Q Chats | Sexual Ethics | Week 4

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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.


What do you wish other LGBTQ+ Christians knew about your sexual ethics?


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Bukola Landis-Aina

Given how much my views have changed over the years, I do not judge those who have come to different understandings than I have. In fact, I believe we have so much to learn from one another’s perspectives and experiences. We all see through a glass darkly, and if we strive to understand what others see through their unique lenses, we get to see more of God’s complete picture.


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Tonetta Landis-Aina

I waited to have sex until I was married. I was very intentional about it as I had been taught to be. While I no longer think that this is the path all people must take, I do still think that there is a wisdom in it. I still think that there is something about that path that honors the power of sex and also can encourage true virginity – a profound emptiness before God. I also would like others to know that I have been damaged from walking this path. Yet, I’m not convinced that had I walked another I would have arrived at this point in my life unscathed. But I wonder about a lot that. I’m also not convinced that reserving sex for a lifetime commitment is synonymous with shame and repression. I think it possible that had I been raised in an environment of more openness to sexuality but still decided to reserve sex that I may have been less damaged. Perhaps, above all, I want other Christians to know that I am most concerned that as Christ followers we live out counter-cultural expressions of the kingdom of God in our sexual ethics. No matter which ethic one engages, I think they must always be asking how the countercultural, attractive, repellent scent of the Kingdom of God is continually manifest in the path.


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David Khalaf

There's an increasing polarization around sexual ethics in the LGBTQ+ community. Some stick to a strict monogamous, waiting-until-marriage philosophy, and others have embraced an ethic that welcomes an abundance of sexual exploration and/or polyamory. I think there are dangers going to either extreme, especially if our motivations are unexamined. Although neither my husband nor I came to our relationship as virgins, we chose to reserve sex until after marriage in our relationship. I don't think that's necessarily the right choice for everyone, but it felt right and good to us with where we were in our lives. What was important was no so much the decision we landed on, but the conversations we had about what we wanted for our sex life and what we saw as healthy expressions of sexuality.


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Constantino Khalaf

My husband and I didn't have sex until we were married. Neither of us were virgins, but by the time we met we had independently come to believe that the most beautiful message that two people can convey through sex is the promise of kinship: Saying to a person, "I am yours, and I know you are mine." We are monogamous because we have found that singular devotion to each other is what gives us the security and energy to turn outward in service to our community.


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Shane Bauman

When people find out that I didn’t have sex until I was married, they usually put me in a box with a lot of oppressive ideologies. I believe that lots of purity culture is damaging and wrong. I don’t believe that putting limits on sexual expression is about shame or coercion or control. I strive to be someone who is not legalistic or judgmental. My sexual ethic is not about trying to please the conservatives and make them accept me by buying into their rules.

Limiting my sexual behaviour doesn’t mean that I’m oppressed or repressed. I believe I can be sex-positive and still seek to restrict some of my sexual expression.


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Brian Murphy

I want other LGBTQ+ Christians to know that just because we express our sexuality differently, doesn’t mean that we necessarily have different sexual ethics. There’s a difference between the choices each of us make about the sex we want to be having (or not having) and the values that are underneath those choices. For example, for many years my QueerTheology.com co-founder, Fr. Shannon Kearns, was celibate while I was polyamorous and also having casual sex. But we shared a common sexual ethic of honesty, consent, justice, truth, collaboration, etc.

I also want other LGBTQ+ Christians to know that, for me, I find the sacred present in my expression of my sexual ethic — from the connection I have with my partner of a decade to meeting up with a fling from an app. I find God there, too.


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Melinda Melone

I wish everybody knew that choosing celibacy can provide a rich life filled with love and intimacy, although not in the forms most people are used to seeing. I wish everybody knew that, just because I believe in a certain ethical path, that doesn’t mean I’m judging you if you don’t follow it. Also, I wish everyone knew that there can be serious differences of opinion and conviction among intelligent Christians of good will, and that we can work for justice and worship together without agreeing on everything.


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Sam Locke

In a perfect world, nothing. The libertarian streak in me thinks the church does itself a disservice by placing itself in policy-making roles related to sexuality and in creating environments where Christians feel as though they need others to look favorably upon their sexual practices and relationships. This doesn’t help bring Christ’s vision for the world any closer to reality. Knowing we aren’t in a perfect world, I would want people to know that someone can have a more liberal and open view of sexual ethics while still applying a Christian ethical framework. This sexual ethic is often admitted to by some, but self-described as unhealthy. I would submit it can be both healthy and enjoyable with the right communication and baseline values, leading to deeper connection with oneself, with others, and with God.


