#14 – Laying Down One’s Life: Adopting a Posture of Love with Posture Shift ft. Bill Henson

 In

Posture Shift is a pioneer missional effort to consider LGBT people, a people group in our world that is to be reached, because God wants to reach all of the people groups in our world. They might not be a people group based on ethnicity or culture, but they are a socio-people’s group. There are people group that shares a very common experience of marginalization… LGBT people keep trying to tell us who they are, but in our language we keep relating to them on the basis of, quote unquote, “what they do”. So they’re declaring their identity. We keep engaging them at the behavioural level. ~ Bill Henson (speaker at our BCMB Pastor’s Equipping Day 2020 Posture Shift Seminar)

Imagine one day, you are sitting in a meeting with a new congregant who tells you that they are a Gay or Queer Christian and they’d like to know how they can be involved at your church. Would you freeze up? What would you say? How would you respond?

Or imagine that you are meeting with the parent of a teen who has recently shared that they identify with a different gender. How would you react? What advice would you give?

Quite possibly, these two scenarios have actually already happened to you and you don’t have to imagine. Maybe you have multiple examples to reference in your mind, of meetings you have had with people during your time in ministry. Or maybe you have never had anyone approach you to discuss these topics before.

Thinking about your ministry, the things you say or don’t say, or the things you preach, the language that you use, and the topics or terms you avoid – do you think that you are providing a safe place for someone to divulge these details about themselves or a loved one? Are you intentional with the language that you are using when you reference the LGBT community? Have you positioned yourself as a safe person to talk to about gender and sexuality on a personal level? If the answer is yes – why do you think so? Have you positioned yourself on the ‘affirming’ side or the ‘traditional’ side of this hot topic, and does your congregation know where you stand and why?

Our guest for this episode is Bill Henson, who is the founder and president of Lead Them Home, creator of Posture Shift, and author of Guiding Families of LGBT+ Loved Ones. Bill trains national, regional and local ministry teams across America to extend Christ to LGBT+ persons within a biblical framework. Join Rob Thiessen and Bill as they talk about Posture Shift and explore some of the topics covered in these seminars, as well as discuss some of the reasons there is a need for these types of conversations and training in our churches today.

Topics Include:

  • What is Posture Shift?
  • What biblical framework does Posture Shift hold to?
  • The importance of language
  • Pitfalls that evangelical Christians fall into when interacting with the LGBT+ Community
  • Tips for parents of LGBT+ children
  • Tips for pastors
  • Recommended resources

Show Notes:

#14 – Laying Down One’s Life: Adopting a Posture of Love with Posture Shift ft. Bill Henson
BCMB Pastor to Pastor Podcast

 
 
00:00 / 44:37
 
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Transcription:

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Bill Henson:
Posture Shift is a pioneer missional effort to consider LGBT people, a people group in our world that is to be reached, because God wants to reach all of the people groups in our world. They might not be a people group based on ethnicity or culture, but they are a socio-people's group. There are people group that shares a very common experience of marginalization... LGBT people keep trying to tell us who they are, but in our language we keep relating to them on the basis of, quote unquote, "what they do". So they're declaring their identity. We keep engaging them at the behavioural level.

BCMB Intro:
Welcome to the BCMB podcast, Pastor to Pastor. This is a podcast by the British Columbia Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. We want to help equip and encourage pastors, churches and anyone else who wants to listen in and be more effective in their ministry.

BCMB Intro:
This is Episode 14, "Laying Down One's Life" with Bill Henson.

Rob Thiessen:
Hey, everyone, this is Rob Thiessen, I'm the conference pastor for the BCMB Churches. And welcome to our Pastor to Pastor podcast. I am super excited today to welcome our guest, Bill Henson. And Bill is with us by Zoom today and he's in Boston, which is home territory for him. So this podcast is anticipation of a conference that we are planning for our area in the new year. And I was really excited to get to know Bill earlier in the spring this year at the conference in Boston. And so, Bill, why don't you introduce yourself a little bit to the community that's listening and maybe you could tell a little bit about the community of faith that shaped your life.

