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Discussion Guide: Name it and claim it

Discussion Guide: Name it and claim it

Welcome to another night of Community Groups! Please lean into this guide as much as you need to; use this as a tool to help facilitate fruitful conversation, but please do not let this become a script if you do not need it to be. You know your group better than I do! The goal for this evening is to explore the lostness of the older brother, and to wrestle with he ways in which he is more lost than his more famous, wayward sibling. If you can arrive at that destination with your group more efficiently with different questions, please feel free to simply use these as inspiration!  

 

 

 

Icebreaker

 

Do you remember your first prayer? What was it?

 

 

 

Scripture Reading

 

Read John 14:14

 

 

 

Discussion Questions

 

 

  1. Have you ever heard of the idea of, “Name it and claim it”? How might passages like this one contribute to that idea?
  2. Zoom out a little and read verses 12-15. Why do you think Jesus says that whoever believes in him will do greater works than him (v.12), and whoever loves him will keep his commandments (v.15)?
  3. During Jesus’n last meal with his disciples, He told them 5 times that he would do whatever they ask in his name. Knowing that he was going to his death, why might Jesus have thought this was worth saying five times? 
  4. What do you think it means to ask for something “In Jesus name”?

     

    Read Isaiah 1:13-17

    Consider this quote from Philip Yancey

    “Thus God flatly declares that, in addition to our private spiritual state, our social concern (or lack thereof)–for the poor, for orphans and widows–also has a direct bearing on how our prayers are received. Other prophets, such as Malachi, get even more specific. Those who pay exploitative wages, who break marriage vows, who treat illegal immigrants badly, who refuse to share food with the hungry or provide shelter to the homeless, risk closing God’s ears to their prayers.”

    1. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
    2. Do you think that our actions have a bearing on whether or not our prayers get answered? Explain?
    3. How might our belief in Jesus and our love for him influence our prayer life?
    4. How might we better understand prayers that do and do not get answered in light of this passage? 

     

 

Helpful Resources

 

 

 

 

The Reunion Team

Discussion Guide: National Repentance

Discussion Guide: National Repentance

Sometimes  we fill in what we think the Bible is saying or should say with information we bring to the reading.  We take passages out of context and end up making the bible say something it never was intended to say. Like Autocorrect, this can lead to some embarrassing conversations, but it can also have more serious consequences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Icebreaker 

 

When is the last time your Autocorrect led to an embarrassing text message?

 

Scripture Reading

 

2 Chronicles 7:11-16.

 

Discussion Questions

 

  1. Read verse 14 by itself. How have you heard this passage interpreted before?

 

Consider the following quote:

 

If America is found anywhere in the Bible, it is by analogy. And we are not the hero of the story.
We are Rome.
The Roman world had a policy of “Make Rome Great Again”–or perhaps better “Keep Rome Great Always”–and that vision was supported by the always unhealthy alliance of “God and Country.”
To serve the state was to serve the gods and vice-versa.
Rome put before the early Christians the choice of serving Caesar rather than Christ. To choose to serve Caesar was not simply a political decision but a religious one.
It’s no different today.
Even when serving Christ by name, if that service is for the furtherance of political power, of controlling others, of building an alluring city of man and calling it the City of God—when America does that, America is Rome.
When Americans claim divine support by rifling through Scripture and place themselves in that story, that is a Roman tactic.
It is not a move of “seeking God’s face” but of turning away from it.
It is not a “turning from wickedness” but of dwelling in it.
It is not following the Christ but marching resolutely in the opposite direction.”

 

 -Pete Enns

 

 

  1. Who is God responding to? Who does he address?
  2. What is the impact of inserting America into passages like this one? How could this be damaging? What would we miss out on?
  3. What is the impact of interpreting this passage through a lens of individualism? How could this be damaging? What would we miss out on? 
  4. What can we and should we take from what God had to say to Solomon and the nation of Israel?

 

 

Helpful Resources

 

 The Way of the Dragon or the Way of the Lamb: Searching for Jesus’ Path of Power in a Church that Has Abandoned It

 

 

 

The Reunion Team

Community Groups: Pure Religion?