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Isaac Archuleta

I take it seriously to have honesty about sex. I think that, depending on your personality type and emotionality, sex can either illicit a major emotional response, be an act of pure physical pleasure, or both. I respect all people and how their bodies function – neurologically, physiologically, and emotionally. We see a diversity in sexual ethics because our bodies (neurologically speaking) function differently, thus allowing individuals to prioritize that which works best with the body they have been born into. I do however want everyone to be careful and aware of any shame that might surround their sexuality. Shame can allow a decision to feel good in a heated moment and horrible thereafter. So if there is one thing I want people to know about my sexual ethic, it is that shame is never allowed to play a part in how I approach, engage and express sex.


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Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers

I try not to make too many assumptions about what people think about my sexual ethic. I find some people think I’m too progressive, while others think I’m too religious/conservative. I find it best to sit and listen – to hear each other’s story, and perhaps most importantly, to hear each other’s pain. I believe God seeks to heal and love us in and through our sexuality. We begin that process by listening to each other with love and compassion and showing up with honesty and vulnerability. In those sacred moments, God is there in our midst. This is where we FRAME (share sexual knowledge), NAME (share our stories), CLAIM (encourage each other to see innate body beauty) and AIM (change the sexual legacy) together.


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Nathanial Green

Liberation doesn’t mean “anything goes”–that’s a disingenuous premise. Instead, it presupposes that our sexuality or positive expressions thereof–gay, straight, pan, bi, ace, poly–are inherently good and something to cultivate, not repress. Justice precludes the possibility of “anything goes”, as does mutuality, consent, and equity. When I celebrate the sexual revolution, I’m celebrating greater societal equity for women, LGBTQ+ people, and those historically oppressed by predominantly Eurocentric expressions of toxic sexuality. I’m celebrating the dismantling of toxic masculinity and the ways we commodify bodies. Generally, I don’t think the Bible is a particularly great place to be looking for a healthy, equitable sexual ethic.

Q Chats | Sexual Ethics | Week 3 (Part 2)

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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.


What do you wish you would have been taught about sexuality or creating your sexual ethics early on by your family, friends, or faith community?


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David Khalaf

I wish there had been more open talk about sex and sexuality growing up. Adults in my life rarely talked about it with me, and so the message I got was that sexuality was something secretive and perhaps even embarrassing. It's possible I would have developed less shame about my sexuality if I saw adults in my life talking about and embracing their own sexuality with more freedom and openness. Now that my husband and I are adults, we try to be conscious about how we can make conversation about sexuality more safe and accessible to the youth in our lives.


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Constantino Khalaf

I wish I had been taught to think about sex as a conversation, one in which you must be attuned not only to what you are saying but also to what your sexual partner is saying. I wish I had learned early on to see others better through sex, so that I would have been more attuned to their emotions, their humanity, and the presence of the divine in them.


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Shane Bauman

Growing up in a non-affirming church I never heard that my sexuality was normal or something that God would bless.  So obviously I wish that I had been taught that being gay was OK and that I didn’t need to hate myself.

My church didn’t talk much about sex and there always seemed to be a lot of shame around the topic of sex.  So I wish I would have been taught that sex and sexual desire are part of God’s creation and that when God says we are wonderfully made, this includes our sexuality and our sexual desires.

I also wish I had been taught to figure out personally what I believe about sex.  Sexual ethics is not about being told what to believe but rather figuring out for yourself what you believe about sex and then living in a way that is consistent with that belief.


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Sam Locke

I wish sexuality had simply been talked about. My aunt was in a long-term partnership with another woman who was fully included (from my perspective) in our family yet it wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that I realized they were a committed couple. As a dad and as a pastor, I hope to create environments where people feel safe to ask questions and converse about sexuality free from judgment and expectations which means being comfortable with myself and not being afraid to talk about my own sexual identity and sexual practices. As weird as it may sound, I think it is especially important to normalize behavior related to sexuality by simply discussing it and not being afraid to live as your genuine self (i.e. being on dating apps, going to gay bars, etc.).


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Isaac Archuleta

I wish I could have grown up in an affirming church where not just my sexuality was spoken talk of openly with guidance and encouragement (with boundaries), but one in which my personality was validated, as well. Knowing that sex has become an act that feels so personal, I wish I had known that when I express myself sexually it is good, blessed, and affirmed by God. This lesson would have saved me many years making shamed-based decisions. 


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Nathanial Green

All I had ever known as the alternative to my constrictive view of sexuality was “anything goes”. But liberation doesn’t mean “anything goes”–that’s a disingenuous premise. Instead, it presupposes that our sexuality or positive expressions thereof–gay, straight, pan, bi, ace, poly–are inherently good and something to cultivate, not repress. Justice precludes the possibility of “anything goes”, as does mutuality, consent, and equity. When I celebrate the sexual revolution, I’m celebrating greater societal equity for women, LGBTQ+ people, and those historically oppressed by predominantly Eurocentric expressions of toxic sexuality. I’m celebrating the dismantling of toxic masculinity and the ways we commodify bodies. Honorable mention: I don’t think the Bible is a particularly great place to be looking for a healthy, equitable sexual ethic.