Bill Henson:
Sure! My name is Bill and I'm a founder and creator of Posture Shift and author of Guiding Families. I've been at the work of helping the church on LGBT outreach, inclusion and care for about 15 years. I'm married. My wife and I have two kids, 19 and 16. My faith journey began as a young boy growing up in rural Oklahoma, where tornadoes, tornado alley will tend to make you a Christian or tend to make you fear God. And so I remember growing up, depending on God, having our family lean into God, cry out to God at times when things were... when life was challenging. We were not the biggest churchgoing family, but there was something very sincere about the Bible lessons, the prayers that we shared as a family. When I grew up, I was in my mid-twenties living in Houston, and I was still holding on to God, but really not so much. I pretty much had everything in my life that I wanted, and I remember it was a Sunday and I'm laying in a pool and I'm just like, I have everything in my life and my soul is completely empty. And I had this desperate urge to go to church and I got out of that pool and I got showered and dressed and I ran to a church and all the church services had ended for the day. And so I had to hold in all that energy and that passion I had for God until the next Sunday.

Bill Henson:
I ended up finding a home in a United Methodist church, which, where I was at in life at that time, being able to come into a church setting, become a member based on profession of faith. The simplicity of a profession of faith, knowing I need Christ as a savior is a very powerful experience of inclusion. A very powerful experience of falling in love with God, falling in love with His word. I later, a few years later, moved to Boston, and it was in Boston Grace Chapel, where I really had a dramatic Born-Again experience. The Holy Spirit showed up to me. And one night, in a very deep, unbelievable way, I surrendered my entire life to Christ. I came to Christ in the most biblical way that we understand of being born again. It's a powerful experience. And so I had my home church at Grace Chapel since then, but through my work and through my own recovery, it's brought me into a lot of different faith backgrounds in terms of, I really relate - it's not my faith style, but I really deeply respect our charismatic brothers and sisters. I deeply respect healing and recovery-based faith communities. I really love more liturgical settings. And so, Grace Chapel certainly has its own kind of non-denominational style, but in my personal faith, I like to draw from a lot of different faith styles and I can be home in a lot of different settings.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah... no, that's amazing and certainly appreciate the spirit with which you approached the seminar (when I was there), your attitude and openness to people. Yeah, it was very affirming and made for a good learning environment. So, yeah. You shared with our listeners today about your ministry - Posture Shift. And that's what we want to talk a little bit about today. And as you said, the issues that we're talking about today is: how does a church engage with, respond to LGBTQ people, you know, and it seems like that's a very complex issue and challenging for pastors and churches to think about. So tell us about Posture Shift and what's important for us to know? What are some foundational things as we consider this ministry?

Bill Henson:
Sure. Posture Shift is a pioneer effort, a pioneer missional effort, to consider LGBT people a people group in our world that IS to be reached, because God wants to reach all the people groups in our world. They might not be a people group based on ethnicity or culture, but they are a socio-people's group. They are a people group that shares a very common experience of marginalization.

Bill Henson:
And so, if we're going to be effective missionaries in the world, we have to understand people where they are. And so Posture Shift is a missiological framework. It's grounded firmly in a biblical foundation in best practice missiology. But, best practice missiology and the scripture would call us to, as Paul says in 1st Corinthians 9, "I've become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." And so, there's creativity allowed. There's care that is allowed. God would want us to care and to be creative in finding out; how can we reach the people groups of the world? So Posture Shift calls us into a missiological framework where we look at LGBT people through the framework of history: What has their history been like as a people group? Culture: By that, what I mean is - what is it like to grow up LGBT? And language issues: Why is it that we talk and they run? We talk and they get triggered? Oooh, there's something there. And if we don't understand history, culture, language, we will fail to reach people in our world. And that's true of all the people groups in the world.

Rob Thiessen:
So you mentioned that, you know, you have a biblical approach and, like among Christians, it appears that there's, well, there's lots of divisions. There always seems to be that. But around this issue, you know, there's sort of two distinct groups that would call themselves evangelical and yet take very, very different tacks or approaches. And both would call themselves 'biblical'. One coming out affirming of gay marriage, of some kind of covenantal gay marriage. And the other side saying, "No, that's not what the scripture teaches." How does Posture Shift approach that?

