As we introduced ourselves, we could see that people were bringing strong emotions and convictions, painful experiences, questions, and fragile relationships into the conversation. There were people with conservative views and liberal views, others who were gay, some who had family members and good friends who were gay, one whose roommate had come out as gay and then killed herself not long after.
Two takeaways for me from this experience:
- It was probably the most respectful listening community I had ever been a part of on such a divisive issue. No matter one's beliefs and convictions, there were a lot of voices really being heard well around that table. I thought about how these kind of dialogues are needed in our communities over the tough issues. It's a sad day when social media wins out over people giving the gift and respect of listening well to one another in the company of one another. Even when there is a lot of internal wrestling and angst going on, we need to turn toward the angst to pray, read, ask questions, learn, and listen. This diverse community of believers around the table who offered a breadth of experiences and sharing with one another offered a picture of some hope to me.
-The group agreed that the differing views in the Church were not likely going to come under some unified voice in the future. With that said, we did begin to ask one another, "How can we find common ground?" "How can we move toward love and reconciliation in the midst of disagreement?" "How can we hold Jesus as center, love one another, and show genuine care for the LGBTQ community despite other differences in regard to this issue?"
I left the conversation both very pensive and very grateful for the opportunity to sit with this group of folks. Often in situations of listening and reflecting in the hard places, God does a great deal of growing in me. I welcome His Spirit's work in my life.