A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

Why the Church Should Be LGBTQ+ Affirming With Tom and Alexa Oord

June 30, 2023 Randy Knie & Kyle Whitaker Season 3 Episode 25
Why the Church Should Be LGBTQ+ Affirming With Tom and Alexa Oord
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
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A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
Why the Church Should Be LGBTQ+ Affirming With Tom and Alexa Oord
Jun 30, 2023 Season 3 Episode 25
Randy Knie & Kyle Whitaker

Tom Oord is back! Dr. Thomas Oord and his daughter Alexa compiled and edited a book called Why the Church of the Nazarene Should be Fully LGBTQ+ Affirming."  We wanted to talk to them about the book because everyone in the church (not just the Church of the Nazarene) is talking about human sexuality and whether or not the church should be LGBTQ+ affirming.

LGBTQ+ inclusion and affirmation is something that's really important to us, and we love making space to have these much-needed conversations with scholars and, more importantly, queer people in and around the church to keep moving this essential conversation forward.

For more on this topic, check out our previous episodes from Season 2: LGBTQ, the Church, and Why We're Affirming, Heavy Burdens: Interview with Bridget Eileen Rivera (Part 1), Heavy Burdens: Interview with Bridget Eileen Rivera (Part 2), and LGBTQ Christians, Shame, and Love: Interview with Dawne Moon and Theresa Tobin.

In this episode, we tasted Little Elliot, a blueberry session mead from Manic Meadery. Jump to 7:05 to skip the tasting.

You can find the transcript for this episode here.

Content note: this episode contains explicit discussion of sex and sexuality.


Want to support us?

The best way is to subscribe to our Patreon. Annual memberships are available for a 10% discount.

If you'd rather make a one-time donation, you can contribute through our PayPal.

Other important info:

  • Rate & review us on Apple & Spotify
  • Follow us on social media at @PPWBPodcast
  • Watch & comment on YouTube
  • Email us at pastorandphilosopher@gmail.com


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Tom Oord is back! Dr. Thomas Oord and his daughter Alexa compiled and edited a book called Why the Church of the Nazarene Should be Fully LGBTQ+ Affirming."  We wanted to talk to them about the book because everyone in the church (not just the Church of the Nazarene) is talking about human sexuality and whether or not the church should be LGBTQ+ affirming.

LGBTQ+ inclusion and affirmation is something that's really important to us, and we love making space to have these much-needed conversations with scholars and, more importantly, queer people in and around the church to keep moving this essential conversation forward.

For more on this topic, check out our previous episodes from Season 2: LGBTQ, the Church, and Why We're Affirming, Heavy Burdens: Interview with Bridget Eileen Rivera (Part 1), Heavy Burdens: Interview with Bridget Eileen Rivera (Part 2), and LGBTQ Christians, Shame, and Love: Interview with Dawne Moon and Theresa Tobin.

In this episode, we tasted Little Elliot, a blueberry session mead from Manic Meadery. Jump to 7:05 to skip the tasting.

You can find the transcript for this episode here.

Content note: this episode contains explicit discussion of sex and sexuality.


Want to support us?

The best way is to subscribe to our Patreon. Annual memberships are available for a 10% discount.

If you'd rather make a one-time donation, you can contribute through our PayPal.

Other important info:

  • Rate & review us on Apple & Spotify
  • Follow us on social media at @PPWBPodcast
  • Watch & comment on YouTube
  • Email us at pastorandphilosopher@gmail.com


NOTE: This transcript was auto-generated by an artificial intelligence and has not been reviewed by a human. Please forgive and disregard any inaccuracies, misattributions, or misspellings.

Randy  00:06

I'm Randy, the pastor half of the podcast, and my friend Kyle is a philosopher. This podcast hosts conversations at the intersection of philosophy, theology, and spirituality.

Kyle  00:15

We also invite experts to join us, making public space that we've often enjoyed off-air around the proverbial table with a good drink in the back corner of a dark pub.

Randy  00:24

Thanks for joining us, and welcome to A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar.

Kyle  00:37

So today, we're talking with Tom and Alexa Ord, Tom, might sound familiar to you, if you heard our previous interview with him, goes by Thomas J. ord on his books. And we talked with him about Omnipotence A little while back. And just a few days later had this conversation about a completely different topic. Tom is a member, a leader, really, I guess, and the Church of the Nazarene. And wrote edited a book about why that denomination should go fully LGBTQ affirming. And he edited that book with his daughter, Alexa, who was in publishing. So kind of happy merge there worked out nicely for them, I guess. And I guess, Tom, kind of, or maybe they together kind of run a publishing company. And so this is a enormous volume. It's like 500 pages. And it has I don't know how many a lot of essays by people in that denomination from three perspectives. There's a chunk of people who are in the LGBTQ community, and in that denomination, there's a chunk of people who are straight allies. And then there's a chunk of scholars in various disciplines. And they all came together under that very straightforward title, why the Church of the Nazarene should be LGBTQ affirming, I think, is that something like that? Yeah. And so we had a really good conversation about the core lines of argument in that, in that that perspective, how much of it is generalizable beyond their own denominational context? The answer to that is a lot. There's something we talked about a lot before, and we care a lot about, and it's going to keep coming up on the show. And Tom was someone we really enjoyed talking to. And so when we saw this, it was just kind of a no brainer to have him on and talk about it again.