Community Groups: Pure Religion?

Welcome to another Community Group discussion! Please lean into this guide as much as you need to; use this as a tool to help facilitate fruitful conversation, but please do not let this become a script if you do not need it to be. You know your group better than I do! The goal for this evening is to explore the nature of what James calls pure religion. If you can arrive at that destination with your group more efficiently with different questions, please feel free to simply use these as inspiration!

 

Icebreaker

What do you think of when you hear the word, “Religion”?

 

Scripture Reading

Read James 1:27

 

“PURE AND UNDEFILED”

James begins by using words like “pure” and “undefiled”. Other translations might use the words “faultless”, “unblemished” or “spotless”. Whatever the words, James is describing something for us here. So, while commonly referred to as a “command” to care for orphans, James 1:27 is in fact NOT a command verse, it’s a descriptive verse. There’s no command language in this verse. Instead, this verse is describing something that is pure and undefiled in its application and expression. Interesting fact – the Greek word for “pure” is translated “catharsis” in English, meaning “cleansing”. This is the root from which our word “cathartic” is derived. This refers to an activity or practice which is psychologically or emotionally relieving or cleansing for us. It’s also the same root we get our word “catheter” from – a tube inserted into the body to drain toxic or potentially dangerous fluids. So there’s something pure and cleansing about what James is describingnot commandingWe can begin paraphrasing James 1:27 with this statement: One of the purest and most undefiled…

  1. What about caring for vulnerable people in times of need might be “pure and cleansing”?
  2. Before reading the next section: What words or ideas come to mind when you hear the word religion?

     

    “RELIGION”

    When we think of the word religion we think of a variety of things – steeples, rituals or being scolded as a kid for taking too many crackers from the communion tray! But the word “religion” here, in its most distilled down form, refers to an outward expression of faith, or a demonstration of something that is inwardly true. It is describing a “pure and undefiled” outward expression or demonstration of something that is inwardly true – namely of who God is and what God does. Martin Luther once said that “The world does not need a definition of religion as much as it needs a demonstration.” That’s pretty much the idea here, and the context of the whole book of James – a poignant call to put our faith in the gospel into action. Perhaps he is suggesting that there is a particular outward expression of the gospel which is one of the “cleanest”, purest and most vivid we could participate in. And not only is it pure in its demonstration, but perhaps it’s also cleansing to us in its application. Participating in it somehow cleanses us as well. Again, he’s not so much commanding us to do something as much as he is inviting us to be something – the kind of people who have been so deeply and intrinsically effected by the gospel within us that it begins to express itself in some pure and vivid and clear ways through us. At this point we can paraphrase James 1:27 to read: One of the purest and most undefiled demonstrations of the gospel is…

  1. If your definition of “religion” is “a demonstration of something that is inwardly true”, how does that change your attitude toward the word? Do you agree with that definition? How would you change it?
  2. In what ways is fostering/adopting a demonstration of who God is and what God does?
  3. Can you name anyone who “is the kind of person who has been so deeply and intrinsically effected by the gospel” that it is expressed in pure, vivid and clear ways through their lives? If so, what characterizes their life OR if not, what do you imagine it would look like?

 

“CARE FOR”

Many translations use the words “look after” here, which is important to address because sometimes when we “look after” something or someone we’re able to still maintain a sense of distance between us – like when I was a kid and my mom would ask me to “look after” my little brother and sister. I would maintain an awareness of their presence but certainly didn’t want to get involved with what they were doing! So “look after” isn’t the best connotation here. The essence of the language here however is best translated “to give intense attention to and to go see”. The tense of this word calls for this to be our habitual practice and attitude and not just an isolated act of do-goodism or charity. It’s less about what we do periodically and more about who we are consistently. It conveys far more than just stopping by and saying hello, but instead implies a sense of consistent closeness and nearness and personal contact. Some translations use the word “visit”, which is strong. In scripture it is often used in reference to visiting the sick. Luke 1:68 uses the same word to describe the redemptive work of Jesus on our behalf when it says, “Blessed be the Lord God…for He has visited (cared for) us and accomplished great redemption for His people…” He came near, wrapped Himself up in our brokenness and was broken by our brokenness so we don’t have to be broken anymore. In the gospel God says, “I see you where you are and I’m coming after you!” Perhaps James is suggesting that this gospel is most acutely and purely put on display when we echo that same sentiment with our lives to those around us. At this point we can add to the paraphrase of James 1:27 to now read: One of the purest and most undefiled demonstrations of the gospel is to move towards…

