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open dialogue – a space for reader response

The following is an open letter to Peter Lineham. I share with Peter an evangelical faith, which has had a common link through one of the interdenominational organisations, with which Peter has been closely associated.  To my knowledge Peter and I have not met, although we have a number of friends and acquaintances in common.


Dear Peter

I have thought much about your story in the April 2005 edition of Spirited Exchanges and have probably thought too many times how I would write this letter.  In doing so and delaying putting pen to paper, there is a real risk of missing my most immediate reactions on reading your story. 

At a very fundamental level, I am grateful for you telling your story and wish to respond by saying thanks and, in turn, be encouraging of you.

I had two reactions:

  • I was compelled to “sit up” and read (and listen carefully to) your story.  Here is an evangelical speaking in evangelical terms wanting to respond in a way consistent with an evangelical approach.  I too believe my faith needs to be scripturally based and tangible to the realties around me.  It's all too easy – and I am guilty of this – to retreat  from the challenge of homosexuality with what I fear is more dogma and inherited thinking rather than moving forward with Christ-like understanding.

Avoiding the issue is not helpful for the church.  While we can find temporary comfort in avoidance, we risk leaving many hurt, or at best confused.  And some of the most hurt and confused are our kids.

So my first thought was one of thanks to you for raising a still-controversial matter for the Christian community in a way that I can engage with – particularly given my own uncertainty over the homosexual debate.

  • My second thought – and real catalyst for this letter – was my keenness to encourage you to raise the issue of homosexuality – especially with evangelicals – and to encourage you to stick within the church.  All too painfully in my own church experience and through what I have read in the editions of Spirited Exchanges, the only apparent option for many such as yourself has seemed to be one of leaving.

Don't – hang in there if you can - despite the pain and platitudes and be encouraged that others such as myself will listen actively.

Peter, for my generation, your thinking was challenging and authoritative.  Perhaps in a way you may least expect, through your personal story, your thinking and words remain challenging and may well help us all to an authoritative understanding on an issue we have found too easy to retreat from.

Thank you for your willingness to tell your story.  I hope in some way you are encouraged to remain within your church and to urge us all to find an evangelical response to homosexuality.  We have been paralysed over this matter for too long.

Yours in Christ,
Bruce Robertson

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