Randy  02:29

Yeah. And just a reminder, Tom is a scholar, he's a theologian, a brilliant one at that. And the Church of the Nazarene. If you're not familiar, it's a large denomination. And it's rooted in the Wesleyan movement. So in my Protestant, you know, moorings, that's a really good tradition, like the Wesleyans care about social justice, they care about the whole person and human flourishing. And I think whether you find yourself as nondenominational if those are for those of you who consider yourselves, Christian, if you consider yourself nondenominational Methodist, you know, even some form of Baptist, I don't know how many Baptists are listening to our show. But I'm trying to say, this is a very, very mainline denomination, this is a denomination that's very representative of the rest of the evangelical movement, and they're having these conversations. And I hope your denomination or network or movement is having these conversations as well. And I hope you have a time or two in Alexa or in the midst of those conversations, because they're really important voices. So I'm excited for this conversation. And I'm excited for the tasting that we're about to do because if you don't know, the show, we are a pastor and philosopher walk into a bar, we'd like hosting conversations that sound like you're in a bar, they're a little bit more relaxed, a little bit more laid back a little bit more honest and raw. And because of that we like to sample and alcoholic beverage and I love meats. Kyle has introduced me and brought me into the world of meats and I love them. So Kyle, what are we drinking here?

Kyle  04:03

Yeah, so the first made that we had on the podcast was called Elliot it's a blueberry made from a place called manic meatery. And I lost my brain. Yeah, it's so good. It's so good. I still never had a better blueberry made. This one is called Little Elliot, because it's a session version of that. So session just means it's lower ABV. It's carbonated usually. And it just it aims at something different. So I would I would try in your brain to not compare them because they're gonna be very different experiences. But this is a straight blueberry session Mead comes in at

Randy  04:41


Kyle  04:42

Yes. 6.8%. So just think what would I like to drink hanging in a hammock? On an 80 degree Wisconsin day? Yes. What I was doing yesterday. And think of it in those terms. Yeah, got it.

Randy  05:05

So good. I hope you're listening friends right now. And I hope you're listening to my response. And I hope you're jealous. Because this is delicious. It's all those things. It's lighter. It's a little bit less flavor, but it's easier drinking and it still has all the beautiful blueberry meat flavors to it.

Kyle  05:28

Yeah, and if you like carbonation, because it just feels more fun in summer. This has that and that in a way that still means don't Yeah. Oh.

Randy  05:38

So you can't can you get manic meatery meats Can you can get someone find this at a really like bougie liquor store.

Kyle  05:46

Not in a store. But believe it or not, they do ship. I don't know if they ship cans, but they definitely ship their bottles. So if you go to their website, that's through a company called vino shippers. I'm people that ship wine. But you can order bottles to your house. And

Randy  06:01

so if you're listening and you are into the tastings that we do, you're not one of the people that skipped the tasting. Order some some meat from medic meatery and send us an email.

Kyle  06:10

Introduction to me. Yeah, really good stuff. Yeah, so it's super easy drinking. And some are I mean, it's just

Randy  06:18

like, blueberries and lavender. And a little bit sweetness with some some bubbles. I mean, this is what, like white claw aspires to be.

Kyle  06:29

Oh my god. Can you imagine? Yes. Gosh, I used to remember reading a bunch of memes about white claw. And like how they get the flavor into it. Like, yeah, they set it on a table. And then on the other side of the table, they put the fruit and they leave it there for a few seconds and get away. Yeah, this is definitely what white claw wishes it was. Yeah, if

Randy  06:48

you taste a sip of this, and you say you don't like it. I don't trust your opinion on anything.

Kyle  06:55

on anything,

Randy  06:57

it's a little hyper hyperbolic, but it's close. It's close. So thanks for the poor. Cheers.

Kyle  07:05

Cheers. Speaking of opinions on things, do we have any new reviews?

Randy  07:10

We do? We've gotten a couple of new reviews which we love it when you guys leave reviews that structure ego and helps the algorithms get us into the places where we're hoping to get into so just this last week, somebody who named themselves your name here, double Oh, one. Whatever your name is, I'm grateful for you. It says fruitful conversations as a subject and he says he or she says I'm often blessed, Frequently Challenged and always excited for the next conversation. Kyle and Randy approach topics with humility and care. Always thoughtful and honest. I wish we could all sit and share a spirit small s with the Spirit. Big S. Thanks. Yes. Nice. So thank you your name here w one.

Kyle  07:48

Yes. If you want to share a spirit with us there is a way you just have to become a patreon subscriber and at least the top shelf level. And we share beverages together annually. Or if you really are, you know, want to see us even more often than that. Subscribe at the pappy level and once a month, we'll read a book together and if you want to share a drink, we totally can.

Randy  08:09

Yes, speaking of which, we want to do a little plug because we have a really exciting opportunity. We have a book club. That's the puppy love that Kyle just talked about $50 per month and you get all the perks of the top shelf plus, we study a book that we've talked about on this podcast together once a month on Zoom and it's a really rich time beautiful time. We are just diving into Bridgette Eileen Rivera's book in our book club, heavy burdens. And I thought let's just reach out to Bridget and see if she'd be interested in joining us for book club night when we're at the tail end of the book. And turns out Bridgette, well, we knew already Bridget is an amazing person. And she said yes. So if you're interested in the conversation with Bridget Eileen Rivera again, she wrote the book called heavy burdens they're about a year ago, we released it more than a year ago. It's a great two part conversation. Listen to that. And if you're interested in just being able to chat with Bridget about her experience and why she wrote the book, what she's working on next. All sorts of fun stuff. Join her happy level Patreon and join us on August I think it's 17th we'll be chatting with Bridget Eileen Rivera.

Kyle  09:09

Another thing we'd like to do here occasionally is shout out some of those patreon supporters who have been at the top shelf level for a little while. So Jessica and Matt Battaglia. Thank you guys, man listening. Yeah, thanks for supporting. We really appreciate it.

Randy  09:26

You guys keep us going. Thank you so much for your support. Well, Tom, and Alexa ordered thank you so much for joining us on a pasture and philosopher walk into a bar. Tom, welcome back.

Tom  09:51

Hey, it's good to hang out again.

Randy  09:53

Alexa, thank you for joining us with your dad. You guys wrote this book or edited this book. It's a massive book with just two tons and tons of voices, both queer voices affirming voices, scholarly voices and some of your own. It's called why the Church of the Nazarene should be fully LGBTQ plus affirming. Alexa, we talked to your dad, you know, a bit ago, and we heard about his exploits and what he does what? Why are you here talking to us?