Q Chats | Sexual Ethics | Week 3 (Part 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.


What do you wish you would have been taught about sexuality or creating your sexual ethics early on by your family, friends, or faith community?


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Matthias Roberts

I wish sex had been framed as being healthy and good, instead of being something that only has the potential to ruin our lives. While there certainly is risk involved in sexual relationships (as there is risk in all relationships), there is also incredible goodness that a sexual relationship can bring.


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Dr. Tina Schermer Sellers

I wish my family, school and faith communities were more celebratory of cultural, gender and sexual diversities and intersectionalities. There is so much to know and celebrate in all the diversities in God’s creation, and to learn from how each other experiences the world. I feel like I had to wait until I was much older and my circle of friends became much wider until I could hear the myriad of stories from people’s lives, cultures and countries. This beauty is spectacular and filled with wisdom.  On the contrary, the ignorance of not knowing and learning from this diversity causes us to be blind and causes so much unnecessary pain and hardship.


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Tonetta Landis-Aina

I wish my family and friends had taught me that expressing sexuality is a part of what it is to be human. I wish had been taught that sexuality is as natural as breathing and is part of everyday life. I would have love to have gotten the message that it is not something that need to be hidden away and never talked about. I also wish that my family and friends had connected the exploration of my sexuality to the exploration of myself. Just as they encouraged me to understand myself as a young person growing up in the world – what I liked and didn’t like, what I was good at and where my growing edges were – it would have been wonderful to be encouraged to understand myself sexually. I can imagine that age appropriate advice and boundaries would have opened the door to self-understanding and would have provided practical lessons in autonomy and self-assertion. I wish that my church had taught me the nuance surrounding the biblical verses that have to do with sex and sexuality. I wish they had been honest about the interpretive space surrounding these verses. Additionally, I wish they had not only focused on verses about “fornication” but would have also taught the spectrum of messages the Bible gives about sexuality from the rape of Tamar to Songs of Songs. Learning also that reason and experience -- in addition to the Bible and church tradition – were valid markers on the journey to know truth would have been a welcome message. Finally, I wish my church had connected my sacred sexuality to the incarnation of God.


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Brian Murphy

When it comes to sexuality and making ethical decisions about sex, I wish I had been taught with more clarity and emphasis the importance of mutuality — mutuality is such a Christian concept, I shouldn’t have to learn about mutuality in sex from secular spaces! I wish that when I was younger, my family, friends, or faith community had taught me to “judge a tree by its fruits” when it comes to theology around sex. I wish had been taught less about black & white rules and trite metaphors (tape that won’t stick, chewed up gum) and more about honoring the holiness of the person I’m encountering and be faithful to love (God is love after all).


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Bukola Landis-Aina

I wish that I had known that sexuality is not static! Maybe then I would not have been so taken aback when I felt attraction for a woman for the first time (or at least recognized it as such) at age 29. I also would have loved to have language to explain to my family that although the feelings were “new”, I was not “choosing” or being tricked into a new lifestyle. I wish our communities went beyond educating about sex in terms of avoiding the negative effects of disease and unwanted pregnancy. I wish there were spaces where peers were encouraged to share their experiences about deciding whether to have sex, pain during sex, masturbation, etc.


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Melinda Melone

I grew up Catholic in the 1960s and ‘70s, when “gay” wasn’t even a thing I knew I could be – I thought it meant Elton John or women who hated men and lived in all-female communes. I was taught that the Church defined sexual ethics, along with everything else in the moral and ethical sphere. It wasn’t until I got to college that I learned the distinction between orientation and behavior, and that there could be differences of opinion among faithful Christians on what to do about both. It would also have been helpful to know some basic facts about the gender and sexuality spectra.

An Open Letter to the Members of CHANGED

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I’ve learned a lot from you in the past month. I’ve read your stories, heard your fears and struggles, hopes and dreams. I have been reminded over and over again what it was like to desperately desire God’s approval and to will every fiber of my being to fit the mold that was so seemingly easy for everyone else but me. To cling to the Word when it felt like I was barely tethered to the Earth, seconds from unraveling and never far from my own self-harm.

I remember what it was like to feel paralyzed by the prospect of losing the people I loved the most to pursue a life that I was told would ultimately lead to destruction.

I remember the demon of my same-sex attraction waking me up in the middle of the night, demanding my repentance and smothering me with shame. 

I remember being prayed over by friends and hearing them wage war against Satan and his armies, celebrating the victory of overcoming my same-sex attraction, but only to find myself struggling again.

I’ve heard your stories and I see myself in each and every one of you. You love Jesus and you want to live a life that is good and righteous. I wholeheartedly believe it.