Bill Henson:
Yeah. So we have a traditional, or what's sometimes referred to as a 'historic' and 'global' view of marriage. I understand the basis upon which people come to an affirming belief. A lot of the ways that scriptures get interpreted to come to an affirming belief, those methods, those approaches have been around for 40 plus years, by a number of different theologians, authors. And now it IS a growing belief, even in the evangelical world. Scripturally, from an interpretation standpoint, I can't get to an affirming view. So, our ministries, since the very beginning - fifteen years ago - has held to a traditional view of marriage and sexuality, and we continue to hold to that. I deeply respect my brothers and sisters in Christ that are affirming, but we're not a 'disputable matter ministry'. In other words, we're NOT saying, "This is such a secondary matter that, oh well, it doesn't matter what leaders believe." No. If we're going to hold to a God-honouring belief, we actually have to HOLD to something. So, in Posture Shift, we want to be super generous in reaching people and caring for people, including them, inviting them to come, serving them, allowing ourselves to be served by people. But that doesn't mean 'anything goes'. It doesn't mean that we're turning over teaching and governance authority to a different moral viewpoint. If we're going to hold to something, we actually have to HOLD to it and we can do that at the top of the church. So with Posture Shift, we would teach that teaching authority and governance for authority leaders. It's really important for there to be a single moral authority rather than kind of a disputable-matter type setting.

Rob Thiessen:
That's helpful. Hey, as you mentioned in the books and resources that you provide, a Guiding Families book. And in our community, the Mennonite Brethren community here in B.C., we passed out quite a number of those just recently. But, what would you say to parents, especially grandparents? Let's just think about in the context of the church. What are they struggling with? And you know, what makes this issue so difficult? And you know, what kind of resources is the Guiding Families providing?

Bill Henson:
Sure. It's a deep privilege that God led us to create Guiding Families from the care that we've provided to thousands of LGBT people and their families over the last 15 years. The release of Guiding Families, it's now about to be released in Spanish through the Seventh Day Adventist Church. They actually released their own SDA edition in the US and then in Australia. And now we just had an edition released in Sweden in the Swedish language. So we're really super excited about Guiding Families. We're getting reports from around the world of families that had...they had thought that, to be biblical, they had to cut off their family members. Or, to be biblical, they had to not allow their family members to come home. Or, to be biblical, they had to try to force their child to believe that "you CHOSE this" and that "you're purposely disobeying God". Through the education that we provide in Guiding Families, which mirrors a lot of the education in Posture Shift, we're seeing pastors and parents shift their posture and recognize that we've got to LAY DOWN OUR LIVES for LGBT loved ones rather than BLAMING them for being LGBT. It doesn't mean we're changing our theology. We want to honour God in what we believe and how we live out our own lives. But to honour God, we have to lay down our lives for people and particularly for vulnerable people, for marginalized people. You know, when we look at the profile of what LGBT people go through growing up, there is a lot of mistreatment in their experience that leads to a lot of trauma. There are a lot of roadblocks that create great difficulty in them growing into a faith identity in Christ, much less just personal identity of feeling like a dignified or a valuable person. And so in guiding families, it's largely an education platform to help parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, children of LGBT parents to understand what have LGBT people gone through in growing up LGBT. And what would that demand of us, as their loved ones, in how we engage them, care for them, welcome them. As I say in Posture Shift, a gospel of exclusion has no power to reach already banished people. There is no gospel power in excluding family members. There is no gospel power in disowning family members. There is gospel power in us laying down our lives for our loved ones.

Bill Henson:
And you know, the scriptures say that we're sinners, yet we love our children so, so much. But Jesus says, oh, yeah, but you're a sinner. God is not a sinner. His love for your children far surpasses the love that you have for your own children. And his love for us, I suspect, surpasses anything that we can imagine. We often don't feel like WE'RE so lovable. The scriptures say God loves us so much, so deeply that he gave his son Jesus to die as a sacrifice for our sins. God is our father in heaven. He is holy. We don't ever want to lose track of that, that he is radically loving. In fact, it's because he is so holy that it reflects just how loving he is that he would die for people that are so unholy. People like us! In light of our own need of mercy and grace and unconditional love, undeserved salvation, unearned, unachievable salvation. A gift from God. Oh boy! As partakers of THAT amazing grace, we want to make sure that we're teaching parents and grandparents and family members to go to love their LGBT loved ones well and generously.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah, and explaining it that way, I think you're disarming one of the mistakes that churches make in that - elevating this sin above other sins and just saying, hey, no, grace tells us that, you know, what God has given us in salvation is for everybody. And then you also mentioned another mistake that's made - and this is in families, but maybe also in churches - and that's just that mistake of rejection. Of pushing people away, somehow thinking that to protect God's holiness, we have to not associate with people. What are some other common mistakes you see that evangelical Christians have been making in this mission or lack thereof toward this community?