Alexa  10:19

Yeah, sure. So I originally got a degree in gender studies at my master's in gender studies. And that was sort of the, the reason why I'm involved in the first place. That when Tom was sort of thinking about writing some sort of book about the Nazarene church becoming fully affirming, he reached out to me to sort of collaborate on the project, because I could bring that sort of gender studies perspective is something that I really cared a lot about, it's a great sort of, like merging of our two worlds. So yeah, so I got brought on to the project to help sort of, you know, spearhead all of the behind the scenes stuff, and then also do a lot of the sort of, you might call it like, sensitivity, editing, you know, basically trying to make sure that even if our contributors don't have a gender studies degree and have maybe the right the most up to date language, that their ideas are still being expressed in a way that is amenable to all

Randy  11:11

got it. So you're dead, obviously, you know, he's one of those guys that we would say, Why are you still in the Church of the Nazarene? You know, you seem like a kind of a black sheep. And you know, you're subversive witness within it, which every tradition needs. Alexa, would you say that you're still a part of the Church of Nazarene? Or what's your relationship with the church?

Alexa  11:29

I am not I left the church. I don't know how old am I now, maybe nine or 10 years ago, and I no longer am religious at all or spiritual. But even though you know, I, I would to put a point on it, I would not even call myself agnostic, because I just don't don't think about religion in my day to day life, from a personal perspective, but it's still a lens through viewing the world and an ethic that I care deeply about, because of how I was raised in the community that, you know, brought me up. And so even though I am no longer religious at all, I still am really dedicated to exploring the future for this community and trying in my own contexts, to merge the worlds of, you know, evangelicalism that I was raised in. And the folks that I talked to now that maybe were not raised like that,

Randy  12:22

well, I'm tempted to just like, turn left and just talk to you about why you're not in the church anymore, and why you're not religious anymore, Alexa, and I'm sure a lot of our listeners are really interested about that. So we might have to revisit that at some point. But I think a lot of people who listen to our show, are really identifying with you right now or resonating with you. That story

Kyle  12:42

of the hosts. Yeah.

Randy  12:46

He's pandering now. Because he's more spiritual than then he comes off. Tom, I'd be also be interested to hear how it is being a theologian, philosopher, Pastor, elder in the Nazarene church and have a daughter who said, Yeah, thanks. But no thanks to this old church and spirituality thing?

Tom  13:03

Yeah, well, that's a good question. Because the questions of God are really important to me. I've written tons of books on those subjects, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it. And I think Alexa is correct. She's not religious or spiritual in the usual senses of those words. But I would say she's spiritual in a more unorthodox sense. But my notion is spirituality is pretty broad and includes people who care about doing the right thing. They want to live in harmony with humanity and, and the earth. And with that notion of spirituality, I'm sorry if I sound like I'm imposing Alexa. But I think you're, you're spiritual in that sense of the words.

Kyle  13:48

Okay, so tell us a little bit about the book. It's, as we said, It's enormous. And I'm not going to pretend that I got through all of it. But I did skim some things that seemed pretty interesting. So why did you write it? What is its purpose? And who is its target audience?

Tom  14:06

I have long been planning to write a book on this subject, and talk to people about it. I changed my mind on the LGBTQ issues, or what we used to call homosexuality back in the early 90s When I was in graduate school, actually a seminary or the Nazarene Theological Seminary. And I've been thinking about these issues for a long time, but a year and a half ago or so. A group in the denomination officially brought charges against me on matters of theology and polity related to sexuality. The theology questions were not the theology charges were not strong, but they were exactly right. That my view on human sexuality was different from the denomination. I have a fully affirm I'm in position, and the denomination does not have that kind of view. So my local district superintendent took me into his office and said, Here are the charges, you can walk away from the denomination, or you can go through a trial. And because I've been through a trial before, I told them, I hit it, I would, I was intending to do the trial. But I needed to ask my wife first, because these things are difficult on relationships, especially family. After her blessing, I went ahead with the trial. And in that trial, I laid out reasons why the denomination should change. So instead of kind of trying to play defense to say, you know, you really should let me stay in the church. Because even though my views don't exactly align, I played offense, I said, the church should change, not me. Surprisingly, the group that heard my arguments, recommended that I not be disciplined. That went to the next level. And those people heard the case. And in that situation, they needed two signatures for me to be disciplined, and they didn't get that. So the case was dropped. But my superintendent decided he was going to take away my local assignment anyway, the church, the Nazarene. If you're an ordained elder, you have to have an assignment. And I have an assignment in the local church. It's an unpaid thing. He took that away from me. And then he eventually told me, I could no longer preach, that was in last fall or so. And I started thinking to myself, I think the denomination is trying to silence my voice. And I don't think that's right. So I thought for a bit that maybe I would write that monograph that I hadn't been planning, and then I thought, no, it would make a lot more sense if there were if we did an edited book with lots of voices. And that's when I approached Alexa about this project. So this, we sent our invitations to people was it last November? Alexa? I can't remember. Yep.

