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Let the Real Healing Begin
A Call to Dialogue by the Bridges-Across Steering Committee
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Appendix A:  "Justice and Respect: Our position and direction"
 

Appendix B:  "The Bible and Dialogue"
 
 

 

Appendix B: The Bible and Dialogue
by the Reverend Robert C. Buehler

Agree with thine adversary quickly -- Matthew 5:25 (Jesus)

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20 (James) 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God Matthew 5:9 (Jesus) 

The entire law is summed up in a single command: "love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14 (Paul, quoting Leviticus 19:18) 

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Luke 6:27-28 (Jesus)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (Paul) 

The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18 (James) 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3 (Paul) 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4 (Paul) 

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:14-18 (Paul) 

Do not repay evil for evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it." 1 Peter 3:9-11 (Peter, quoting Psalm 34)
 

This sampling of texts illustrates that the New Testament teaches the importance of certain personal characteristics characteristics which, as it happens, are necessary for honest dialogue. Those characteristics include humility, a willingness to listen, a desire for peace, love of truth, and, most of all, love for human beings, including those human beings who oppose, threaten or actively mistreat us. 

Some of the texts above may be seen to apply to how believers are to respond to those who oppose their faith, or who oppose them because of their faith. Some may be understood to apply only within the context of Christian community, to relationships among people of faith. In either case, however, the response called for is the same. 

Because disagreements about issues surrounding homosexuality involve, among other things, radically differing faith-based perspectives, including radically differing ways of reading and understanding scripture, the divide exists not simply as a conflict between faith and unbelief but as a gaping, growing wound in the body of Christ. The pursuit of peace among people of faith must involve the attempt to heal this wound. Christians from both sides of the divide must reach out in love to, at minimum, those Christians with whom we disagree. Then we must go further, and reach out also to those of other faiths or no faith. 

The kind of loving openness which will result in real dialogue is costly. Real dialogue involves real listening, real willingness to share the pain of others. Unfortunately, much of what passes for discussion in the public arena, even when discussion is civil, often consists merely of taking turns talking. We must do more than merely debate, even though listening to one's opponent can be risky. The goal here is not just the airing of opinions but the establishment of constructive relationships. We are looking for something even more elusive than a meeting of the minds: a way to live together in disagreement.

For those of us who openly acknowledge Scripture and the Christ of whom scripture speaks, engaging in this search can be a way to witness to the truth and validity of our faith. How better to proclaim the authority and wisdom of the One who taught us to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us, than by taking the first steps of laying at His feet our own enmity and fear, and approaching one another in humility?

Carry one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Can we do that, even across this divide? Can the real healing begin?


 -- Bob Buehler  http://members.cccomp.com/buehler/

"They will have justice without mercy who have shown no mercy. But Mercy triumphs over Justice."  -James 2:13