Paul Cumin gave was a full and engaging presentation of how the church needs to be a community that provides space for healthy sexuality to be lived out. The way he began was important because he named the problem the church faces often, namely a PR problem of being seen as strange for the wrong reasons. One of the big ways to combat this problem is through relationships.
I deeply appreciated the attention Paul gave to how we have mistreated the LGBTQ community and need to change that. The way he put it was “we have failed to give more than lip service to core aspects of Christianity” including hospitality and love. This is an area where we need to change our ways and be known as a people who care deeply for others, despite having a difference of opinion.
In my experience, there is a desire for relationship and with it can come an opportunity to dialogue about our beliefs, giving the Holy Spirit opportunity to work in their life.
One of the other pieces Paul shared that struck me was the way Jesus lived utterly and completely for others. The importance of being in relationships that pour themselves out for the other is wonderful thing. This way of living allows us to change and be changed in meaningful ways and give incredible value to those in relationship. When we have relationships that are this secure we can appropriately deal with the brokenness we find in each other.
Paul also highlighted the concept of knowledge and how broad this term can be with important nuances. Knowing facts is one thing but that isn’t enough or appropriate for relationships. Rather we need to know people through history, context and experience that ends in trust. From my reading and research, this is part of a more holistic understanding of sexuality that we need to recover, to “know” in the biblical sense. Similarly, we only know God appropriately when we know him in relationship.
At the end of his presentation Paul spoke about the way love is messy and is meaningless without painful danger. This is so true especially when we are dealing with our areas of brokenness. All of us have areas of brokenness that are in need of the redeeming work of Jesus. We need to become comfortable working with the Holy Spirit in the messiness of sexual brokenness so his healing power can be manifested in our lives, and those to whom we minister.
Grantham MB pastor Tabitha VandenEnden provided a response to Paul’s presentation and keyed in on the same theme of community. The communion table was her key model to encourage this community as we focus on the brokenness Christ took upon himself for us. She also pointed us to the potential for seeing aspects of Catholicism as helpful in our desire for community among singles.
There is a great richness to true and deep community that is important as we consider a full and well-rounded understanding of sexuality.
—Jon Mair is director of operations at South Abbotsford (B.C.) Church.