Alexa  17:11

Yeah. Okay. So yeah, Tom reached out to me with this idea to to write this collection of essays. And I was really excited, largely because I had very little exposure to we're the overlap of queer issues in NAD and the Nazarene church, even you know, growing up as a queer person in the church, it was something that was just never talked about. And I thought, well, I don't even know who we're gonna get to, right. Because as far as I know, nobody's queer in the Nazarene church, right? So I was really excited to sort of hear and create a place for those conversations that I wished that I had had growing up. And so we reached out to a ton of people who then also reached out even further and amassed, ultimately 90 essays from a broad range of perspectives, we were really trying to encompass as many sort of inputs as we could, you know, biblical scholars who are, you know, a big names in the denomination all the way to just local people who, you know, are queer, or our allies, or our parents of queer children who have their stories to tell, because we had heard that the district superintendents and sort of, you know, the powers that be get a lot of feedback from people who are upset about the gays, you know, it gets a lot of homophobic feedback, but they don't really hear from people who are affirming. And we thought, okay, well, this is a chance to sort of call everyone to take a stand. You know, the book is very clear on the cover you if you're participating in this book, there's no wishy washy, you're standing with us. And so we wanted to really push people to finally come out, stop whispering and say, Yes, I'm affirming or if you're queer, this is a chance to really share for everyone else. This is my story. This is what the church has done to me, whether that's joyful, whether that's painful, or somewhere in between, we really wanted to just a huge encompassing of everyone who is behind this issue,

Tom  19:10

you can imagine, given our title and the boldness of this, that there are lots of people who wanted to write, but who felt like they would lose their job if they wrote, or they would have to relive old trauma as a queer person if they wrote, or, you know, they would like one person who is a major leader, his wife said to him, Look, if you do this, you could lose your job, you could lose, we could lose your pension. So in that case, the person didn't write in other cases people did, right. So there's a lot more people who could have written but the stakes were just too high for some of them. And we, we've made sure to tell those people we understand, you know, we're not shaming anybody here. But we're also not going to compromise the bold title. And what we're trying to do

Randy  20:00

Brilliant. Alexa, how is it? How is sitting in on conversations like this? This is, you know, you saw the outline and we're talking about how your dad got to be to the point of where he is affirming or how other people might be or what's our journey been all that stuff. I mean, we're all affirming here. But we're all a bunch of straight people talking about LGBTQ issues. How is that from your perspective? Is that tiring? Is it a little bit exciting? A little bit annoying? A little bit of noxious? A lot. But how is that from your perspective?

Alexa  20:30

Yeah, sure. No, I think it's really exciting. I think that it's encouraging to me, too. I think that when an average person who is not a Christian or especially not an Evan Jellicle, Christian, thinks of a you know, white man who is at all Cranach connected to Evan Jellicle. Christianity, they assume they're really, you know, homophobic people. And so I think that it's really encouraging me to, for me to see sort of the breadth of this conversation. And I personally don't find it tiring, you know, I also am not, I'm in a unique position, because I didn't leave the church over this issue, I've never felt sort of, like persecuted or that my parents wouldn't accept me, you know, like, I don't have sort of that true, traditional trauma that comes along with being queer in the church. So that's not particularly tiring. For me. It's also been a real sort of point of connection. You know, I had been away from the Church for so long, that it's been great to sort of realize and discover what's been happening while I've been gone. You know, that, that there has been a lot of movement on this issue. And that, like I said, Before, there were all these queer people all along that we just all didn't talk to each other. We didn't, we didn't know. And so in some ways, it's been a really healing experience of sort of reconnecting with the church community that I grew up with, in a way where I can be more authentic and where we can all sort of like come together alongside.

Randy  21:56

Perfect, thank you, Alexa, talk a little bit about how we've come to an affirming position on LGBTQ plus. Tom, you wrote about the different ways people are movements find themselves changing their minds and their stances on human sexuality, whether it's changing our minds about what the Bible says, changing our minds, because of experience in relationships with queer people who love and live, like Jesus, are changing our minds on intellectual grounds like listening to psychologists and other scientists and experts in their fields. Or as for me, all of the above, to be honest. How did you personally come to an LGBTQ affirmation and define what you mean by affirmation?

Tom  22:31

Yeah, I came to be affirming in the early 1990s. And it was almost entirely on intellectual grounds. I was in graduate school, I was thinking about this issue, I wanted to get to kind of the bottom of things. So I did what a lot of Christians do, they go to the Bible first, and look at the seventh or eighth passages that pertain to this and they read the commentaries, and they read all this, that and the other. And I and some other friends kind of embarked on this task. And at the end, I just on intellectual grounds thought that it was that there were that a person could be in a same sex relationship, and it'd be healthy for those in the relationship psychologically, emotionally, physically, etcetera. Most people, however, are not like me, most people change their mind because someone they know, is queer. And they begin to trust them, they see that this queer person is, you know, not any different than other people, not that they're perfect or anything, but they're just like regular people. And, and that's what changes their mind. I think the science side of things, probably affects some people. But of the three that you mentioned, I suspect that's the least influential, maybe, maybe someone who's strongly scientifically minded, that would be different. But at least in my experience, it's usually the relationships. That's the big turning point.

Kyle  23:58

For the listeners who might not be quite familiar with the terminology of the differences between the various kinds of stances that you can take, including I've heard the word affirming used differently in different corners as well. Let's make that as explicit as we can. Because there are a lot of there are a lot of evangelicals who use words that sound a whole lot like affirming, but they still have pretty strict limits. And so let's let's be really clear.

Tom  24:22

Yeah, this is this is something Alexa and I talked about when we're putting the book together. Because, you know, it's tempting to try to set a big long list of what's in and what's out behavior wise, identity wise, orientation wise. And Alex and I are actually not exactly on the same page. We're similar but we're we have a little bit differences. And so we eventually kind of settled on the language of affirming means that you affirm a person's identity, behavior orientation, so long as Those things are expressed in a healthy kind of way. So it's not anything goes it's not let's have sex with rabbits or, you know, let's, you know, have sex with children, whatever. So, using the word healthy, realizing that healthy is not exactly a black and white word. There's there's gonna be some debate on what's healthy, what's not healthy. But we want to avoid this sort of extreme relativism as anything can go. Is that fair? Alexa?