  1. Why is it so important that we foster/engage foster care as a “habitual practice and attitude” rather than an act of do-goodism or charity?
  2. In relation to God, in what ways is our personal story similar to children living in foster care? What about birth families? 

 

“ORPHANS AND WIDOWS”

Remember, this is a descriptive verse. James is describing something for us, and in so doing is not being prescriptive, but descriptive. Orphans and widows – the fatherless and the husbandless – easily represented two of the most marginalized and pushed-aside classes of people in James’ culture. They carried no legacy and contributed nothing to society, so society pushed them away. James is using them as representatives of the most marginalized, disenfranchised and vulnerable groups of people we can come in contact with. I don’t believe he’s being prescriptive – as if its orphans and widows ONLY. I believe he’s being descriptive, so if we were to say, “But James, what about victims of trafficking, the homeless, the under-resourced in our city, the parents in crisis and on the brink of losing their children or my struggling neighbor across the street?”, he would not say, “NO! It’s orphans and widows ONLY!” Instead, I believe he would say, “YES! That’s where we go! Those are our people!” In essence he’s suggesting that we become the kind of people who move towards, give intense attention to and visit those in our world who have been outcast, marginalized and pushed aside the most. And when we do – when we step towards the hard and broken, and not away – it puts the heart of God demonstrated in the gospel on display with a vividness and clarity and purity and cleanliness unlike anything else. Your friends or family or co-workers might look at you and wonder why you’re so boldly going against the status quo of avoiding and isolating yourself from hard and broken things and instead choosing to say, “I see you where you are and I’m coming after you!” They’ll wonder why, and you’ll have a great answer to that question – ultimately because of what Jesus has done for me.

Now we can add even further to the paraphrase of James 1:27 so it reads: One of the purest and most undefiled demonstrations of the gospel is to move towards hard places and broken people, not away from them.

  1. In what ways are children living in foster care marginalized, disenfranchised and vulnerable?
  2. In your opinion, what other people groups have been outcast, marginalized and pushed aside in our world? Has the Church been known for “moving towards” these groups?
  3. In what ways, either personally or as a society, do we avoid and isolate from hard and broken things?
  4. What would it mean to see hard and broken in our lives and step towards/come after those people and places?

 

“KEEP ONESELF UNSTAINED”

We tend to neglect this portion of the passage in our foster care, adoption and caring for families discussion. Probably because we’re not entirely sure what the connection is and how it ties in. But I think it’s clear now…our participation in this work – and even more than that, our becoming these kind of people in the gospel – is “cleansing”. It puts a clean, unadulterated picture of the gospel on display, but it cleanses us as well. Who has time or energy to be stained by and consumed with the affairs of this world when we’re so immersed in and stained by the brokenness of others? It changes our perspectives, our worldviews, our hopes and dreams and prayers and families. It changes everything – for the better. And we’re somehow “cleaner” for it.

I know stuff like this gets a little academic and cerebral. But sometimes that’s necessary to truly deconstruct it a bit in order to renovate our understanding and application of some things that are truly important. I hope, in the end, as we’ve rebuilt this profound passage of scripture we’re all acutely familiar with that you’ve seen it in a new, more beautiful and vivid light. OF COURSE foster care, adoption and caring for families is a direct and beautiful application of this passage – but we now also see the opportunity for there to be an endless array of expressions and demonstrations of this beyond just that!

 I’m grateful to be stumbling along with you as we together figure out how not just to “do” James 1:27, but to “be” it – in the lives of kids and families we are loving and serving, and beyond.

