A: "Justice and Respect: Our position and direction"
B: "The Bible and Dialogue"
"Committed personal relationships
are the foundation of ... understanding and acceptance. To begin the process
of reconciliation, each of us must get involved personally in a friendship….
Intentionality is the purposeful, positive, and planned activity that facilitates
reconciliation." Breaking Down Walls1
Ron Belgau and Justin Lee are the moderators of the
Bridges-Across Youth Forum, a place for youth (25 and under) to discuss
issues of faith and same-gender attraction. Belgau is a student at the
University of Washington. Lee is at Wake Forest in North Carolina. Their
friendship developed in cyberspace.
Although I would consider myself gay,
as a Christian, I have come to believe that sex with another man would
be wrong. Justin, on the other hand, believes that two men can share
the intimacy in marriage as a man and a woman, and believes that God will
bless such a relationship. We therefore disagree quite sharply on a very
important issue. Yet it is too easy to just say that Justin is wrong
and leave it at that.
Recently the rebuilding of burned churches brought
together liberals and conservatives who might have found little in common
if they had simply been placed in a room and told to talk to each
other. Working shoulder to shoulder, they were able to recognize each other
as caring, loving people. In an atmosphere where each side refers
to the other as Nazis, working alongside each other in a helping mission
is a way to build relationships and break down stereotypes. For example,
a campus gay group and an InterVarsity chapter might join together in a
Habitat for Humanity project. There are myriad service opportunities
at the local level. Working together to decide which service project
would best serve to build relationships becomes part of the process of
reconciliation. There are hundreds of campuses which have both gay alliances
and conservative Christians student groups, such as InterVarsity. Campus
Christian groups are networked through the World Wide Web and email lists
just as campus gay groups are.
One day, as Justin and I were talking about our
differing beliefs, he
received an e-mail from a sixteen-year-old gay
kid. In his e-mail, this
young man explained that he had been about to
commit suicide. He grew up in a Christian family, but had heard so
many condemnations of gays from his parents and pastors that he did not
feel he could tell anyone about his struggles. While he was typing
up his suicide note on his computer, he took a break and went to the Internet,
where, seemingly by accident, he came across Justin's testimony.
And as he read Justin's story, he saw another who had gone through many
of the same things he had, and gained a little hope that maybe he could
find Christians who would help him to deal with his struggles and with
his pain. And so he chose not to commit suicide.
God's Spirit clearly guided this young man to
Justin. And I am forced to
ask myself the question that Jesus asked the
expert in the Law: "Who was a neighbor to this man?" Were his parents,
his pastors, the Christians around him, who made him feel that he had no
place in a Church, no hope, and nowhere to turn? Or was Justin his
A few months after this incident, I went through
a time of depression and loneliness. And in that "dark night of the
soul," Justin encouraged me.
Through several long heart-to-heart telephone
calls, he encouraged me to have faith in God and trust Him to bring me
In Straight and Narrow, Thomas Schmidt
has pointed out that those
who believe that homosexual activity is wrong
tend to stress authority and knowledge; those who believe in gay marriage
tend to stress experience. But God calls us to love Him with all our heart,
all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength.
Justin and I both strive to answer that call.
We hope that through our friendship we can help to bring healing and reconciliation.
A collaborative service project between a Christian
and a gay campus group is established somewhere. Through the Internet,
this quickly becomes known on other campuses. Mistakes are made and
people learn from them. Students across the divide develop a web
"how to" publication for establishing cooperative service activities.
The Youth Page http://www.bridges-across.org/ba/youth.htm
Ron Belgau http://www.bridges-across.org/ba/intros/belgau_ron.htm
Justin Lee http://www.bridges-across.org/ba/intros/lee_justin.htm
Friendship Across the Divide by Ron Belgau
Justin Lee’s review of Thomas Schmidt’s Straight
Steve Calverley’s presentation to the 1996 Canadian
InterVarsity Leadership Conference
1. Breaking Down Walls: A Model for Reconciliation
in an Age of Racial Strife
by Raleigh Washington and Glen Kehrein.
Moody Press 1993.
A collaborative service project
between a Christian and a gay campus group is established somewhere. Through
the Internet, this quickly becomes known on other campuses.
Mistakes are made and people
learn from them. Students across the divide develop a web "how to"
publication for establishing cooperative service activities.