When we first started talking about launching UNCHANGED, we decided that we would not shy away from confronting the institutions propagating ex-gay theology, but we all agreed that it was important to protect the individuals seeking shelter in the movement. Not so deep down we are actually the same.

We are the ones who have been called to be different. We didn’t ask for it and many of us pleaded with God to take it back. We find that the stories of our beloved heroes in the Bible often begin with an appeal to take away what God has set before them.

The courage it takes to tell your community about your same-sex attraction, knowing that they will ask for change in exchange for acceptance, is astronomical. You did it once and I believe you can do it again. This time however, you don’t need to change your LGBTQ+ calling to find love.

In the words of Amanda Cook;

“Allow Me to introduce Myself again
I'm the Love you used to think could not exist
I'm as sure as where you're standing and as free as the wind
You don't have to reach for Me, because this is where I am.”

If you choose to take the next step towards self-acceptance, we are here for you. We understand the sacrifice and risk it takes to come out a second time and if you’re not ready, that’s okay. We love you and we see you. UNCHANGED will continue to grow and expand its resources for LGBTQ+ Christians in the months to come. When you’re ready, you can come home. 

With love,

Lauren

A Letter Regarding Conference and Hotel Pricing: Q Executive Director, Bukola Landis-Aina

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Dear Q Christian family,

I want to affirm the concerns that have been raised regarding 2020 conference pricing. Frankly speaking, I agree that anything that prohibits access to conference is a mistake.

As I step into this new role as Executive Director, having served as a board member for 4 years and then as a member of the executive leadership team since last fall, I am still yet fully adjusting to the responsibility that has been carefully entrusted with me.  I care so much for this community and everything that this organization has meant to me along my own journey of finding self acceptance and belonging. I know that so many of you have also been turned away from spaces that were considered home in the past. My heart breaks to learn that many receive this conference selection as being turned away once again.  

Honestly, my first instinct is to defend the decision that we made to select a conference location on the beach in Ft Lauderdale.  But I now realize that we did not fully appreciate how difficult it would be to mitigate the challenges to event access and participation that the hotel/conference pricing poses.  The many flights to Florida through the multiple international airports and the driveability from much of the South and East coast of the United States were the focus of our assessment regarding geographical access to conference, given that the conference has not been held in the Southeast since 2012.  

At the time of selection, the executive team expected that about half of conference attendees would obtain off-site lodging and intended to address the issue for those rooming on-site by budgeting for a deeply subsidized rate for all. Unfortunately, due to financial shortages in fundraising and summer retreat attendance, the organization is not currently in a position to offer deep subsidies to all attendees as originally planned.

So what can we do for this year?  In addition to providing scholarships for 2020 and providing a free livestream, we are able to offer to book at the $249 Q-subsidized hotel rate, and we are able to book these without taxes or fees so that the total price for Jan 2-5 is $747.  Q Christian encourages anyone who needs this subsidy to book here. Also, an unsubsidized option that avoids taxes and fees is available here.

Ultimately, we are already committed to event locations and pricing through 2022 but for future conference location selection, I am committed to ensuring that this does not happen again. I will work with our advisory boards to introduce transparency reforms around organization event location selections in 2023 and beyond.  We will aim to add the voice and vote of financially-disadvantaged community members at the table. I will work with our advisory board members and affinity/age group leaders to develop reformed event selection procedures in January 2020.

Please know that my commitment to this organization is not a mere job for me.  There is nothing corporate-minded about my dedication to this work. My wife and I have donated back my entire salary and more since I have come on staff. That’s how much this labor of love for my chosen family matters to me; this labor of love which lately has been a fierce fight for the life of this organization and to keep this family together.   

The work of Q Christian goes beyond the conference. Every day, we leverage our global platform of around 35,000 community members to explode harmful myths like the “dangers of a gay lifestyle,” and spread messages of hope and love for the LGBTQ community worldwide.

Proclaiming God’s love and affirmation of LGBTQ+ identity, we recently launched the UNCHANGED Movement, a affirmative and needed counter to the damage wrought in the name of God by the recent resurgence of ex-gay theologies behind the #Changed #Oncegay Movement.  Through countless shares of our content, our message spreads well beyond our enclave of affirming community. In less than a week, #UNCHANGEDLGBTQ received over 128,000 social media impressions, over 5,400 website visitors from 68 countries and at least 18 additional story submissions, reminding us just how important this work is to the LGBTQ+ community and faith communities across the globe.

There’s still so much work to do, and we need our friends and chosen family -- like you — to continue supporting us.

A lot has changed since my first conference, but one important thing hasn’t: QCF Conference is still a place where we show up for our chosen family.  Even if you show up disappointed and upset, your authentic self is wholly, unequivocally welcome at this family reunion we call the Q Christian Conference.

I hope to see you in Ft Lauderdale.

Sincerely,

Bukola


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