This week’s session took place at St Mark’s and it was good to welcome some new people to the course. One of the benefits of the course is that each week has a different focus. So it doesn’t matter if people are not able to make every week and there is always the opportunity to catch up with the video sessions via the Living in Love and Faith website (llf.churchofengland.org).
This week, the session was divided into three sections. In the first section, we listened to some teaching about identity via the video presentation and then we watched two story films, Alex and Jo (a married couple, Alex is trans) and Luke (who is gay but has chosen to be celibate). We then talked together about words that we might use to describe ourselves and then shared what we have learned about what it means to be human that brings us both joy and pain. We also thought about how our own church might respond to someone whose sexuality and gender identity might be different from our own.
The second part of the session involved looking at two Bible passages, Genesis 1:27 and Galatians 3:28. We reflected on how the verse from Genesis helps us to understand our different experiences of being gendered. We also discussed what it means to have a new identity in Christ that is more important than other identities. At the end of the session, there was opportunity to share our thoughts and reflections with the whole group although there was no pressure for people to say anything if they didn’t wish to.
The final part of the session involved listening to some more teaching via the video presentation about how questions of gender and sexual orientation are complex and there is still a lot of learn. In our small groups, we discussed how we understand the connection between sexuality and identity and shared some of our own thoughts and feelings about these issues. A common theme was an acknowledgement that language around gender and sexuality is often new and unfamiliar, and we might need to look up what some of those words mean!
Here are some of the reflections that people shared at the end of session 2:
‘Wonderful to have safe debates and different viewpoints, ALL accepted with laughter.’
‘I haven’t walked in these people’s shoes. Jesus help me to understand.’
‘I am learning.’
‘How can we welcome all to our church?’
‘Identity is personal but shock or surprise causes fear. Fear for the future perhaps.’
‘Accept people for who they are.’
‘Allow people to be themselves.’
‘Age affects how you deal with the issues. Younger people don’t have a problem with the issues raised.’