DISCERNMENT PROCESS (FOR CHURCHES UNSURE OF THEIR FUTURE IN THE PCUSA)
Resources on Same Sex Relationships
When we gathered to debrief General Assembly 2014 several people requested a list of resources for further study of this issue. Below is a list of resources I have personally found helpful. I invite others in our Presbytery to send me resources (with annotations) from any perspective they have found helpful. The book by Andrew Marin is a good starting point because it demonstrates how we can move beyond our “positions” in order to simply talk together in ways that draw us closer to Jesus!
—Keith Tanis, EP
Achtemeier, Mark. The Bible’s Yes to Same-Sex Marriage: An Evangelical’s Change of Heart. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2014.
Achtemeier is a Presbyterian pastor and professor of theology and ethics at Dubuque Seminary. His book, like others below, arose out of his personal journey from condemning same-sex unionsto supporting them. His “change of heart” came after his study of Scripture and his growing awareness that the church had constructed a mosaic of certain pieces (texts) that comprise a picture that really doesn’t fit what the Bible intends. (Annotation by K. Tanis)
Brownson, James V. Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013.
Brownson is Professor of New Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland MI, a seminary of the Reformed Church in America—a denomination in our “Formula of Agreement” that is smaller and more homogeneous and conservative than the PCUSA (also the denomination from which I transferred to the PCUSA). Brownson studies the Bible looking for the “moral logic” of the sacred text, namely, to understand not only what a particular text says, but what it means in the light of the broader context of the biblical themes such as patriarchy, procreation, celibacy, and what the Bible means by “one flesh.” The book points out limitations of both traditionalist as well as revisionist readings of “the seven texts.” Almost half of the book focuses on the themes in Romans 124-27 (lust, purity, shame and nature). Brownson’s work deepened my understanding of the Bible and of the challenge and opportunity to develop a more biblical view of gender, sexuality and marriage—even for heterosexual couples! (Annotation by K. Tanis)
Butterfield, Rosaria Champagne. The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: an english professor’s journey into christian faith. Pittsburgh: Crown and Covenant Publications, 2012.
This is an autobiography of a tenured English Professor was recommended to me by Rev. Rhyan Smith, Pastor of Cornerstone Pres in Olympia. Rosaria Butterfield was a self-proclaimed feminist and lesbian activist who experienced a life-changing conversion to Jesus Christ through a relationship with a pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church. She describes in this book how her conversion prompted her to leave the lesbian life she had followed for ten of her 36 years, and to marry her husband, Pastor Kent Butterfield. Rosaria tells a heart-warming story of their adoption and foster-parenting of children. She also shares her study of Scripture, not only about sexuality, gender and marriage, but also about the “regulative principle” that governs worship in the RPC. I think it’s a fascinating story of how our understanding of Scripture shapes the church and how both of those shape us! (Annotation by K. Tanis)
Marin, Andrew. Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community. Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2009.
One of the best books I’ve read about how to talk with LGBT and straight people in ways that connect them with Jesus and each other! Marin is a straight Christian who was forced to deal with the reality of his three best friends coming out as gay. He began a ministry in Chicago to invite LGBT people to Bible studies and conversations that centered on a relationship with Jesus. I’ve shared this book with several people to help them talk with and love their children, siblings or other relatives who are LGBT. (Annotation by K. Tanis)
Rogers, Jack. Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church. Revised and expanded edition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009.
Like Mark Achtemeier, Rogers changed his mind from condemning to approving same-sex relationships. This book takes a close look at all the texts that come up in the church’s discussion of same-sex relations. Whether you agree with his interpretation or not, it demonstrates that differences of opinion about same-sex relationship are not between those who believe the Bible and those who don’t, but between different interpretations of the same texts. That awareness could help the church stop villifying the “other side” of the debate and get back to actually reading, studying and discussing the Bible! I think this book is approachable to ordinary church members who are at home with the traditional view of same-sex relationships but who are willing to consider a different understanding of those “seven texts.” It also shows how the church has changed its mind about other big issues like slavery and the ordination of women. (Annotation by K. Tanis)
Kegley, David. Redeeming Hospitality: The Affirmation of Gays in Presbyterian Congregations. Vimeo Video, 26:58. September 14 2014. https://vimeo.com/106130555 .
The first of three sermons at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Olympia by their Pastor and Head of Staff, Rev. Dr. David Kegley. This sermon is based on Galatians 3 28-29. Dr. Kegley shares his experience of the “fearful and shaming voice” he has heard over the years telling him, “You don’t read your Bible.” This sermon demonstrates that he does, in fact, read his Bible and wrestles with what it means in it’s culture and our culture. The sermon gives a thumbnail of his understanding of the Old and New Testament texts historically used to condemn same-sex relationships. Kegley’s more extensive summary of these texts from opposing sides of the issue, as well as his own comments, can be found here. The print version of this sermon can be downloaded here. (Annotation by K. Tanis)
Vines, Matthew. The Gay Debate: The Bible and Homosexuality. YouTube Video, 1:07. March 12, 2012. http://youtu.be/ezQjNJUSraY .
In this hour-long video Matthew Vines, a gay Christian, explains the two opposing biblical approaches to same-sex relationships. He does it in a non-defensive way that shows respect to both views, though he obviously believes the one that supports same-sex relationships. This presentation was the first time I heard the argument from the creation narrative in Genesis 2 18 , Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” (NRSV) (Annotation by K. Tanis)