A Ministry of Make and Deepen Disciples

 

Heart | Embrace Love

Create safe and compassionate space for relational connection

This section provides resources to help you embrace a deeper sense of compassion as well as to create a healthy space for relational connection with people who are LGBT+. These resources are recommended with the intention of providing helpful guidance toward building bridges and loving well. Through memoirs and stories, how-tos, and practical curriculum, this section serves as a source of valuable relational guidance.

I. Featured

Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality 
By Rachel Joy Welcher    

Where have messages such as the “idolization of virginity; marriage and sex as a reward for chastity; men as lust machines, and women as responsible for the purity of men” come from? Evangelical purity culture. In Talking Back to Purity Culture Rachel Joy Welcher invites readers to re-evaluate purity culture teachings by holding them up next to Scripture. She names not only what was taught through popular purity culture books but also what the teachings neglected: same-sex attraction, female sexuality, perpetual singleness, painful sex, and infertility. She underscores the ways purity rhetoric harms female victims of sexual abuse. She lays out a biblical sexual ethic and some practical ways we can faithfully and graciously live it out as a church and create open, ongoing conversation with our children. Community discussion questions and activities are included to engage these topics out loud. 

 

 

Still Time to Care: What We Can Learn from the Church’s Failed Attempt to Cure Homosexuality 
By Greg Johnson 

Greg Johnson, a gay atheist turned Christian pastor, tells the untold story of the rise and fall of the ex-gay movement in the evangelical church. With personal experience and original research, Johnson provides insightful analysis as to why the church today is facing profound cultural and generational shifts on human sexuality. In part because of the church’s failure over the past four decades to cure homosexuality and to engage in a culture war against gays. As a result, “a driving narrative in Western culture is that anyone who holds to a biblical view of sexuality hates gay people.”  Johnson argues the opportunity facing the church today is not to change the historical Christian teachings on sexuality or perpetuate emotional abuse caused by the legacy of the ex-gay movement, but to revoice the conversation on human sexuality, to shift to from cure back to care for gay people. This paradigm of care distinguishes between a gay person’s sexual orientation and sexual ethic. It affirms one can be gay and a Christian, like Johnson whose hope is not in heterosexuality but in Jesus.   

The Deeply Formed Life: Five Transformative Values to Root Us in the Way of Jesus
By Rich Villodas

Most believers live in the state of “being a Christian” without ever being deeply formed by Christ. Our pace is too frenetic to be in union with God, and we don’t know how to quiet our hearts and minds to be present. Our emotions are unhealthy and compartmentalized. We feel unable to love well or live differently from the rest of the world—to live as people of the good news. New York pastor Rich Villodas says we must restore balance, focus, and meaning for our souls. The Deeply Formed Life lays out a fresh vision for spiritual breakthrough following five key values: contemplative rhythms, racial justice, interior examination, sexual wholeness, and missional presence.

An Impossible Marriage: What Our Mixed-Orientation Marriage Has Taught Us About Love and the Gospel
By Laurie and Matt Krieg

Laurie and Matt Krieg are in a mixed-orientation marriage: a marriage in which at least one partner’s primary attraction isn’t toward the gender of their spouse. In the Kriegs’ case, Laurie is primarily attracted to women―and so is Matt. Some find the idea of mixed-orientation marriage bewildering or even offensive. But as the Kriegs have learned, nothing is impossible with God―and that’s as true of their marriage as anyone else’s. In An Impossible Marriage, the Kriegs tell their story: how they met and got married, the challenges and breakthroughs of their journey, and what they’ve learned about marriage along the way.

EQUIP Virtual Course

Learn how to better serve the sexual minorities in your church and life using over 40 different videos and articles, including a 16-video series with customized handouts for parents and pastors. For just $50, parents and pastors can deepen their understanding and skills at their own pace with one-year access to this powerful resource.

Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones
By Bill Henson

This 140-page illustrated guide is a treasure trove of practical insights on how to honor God and deeply love the LGBT+ people in your life. It covers a number of topics, including how to:

  • Respond well when LGBT+ people come out
  • Understand risks LGBT+ youth face (family rejection, bullying, suicidality, and homelessness)
  • Avoid using unintentionally offensive words and phrases
  • Build a support team for LGBT+ loved ones and their families
  • Engage LGBT+ individuals in trusting relationship over the long term
 

Devote yourself to prayer that blesses LGBT+ loved ones and yourself.