 

  1. Do you have a different perspective about the end of this verse (and to keep oneself unstained by the world) after reading the above paragraphs? In what ways?
  2. Have you ever been connected to someone who represented a marginalized/ neglected/ vulnerable group of people and in a way that has changed the way you thought about policy, issues or stereotypes around those groups?
  3. In what ways, if any, have the conversation that began in the gatherings at REUNION and the conversation tonight/today, begun to reframe the way you think about foster care and adoption?
  4. Are there any insights or ideas that have been particularly meaningful to you?

     

    Helpful Resources

  • Foster Care Informational Session – Sunday, Oct. 6th – 2-4pm, REUNION Offices – For those considering foster care or adoption and interested in learning more about the licensing process and journey of foster care.
  • Finding Your Fit in Foster Care – Saturday, Nov. 2nd – Not everyone can our should foster or adopt, but everyone can do something. Finding your fit is a place to consider ways that you can love and serve the foster care community if you are not called or able to foster right now.
  • Becoming Trauma-Informed – Sunday, Nov. 17th – Children living in foster care almost always come with backgrounds of complex trauma. Understand the impact of complex trauma on child development, grow in compassion for their stories and be equipped with tools to help them continue on their path toward healing.
The Reunion Team

Older Brothers

Older Brothers

Welcome to another Community Groups Semester! Please lean into this guide as much as you need to; use this as a tool to help facilitate fruitful conversation, but please do not let this become a script if you do not need it to be. You know your group better than I do! The goal for this evening is to explore the lostness of the older brother, and to wrestle with he ways in which he is more lost than his more famous, wayward sibling. If you can arrive at that destination with your group more efficiently with different questions, please feel free to simply use these as inspiration!  

 

Icebreaker   

Have you ever felt taken for granted or as though you had not gotten something you deserved? What happened, and how did you handle that situation?  

 

Set the Stage 

Luke chapter 15 opens by telling us that all sorts of people are being drawn to Jesus, including tax collectors and sinners. This prompts more than a few raised eyebrows from the religious establishment. Jesus responds to their incredulity and obstinance by telling them one long three-part parable, culminating in the story of a man who has two sons…

 

Discussion Questions 

Read Luke 15:11-32 

Leader’s Note: The parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and of the prodigal son are actually a single, three-part, parable. It may be helpful to read or summarize all three parts in order to dig in more deeply to the story of the prodigal son. 

1. Does anything jump out at you or surprise you from this story?

2. What are the motivations of each of the three characters in this story, as you see them?

3. Describe each the way each of the sons relates to the father and to eachother in this story. What do you think the father wants for each of the sons?

4. Who do you think most needs to hear this story, and what does it have to say to them?

5. What is this story speaking to you?

Diving Deeper: Repenting of self righteousness 

In Matthew chapter 11 Jesus Levels some pretty serious rebukes against a hand full of towns where He had performed numerous miracles. According to Jesus, if the miracles He performed there had been performed in Sodom, the people of Sodom would have repented long ago. 

  1. Read Matthew 11:20-24

    Notice that Jesus does not condemn these towns for being incredibly sinful in one way or another (nor do we have evidence that they were), but rather for simply refusing believe they needed to repent. What are some things that lull us into kind of complacency?

  2. What can we do to overcome these temptations?

    Helpful Resources

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller

  

The Reunion Team

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Apocalypse

Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Apocalypse

Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big Question: Does the Bible really tell us how the universe will end?

The Main Questions

  • Do you think the world will end? What about the universe? Why do you think that?
  • How do you think the Bible discusses the end of the world? What books/passages talk about the end? What are some common themes?
  • What challenges have you faced as you’ve tried to think through the Bible’s approach to the end of the world
  • Look in the section below at the definition for the biblical genre of Apocalypse. What do you think of this definition? How does it differ from how you typically think about apocalyptic literature?
  • Take time to read the “Four Christian Views on the End of the World.” Then answer the following questions:
    • Does each view differ in how it reads the Bible (i.e. is one view more literal, one more historical, etc.?)
    • What features do all of these views have in common? What do these commonalities tell us about the Bible’s vision of the end?
    • Which view more closely aligns with your own? Why do you hold this view?
  • Does having a conception of the “end of the world” matter for Christian theology? Why/why not?
  • How should the Bible’s vision of “the end” affect how we live in the here and now?

