Q Chats | Sexual Ethics | Week 1

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Q Christian is a community comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, differing theological beliefs, and a variety of ethics. Q Chats are designed to be a deep dive into self-discovery by learning from one another, and spiritually growing side-by-side. Q Chats cannot be effective without you! We invite you to participate. Share your thoughts, stories, and perspectives. Your influential voice can make a difference in the lives of others.

Want to learn more about the people behind the perspectives? Read more.


How would you briefly describe your viewpoint(s) related to sexual ethics?


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Matthias Roberts

I believe that sex ultimately is about connection and pleasure. It’s one of the most powerful means we have to connect with other people, physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Yet, it can also be used as a means of disconnection: a way to avoid vulnerability, difficult feelings, heartbreak, and any number of things. My guiding questions are: what am I avoiding by jumping into bed? Will this be life-giving for me and the person/people I am with? Once the initial pleasure has disappeared, will I still consider this a good experience? Or will I regret it? I think we often know the answers to those questions immediately. Whether we listen to our own wisdom is another story.


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Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers

Our personal sexual ethic, I believe, is something that we each need to ponder and define for ourselves out of our values and beliefs. My sexual ethic flows out of my desire to be a force for love and justice in the world – something that is very much inspired by my faith. With this in mind, I believe my sexuality (behavior and thoughts) needs to honor me as a beloved child of God, an other (if an other is involved) as a beloved child of God, and honor my faith-based values of love, justice, and grace. This means that I want to hold myself accountable - that as I practice my sexuality I want it to serve love, justice and grace – for myself and for the other.


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David Khalaf

Many of us come from rule-based Christian backgrounds, and so I think we tend to want clear instruction on how to live out a healthy, God-honoring sexuality. Although it would be easier if we knew exactly what we can and can't do, this approach will eventually devolve into the kind of legalism our faith has meant to free us from. Instead, it's important for us to search earnestly and honestly to discern and develop our own sexual ethics. When seeking answers about a specific action or choice, it may be helpful to ask questions such as: "Is this something that shows healthy, respectful love to both me and another person?" "Is this something that is contributing toward a world integrated by divine love?"


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Constantino Khalaf

An old euphemism for sex is "conversation." I believe that's insightful, as I believe sex is ultimately a means of communication. We use sex to say a number of things—from "I'm lonely" to "I love you," from "I'm yours" to "I have power over you." In my opinion, a sound sexual ethic is one that examines what one wishes to convey through sex—one that asks, "What am I saying when I have sex? Is it a message of self-integration, or of disintegration?"


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Tonetta Landis-Aina

My sexual ethic is rooted in the understanding that sexuality is a gift from God and that so much of the physically and emotionally sensing ways we exist in the world are a part of our sexuality. Thus, all the ways that we express our sexuality everyday are also a gift. My sexual ethic is also informed by a belief that idolatry and inhumanity are the twin evils toward which human beings gravitate. The profound existential question that Cain asks God in Genesis 4:9 – “Am I my brother’s keeper?” – provides a lens through which I believe we should engage all ethics including sexual ethics. I believe the intended response to that question for humanity to be a resounding “yes” and a strong antidote to the pull toward inhumanity. Because I believe that we are to be the keepers of our siblings in the human family -- a concept remixed in the Bible as neighbor love – I believe that in all our sexual relationships Christians should strive for a justice inclusive of consent, mutuality, equality, commitment, and fruitfulness. In my view, a Christian sexual ethic should also be framed within the context of covenant which demands something more layered than a simple commitment. Although I waited until I was married to engage in sexual activity in the way many people conceive of it, I believe that such an ethic can be met outside of marriage. Whether it is more difficult to meet such an ethic apart from marriage is a question with which I am still wrestling. Finally, I strongly believe that a Christian sexual ethic should be countercultural in ways that witness to the kingdom of God. What is countercultural will vary depending on the context and requires personal and communal discernment in concert with the Holy Spirit.


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Melinda Melone

Ethics for me start with, “Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.” I want to do what’s pleasing to God, and I wouldn’t want to be judged or have assumptions made about me, so I try not to do so to others. After that, specifically sexual ethics derive from what I believe the purposes of human sexual behavior are, based on Scripture: to create life, to unify a husband and wife; to express joy in creation, as seen in the beloved other; and to provide a concrete metaphor for God’s love for us.


