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Oriented to Love

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Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA) just concluded another round of dialogues that we've been calling Oriented to Love. I felt it was time to let you know about this effort of ours to model an alternate way to think about differences in sexual orientation, as well as how to interact with, learn from, and love those who happen to be on the other side of the divide. From our website:

ESA’s Oriented to Love dialogues help Christ followers come together around the highly charged and challenging topic of sexual diversity in the church. How can Christians love each other across sharp disagreements about what faithful sexuality looks like? How can we listen respectfully in order to truly see and know those we disagree with rather than vilify and dismiss each other?

Unity was one of Christ’s most passionate desires during his walk among us. The apostle Paul took up that passion as well:

“I … beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”
 Eph. 4:1-6

But how often is Christ’s body torn asunder as people choose sides, hunker down, and take cover, refusing to engage? How can we love those we can’t even see from our trenches?

The goals of Oriented to Love are NOT to:

- strike theological stances,

- debate each other about various Scripture passages,

- or agree with each other.

The goals ARE to:

- help gay, questioning, and straight Christians of all stripes come to the same table, regardless of our theological understanding of the issues;

- listen to each other’s stories and in doing so get to know and understand each other;

- ask hard questions in a safe environment;

- discover what God is doing in and through gay Christians and among straight

Christians who love gay people;

- discuss how the church can be the church for gay people as well as for straight people;

- and discover what committed Christians, both gay and straight, have to offer and teach each other within the larger body of Christ.

We're encouraged by some reflections from OTL participants.

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