For the Bride: My Journey

Here is a synopsis of my journey since 2014 of to being an ally with the LGBTQ+ community…

I met some of you last evening at First UMC Orlando for the first time, and you asked about my journey to becoming an ally with the LGBTQ+ community.  Here are some ways you can find out, as you like….

(1) My book, ‘For the Sake of the Bride’ (Abingdon Press, 2014) tells how my experience in Lent of that year opened the door to my becoming an ally…and…how the principles of love, non-judgment, and holy conferencing are given to us by God to enable us to create and sustain inclusive community.

(2) I followed the book with a yearlong series of blog posts entitled “For the Bride” (9/5/14–7/13/15), in which I expanded what I only began in the book.  These are archived on my Oboedire blog (www.oboedire.wordpress.com).

(3) About a year later (March 2015), I was invited to speak at a Reconciling Ministries Network conference on the subject, “How I Changed My Mind.”  Here is the link to the archived YouTube video:

(4) The ensuing years have continued to expand Jeannie’s and my involvement as allies, mainly at the local level and through conversations with LGBTQ+ friends and even strangers.  

(5) Last night’s presentation was one of only a few public engagements, but it was an opportunity I am grateful to have been given.

(6) In retirement, my ministry is focused in my Oboedire blog, where I write mainly (and have since 2010) about spiritual formation from a variety of vantage points.  Ongoing thoughts about human sexuality are part of that writing. Check it out as you like, and subscribe if you wish.

(7) Finally, I have been asked along the way to show the books which have developed my thinking the past five years.  Here are the ones I have compiled intona basic bibliography for inquirees…

A Basic Affirming Bibliography On Human Sexuality

Below are books which have shaped my theology of human sexuality.  The list began as an attempt to gather biblical references, but in the course of doing so, I realized that a full orbed Wesleyan theology must include resources pertaining to tradition, reason, and experience.

So, I have organized this list in relation to the Wesleyan quadrilateral.  Most books fit into more than one aspect of the quadrilateral.  I have placed each in the category it most helped me understand human sexuality…

**= suggested first book to read in category

(1) Scripture

       Mark Achtemeier, ‘The Bible’s Yes to

            Same-Sex Marriage’

       James Brownson, ‘Bible, Gender, and

            Sexuality’

       Richard Elliott Friedman and Shawna 

            Dolansky, ‘The Bible Now’

       Luke Timothy Johnson, ‘The Living

            Gospel’ (Chapter 8)

       Austin Hartke, “Nonbinary Gender and the

            Diverse Besuty of Creation,” The

            Christian Century, 4 /16/18

       Jennifer Knust, ‘Unprotected Texts’

       William Loader, ‘Sexuality and the

           Jesus Tradition’ 

       William Loader, ‘Sexuality and the

            New Testament’

       Linda J. Patterson, ‘Hate Thy Neighbor:

            How the Bible is Misused to Condemn

            Homosexuality’

       **Dan Via’s section in ‘The Bible and

            Homosexuality’

       Walter Wink, ‘Homosexuality and the Bible’

(2) Tradition (General and Church History)

        (A) General History

                  Francis Mark Mondimore, ‘A

                       Natural History of Homosexuality’

       (B) Church History

                 **”Cheryl Anderson, ‘Ancient Laws

                       and Contemporary Controversies’ 

                John Boswell, ‘Christianity, Social 

                       Tolerance and Homosexuality’ 

 (3) Reason (Theology & Science)

         (A) Theology

                    **Megan Shanon DeFranza, 

                          ‘Sex Differences in Christian

                          Theology’  

                    Karen Keen, ‘Scripture, Ethics, and

                           the Possibility of Same-Sex

                           Relationships’

                     Jack David  Rogers, ‘Jesus, the

                           Bible & Homosexuality

                           (Revised Edition)
         (B) Sciences

                    Jaques Balthazart, ‘The Biology of

                           of Homosexuality’

                    Jerold Greenberg, ‘Exploring

                           Dimensions of Human

                           Sexuality

                     Justin Lehmiller, ‘The Psychology

                           of Human Sexuality’

                    Simon LeVay, ‘Gay, Straight and 

                           the Reason Why: The Science

                           of Sexual Orientation’

                           (Second Edition)

                    Dawne Moon, “Culture and the

                           Sociology of Sexuality,” 

                           Annals of the American

                           Academy of Political and

                           Social Sciences

                    **Michael Regele, ‘Science,

                           Scripture, and Same-Sex Love

(4) Experience (Pastoral Tone)

         **David Gushee, ‘Changing Our Mind’

               (3rd edition)

         Steve Harper, ‘For the Sake of the Bride’

         James Martin, ‘Building a Bridge’

         Tim Otto, ‘Oriented to Love’

         Matthew Vines, ‘God and the Gay Christian’

         Mel White, ‘Stranger at the Gate’

(5) United Methodist Focused…

         Phillip Cramer & William Harbison,

               ‘The Fight for Marriage’

         Reuben Job & Neil Alexander, 

               ‘Finding Our Way,’

         Kenneth Carter, ‘Embracing the Wideness’

         Karen Oliveto, ‘Our Strangely Warmed

               Hearts’

But more than these things are the friendships of LGBTQ+ people, who have loved, encouraged, and supported Jeannie and me (when others have not), showing us over and over their love of God and their lives of faithful discipleship–proving and demonstrating the power of grace to sustain them even when they were/are rejected by the Body of Christ. Along with other Christian friends, the gay Christian community has been Church to Jeannie and me in ways we have never known before.

Thank you!

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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