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Brian Murphy

I want to have sexual relationships that are grounded in consent, communication, honesty, trust, care, and consideration. I judge the “tree” of sexual ethics by the “fruit” that it bears (Matthew 7).

I’m concerned about the impact of ethics and not so much the structure of the interaction (important reminder: married, monogamous sex can still be coercive, violent, or abusive).

There’s of course space for gentle sex with your monogamously married spouse. And there’s also space for anonymous one-night stands, friends with benefits, kinky sex, and polyamorous relationships. Some of my deepest friendships started off as hookups.

I don’t find “Do this, don’t this” or “Wait until X for Y” to be helpful. Instead, I ask, Do we see each other, are we present with each other, are we taking care of each other, do we leave the other fulfilled and respected?


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Bukola Landis-Aina

My understanding of sex is that it has emotional, physical and spiritual significance and so it makes sense to me to preserve this level of vulnerability for relationships that are loving, committed, and ideally covenential.  Covenant should be modeled off of God’s commitment to love and care for us and to never leave or forsake us. I believe that it is wise, though not a mandate, to preserve sex for marriage. I do not consider my views on sex to be set in stone in any way and I consider evolution on these issues to signify growth.


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Shane Bauman

I believe that sex creates a bond between people and so to honour the connective power of sex we should seek to have sex in a context that will support the bond that is created.  This is the idea of “one flesh” that appears in Genesis, the words of Jesus and the teachings of Paul. My husband and I personally chose to wait until marriage to have sex.

Just because sex connects people I don’t think that everyone who has sex should get married.  Jesus’s teaching on “one flesh” highlights that there are reasons why the bond created in sex should be broken.  However, he also highlights that we should not be cavalier in breaking this bond and so by extension I believe we should not be cavalier in creating the bond.

My husband and I are monogamous and plan to stay that way.  I am still working out my thoughts on polyamory but so far I don’t see any conflict between my understanding of sex and polyamorous relationships that also seek to honour the connective power of sex.


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Sam Locke

Recognizing that Jesus says little about sexual ethics, it is left to individuals and voluntary faith (and other) communities to define this for themselves. For me, universal requirements are consent (including age) and physical/mental safety. Otherwise, consenting adults should be left to freely covenant with other consenting adults whatever parameters they desire for themselves, recognizing it as a personal choice and not as prescriptive for an entire community. This is why I think Q’s centered set of sexual ethics is so helpful - people can disagree in practice but agree in principle.


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Isaac Archuleta

I like to follow the mantra: Is my sexual behavior creating union (with myself and my partner) or separateness? Before finding my partner, I considered it highly necessary to have a completely honest and transparent communication style with my sexual partner(s). Joe and I are a monogamous couple, both of us holding to my mantra, seeking newness to keep things fresh and exciting, and practicing verbal vulnerability to keep the sex-improving communication flowing. I do not believe that premarital sex is unethical. Although monogamy is what we have determined works best for us, I do not think it is unethical to be in an open relationship or polyamorous. I would, however, encourage all people to consider or identify if shame is somehow efficacious in their sexual and/or relational decision-making. I believe we can make what feels like good sexual decisions out of shame.


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Nathanial Green

At the heart of my sexual ethic is liberation–inherent to love, reciprocity, justice, consent, and all guiding virtues fundamental to a healthy expression of sexuality is liberation. This is an individual and collective reality, as sex is similarly an issue of justice. Historically, sex has been used as a tool of oppression by patriarchal systems bent on subjugating women and suppressing minority identities. I believe authentically embracing my sexuality as a queer individual is an act of resistance to cycles of injustice. In practice, I believe liberation looks like healthy, consensual sex between adults even if not married.  I believe it looks like LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education in schools (and even churches). If the sex is just, equitable, reciprocal, and consensual, I believe it is a holy encounter grounded in our liberation.

Q Chats | Sexual Ethics | Contributors

Welcome to Q Chats, a way for members of the Q Christian community to engage with prompts, concepts, and thoughts! Want to learn more about the contributors? Read on to learn more about the people behind the perspectives you will hear this month.


