to the world. As he commented recently on a Facebook post of mine,

While it never stops being weird to have your father, church community, and general populace read and discuss your personal sexual life, I am eternally grateful to Bill White  (and other family & community) for all the love and support. As for this blog, I could not be more excited to see the ways in which my/your/our/God’s small story can spark conversation about what it means to live & love well in a world of uncertainty.

Thank you, son. You are truly a child of honor.

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Author: Bill White

I am a pastor at City Church of Long Beach, a friend to many LGBTQ people, and a conversation partner for people all over the spectrum of beliefs about how being LGBTQ and Christian fit together.

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