Alexa  25:30

Yeah, absolutely. And another sort of thing on this topic is that I know that the contributors in the book differ on this. And in editing it I, when I'm wearing my Alexa hat, I reading those essays, I thought, Oh, I wish that this were more expansive, for my own opinion, you know, but in my editor role, well, that's not my role, you know, where I want to leave inlets for all kinds of readers. One thing that I wanted to really make sure we did not do with this book. And when we wrote the introduction together, Tom and I, and I started discussing, okay, well, what does it mean to be affirming? And you know, quote, unquote, where do we draw the line is that I wanted to really avoid something called hormone normativity, which you've probably heard the word heteronormative, which means you know, that we all sort of live in a world in which you're expected for a man to marry a woman have kids or sort of, you know, the traditional Hallmark role of what a life is like, hormone normativity is similar in that it looks exactly the same, except they're gay. So basically, this sort of argument from gay people can be married and have kids and have the white picket fence, and be just like you and me, they just happened to have sex with men, you know, I really wanted to leave room for Weir, joy and queer expression in all of its many forms. And I think that the book really did that. And I understand that, you know, it can be a lot easier for some folks to build relationships with queer people who maybe have a more traditional life structure as sort of their inlet, but I didn't want to limit us to just we will affirm queer people if they look like straight people, except they have sex with, you know, people at the same time.

Kyle  27:18

Which is, I mean, an argument can be made that that's still a kind of heteronormativity, right?

Alexa  27:23

Yep. Yep. That's the thing is heteronormativity sinks a lot deeper than just you know, what's happening in your sex life.

Tom  27:32

Well, and if the if the recent Pew polls are correct, in the category of queer, it's the by folks who are by far the biggest. And so, you know, once you start taking into into account, the intersex, the asexual, all that sort of stuff, it gets messy really quickly. Although we use the phrase LGBTQ plus, we also use the word queer an awful lot. Yeah.

Randy  28:02

Yeah, I mean, pastorelli, I've just being an affirming church, I want to be honest with people and let them know where they are, especially if they're new people to our church, let them I don't want to them to hear 10 months after the fact, if they've been around that we're in affirming church. So I sit down and have a cup of coffee and talking. That's one of the things that comes up, and it's always the most, you know, I don't know if I'm gonna, I'm gonna try to be pastoral in this podcast and not, you know, be be rude, but it's arduous. And there are all sorts of like, little layers that straight people have straight Christians in particular, have like, okay, you've convinced me a little bit about the sex thing. But what about trans, you know, or what about this? You know, there's always a, but what about, that's next? And it's man, it's so tiring. I mean, it's tiring, tiring for me as a straight white male pastor who's affirming, I can't imagine how tiring and exhausting that is for the queer community.

Alexa  28:59

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think it's so tough. And it's a real gift, if a queer person, you know, shares their story with you, and does that labor with you? That, you know, I think we've especially in putting together this book, and then the corresponding conference, we really tried to be thoughtful of, okay. Are we using this these stories in a helpful way? Or are we sort of just sort of capitalizing on trotting out the same trauma over and over again, because you're right, it does get tiring to tell the same things about people who are nitpicking your life, and you know, questioning your very humanity. And so we really tried to be mindful of that as best we could. And we included some mental health resources in the back and I'm sort of like try to provide community supports after the Books Publishing because you're right, it is a real drain.

Kyle  29:51

Yeah, one of the things that I really liked about this book is that it has a very clear purpose. It's like laser focused on accomplishing a single task. It's And therefore, I think avoids a lot of those issues. So we're not Nazarene. Obviously, when in fact, I don't know anything about the denomination. It's one of the I don't know, one of the few evangelical denominations I have zero experience with so. So I, we have no horses in this race, so to speak. And so we're mostly interested in the book for the sake of the more generalizable emphases that it has, and its relevance to the broader Christian community. And there's a ton in there that is relevant in that way. So let me let me ask you how, how generalizable is the stuff? I think the answer is a lot. But let me put it this way. Is your affirming stance, this can be to both of you, but probably more to talk. Is your affirming stance, peculiar to or particular to Nazarene commitments in some way or Nazarene history in some way? Or do you think the affirming stance is normative for all Christians, or maybe just normative for all humans? Let you interpret that how you want?

Tom  31:05

Yeah, I think it's normative for all humans. I think particularly denominations might have aspects of their theology or history that might incline them to address these particular concerns in their own kind of way. The Church of the Nazarene is part of the Wesleyan or Methodist movement. It has a history of that kind of theology, but 10 typically more conservative on social issues. It broke away from the Methodist because it thought the Methodists were getting too liberal and not emphasizing sanctification. Sanctification was oftentimes understood in terms of keeping certain rules. You know, the little phrase, you don't dance, smoke, or chew or go with girls who do it was sort of a rule oriented kind of approach

Randy  32:01

over on life.

Tom  32:03

That's right. Yeah, when I was a kid, I want my little boy, I got out of going to school dances because I claimed to have a religious exemption.

Randy  32:13

In our last conversation time, we asked you what your favorite alcoholic beverages and you were like a, I'm realizing the holiness stuff in your tradition that like, Oh, Tom probably doesn't drink.

Tom  32:24

I don't drink. Yeah. And now there are Nazarene to do they're in the minority.

Randy  32:28


Tom  32:31

So what is unique about the church, the Nazarene? Well, a good portion of us think that the heart of what it means to be holy, the heart of what it means to be sanctified, is to live a life of love. And one of the arguments for this book, I like to think it's the main argument is that living a life of love means affirming what promotes the well being of others, humans, the planet, etc. And we think that queer people can be unhealthy wellbeing type relationships. And so because we're supposed to be about love and our tradition, we ought to be fully affirming of LGBTQ plus people.

Kyle  33:17

And what is the metric by which one determines wellbeing? Either in the tradition or for you personally? Or both?

Tom  33:26

Yeah, it's one of those kinds of questions. It's hard to answer, right. Because if you have an expansive, expansive enough view of well being it's going to include, I mean, I not only think it includes nonhumans, I happen to have a theology that thinks that God has well being that we can enhance. So it's a pretty broad category here. And adjudicating it can be very difficult. So that's where it does help to bring in some of the studies that are done in sociology in the psychology and say, Look, these things are done, they show that queer people can have healthy relationships that improve positivity, and, you know, all that sort of stuff. So that's, that that's a way to bring science into kind of substantiate the relational intuitions we have.