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Matthias Roberts

Matthias Roberts is a writer, therapist, and host of Queerology: A Podcast on Belief and Being. His work has been featured in HuffPost Religion, Believe Out Loud, OnFaith, and The Seattle Times. He holds an MA in Theology and Culture and an MA in Counseling Psychology from The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology. Matthias is currently finishing his first book, an exploration of sexual shame and sexual ethics which is set to release on Fortress Press in early 2020. He lives in Seattle and spends his time helping LGBTQ people of faith and allies live confidently.


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Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers

Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers is a nationally known speaker on religious sexual shame. She is associate professor of sexuality and director of medical family therapy in the Department of Psychology, Family and Community at Seattle Pacific University, in Seattle, Washington. Tina serves on the board of The American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and is a Co-Creator of She Is Called – a Leadership Collective for Women. As a preeminent voice on purity culture and Hebrew Mystic Sexuality, Dr. Sellers is frequently featured on podcasts, TV, documentaries, articles and radio, including Spirituality & Health magazine, and NPR’s All Things Considered. In her acclaimed 2017 book, Sex, God and the Conservative Church – Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy, Dr. Sellers reveals how the western conservative church in collusion with consumer driven culture and politics, has infiltrated our core ability to attach to our partners, and instruct our children to attach to theirs. Similar to the ItGetsBetter Project, Tina developed the website, ThankGodForSex.org, where people can find videos of individuals who were effected by abstinence education and the purity movement who have found healing through therapy and other forms of emotional care. Professionals and the public will find free resources on both her personal and the institute websites. www.TinaSchermerSellers.com, www.InstituteOnIntimacy.com. She can also be followed on Instagram @DrTinaShamelessSex or Twitter @TinaSSellers.


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David Khalaf

Although he grew up in a Christian household in Southern California, David truly came to know Christ only sometime after college. After searching for truth during years of reparative therapy, David came to understand God's love and grace as something even more radical than he had ever imagined. Years more of study, prayer, and discussion softened his heart for relationship. It was around that time that Constantino came along. David likes to think he's come a long way, but God annoyingly reminds him that he still has lots of growth to do.

David studied journalism and creative writing in college, and is currently writing a fantasy series based in 1930s Hollywood. He loves his family and is utterly obsessed with his dog.


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Constantino Khalaf

Nineteen-year-olds are impressionable, and it's at that age that Constantino first read Ayn Rand. By 20, he was a staunch atheist. He came out of the closet at around the same time, and made a life on the East Coast. In the summer of 2011 he left his home in Manhattan, and walked to Alabama. He spent the following year traveling across the United States, and somewhere along the way, he began to pray. He fell in love with the 33-year-old carpenter who died for our salvation, and he is surprised every day by the grace the Lord has shown him.  He is grateful for meeting David, a man who reminded him what it feels like to have kin.

Constantino studied philosophy, classics, and all things American. He practiced journalism for a decade and half before joining the world of LGBTQ Christian advocacy.


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Tonetta Landis-Aina

Tonetta is a graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary and is ordained as a pastor in the American Baptist Churches USA. Currently, she is on the exciting journey of starting a progressive, multiracial church in Washington DC where she lives. Prior to pursuing full-time ministry,  taught literature and composition at the high school level. Her own writing has been featured in Prism magazine and Raw: Finding a Way from Conflict to Revelation.  In her free time, Tonetta enjoys porch-sitting and sweet tea like any good southerner, is an avid reader, and can’t get enough of bumming around the Middle East.


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Melinda Melone

Melinda Melone is one of several queer members of the Church of the Sojourners, an intentional Christian community in San Francisco. She is also a mom, a Montessori administrator and teacher, and a children's/youth ministry veteran. After a 25-year mixed-orientation marriage, she came out more publicly as gay and is committed to celibacy. Recently she has spoken at Revoice and QCF conferences and served on the QCF Side B Advisory. She is the author of "Welcoming Rainbow Kids" in Faith Forward: Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity.


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Brian Murphy

Brian G. Murphy is a co-founder of QueerTheology.com, a resource hub and online community for LGBTQ Christians and straight, cisgender supporters which takes “It’s ok to be queer” as the starting point, rather than the finish line of the conversation on faith, sexuality, and gender and explores how queerness can enrich our Christian faith. Brian is also a certified relationship coach, helping folks navigate and build healthy, faithful open or polyamorous relationships. He studied film production and religion at the University of Southern California, received nonviolence training from civil rights leaders including Rev. Phil Lawson as part of the Soulforce Equality Ride, and has spoken at churches, colleges, and conferences across the country.


