Applying a Biblical Sexual Ethic in Community

“As we move forward fruitfully, we need to believe that Christian sexual ethics are actually really good news for followers of Jesus.”

Last week, Transform Minnesota hosted more than 150 pastors and church leaders for Identity and Belonging: Building Church Community for Celibate, Gay Christians. Dr. Greg Coles, Senior Research Fellow for The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender, led a discussion for the group about how different churches have come to their positions on sexuality and how they can move forward in building a relational community.

While his presentation focused on the experiences of gay Christians, Dr. Coles noted that the practice of biblical sexual ethic doesn’t just affect people who are gay. He identified a concern that churches can present this ethic as though they don’t believe it is good news for all believers, gay and straight alike. The goal of a biblical sexual ethic is not heterosexual marriage, but a continuing pursuit of God’s will in a relational church community. This includes elevating the vocation of singleness as a complementary calling to marriage.

Dr. Coles also invited participants to pursue linguistic flexibility when discussing sexuality. Different people will use different terms to describe their experience while holding the same beliefs. Flexibility allows Christians to move conversations beyond identity language.

“If language becomes the place at which you decide to draw the line, you will never have the opportunity to have far more important conversations.”

These points were further emphasized in a Q&A with Dr. Coles and The Center for Faith’s Director of Church Relations, Louis Phillips. The two were able to explore questions churches in the Twin Cities are facing, and were able to point to resources these churches can begin to use.

In an effort to provide further depth of understanding and application, Transform Minnesota is partnering with Posture Shift for a 2-day Intensive Course this coming November. The Posture Shift team provides practical, tangible guidance for real-life inclusion and care of LGBT+ individuals and their families in your ministry context while holding to a biblical sexual ethic.

The evangelical church’s silence on issues of sexuality and gender has left a vacuum that has been filled either by fear or the voice of the secular culture. In reality, we should be leading the conversation if we really believe what we purport to believe. Transform MN is taking on that challenge and doing so in a way that is compassionate, courageous, and biblically grounded which is something that is desperately needed both within the church and in the world.         – Dayton Dodge, Assistant Director of Worship Arts & Spiritual Formation Programs, UNWSP

May 9, 2023
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