Randy  34:16

Yeah. And it's, I mean, that's, that's the one that got me actually, like, I was just on the cusp as a pastor for a long time. And then all of a sudden, I heard Matthew Vines, quote, Jesus, when He said, you'll know a tree by its fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit in a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. When you set it I was like, that's true. And it's really obvious, like I think, yeah, I think human flourishing or human well being or good fruit and bad fruit are, are not so complicated to identify, you know, like, especially when we're talking about this issue when you talk about, you know, queer, queer youth are three times more likely to struggle with anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, if they're in a non affirming home and space, or queer youth are are eight times more likely to struggle with all the terrible mental health issues if their family accepts them or not? I mean, there's there's just so much data in so much conversation if you're if your head isn't in the sand is really obvious of what's good fruit in this conversation and what's bad fruit in the church has been bearing bad fruit for a really, really long time and trying to try to call it good fruit. And it just It's nonsensical. And I think it's really, I think it's obvious. I mean, unless we're talking about the most fundamentalist, you know, choose your own truth to choose your own reality kind of person who's really just chosen to just check out of reality, I think it's very, very clear, actually. Sorry, I had to go on a rant a little,

Tom  35:41

I liked that you get into preach and go on there. I love it. Yeah.

Randy  35:45

Well, let me just not hard to tell.

Tom  35:49

I'm totally on your side of things. Let me tell you the number one response to our critics. And then let me tell you, the number one thing I think is motivating our critics. The number one response is always the Bible. So I'll post the picture of the book that says why the church should be affirming and they'll respond, I read the Bible, I stand with scripture or Man shall not lie with a man or, you know, Romans chapter one, you know, they go straight to the Bible, and it's a particular reading, and they think there's only one interpretation of those passages. And so that's the most common response from critics. Now, what I think is going on deeper than that, is an aesthetic element. I call it the yuck factor. I think that some people are repelled by the notion of same sex affection, same sex intercourse. And it's kind of like some people don't like snakes, and they just have a natural reaction against snakes. Or, in my case, I like snakes, but I hate the smell of tuna fish. And I walk into a room with tuna fish, I just, I think that is a major, not the only but a major motivator for critics of our book,

Alexa  37:09

sort of add on to that there also, which we also we kind of got in this conversation during the conference the other day of talking about why I think Tom, you said that you find more often women or women Christians are more often amenable to becoming affirming. I think that that really comes back to the yuck factor also, which so basically, like we you know, Tom, you talk about the yuck factor factor? Where's that come from? And I think it comes from the patriarchy. The patriarchy that because of the way that things are set up, we as a society are even more prone to seeing specifically male homosexual sex as more like having the quote unquote, the yuck factor. And I think that's why it's often so much harder for men to become affirming if they're not raised that way, because the yuck factor culturally so much stronger when talking about gay male sex and about, you know, queer, sex or whatever it

Kyle  38:08

is. Yeah, there's a ton of patriarchy behind that, too. Yeah, I'm really glad you took that next step, because that was gonna be my next question. Where do you think that Yep, thing comes from, because in my experience, a lot of it, it's obviously constructed, and it can be obviously deconstructed, I don't have I don't have that experience anymore. And I used to. And it's also I think, in many ways performative amongst men in particular, trying almost manufactured intentionally in some spaces, because it's, it's the normative thing to feel. Yeah,

Tom  38:39

I have a theory and I'm gonna put it this way. If I could put together 10 questions to give 100 people at random. And these 10 questions had to do with sexuality like penises, vaginas, Aidas breasts, I had all of this language that was really weten and sought and sassy when it comes to sexuality. And if when they answer these questions, they didn't have to be queer questions, just general sex kinds of questions. The people who are most squeamish about talking about sex in general, are probably going to be the people who are least likely to be affirming. I think there's a correlation between just comfortable, comfortable thinking about sex in general, and comfortable thinking about queer people. Now, I think this is something we could set up as an IQ scientific experiment. see if I'm right about this. I'd love to see if I am.

Alexa  39:42

Yeah, I'll agree with there. Also, on that same thing, Kyle, you're talking about the sort of performative yuck factor. I mean, the thing is everything they're doing gay sex you can do with your wife if you you know, if you try hard enough, it's not.

Kyle  39:58

I remember I went to a private Christian school, very fundamentalist, as from basically fifth grade all the way through high school. And they brought in a quote unquote sex ed, making air quotes for those who can't hear person because they didn't want to do you know, actual sex education. So they brought in somebody from another Christian nonprofit kind of situation to basically just tell us about all the STDs. And I remember when I remember weaponizing the yuck factor in that class just because I was a stupid kid trying to be funny. And so I asked her a question about anal sex, but hetero should have seen her face, I feel a little guilty about it. Because you're supposed to feel it that you're supposed to think it's yucky.

Alexa  40:50

I wonder I mean, alongside your, your imaginary survey, Tom, wouldn't it be great if we can also have like long term tracking data for people who over once they become affirming how much better their sex life becomes? I'm sure.

