Asbury seminary president Timothy Tennent writes about why evangelicals spend so much time and energy talking about homosexual sex.
In one sense, you won’t read anything new here. But I do find the post and the comments thread an interesting case study in the way we talk past each other. For all the times we use terms like “Christian conferencing” and take classes on nonviolent communication and speak of hearing the other person before speaking, we do not practice that very well, at least not on the Internet. This is probably due as much to the nature of the medium as it is to our intentions. The Internet is not nearly as interactive or “social” as we claim it is.
What we tend to do in “conversations” about hard issues is lob arguments at each other. Often, these arguments include all manner of statements about the thoughts, motivations, and emotions of other people. Almost always as they go back and forth they lose all contact with the point the other person was trying to express or discuss. We seek to get our point across rather than listen to the other side. We don’t want to let anything with which we disagree go unchallenged. Or at least I know that is what I do when in a difficult conversation.
So, I want to try an exercise in listening on my blog. I’m going to try to write what I hear Tennent writing in his post. My goal here is not to offer my reactions or analysis, but to say accurately, without using a lot of direct quotation, what he would recognize as the point he is trying to make. I invite you to help me listen better by pointing out where and how my summary might miss important things.
Here is what I hear him writing:
Evangelical Christians feel the need to spend so much time and energy talking about and organizing actions with regard to homosexuality because they feel that harm is done to the church when something sinful is treated as if it were holy.
I’m not sure this is a fair statement of what he wrote. In a real conversation, I could ask him. (I have posted a version of this on his blog to try to do just that.) Before I react or respond, I would want to be certain I am hearing him as he intends to be heard.
What do you think? Is this close to what he is trying to say?