Bill Henson:
Sure. Let me go back to parents, just for a second. When many parents read Guiding Families or when some parents come to Posture Shift even, what many of them are reporting to us is "I didn't know that I had permission from my church leaders to go love my LGBT children." So when you look at the tag line of Guiding Families, it says "For every pastor, every parent and all who care for LGBT loved ones". In those we, systemically we said, "Woah! we've got a big problem if parents are thinking that their pastor is expecting them to disown their child, and that's why they're doing it."

Rob Thiessen:
Right.

Bill Henson:
So this is a mistake. And we're trying to capture a correction to that error, by making sure that parents know, "No, no, no. Your pastor is not asking you to do that." I've never met a pastor - Oh, in history, yes, I've heard many pastors say, "have nothing to do with an LGBT loved one." But in terms of in our world today, do I meet pastors that are expecting parents to disown their children? No. I meet pastors that would WEEP over that. And so, you know, it's really, really important that pastors get up in front of their congregations and declare, "Look, if you've got an LGBT child, an LGBT loved one, I'm calling you in the name of Christ, and in the name of scriptures, in the teachings of scriptures - go lay down your life for your loved one. Don't disown them. There's no gospel power in disowning or rejecting."

Rob Thiessen:
That's helpful.

Bill Henson:
Some other mistakes that we make are... Wow! They're like, really well intentioned efforts, but our language is wrong. So, if I could kind of summarize it, it's that LGBT people keep trying to tell us who they are, but in our language, we keep relating to them on the basis of, quote unquote, "what they do". So, they're declaring their identity. We keep engaging them at the behavioral level. Again, I'm not changing my theology on what is sinful or not sinful. I'm simply saying that, if we want to bring the presence of Christ to people where they are, as they are, we really do have to come to people where they are. And that starts with recognizing that they have a name. They have a pronoun. They have a way that they see themselves. And if we're not engaging them at the basis of who they are, relationaly, we're not going to have trust. And without trust, we won't have proximity. And every missionary understands, if you don't have proximity, you don't have gospel reach to a marginalized people group or to any people group for that matter.

Rob Thiessen:
OK, so that's a challenging idea. Like, you know, a lot of us in Canada have been listening to Jordan Peterson over the last few years. It's been a super interesting journey. But, you know, philosophically... so, if a person comes to you and says, "I'm a zebra. Call me zebra." Yeah, talk us through missionally, like, you know, for a lot of people, they're just like, "Well, that's crazy! I'm not going to do that." But missionally, you're saying you have to engage people where they're at?

Bill Henson:
Yeah. Yeah. And so I think what we really most need is - I mean, we're all going to be uncomfortable in certain situations, right? And by the way, level playing field, LGBT people will be uncomfortable with us, too, okay? So, just level playing field. No one's being blamed, as if "you deserve for us to be uncomfortable if you..." No! it's just inhumanity. It doesn't take someone being gay for us to be uncomfortable with someone, right? So what do we do in those settings when we're uncomfortable? Well, we either make huge language mistakes or we try to buy some time with a pause. Hopefully we do handle that well, rather than some kind of evangelical freespace. But I always, and just, I'm always saying, "Lord, help me to NOT be the reason why you have to leave the ninety nine to go get the one. And Lord, when you bring me face to face with the ones in this world who have already been propelled outward, help me to maintain eye contact. Help me to look sincerely at them. Help me to have an honouring question that I can ask. Help me to be sincerely interested in their soul and in their life, and in caring and loving for them rather than being shocked by them." In this posture, what I'm always prepared for, is to ask an honouring question. And the other question that I can rely upon almost every time is, "Hey, Josh, well, thank you for sharing with me about your identity and telling me that you identify as 'they', 'them' and 'they're'. Well, I'd love to hear more about your story." And by asking an honouring question, first of all, I sincerely mean that. But also, it builds in a pause with no cause. In other words, if I ask a question, it actually elevates someone else's voice for them to be able to share and it gives me more time to think. But also, the more that they share, the more I'm going to learn, the more that I'll have a range of additional questions. Then ask like, "Oh, wow! Josh, gosh, I'm so sorry that your parents rejected you. At what age did you experience rejection from your parents?" In other words, that by asking one honouring question, it's going to lead to someone sharing their story. And when they share it, we're going to find things that we can agree with, that we can feel deep compassion for. And it's going to draw us into their life in an authentic and a genuine way rather than a manipulative way.