Randy  41:07

There is a commercial for becoming good all the men? Yeah, I think in going back to the relationship thing, that's where the yuck factor ended for me. Like, the yuck factor was, was clear and present when it was just a couple of dudes on a screen or at a pride parade or whatever. And I didn't see much of it, because I was a very sheltered Christian boy. But when my first friend, true friend who I loved and respected and admired, who was very openly gay, had somebody who he, I don't know if he loved or had just a lot of large amount of affection for and I'd see them being holding hands or, or kissing. My immediate thought went to, I'm so glad for this person, you know, I'm so glad that my friend has someone he can feel loved and cherished by. And that's when it ended for me. And that's just another case of if, if you if you create this bubble, where there's no queer people allowed in, you don't there's no queer voices allowed? It's, it's, I just pray for those people. Because this is really hard to actually get through in some ways, I feel like, yeah. So there's, there's part of what you said, Tom, I really enjoyed your kind of defense, I don't know what you call it at the end of the book, where you're defending yourself and in the accusations made against you. And you do so so respectfully, and like, Thanks, really, really well. But I think this is a really interesting kind of biblical take. Because I know there's a good amount of Christian pastors who are listening who are thinking about this, who, you know, through our past episodes, and through their experience with, you know, gay people, queer people showing up and wanting to be accepted and loved by that church. They're struggling and trying to figure these things out in the Scriptures have a lot to do with it. Like, if, if I feel like there's scriptural backing for it, I can do it. And I know, there's a lot of pastors who affirm women in leadership. So let's kind of talk about that there. There are people saying that you should be careful about affirming women in leadership because the Bible was written in an ancient context and patriarchal world because it's a slippery slope that will lead you eventually to affirming homosexuality, right? A lot of people saying don't affirm women in leadership because eventually gonna affirm homosexuality and I want to say it's true. And it's a really great slippery slope

Kyle  43:41

he doesn't like slippery slope.

Randy  43:46

And Jesus is in the pool to

Alexa  43:50

get on the water.

Randy  43:54

Yes, we could go so far with this analogy. But you mentioned that in your tradition, Tom there, many are able to contextualize the Bible and include and bless women and full leadership in the church but aren't willing to do the same contextualizing when it comes to human sexuality. Can you just speak to that dynamic? Do you think it's hermeneutically inconsistent to be affirming of women in leadership or pro racial equality for that matter, but not LGBTQ affirming?

Tom  44:18

I do think it's inconsistent. I try though, to put the best spin I can on those who have different views than I do on this. So I posted some information in a Facebook group of Nazarene women clergy, and there are a couple of women who really came back strong. They did not like the linkage, the analogy between women in ministry and affirming queer people. And I'm not exactly sure why that is. One of our persons at the conference thought it was an attempt to hold on to power. I don't know if that's the case or not. I suspect some But might have to do with the yuck factor? I don't know. It may be that they just haven't been presented with another way to interpret those passages. And one of the things I'm learning as the critics come after us for this book, is that there's some people, I mean, they are just so, so hostile, they don't seem to even want to think any, you know, other than they don't even want to give us the hearing. But there's lots of people who I think, actually have pretty good motives, and they just have never heard alternative interpretations of things. So like, for instance, the passage I think, is the strongest one, that person like me has to deal with is Romans Chapter One in which Paul talks about women laying with women putting aside their natural urges for what's unnatural, and men with men. I mean, I think that is the strongest passage in scripture because the Leviticus passage about man lying with man is right in the context of lots of other things that none of us care about, like wearing clothing of two different kinds of fabrics. And I think a more and more people understand that the Sodom and Gomorrah story is really about rape. It's really about in hospitality, especially because there's other biblical passages that talk about, you know that as an issue, but that Romans one, that one, I think, is just kind of spelled out in such a way that a lot of people don't know how to interpret it any other way than it being against LGBTQ stuff. Now, one of the most common responses is to say, well, they're talking about practices common in Rome. This is a practice in which men often had young boys as sexual partner, but they also had women this and that's not the same as, let's say to men who are adults who have an intimate companionship for a lifetime. That's a good argument. I'm not discounting that. But I think that the stronger argument is the fact that the word used there for natural in Romans is the same word that Paul uses to say that it's unnatural for men to have long hair. That just about everybody in American society knows that after the Beatles came, you know, we don't think that anymore, right? We know, men can have long hair, and that's nothing wrong with that. That's a cultural thing. So when they hear that that's the same word Paul's using in Romans chapter one. That gets a lot of people closer to saying, Oh, well, maybe that was something for that time. And it expresses Paul's particular take on things. So all that to say, working through the Bible passages is important in this process.

Randy  47:45

Alexa, I'm interested in your take on, you know, what Tom just said about women kind of being offended about like, Hey, don't compare us with that community? It sounds a lot like what we've seen of other marginalized people groups kind of sniping at each other, or trying to claim their ground. I don't know, what's your take on that?

Alexa  48:02

Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a real example of when you are sort of the best or the worst in as far as oppression goes, you know, when you have the most amount of power amongst the oppressed. Man, it's a whole lot nicer and more comfortable to cling on to that power and decide with the people one rung above you than to relinquish that power and band together with every people in the below you. So I think it can be. I also think that there's, in some ways, a lot of internalized misogyny, for many women in the church, that it is probably really hard to grow up. If you're in a really traditional context, being expected to be, you know, have a lot of your opportunities and freedoms cut off. And sometimes it's easier to tell yourself that that's what God wants. And that's what you want. And if you cling on to that harder, that's a lot more comfortable than breaking that down to, you know, it requires a lot more internal work and a lot more shaking up of your own emotion. So I understand it. I think it's unfortunate.

Randy  49:15

Yeah, I will say, I don't know if this is just anecdotal, or whatever. But I do think this is something that the queer community does so well, is show up for other marginalized people groups. I mean, in the summer of 2020, when George Floyd was happening in our city, at least you had the queer community, standing up and marching for, you know, equality for, for black men and women in the black community. And in even in times where they were getting pushed to the side by some of the black advocates. And yeah, they were kind of getting pushed aside by the black activists because they were queer, and they still kept showing up for the oppressed. That's just something that one of the many things that we all have to learn from the queer community.

