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Safe and Respetful Listening
A Dierent Conversation
... the reation of a free spae where the stranger an enter
and beome a friend instead of an enemy.
Hospitality is not to hange
people, but to oer them spae where hange an take plae.
Henri Nouwen, Reahing Out
Obviously, the two aims of this onferene are in tension.
On the one hand, this
is a forum for Christians, espeially ministers and leaders, to disuss the biblial,
moral and pratial questions raised by same sex issues. At the same time, this is
an opportunity to listen to same sex attrated and transgendered people, be they
Christian, non-Christian or ex-Christian, in order to understand their experiene of
life, faith and hurh. These aims ought to be omplementary.
However, many in either or both groups will feel threatened or misrepresented by
the other. Same sex attrated people have often had terrible experienes with Christian ministers, hurhes and politis and espeially with Christian sripture. Some
who share will be extending us onsiderable trust in doing so. On the other hand,
1 ommunities
Christians and Christian ministers espeially, may think of the LGBT
in terms of politis and onfrontation. There are many more issues than these, and
everybody will be wary of disussing very personal questions in this atmosphere.
Here's what we suggest 1.
When we feel tense and defensive, we speak in ways that ommuniate
suspiion and mistrust, and others reognise that, and it esalates. We should
have ondene that love and holiness do not onit for God, and so be generous
in spirit toward eah other.
Sine you an learn from everybody here, deide to listen even while
expeting disagreement. Listening does not imply agreement, but rather empathy and respet, and a desire for understanding. In times when there is a ood
of emotion in the room, please hek-in with yourself and your olleagues that
you are still listening.
Put yourself in eah other's situations and reet on what their
experiene might have meant in your own life, or the lives of your friends and
family. Start by saying, I am urious about...
Assume that any person present may be feeling powerless or vulnerable
beause of their own sexual identity and faith history, regardless of appearanes.
Beause this is a onsiously Christian onversation, we want every
person present to be respeted and heard, and for it to be apparent that they
are, above all else, a person that we
Respond to the failitators' diretions.
They will have the best understanding
of the range of people, experienes and perspetives present in the room.
Maybe hold that question for later.
most appropriate to them e.g.
Reserve volatile questions for the sessions
biblial morals on Fri afternoon, Christian
politis on Saturday morning. Don't ignore those questions or forget them, but
reognize that they an interfere with listening, and that listening omes before
disussion. If in doubt, ask a failitator or otherwise follow their guidane.
And nally: respet ondentiality.
Don't reord or quote any person without
both their knowledge and permission. (And yes, all devies on silent.)
1 Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, Transgender
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