Calling Theological Colleges …

Theological and Bible Colleges play a vital role in preparing the next generation of ministers, pastors and clergy.  One of the issues they will face is how to deal with questions about sexual orientation.

Accepting Evangelicals is happy to visit Colleges to present the case for an accepting or affirming theology for faithful, committed same-sex partnerships.   To invite a speaker, please email benny@acceptingevangelicals.org

Below is a reflection on just such an event at Trinity College Bristol last year:

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I was delighted to take part in a day at Trinity College Bristol last year on the vexed subject of homosexuality.  It was arranged as part of an integrated learning week on ethics.

During the first session of the day, 2 homosexual evangelical Christians gave their stories to the assembled students.  Both told their struggle  to come to terms with their sexuality and faith –  with very different conclusions.  Then after coffee, I presented the case for an affirming evangelical theology of sexuality and same sex partnerships, while Jonathan Berry from True Freedom Trust presented a case for celibacy and abstinence for Christian homosexuals.

In the afternoon, there was a question and answer session with all 4 speakers before the students split into groups to discuss what they had heard.

It would not be appropriate to go into detail about what was said,  but I came away rejoicing at the way in which it was possible to have an open and respectful conversation about these things at a distinctively evangelical Theological College.

Each speaker was listened to with courtesy and respect.  No-one felt the need to walk out – indeed attendance was very high from the student body and evaluation forms showed equally high scores for the day.  Each of the speakers were able to thank each other for their openness and honesty, despite there being significant differences of opinion and understanding.

Perhaps the most significant comment on the day came from one student in the Q&A session.  She said that she was now more confused than ever, because as each speaker concluded their contribution, she wanted to say “Yes- I agree with that!”  Not that we are in the business of creating confusion, but when she ultimately makes up her mind, she will have a real understanding of how others could come to different conclusions.   By listening, she had realised that this was no open and shut case.

These are the kinds of conversations we should be having – conversations that build understanding and respect.   So I would like to express my admiration to Trinity College for arranging the day, and would want to encourage other Theological Colleges, churches and fellowships to follow their example.

To invite a speaker from Accepting Evangelicals , please email benny@acceptingevangelicals.org

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4 Comments

  1. Thanks for this, Benny. I must confess to being very confused about all this myself. While I personally suspect that the traditional interpretation of scripture is correct, I have very grave concerns indeed about the application of it to our contemporary culture. The more I read, the more confused and undecided I become. For those who are interested, Andrew Goddard, formerly tutor at Trinity, and Emma Ineson, a member of the Bristol clergy and of General Synod, will be giving a Bible Fresh lecture on this subject at my own Church, Christ Church, Clifton, Bristol, at 8pm on Weds 28th Sept:
    http://www.trinity-bris.ac.uk/can-we-trust-the-bible-biblefresh-events

  2. Pingback: Accepting Evangelicals Newsletter - September/October 2011 | Accepting Evangelicals

  3. While the question of homosexuality from an evangelical point of view is a difficult question, we should always remember the Apostle Pauls statement that if I speak with the tongues of man and angels, but have not love…I am nothing. It is always helpful to separate out the love for the individual and the concern for their actions and/or lifestyle. Different people will come to different views, but it is almost impossible to reconcile the homosexual lifestyle with the overall teaching of scripture. As someone who has toyed with the homosexual lifestyle myself perhaps its helpful to remember that people become homosexual for a wide variety of reasons and not all of them by any means are “born that way”. So I think each case has to be taken on an individual basis. My own perception is that everyone should be accepted whatever their sexual orientation, and therefore welcomed to the church, the problem comes when they engage in a homosexual relationship, which in my view should be discouraged. Abstinence does no one any harm at the end of the day and it does allow someone to live as a homosexual in keeping with the overall teaching of scripture. It may even be possible during such a period of abstinence that healing and reflection and prayer may alter the orientation in the first place. At all costs this issue must be treated with understanding and compassion

    • Hi Tim,
      Thank you for your comment and for highlighting the need for love in such disagreements.

      I have to disagree however when you said, “Abstinence does no one any harm at the end of the day.” I will always remember a speech at General Synod by an elderly nun who had embraced her call to celibacy and valued it immensely. But she also said that celibacy must be a calling from God on the individual and that forced celibacy was, in her view, as abhorrent as forced marriage. She went on to describe the coldness and withering which affects the hearts of people who have been forced into celibacy against their will. In Genesis 2, God said of Adam, “It is not good for the man to be alone” and this is the default position of Scripture whatever the orientation of an individual.

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