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Bukola Landis-Aina

Bukola is a first generation Nigerian-American who was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She grew up attending youth group and Pioneer girls in Baptist and nondenominational churches. As a young adult, she was also a member at Pentecostal and Presbyterian churches. Denomination was never a focus for her. Just Jesus. Bukola is a patent attorney, having studied Chemical Engineering at MIT and law at NYU. She was very active in Intervarsity at both schools. She is ordained as a deacon in her church, Riverside Baptist, where she leads the fellowship and social events team.

Joining the organization in 2012, she found a rainbow-hued oasis that reflected the fullness and diversity of the Gospel. Bukola can often be found playing tackle football, skiing, mentoring high-school students, bringing people together, eating skittles, hosting weary travelers and planning her next getaway. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her wife, Tonetta, and their son, Temitayo.


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Shane Bauman

Shane Bauman has been a part of the GCN/QCF community for 11 years.  Soon after connecting with GCN he joined the "Waiting Until Marriage" group and through this group he met his husband David to whom he has been married to for 8 years. For the last 6 years he has been the leader of this group which now operates mainly as a Facebook group with almost 450 members. He is passionate about supporting people as they make decisions about their sexual ethic. He opposes the shame and coercion that are common in purity culture and aims to facilitate discussions about sexual ethics that give people agency and freedom. He is also a leader in Generous Space, a Canadian organization which is quite similar to QCF and an active member of The Living Room, a small independent church in Kitchener, Ontario.


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Sam Locke

Sam re-connected with his faith while in the midst of coming-out, finding strength in Christ’s message of radical love at a time when many find themselves struggling to find a place for God. Working as a fundraising and marketing executive at the Presbyterian Church (USA) at the time, he was drawn into the reformed theology premise that we are chosen by God to be the recipients of unending grace. Since then he has entered the Presbyterian ordination process and is wrapping up his studies at Christian Theological Seminary while continuing to work as a fundraiser.

Sam is a graduate of Indiana University - Bloomington and the University of Wyoming. As a fundraiser, he has raised over $400 million for a variety of faith-based ministries, civil legal aid and political candidates. Sam is a former Air Force officer and was an active Hoosier politician, seeking statewide and congressional offices in the early 2010s.


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Isaac Archuleta

Isaac has spent time as a seminary professor and now owns a counseling practice devoted to the LGBTQIA community and their religious families, specifically to help those navigating the road he’s journeyed.

Isaac’s work focuses precisely on our relational repair – whether that be establishing wholeness within one’s relationship with their self, another, or God. Isaac has a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He is invited to speak at conferences, churches, and forums across the nation, contributes to The Huffington Post, and hosts weekend seminars for couples, individuals, and religious parents of children in the LGBTQIA community. He has been featured on National Public Radio (NPR) and comes to Q Christian with a wealth of knowledge. Isaac’s pronouns are he/him/his.


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Nathanial Green

Nathanial was raised in Assemblies of God and nondenominational congregations while attending Lutheran schools in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region. The multiplicity of Protestant perspectives he internalized throughout his childhood gave him respect for the variances in tradition within his own faith. Pursuing a degree in ecclesial music, Nathanial attended and recently graduated from Liberty University, founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, Sr. Between his sophomore and junior years, he realized he couldn’t put the subject off anymore, and through a painful process of growth and discovery, he became affirming of his own sexuality. From that point forward, he began coming out and deconstructing, eventually publicly writing about his experiences while at Liberty from 2017 to 2018.

Nathanial now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, working as the Communications and Operations Specialist for GracePointe Church, a beautiful Progressive Christian community, and as part of the Q Christian team. He and his husband Elliot, a Liberty graduate from the same hall, live just south of the city with their dog and cat.

Q Chats | Moving Beyond Shame | Week 5

Q Christian is a community comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, differing theological beliefs, and a variety of ethics. Q Chats are designed to be a deep dive into self-discovery by learning from one another, and spiritually growing side-by-side. Q Chats cannot be effective without you! We invite you to participate. Share your thoughts, stories, and perspectives. Your influential voice can make a difference in the lives of others.

