Review: Journeys of faith
Journeys of Faith is a free online resource produced by the “Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender” - a U.S. based organisation. Having looked at most of the course, I feel it is easier to explain what it is, before I suggest when you might use it.
The course comprises of 8 videos, each about 20 minutes long, intended to be used in a one-to-one or group setting. It would most likely be run over 8 weeks, a bit like an Alpha course. The videos contain testimonies from a variety of Christians, who might describe themselves as gay, same-sex attracted, queer or trans - although not all of them specify a ‘label’. Rather those featured explain their experiences of coming to church and meeting Jesus in one way or another. One thing they all share, and this seems to be in line with the ethics of the “Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender”, is a belief in the traditional biblical view of marriage being between a man and a woman, and being the only appropriate context for sexual activity. This belief is very much in line with that of TFT. The session titles start with “No one is excluded”, “The Upside-Down Kingdom”, “Counting the Cost”, “Existing on Purpose” etc., and take participants on a journey, which starts by explaining God’s love for everyone and outlines how personally that love is experienced in Christ. Along the way, the speakers describe how they came to accept God’s call to abstain from same-sex sexual activity, and the impact that has had on their lives. The later sessions look at how we become more like Jesus and how to navigate the Christian community while wrestling with these issues.
The testimonies shared are very honest and moving, and the videos are professionally filmed and produced, which makes them comfortable to watch. They are also very non-confrontational, in the sense that they want to encourage dialogue with people holding a wide range of views on the Gay/Christian spectrum, rather than force one set of views onto anyone.In addition to the videos, there are discussion guides with suggested outlines of how each session could be run. They include some very thought-provoking questions, which I imagine could keep a small group chatting for hours! Alongside these guides, there is a wealth of additional resources for each session, such as articles, webinars and podcasts, which explore aspects of faith and, in particular, how belief impacts those who experience same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria. Just a few examples of these topics are “Side A & B Christianity”, “What is Marriage?”, “Celibacy & Healing” and “Spiritual Disciplines”, to name a few. There is also a very open dialogue between someone who identifies as “gay” and someone else who prefers “same-sex attracted”. In effect, these resources alone form a wide-ranging library of current discussions within the LGBTQ+ Christian sphere.
Now to the question of when you could run this course and with whom. The programme is billed as “Stories of Love & Purpose from LGBTQ/SSA Christians. A FREE 8-part series designed for LGBTQ and same-sex attracted people interested in Jesus.” I think this describes it well, and it would be a great resource to work through with LGBTQ friends who are interested in Christianity, and who are open to having discussions with people with whom they might disagree. They certainly wouldn’t need to have signed up to the traditional biblical view of sexuality, to which most readers of this magazine will probably have subscribed. I hope that, in this otherwise polarised world, we would be able to find ways of starting these conversations with people and stirring their interest in the course.
It could also be very useful for Barnabas Groups to work through together, as a way of stimulating discussion about these topics and understanding views of others, as well as an encouragement in our own faith journeys. However, having run the first session past my own Barnabas Group, there was some concern that the course doesn’t establish the traditional Christian standpoint of Biblical marriage as a given at the outset: it just presents it as one view. I understand that this is because it is aimed at drawing in LGBTQ people who might not be convinced of this belief, but who are interested in finding out more about Jesus. If you are interested, you can check out the free course content for yourself at www.centerforfaith.com
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2023 edition of the TFT magazine, Ascend. Click the button below to download your copy.
Download the Autumn 2023 edition of Ascend