Last Wednesday, the Sexuality Series hosted Wendy Gritter, author of “Generous Spaciousness: Responding to Gay Christians in the Church.” The lecture was conducted in a way that attempted to shine a light on the ongoing tension that is present between the church and the LGBTQ+ community.
Having previously worked with Exodus International, the largest gay-conversion ministry in America, Gritter observed that when Christians who identified as being gay started to suppress their feelings and identities, the majority of them went on to live lives of confusion, depression and darkness. This, she said, does not align with the life Christ came to give — abundant and full life.
Gritter, now the executive director of New Direction Ministries of Canada, suggested that an authentic, whole and safe environment be created among the church community where Scripture can be wrestled with and stories openly shared and heard. According to Gritter, the church must “stop attempting reorientation and start discipleship.”
Gritter stressed that generous spaciousness within the church is not a position but rather a posture that demands four values that ask four questions: 1) Might I be wrong about what I have assumed about the LGBTQ+ community? 2) How can I encounter God in the other? 3) How can I help empower the other? 4) How can I dismantle barriers so the others may flourish?
When asked why these conversations pertaining to generous spaciousness need to occur within the church, junior Sierra Slaughter said:
“This is the real world. These are our brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, friends and loved ones.If we fail to talk about this, people in our community will remain close-minded and judgmental. We will continue down our dark path of being unable to love everyone around us and we will tune out their stories because they scare us or simply because we cannot understand them. We do not have to necessarily understand right away or ever, but we have to listen.”
Gritter made the point that the fear of getting things wrong tends to block us from discipling and supporting LGBTQ+ communities within the church. She went on to suggest that “maybe God’s grace is enough. At the end of the day, there is something greater than our disagreement — our unification in Christ.”
If the church truly lived as a people of the resurrection, generous spaciousness would be a common thread throughout the body of Christ.
Sophomore Matt Schepers stated, “Wendy’s call for a collective perspective shift in the church is so refreshing — we need to stop self-righteous navel-gazing towards the ‘issue’ of gay Christians and remember that God’s grace is big enough for every Christian, whether straight, gay, transgender, married or celibate. We are all image bearers of God, no matter what sexual orientation. To discount a fellow Christian based on sexual status is to nail Jesus right back onto the cross.”
Gritter stresses that generous spaciousness is key to understanding and being amid healthy community with all believers. Senior Jerry Grieser affirms this by suggesting that “the conversation about the LGBTQ+ community is vital because LGBTQ+ students bring their own gifts and perspectives to the community, and without them, the whole Calvin community suffers.”