Want to learn more about the people behind the perspectives? Read more.

6. Don't go it alone!

Learn more about B.T and his mini-series “6 Things I Wish Every Christian Parent of an LGBTQ Child Knew.”

Many Christian parents report feeling utterly alone in their journey of parenting an LGBTQ child.

It’s not unusual for parents to feel like they’re the only ones in their church or social group with an LGBTQ child. Futhermore, most churches don’t offer any support, and many parents don’t feel comfortable talking to their pastor about it.

These forces conspire to make parents feel like they have to withdraw. And many quietly decide to keep their child’s sexuality as a family secret.

Agghh!

This is a terribly unhealthy way to respond to this situation. The healthiest parents I know are the ones who have reached out for connection, resources, and support. For all the Internet’s attending evils, its ability to connect small tribes of people with common life-circumstances is absolutely stunning.

There are millions—literally, millions—of parents out there on a similar journey as you. They also are learning how to love and support their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer child. Many of them have transitioned from the early days of fear to a new place of peace.

I really can’t encourage you enough to join a loving, listening community of Christian parents of LGBTQ children. Q Christian Fellowship offers incredible support and resources. Harbor, the support program I lead is another great option as well. And there are others! Just find one where you feel like you belong, and get involved. Share your story, be vulnerable, and pray for each other.

Being the parent of an LGBTQ child isn’t a curse. As time goes on, you’ll discover that it is one of life’s greatest blessings. And, if you let it, the journey can be one that God uses to transform you in unimaginably beautiful ways.

Join us at the WeConnect Retreat!

We all have many different aspects of our identities and sometimes these aspects seem to be in conflict with each other. I’m Christian. I’m engaged to a Jewish woman. I am a graduate student studying theology. I’m a lesbian. I identify as a female and genderqueer. I am a lot of different things and reconciling all of the parts of my identity can be a challenge.

Sometimes it is other people who tell us that we have to pick between parts of our identity. Maybe someone told you had to be a Christian or a member of the LGBTQ+ community. You weren’t allowed to be both. Even if someone didn’t say it to your face, maybe it was in the larger culture around you or was the expectation you held for yourself. And this is just one of many examples of how we struggle as people and as part of the LGBTQ+ community to reconcile our identities.

We hear a lot in the Christian world about being reconciled to other people and to God. We hear about mending those relationships with others that have been wounded and about being “right with God”. But, do we ever think about being reconciled with ourselves? We are multifaceted people; we have many parts to our identities. We all have stories and each story has several chapters, with some chapters being drastically different from each other. Yet, all of these stories, all of these chapters, all of these parts of our identities make up who we are. When we don’t appreciate the diversity that is present in each of our individual identities, it can feel like we are at war with ourselves, always having to choose who to be that day because we do not let ourselves be all of the beautiful things that we truly are. We can also feel like we are waging war with ourselves when we completely shut out chapters of our lives. I, for one, have some dark chapters in my story. I would honestly rather ignore those parts of my story and act like they haven’t impacted me. In reality, though, they have impacted me greatly. Part of reconciling my identity is reconciling with my past. It is reclaiming all the parts of my story and figuring out who I am and who I am going to be in light of all of the pages.

In this summer’s WEConnect Retreat, Emily Burke and Shae Washington will facilitate a time for you to explore reconciling your identity. By providing you with a space where you can safely explore the chapters of your story and the facets of your identity, we hope that you can find greater peace within yourself. We hope you can leave the WEConnect retreat feeling proud of the diversity that is present with in you. We hope that you can proudly claim who you are, every single part.

And if you would like to explore more about these ideas of reconciliation and diversity in identity before the retreat, check out this TedTalk.

Q Chats | Moving Beyond Shame | Week 4

Q Christian is a community comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, differing theological beliefs, and a variety of ethics. Q Chats are designed to be a deep dive into self-discovery by learning from one another, and spiritually growing side-by-side. Q Chats cannot be effective without you! We invite you to participate. Share your thoughts, stories, and perspectives. Your influential voice can make a difference in the lives of others.

Want to learn more about the people behind the perspectives? Read more.

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