What differences do you see between the UK and the US regarding the topic of homosexuality and the response of the churches?
I will be very clear on this. Right now the UK has a unique opportunity to potentially model for the rest of the world how to properly address and work within the tensions of faith and sexuality; leading the path of what peaceful and productive systemic relationships look like.
I believe this because, thus far, neither the GLBT or Christian communities have publicly or sustainably rallied their masses against the other. I know there will be Christians reading this who feel marginalized and disagree with me on that statement, citing things like the UK’s Hate Speech legislation. However, in regards to an irreconcilable national culture war between the GLBT and Christian communities, in comparison to America, there is no culture war. The UK is not even close to the very vocal, firmly rooted, abhorrence-filled structural disconnect that exists in America between our two communities.
There was a point where America was at the same place as the UK but unfortunately our GLBT and Christian communities gave in to the explosive disconnect birthed out of years of un-met silent tension. At the time, there were no national Christian or GLBT leaders willing to initiate and sustain any amount of conversation in a productive, God-honouring fashion. The only American national leaders that rose up fueled the fire and dug each community further into their stagnant modes of engagement, unsuccessfully trying to convince the other side they’re wrong and need to give up everything they have ever fought for. This aggressive, back-and-forth schism has persisted for the last decade with no reprise in site. I work every day of my life closely involved with both communities, acting as a bridge, attempting to shift the local and national conversation back towards a more productive trajectory. Each community is so strongly opposed and wounded by the other, both are convinced that each will win. In my estimation, even if the culture war lessens to the point where they can talk to the other rather than past the other, the American GLBT and Christian relations will still be about twenty years behind.
That doesn’t have to be the same fate for the UK. I believe it won’t be what happens if the right leaders from each community come forth to shape the national conversation. But a note of caution – I saw many similarities in the beginning stages of the American culture war clearly on display throughout the UK on my recent trip. There are signs from gay groups, prominently displayed that say, ‘Gay: Get over it!’. There is also public denial of the budding disconnect on the part of the Church. When I asked a Christian reporter about the signs hung around the country she said, ‘I already thought we were over it?’. The unfortunate truth is that if the GLBT community felt Christendom was indeed ‘over it’ there would be no need for the signs. Any further amount of ignoring this much-needed cultural redirection will land the UK in the exact same place as America. Look at my country now – it’s an embarrassing and sad state of affairs on display for the world to watch as many in the States continue to set such a poor precedent.
The thrust of my work today in America is to elevate the conversation. I define elevation as changing the conversation, working to find a new starting ground beyond the traditional fighting areas that have only torn us further away from a true biblical reconciliation. The wonder of the UK’s current situation is that there is not much of a systemic conversation to change, because ultimately one hasn’t been nationally sustained or publicly fought about for any significant length. The time is now to step out and show the rest of the world what an advanced national relationship between two communities that, on the outside, don’t seem to ever have that much in common, truly looks like. There is more in-depth and practical applications on how to start building a bridge individually and systemically, in my book, Love is an Orientation.
What do you think of the hope of England in comparison to the [hope of the] United States?