Key Definitions

  • Apocalypse (Biblical Genre) // a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated  by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is (1) both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and (2) spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world. It is intended to intended to interpret the present, earthly circumstances in light of the supernatural world and of the future, and to influence both the understanding and the behavior of the audience by means of divine authority. // Adapted from J. Felix’s Compiled Definition
  • Four Christian Views on the End of the World*
    • Dispensationalist Premillennialism // holds that Christ will suddenly arrive and take His church into heaven (i.e. the rapture). After seven years of tribulation, Christ will return to rule from a holy city for one thousand years. After these thousand years, Satan will be loosed to deceive the nations, gather an army, and take up to battle against the Lord. This battle will end in both the judgment of the wicked and Satan and the entrance into the eternal state of glory by the righteous.
    • Historical Premillennialism // places the return of Christ just before the millennial reign of Christ and just after a time of great apostasy and tribulation. After the millennium, Satan will be loosed and rise against the kingdom of God; this will be immediately followed by the final judgment.
    • Postmillennialism // believes that the millennium is an era (not a literal thousand years) during which Christ will reign over the earth, not from a literal and earthly throne, but through the gradual increase of the Gospel and its power to change lives. After this gradual Christianization of the world, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked.
    • Inaugurated Millennialism (or amillennialism) // believes that the Kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ’s resurrection at which point he gained victory over both Satan and the Curse. Christ is now reigning at the right hand of the Father over His Church. After this present age has ended, Christ will return and immediately usher the church into their eternal state after judging the wicked.

* Adapted from Blue Letter Bible

Important Scripture

  • “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. // Matthew 24:36
  • But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. // 2 Peter 3:10
  • When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. // Revelation 6:12-13
  • Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. // 1 John 2:18
  • Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. // Matthew 13:40
  • “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ // Acts 2:17-21

Thoughts from Others

  • This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper. // T. S. Eliot
  • In 5-billion years the Sun will expand & engulf our orbit as the charred ember that was once Earth vaporizes. Have a nice day.” // Neil Degrasse Tyson
  • It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke. // Søren Kierkegaard
  • Have you ever thought what a God would be like who actually ordained and executed the cruelty that is in [the biblical Book of Revelation]? A holocaust of mankind. Yet so many of these Bible-men accept the idea without a second thought. // C.J. Sansom
  • The truly apocalyptic view of the world is that things do not repeat themselves. It isn’t absurd, e.g., to believe that the age of science and technology is the beginning of the end for humanity; that the idea of great progress is delusion, along with the idea that the truth will ultimately be known; that there is nothing good or desirable about scientific knowledge and that mankind, in seeking it, is falling into a trap. It is by no means obvious that this is not how things are. // Ludwig Wittgenstein

Resources

 

    Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Apocalypse

    Theology Crawl: “Biblical” Genders

    Welcome to the Crawl

    Before you start, make sure someone gives The Spiel to your group.  Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, it’s just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

    The Big Question: Does the Bible have anything to say to our post-Sexual Revolution views on gender and sexuality?

    PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: POTENTIAL JERK ALERT
    If you are jerk this conversation might not be for you. Tonight, we are talking about modern conceptions of gender and sex. These topics are both deeply personal and widely debated in the Christian community. They have and continue to split congregations around the world. Remember, we will disagree, but disagreement is part of the communal process of theology. Whatever is said, this is a perfect chance to practice both humility, hospitality, and true listening. You don’t know who is at your table; you don’t know what they’ve been through. Be empathetic, be present, be kind, be like Jesus. 