Rob Thiessen:
So, that big mistake is just the initial reaction, a response that is, you know, we're quick to judge. And even visually, when you describe, you know, asking the Lord to help you keep eye contact. I remember when we took some teams from our church into China and we would stop at the YWAM base there outside of Hong Kong, and before we went into south central China. And one of the YWAM teachings was 'watch your face', because they said, you know, in Asian culture, people read their facial expressions immediately, and especially when you're in a restaurant or being served a meal. You know, in China, they serve some unusual food. And if your face reflects shock, you're going to cause offence. And so, yeah, it's just a basic missionary principle, right? Don't be shocked by things that you are not prepared for and keep a smile on your face. And I think what you shared, that's brilliant! Ask a good question. Open the door.

Bill Henson:
Yeah. The other things are... I mean without the knowledge, we'll keep making these mistakes. The corrections are quite simple. Like, we'll tend to refer to things like 'alternative lifestyle' or your 'gay lifestyle' or your 'lifestyle choice'. Well, it's kind of... that language is kind of assigning blame, like you chose this or you're just purposely choosing the strangest or outside the box lifestyle you can. But this language is very common. So understand, you could have love in your heart. You could really care deeply. But the moment that you're a Christian and an LGBT person knows you're a Christian and you're saying "lifestyle choice", "gay lifestyle", this is going to reduce who they are - to a behavior, to a choice. And they're going to feel like we're judging them or blaming them. So it's really important. In Posture Shift, we cover language and it's a very, very... it's a very intentional effort to take just a few words and phrases out of our vocabulary that we keep retreating to. Another one: 'Love the sinner, hate the sin'. Well, I mean, I met one gay activist in Houston, Texas, who told me, "You know how you described that the gospel is like God so loved the world that he sent Jesus? Well, I actually have never heard that from a Christian. I've only heard Christians come up and tell me God loves the sinner but hates the sin. And I never knew what that meant, other than hate or judgment". So understand that when we resort to some of these easy clichés, we're actually dehumanizing people and we're not actually conveying the gospel.

Rob Thiessen:
Of course there is a gospel, a profound gospel truth about that cliche, but it has to be understood in its depth in the whole story, not just offered up as a...

Bill Henson:
Yeah. In fact, along these lines, the way that I've disciplined myself in not falling into the cliché, is to say this "Lord, what IS the biblical meaning of 'love the sinner, hate the sin'?"

Bill Henson:
Oh, OK. I think this is it. "Lord, help me so love YOU, that I will not deny or dismiss my own sin. That I will actually hate my own sin so much, so that I can love you so much, so that I can be prepared to lay down my life for other people, whether they ever repent or not. And I think that, in other words, it starts to get at the level of the great commandment - love, the Lord, your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and like unto it, love your neighbor as yourself. We love God, we respect His Holiness. We've come to terms with our own sin, but we're not then focusing on trying to fix other people's sins. No, we're going, laying down our life for them, caring for them, bringing God's presence to them where they are, as they are.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. And I think, you know, with this particular area, the people identify, like, they don't look at it... when we talk about sin, we're talking about behaviors, you know, and attitudes and rebellion kind of thing. We get that. We know what sin is. But for a person who's identified or identifying with that, it's not...they don't think about it as a sin, it's an identity issue. So then, they just think that,"So God loves me but hates me". And that's a lot to explain to a person, and almost impossible for them to understand from their framework. So that's what you're saying. That's not the place to start. That's not the way to communicate.

