elevating the conversation

Love Is An Orientationi’ve just finished reading love is an orientation: elevating the conversation with the gay community by andrew marin. i’ve been looking forward to reading this book ever since i heard about the work andrew does with the marin foundation.  the book has been meaningful to me on a lot of different levels – but specifically i’ve been thinking about how we can build bridges in our children’s ministry for glbt (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) families.

if david kinnamen’s research is true – that christians are perceived as homophobic and judgmental towards the glbt community, and that this is a contributing factor for children and youth walking away from the church – then something has gone terribly wrong. and it’s time for those of us in children and family ministry to elevate the conversation.

“out of twenty attributes that we assessed, both positive and negative, as they related to christianity, the perception of being antihomosexual was at the top of the list. more than nine out of ten mosaic and buster outsiders (91%) said “antihomosexual” accurately describes present day christianity” (unChristian p.92).

in his book, marin sites research done by the williams institute and the urban institute: more than 65,000 adopted children are living with gay or lesbian parents in the united states and over 14,000 foster children (that’s 3 percent of all foster children).  the average age a person know his sexuality is 13 and 16 is the average age for a student to come out about his/her sexuality.

it’s time for those of us working in the church with children and family to elevate this conversation. it’s time for us to build bridges towards glbt parents, to resource and encourage them as they lead the spiritual formation of their children. and it’s time for us to create a church environment in which children are safe and loved as they explore their sexuality. i know this won’t be easy, and that we have a lot of work to do in order to answer so many questions – but i’m committed to this, i want to do the hard work and i want to create a new church culture for families so that the spiritual formation of children applies to all children.

i encourage you to pick up the book and contribute to the conversation – it’s just that important.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Larry Shallenberger on June 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    What conclusions did the book make?

    When I worked in children’s mental health in the 90’s, placing children in to glbt homes, either through adoption or foster care was a thorny issue. It was a morally complex issue. I personally came to the conclusion that it was healthier for a child to live with two nurturing parents than to suffer the effects of institutionalization– regardless of my moral convictions about orientation.


  2. Posted by amyedolan on June 2, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    larry –
    the book didn’t make many conclusions – thus the main point was that we are to be bridge builders, seeking a position of learning, listening, and loving.

    as an expert in the mental health field – how would you encourage those of us in the church to love and resource glbt families?


  3. Interesting topic. Challenging conclusion. I would contend that before we can solve the “engaging the gay community” problem, we need to resolve the division within the Body. If we don’t tactically unify, we will end up causing more harm than good to ANY group we reach out to.

    Am I too jaded?



  4. Posted by Larry Shallenberger on June 3, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    I wouldn’t call me an expert in MH.

    I think there’s a lot of clues in the Book of Acts. Many of these glbt families claim faith in Christ, which makes the conversation even more complex. Much of the book of Acts can be viewed as the story of the church not wanting to love people who looked, behaved, or believed differently than themselves.

    I think of the Samarian revival in Acts, how the church was commanded by Jesus to take the gospel/Jesus love to a group of theologically and behaviorally lapse region. I wrote about this in Divine Intention: How God’s Work in the Early Church Empowers Us Today. Two chapters “At Least I’m Not Like” and “Revolution” come to mind. Neither touch on this specific issue, but the principles apply. The Revolution chapter is post at BWC for free. http://burnsidewriterscollective.blogspot.com/2008/11/culture-war-or-revolution.html


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