Augsburg Fortress

Why Churches Need to Talk about Sexuality: Lessons Learned from Hard Conversations about Sex, Gender, Identity, and the Bible

Why Churches Need to Talk about Sexuality: Lessons Learned from Hard Conversations about Sex, Gender, Identity, and the Bible

Journalist and pastor Mark Wingfield describes how the congregation he serves undertook a detailed study of how the church should respond to the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender members. The study was conducted by a nineteen-member blue-ribbon task force that included wide representation of the church's various constituencies. The author served as a staff liaison, recording secretary, and resource to the study group, keeping meticulous notes of the process and the aftermath of the study.

Why Churches Need to Talk about Sexuality is written for clergy and lay leaders in Protestant congregations of all kinds who need a helpful guide to conversations about human sexuality within congregations. The book also has in mind anyone who wants to understand the controversial debates about human sexuality and the Christian church today and who desire to follow a process to discuss the topic and make decisions about how congregations and individuals will respond to matters of ministry and sexuality.

This book not only details the process used at Wilshire but also tells the human story of why the study was undertaken and what happened to the lives and faith of real people inside and outside the church. The author's hope is to provide a resource to other clergy and church leaders to understand why this issue must be addressed, how difficult it is to address, and what to expect along the way. As the title indicates, even though this is a difficult conversation to have, churches must have the conversation anyway.


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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506458571
  • eBook ISBN 9781506458588
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 176
  • Publication Date December 3, 2019

Table of Contents

1. Our story 
2. Process and transparency 
3. Getting started 
4. The pain of silence 
5. Where we've come from 
6. Looking for resources 
7. "Dear God, I think I might be bi"
8. Study, dialogue and prayer 
9. What the Bible says 
10. Genetics and sexuality 
11. Adolescent sexuality 
12. What about the T in LGBT? 
13. Laura Beth 
14. What about marriage? 
15. The study group votes
16. Majority versus minority 
17. Reporting to the congregation 
18. We Love Wilshire 
19. Church conference 
20. The vote and the fallout 
21. Rebuilding 
22. For the joy set before you 
23. Appendix A: Common questions and objections 
24. Appendix B: Q and A about the study group 
25. Appendix C: What does the Bible say about marriage