    The Main Questions

    • Look at the definitions of gender and sex in the section below. What do you think of these definitions?
    • Considering the above discussion about sex and gender, answer the following questions:
      • How are sex and gender related to each other?
      • Is gender binary, a spectrum, or something else?
      • Is sex binary, a spectrum or something else?
      • How does the theological concept of sin relate to sex, gender, and/or the relationship between them (i.e. how are sex and gender affected by human brokenness?)
    • How are gender and sex dealt with in the Bible? Does our modern conception of gender and sex match the Bible, and does it matter?
    • Read the short description of the sexual revolution in the section below. Answer the following questions:
      • What are some of the positive outcomes of the sexual revolution?
      • What are some of the negative outcomes of the sexual revolution?
      • Is the sexual revolution, or various aspects of it, incompatible with the worldview of the bible? If yes, how do you deal with modern conceptions of sex and gender? If no, does the Bible have any critique to offer concepts from the sexual revolution?
    • What passages and ideas do you find helpful in constructing an approach to gender and sex? What passages and ideas do you have difficulty dealing with?
    • What are some next steps you could take to work towards creating a holistic theology of sex and gender? What do you need to learn more about? What questions do you need to deal with?

    Key Definitions

    • Gender // Refers to the socially constructed characteristics of women and men, such as norms, roles, and relationships of and between groups of women and men. It varies from society to society and can be changed.” // World Health Orientation
    • Sex // Refers to a person’s biological status and is typically categorized as male, female, or intersex (i.e., atypical combinations of features that usually distinguish male from female). There are a number of indicators of biological sex, including sex chromosomes, gonads, internal reproductive organs, and external genitalia. // American Psychological Association
    • Sexual Revolution // the sexual revolution, also known as a time of sexual liberation, was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the United States and subsequently, the wider world, from the 1960s to the 1980s. Sexual liberation included increased acceptance of sex outside of traditional heterosexual, monogamous relationships (primarily marriage). The normalization of contraception and the pill, public nudity, pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality, masturbation, alternative forms of sexuality, and the legalization of abortion all followed. // Good ol’ Wikipedia
    • Sexual Orientation // Refers to an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic and/or sexual attractions to men, women or both sexes. Sexual orientation also refers to a person’s sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. Research over several decades has demonstrated that sexual orientation ranges along a continuum, from exclusive attraction to the other sex to exclusive attraction to the same sex. // American Psychological Association

    Important Scripture

    • There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? // James 4:12
    • Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. // Romans 1:26-28
    • But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. // Matthew 5:28
    • Jesus said, ‘From the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female.” “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ // Mark 19:6-9
    • However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. // Ephesians 5:33
    • And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” // Genesis 1:28

    Thoughts from Others

    • God’s good design [is] that gender identity is determined by biological sex and not by one’s self-perception—a perception which is often influenced by fallen human nature in ways contrary to God’s design. // Southern Baptist Convention
    • Can we imagine a world in which the divine pronouncement at the beginning of creation, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18), might find a range of deeply satisfying resolutions, from heterosexual marriage, to celibate communities, to gay and lesbian committed unions? // James Brownson
    • This oscillation between male and female becomes, at the end of the day, only a ‘provocative’ display against so-called ‘traditional frameworks’, and one which, in fact, ignores the suffering of those who have to live situations of sexual indeterminacy. // Congregation for Catholic Education
    • I urge not that we assume that love will provide a reliable foundation for knowledge but that we nonetheless keep the requirements of love of neighbor foremost in our interpretations of Scripture. We should consider, for example, love to be a necessary criterion (a minimum) when defending an interpretation of Scripture even if it cannot be a sufficient criterion that will guarantee ethical interpretation. // Dale B. Martin, Sex and the Single Savior
    • To the extent that it does talk about homosexuality, the New Testament appears to be talking about only certain types of homosexuality, and it speaks on the basis of assumptions about homosexuality that are now regarded as highly dubious. Perhaps, then, we could paraphrase what the New Testament says about homosexuality as follows: If homosexuality is exploitive, then it is wrong; if homosexuality is rooted in idolatry, then it is wrong; if homosexuality represents a denial of one’s own true nature, then it is wrong; if homosexuality is an expression of insatiable lust, then it is wrong. But we could say exactly the same thing about heterosexuality, couldn’t we? // William O. Walker Jr.

    Resources

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