Faithful conversations : same-sex relationships and the Christian faith
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The evangelical Christian church’s collective heart is breaking over same-sex marriage; multiple congregations and denominations are splitting because they cannot live together with their differing convictions. In contrast, this project explores how a local congregation can grow in unity, purity, and peace while holding a variety of viewpoints on same-sex marriage. The project consisted of a congregation-wide event called Faithful Conversations: Same-Sex Relationships and the Christian Faith. First, the pastors complexified the conversation around same-sex marriage and the Christian faith beyond for and against by presenting five faithful Christian responses to same-sex marriage. Second, a licensed therapist facilitated a panel discussion where people holding different perspectives on same-sex marriage shared their stories, values, and viewpoints. Third, the facilitator invited the congregation to interact with panel members using an adaptation of the Restorative Circles process for people experiencing conflict. Data from the project reveal that this congregation defied the pattern of division over same-sex marriage. In fact, the congregation grew in authenticity of relationships, mutual understanding, and theological insight. Based on the results of this project, the researcher developed a model called Faithful Conversations: Same-Sex Relationships and the Christian Faith for use in other congregations.