Spanish available at https://www.guidingfamilies.com/es.

Christian Sexuality Video Series

This youth curriculum is a 12-part, video-based, comprehensive discipleship experience that will help youth leaders, mentors, and parents engage their youth in one of the most important conversations of our age.

Learn More

Grace/Truth 1.0: Five Conversations Every Thoughtful Christian Should Have about Faith, Sexuality and Gender
By Dr. Preston Sprinkle

This is a five-week small group learning experience which introduces Christians to LGBTQ+/SSA people, explains language to use and avoid, presents a biblically faithful view of marriage and sexuality, and offers practical guidance on how to embody the love of Christ toward sexual and gender minorities. The accompanying Grace/Truth 1.0 video series is engaging and well-produced, and features the voices and real stories of sexual minority people. As of this writing, Grace/Truth 1.0 is unique in that it is the only comprehensive small group curriculum available to facilitate conversations around faith, human sexuality, and gender identity. It is an excellent resource to utilize for small groups, leadership teams, church staff, and more. Please be sure to see the ECC Supplement below for further recommendations on using Grace/Truth 1.0 in ECC contexts.

ECC Leader’s Guide Supplement for Grace/Truth 1.0.
By the Embrace Team with feedback from a diverse group of Covenant readers

The Embrace team has solicited feedback about Grace/Truth 1.0 from a diverse group of Covenant readers. This ECC supplement highlights FAQ and recommendations which have emerged from this feedback and are intended to be helpful for those seeking to utilize this resource within the context of the Evangelical Covenant Church. In addition to this ECC supplement, please be sure to review the Grace/Truth 1.0 small group leader’s guide.

Grace/Truth 2.0: Five More Conversations Every Thoughtful Christian Should Have About Faith, Sexuality & Gender
By Dr. Preston Sprinkle

Grace/Truth 2.0 is an additional five-week learning experience (follows Grace/Truth 1.0) that dives deeper into LGBT+ questions. It discusses why some Christians are changing their view toward affirming same-sex relations, addresses some of the strongest affirming arguments, explores a biblical and theological view of transgender and intersex persons, and offers practical advice on how to embody the grace/truth way of Jesus in the context of ministry.

Grace/Truth 1.0 and 2.0: A Small Group Leader’s Kit
By Dr. Preston Sprinkle

A Small Group Leader’s Kit combines Grace/Truth 1.0 & Grace/Truth 2.0. Instead of just five conversations on faith, sexuality & gender, this kit includes all 10 conversations. Additionally, the Small Group Leader’s Guide gives you and your co-leaders the understanding for how to effectively introduce and facilitate this experience. This kit has everything you need to prepare for, and lead a Grace/Truth small group learning experience. It includes Grace/Truth 1.0 and 2.0 on paperback, Grace/Truth 1.0 and 2.0 on DVD, and the Grace/Truth small group leader’s guide.

II. Stories

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality
By Wesley Hill

As a celibate gay Christian, Hill gives us a glimpse of what it looks like to wrestle firsthand with God’s “No” to same-sex sexual intimacy. What does it mean for Christians to be faithful to God while struggling with the challenge of same-sex attraction? What is God’s will for believers who experience same-sex desires? Those who choose celibacy are often left to deal with loneliness and the hunger for relationships—how can this be addressed? Weaving together reflections from his own life as well as thinkers such as Henri Nouwen and Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hill offers fresh and beautiful perspective on these questions. He advocates neither unqualified “healing” for those who struggle, nor accommodation to temptation, but rather faithfulness in the midst of brokenness

Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Celibate Gay Christian
By Wesley Hill

In Spiritual Friendship, Wesley Hill offers a study of the ancient roots of friendship and the possible future it may hold for those who seek to be loved, to give love, and to honor the Creator who is Love. Hill delves into what friendship, especially same-sex friendships, used to mean to society, and the unfortunate tendency in modern culture either to cast suspicion on such relationships, or to commoditize them to fit society’s hyper-individualistic emphasis. Using research as well as his personal experience as a gay man, Hill gives us a vision of what it could mean to live a gay celibate life and not be alone.

Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of Who I Was, and Who God Has Always Been
By Jackie Hill Perry

In Gay Girl, Good God, author Jackie Hill Perry shares her own story, offering practical tools that helped her in the process of finding wholeness. Jackie grew up fatherless and experienced gender confusion. She embraced masculinity and homosexuality with every fiber of her being. She knew that Christians had a lot to say about all of the above. But was she supposed to change herself? How was she supposed to stop loving women, when homosexuality felt more natural to her than heterosexuality ever could? At age nineteen, Jackie came face-to-face with what it meant to be made new. And not in a church, or through contact with Christians. God broke in and turned her heart toward Him right in her own bedroom in light of His gospel.

Space at the Table: Conversations Between an Evangelical Theologian and His Gay Son
By Brad Harper and Drew Stafford Harper

Can an evangelical theologian and his gay son overcome the real differences in belief that threaten to destroy their relationship? From Brad and Drew Harper, the question wasn’t theoretical–and neither was the resounding “yes” they found after years of struggle. Space at the Table is a profoundly moving memoir, written with compassion, grit and humor. It is also a guide showing the way to a love that is strong enough to keep a family connected even through the challenging reality of differing convictions.

Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity
By Gregory Coles

In his deeply-inspiring memoir, Coles shares his story as a celibate gay Christian who deeply loves Jesus and is willing to sacrifice for the sake of the cross. He reveals what it was like to discover his sexual orientation and understand “the gift of celibacy” as “a gift of loving well.” Some may be uncomfortable with Coles’ choice to identify with the term “gay” rather than “same-sex attracted,” a topic which the book also explores. Coles writes, “My gay orientation was broken, yes. But so was every orientation, every human being, every facet of creation. The question wasn’t whether I was broken but whether I was willing to let my own unique brokenness tell a story of redemption.” With grace and abundant joy, Coles invites us all to do the same.

III. Relational Guidance

The Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender: What Pronouns Should Christians Use for Transgender People?
By Gregory Coles

As Christians, what pronouns should we use when we speak about transgender people? In this paper, Gregory Coles argues that the most biblical response to this question is a posture of pronoun hospitality: the view that all Christians can and should use pronouns that reflect the expressed gender identities of transgender people, regardless of our views about gender identity ethics.

Free PDF available now
By clicking this link, you’ll be asked to provide your Last Name, Email, City, and Zip/Postal Code to The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender.

The Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender: Should Christians Attend a Same-Sex Wedding Ceremony?
By Dr. Preston Sprinkle

Christians are often face with the question: Should I attend the same-sex wedding of my friend or loved one? While the Bible doesn’t give an explicit yes or no, it does provide us with principles that should shape our response. In this paper, Preston Sprinkle presents a framework for how to think through this question and describes several responses that are faithful to a traditional Christian view of marriage.

Free PDF available now
By clicking this link, you’ll be asked to provide your Last Name, Email, City, and Zip/Postal Code to The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender.

The Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender: A Christian Perspective on Parenting a Gay Child
By Brad Harper

Christian parents and their gay kids often experience difficulties in their relationship. In this practical and thoughtful paper, Brad Harper talks authentically and pastorally about his relationship with his gay son. Not only have they maintained a relationship—it has flourished.

Free PDF available now
By clicking this link, you’ll be asked to provide your Last Name, Email, City, and Zip/Postal Code to The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender.

The Center for Faith, Sexuality and Gender: 10 Things I Wish Every Christian Leader Knew about Gay Teens in Their Church
By Laurie Krieg

LGBT youth are silently struggling in churches and youth groups all around the world. In many cases, they long to share their stories, and leaders need to be prepared to listen. In this paper, Laurie Krieg draws upon her years of experience counseling LGBT youth, as well as her own personal struggle with her sexuality in high school, to offer church leaders a practical and pastoral way forward.

Free PDF available now
By clicking this link, you’ll be asked to provide your Last Name, Email, City, and Zip/Postal Code to The Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender.

We Want to Hear From You

As we develop Embrace, we hope to receive feedback from diverse voices, especially with regard to existing resources or experiences which you have found to be helpful and effective. Feel free to connect with us anytime at embrace@covchurch.org.

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