Bill Henson:
It's not a place to start. And also, you know, if you're in a church and your church leaders are responsible for dealing with things, it's not every church member's obligation to feel that, "Oh, unless I go tell that person they're living in sin, I am condoning an area of their life." No, that's not true. Repent of your own sins, and allow your church leaders to deal with things that might need to be dealt with. Oh, if something needs to be reported, then certainly report it. I'm not asking people to be in a setting where someone is being abused and just, "Oh, well, probably someone's dealing with that." No! If something needs to be reported - report it! But not EVERY church member needs to go up to the gay couple to let them know that they're living in sin. Let's trust that our pastors are handling that well.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah. So there's so much to learn here. Hey, I wanted to also just ask a question. This maybe is an issue that lots of parents are struggling with now, with the gender fluidity.So both parents and maybe youth pastors, you know, more and more young people saying, well, you know, "I identify as male or female or bisexual". And that also feels confusing, you know. What do you say to parents? And this goes into Guiding Families, I suppose. I know you address that, but maybe you could just respond with just the tip of the iceberg for how pastors and parents can respond well to kids who are dealing with gender fluidity issues.

Bill Henson:
Sure. I think we have to take it as a really serious matter in terms of that that's not just something that kids are making up, that it's something that they could be feeling very deeply inside. Now, there are kids identifying as queer or non-binary at a VERY high rate in our world today. Up to 16 to 20 percent of kids are identifying as gender-queer or queer or non-binary. But by the time those kids are twenty five, that number is down to about 1 percent. So there is an ideology of youth culture that we no longer have to be bound by male, female. We can be either. We can be none. We can be both. This kind of thing. So understand, every generation of youth has certain ideologies that are the thing that they relate to. And we have to understand that when we were teenagers, we had youth ideology that we held to strongly, that was important to us. Adulthood tends to make - if it's not a real experience - then adulthood tends to wash that out. Things come and they go as trends and right now it is a trend, it is cool, if you will, for me as a teenager to not have to be defined by traditional gender roles or even identify by a gender. So I'm not going to freak out by youth culture. We've got to reach the next generation and we've got to engage kids where they are as they are. But understand, most of those kids will stop identifying as non-binary or gender-queer as they get into their 20s.

Bill Henson:
Now, let's talk briefly about the segment of folks that, of teenagers or pre-teens, that really are transgender or really are non-binary in their gender identity. OK? Well, what do we know about that? We know that kids will outgrow gender dysphoria at a fairly high rate. Some scientists say 70 to 90 percent of kids will grow out of it. I can't replicate that in our work, but those scientists know more than I do. I'm simply saying, in our work, we see kids growing out of it at about a 50 to 70 percent rate. That's still very significant. So if we'll actually care for kids well, engage them in whatever they're experiencing, allow that to be a conversation that's safe between mom and dad and a child or a pastor and a teen. If we'll allow that to be a safe conversation, we'll actually facilitate the very atmosphere by which a kid can grow out of it. If we reject and deny their experience and try to talk them out of it forcefully, we may cause a kid that's not actually transgender, to entrench more deeply into a trans or non-binary identity. But the driver for it is primarily rejection and the wound of rejection, not because it's an actual experience at some biochemical level.

Rob Thiessen:
So blowing it off as a parent is a bad idea.

Bill Henson:
Yeah, it REALLY is. We're going to have to engage our kids. Look, if our child has some type of eating challenge, if they have some kind of self-esteem challenge, we're not going to be able to make depression just go away. We're not going to be able to make an eating challenge to just go away. We're not going to be able to make a self-esteem issue just go away. We're going to have to be healers. We're going to have to sit at our child's bedside and talk with them and prove that conversation can be safe and prove that bringing our cares and concerns into prayer and our relationship with God, that instead of trying to cut off what you're experiencing, let's take it to God. "Lord, Josh feels like he's a girl" or "Lord, Josh is feeling just... dysphoria" or "Lord, Josh feels like he is not a boy or a girl. Lord, you are our father in heaven. You love us. You know your plans for us, to prosper us and give us hope in the future. Please be with us and help us and help Josh to feel more hopeful and help Josh to know how valuable he is, how much mom and dad love him, and that you love him even more and that you died for him." I mean, I'd rather be at my kid's bedside, scratching their back, rubbing their feet, proving that dad is safe and having a conversation about this, rather than trying to cut it off, if you will. In my prayer closet, my protocol is that I might be praying in a more...calling out scriptures. "Lord," you know, "rescue my child," you know.

Rob Thiessen:
Interceding, yeah.

Bill Henson:
Yeah, exactly. But for our children, for us to do that in front of them in our faith style, our children might be accustomed to that and it's OK, but to another child, that might be, "What on earth happened?! I came out as trans and now my mom or my dad has gone Pentecostal on me. It drives me crazy!" So, we just gotta make sure we contextualize what our child most needs and then we might need to separate our prayer closet from our engagement with them.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah. Yeah. Well in just talking to you, Bill, you realize, or I realize how, you know, how much I don't know and how much, you know, there is to learn and makes me anticipate this Posture Shift conference for us all a lot. I wanted to ask you one last question, and this has to do with, you know, young men and women in the church who identify as gay and lesbian, and yet they hold to a traditional biblical view of marriage. In other words, they're committed to the scripture. And that maybe they've made a choice to live a celibate life. What do they need in the church? What are they not getting in the church? What would you say to pastors and church leaders who might be listening, to help them in this regard?

Bill Henson:
Yeah. I'm amazed when I meet a teenager, a young 20 something, really anyone under 35 that lives in the world that we live in, a world where gay marriage is legal, a world where you can actually be in an evangelical church and find an evangelical church that has an affirming view or at least a disputable matter view. I mean, people can have anything in the world yet, because of their deep faith, because of their deep commitment to scripture, because of their deep surrender to God, they are deeply compelled to surrender their right to act on their sexuality - which is not just about sex. It's about the idea of pursuing a life partner, which is a deep instinct that God put in us in the beginning. The idea that we would want to find someone to fall in love with, to share our life with; to suspend that search, to surrender that right to have that kind of relationship, to say no to immorality, to live out a radical, repentant life - Oh! It's what Dr. Yarhouse calls "costly obedience". It's a costly obedience and it's one that is to be respected, rather than dismissed. So when someone is living out a repentant life, I'm just... and again, a young 20 something in the world that we live in with the options that they have - I say THAT is the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is the power of conviction flowing from the Holy Spirit, from God's word. So what they need is, they need the family of God to be the family of God.

Bill Henson:
They might not have acceptance in their family. They might still be blamed for having the feelings, "Because you haven't become straight, you are still disobeying God." OK? Wow! As the family of God, we need to be wrapping our lives around all LGBT people, whether they repent or not. We need to lay down our lives for people, but for those that have been born again and have given their sexualities to God. Oh, my goodness. We need to recognize the commitment that they've made to Christ, the sacrifice that is involved in that, the loss that they may be experiencing in that. On the one hand, I don't want to paint a single celibate life as only a life of suffering. It could be a vibrant life with great vocation, as Wesley Hill writes about in 'Washed and Waiting' and other writings. It could be a vocation that brings great purpose and significance and actually is outlined in the New Testament. I mean, a life that is single and celibate, you can do things for God that a married person simply cannot do. And so it could be a vibrant life, but it could also be a costly obedience. And so I think we, as the family of God, need to wrap our lives around and say, "I see what you are doing in order to follow Christ, and it is an inspiration.", rather than seeing these young people as a threat. And why would they be considered a threat? Well, because many of them are still describing themselves as gay. So they might be saying they're a gay Christian. In the younger generation, not many of them even use the word 'gay'. Many of them use the word 'queer'. So they'd say they're a 'Queer Christian'. Well, the moment we hear 'Queer Christian', a lot of us are thinking, "heresy", you know, "lack of obedience", "lack of repentance". Oh, I'd want to get to know someone's story before I declare that they are not repentant! If I hear a story of actual repentance, I might still feel like, "Oh, I wish they would only identify as in Christ, rather than put, you know, 'queer' in front of that, or 'gay' and 'queer' in front or 'gay' in front of that." OK, that's fine. I understand that concern. But am I going to call people heretical or unrepentant just because of a word that they use to describe themselves? By the way, do you know why many young people still say they're Queer and Christian or a Queer Christian? Because they feel like, if they don't say it, that they're actually lying to people. They actually feel like they're misleading people. They actually feel like, "Oh, if I don't tell people who I am and then they later find out, they'll feel like I deceived them." because they've been blamed for being gay and not telling people that they're gay, their whole life. So, if someone has the courage to say they're Queer and Christian or Gay and Christian, MY comfort is not the most important thing. The most important thing is: has this person come to Christ? If they haven't, I need to lay down my life for them. And if they have, I need to recognize, Wow! This young person is living out a powerful, repentant life. This young person is an ASSET to the church, not a threat.

Rob Thiessen:
Right, yeah. Well that's so helpful, you're just reminding us again, you're dealing with people, you know, a people to be loved. I think there's a book by that title.

Bill Henson:
Yes, Preston Sprinkle and Preston is a great voice and I highly recommend 'People To Be Loved' because it covers a lot of the posture stuff that we've talked about today, but also covers the theology and why we continue to hold to what we do, in terms of a traditional view. So he is a great writer, a great friend. I highly recommend 'People To Be Loved'.

Rob Thiessen:
Ok, well, that's great. Any other books that you want to recommend just as we wrap up?

Bill Henson:
Yeah. There are many: Dr. Nate Collins, 'All But Invisible', Wesley Hill, 'Washed and Waiting', Greg Cole's 'Single. Gay. Christian.' It's Single period Gay period Christian period. Meaning, these are three things about me: my identity in Christ is supreme above everything, but it is still true - I am a single and a gay person. So Greg Coles's a great writer.

Bill Henson:
David Bennett has written a great new book. He's a former gay activist, who has had a radical encounter and he actually is on speaking circuit with Rabbi Zacharias, International Ministries. He's at - I don't want to get this wrong - but I think he's at Oxford working on a PHD. He's written a great book called 'A War Of Loves'.

Rob Thiessen:
It's sitting on my shelf behind me.

Bill Henson:
Awesome! Yeah, there, like, there are many other books and many friends who have written books. I'm so afraid I'm gonna miss one. One in particular I really like, Dr. Bruce Miller, is 'Leading a Church In a Time of Sexual Questioning'.

Rob Thiessen:
Yeah.

Bill Henson:
That's an excellent book. So.

Rob Thiessen:
That's a good resource for pastors.

Bill Henson:
Yeah, exactly.

Rob Thiessen:
And we've been trying to encourage all of our pastors the importance of, you know, a holistic preaching on sexuality for their churches. But it's... yeah, it's uncharted territories for a lot of pastors. Like we said, if we go back 30 years, it was just a black and white issue. And now it seems so much more complicated. And yet, you know, the word of God gives us hope and you've helped us to think missiologically about this. So helpful. So thank you so much for the conversation today, Bill. And just want to remind the listening audience that Bill conducts these Posture Shift seminars. People can look him up on the website. Where do they look if they want to find out if it might be in their area?

Bill Henson:
Yes, absolutely. You can go to Posture Shift dot com and you can find out where we're at around North America. A lot of events are private, but the open ones will say "open registration", they'll have a 'register' button. And so you can learn that there. And then Guiding Families dot com is where you can get a copy of 'Guiding Families'.

Rob Thiessen:
Excellent. And for the BCMB community here in British Columbia, we'll be hosting this Posture Shift conference coming up April thirtieth, I think are the two days right there at the end of April, and that'll be in the Abbotsford area. And we'll have registration up on the BCMB website before too long. So God bless you, Bill. You're in the front lines with a difficult area. We pray God's grace and protection on you and your family. And it's just been a privilege to chat with you today.

Bill Henson:
Thank you. It's my deep privilege. I'm really looking forward to being with you all in spring of 2020.

Rob Thiessen:
Ok. Excellent. And to the listening audience, we look forward to see you again for our next pastor, your pastor conversation. Bye!

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