Alexa  49:55

Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, that's why I think we say so much that these days Humans need to be led by black trans women because we need people on the forefront who aren't going to you know give up at a moment's notice as soon as they're one step higher but really are committed and get the full picture you know have open eyes and aren't in that comfortable spot so always support your coalition's but know when you it's time to be a quiet support and let the people who are affected you know take the lead

Elliot  50:36

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Kyle  51:19

Switching gears a little bit, what is your perspective on church leaders in churches who are I would call them welcoming, not affirming, in the sense that they're trying to take a non combative stance towards the LGBTQ community. They don't preach against the community, they don't decry their identities or anything like that. And it may even come up regularly in their sermons a message of love and equality, but that they still have a hard structural limits and lines that can't be crossed. So you're welcome here, but you can't be a deacon. Or you can't get married here. You can't baptize your baby or whatever. It's I would call that welcoming, because we want you here. But we're not affirming because we still think there's something wrong with you. Now it might, you know, there might be a ton of grace language piled on top of we think there's something wrong with you because there's something wrong with all of us. Right. And this is your cross to bear. But it is a cross and you have to bear it faithfully and with repentance. And there's some shame built into that, too. We had a whole episode about that. So what do you think, is the appropriate stance of churches like that or so of leaders in churches like that, who are, let's say, sincere and acting in good faith? And then what's the appropriate stance towards churches like that for LGBTQ allies, I guess, or LGBTQ Christians who want to be in those spaces or Yeah.

Tom  52:45

You want to start on that one? Alexa?

Alexa  52:47

Sure. I'll I'll kind of answer. Maybe more direct the second one. But But what that makes me think is, honestly, I think that fairly well described, the like, church body that we grew up in as, at least as far as the youth group was concerned, you know, I mean, I don't know about the main service. But it was really sort of a culture of we're, you know, young, hip, cool youth, Pat survives, that we talk about these issues. adjacently, we didn't really say the words, but you know, we're loving and affirming of everyone. And we don't really say much more. And what that means is, when you, when you especially if you have any amount of power and organization, decide that you maybe want to be somewhat affirming, but you don't feel like you can say anything, you know, and actually make action on that. That silence by not saying anything that leaves room for the loudest voices, and the loudest voices are the ones with power, and the ones in power are the people who are not affirming. And so even though the youth group I grew up in, you know, I think if I one on one conversations, they would probably tell it tell me they're outright affirming or at least affirm me in my own experience. I've still you know, had Sunday school teachers and I had lots of experiences have really homophobic dynamics, because you know, you you that's just what happens when when you're not willing to take a stance and I understand there's a lot of sort of structural weighing, you know, you're not always positioned to make that, as we talked about with folks who couldn't contribute to the book. Sometimes you're not in a position. But I think that if you recognize that you are an ally, who doesn't feel like they're, they can be openly affirming. You need to be making some concrete behind the scenes moves to push your church to become a firming up or leadership to reach out to kids both straight and queer on one on one conversations and make sure that they know that yes, I maybe can't make this proclamation for our youth group, but you We're gonna be affirming all this. And I'm not going to let the sort of insidious creep of homophobia get into our congregation.

Tom  55:06

I agree with that. The problem with churches who are welcoming but not affirming is that they're really not as welcoming as they think they are. Because queer people don't feel like they're truly welcome to be who they are in those congregations in places. Now in my denomination, we have a set of ideas that are on the non affirming side of things. Some people think it's okay to be queer, but you just can't engage in any kind of sexual behavior between same sex. So it's kind of the celibacy route that you would hear from maybe the Roman Catholic Church, other people are queer orientation is wrong, and you should go to get healed from that you should, you know, join one of these Exodus groups or whatever the current names are of the group, we're trying to go through therapy. And that's obviously not an affirming position. There's another stance, though, that's not common in my denomination, but you can find it across Christendom. I find it most often in Lutheran churches, actually. And it's a stance that says, you're welcome here, what you do that same sex related or at least not non heteronormative, what you do is sinful. But hey, we're all sinners, you know, no sin is worse than another. So I'm not going to object to what you do. But you know, you don't, you're not going to object to my gluttony or whatever. That's better than maybe some of the alternatives. But it still ends up telling queer people that what they're doing is sinful by by definition. And so I don't find that the right way to go. What bugs me the most? Because I said earlier, I'm in a tradition that says, Love comes first. What bugs me the most is people who tell me, they can't affirm queer people, but they love them. The reason that bugs me is because it seems like what they mean by love is so different than what I mean by love. I think love means affirming what's healthy. And I think queer relationships can be healthy. So it's a misuse of the word love and my way of thinking, I think what they want, what they're truly trying to say is, we welcome them, but we're not going to get mad at them. We're not going to shame them or something like that. And but that's, that's a nice step forward, but it's not the same as true love. And so that's a it's a real problem in my denomination, I think.

Randy  57:42

Yeah, yeah. And I mean, that would have been me five years ago, honestly. And I felt real angst being told that like, maybe you're not as loving as you really think you are. And, and that was something for me to work out, to be honest with you to really listen to that voice that was telling me, I don't feel loved by you the way you feel like you love me. And that's not something for that person to work out. That's something for me to work out. And for me to figure out what does love mean to me? And how do I want to be loved and exchanged? And those things are real, I think so I think we need to give people space to be there. But also want to tell them, you don't have long to be there. Because how that person feels loved by you is way more of a of a clear, honest picture of the way you love them than how you feel like your your feelings and disposition is towards them. And I want to just also just that idea of, you know, welcoming, but not affirming, saying, Well, maybe you're not as welcoming as you think. I mean, I have friends who lead lead a church, they let him lead a church for more than 10 years. And a couple of years ago, we had a little dust up of a person who was queer at our church and went to their church, and they were not accepted in a big mess happened. And this, this church leader told me, this is the first gay person that we've had ever in the course of us being a church. And I was like, No, it's not. It's clearly not, you're just not as welcoming as you think. So that people can't be themselves when they're sitting in chairs, because this person's significant other has been at your church for almost a decade, serving volunteering in high level ways. And you never knew that he was queer because he didn't feel safe enough to come out to you. So let's, I know there are people who are listening who are there, either elders, pastors, you know, small group leaders with influential people, and welcoming non affirming churches. Please just take a moment, take a couple of days, take a couple of weeks and think about whether you're as welcoming to the queer community as you really think you are is to think about whether you're as loving to the queer community and the queer people that are in your church, whether you know it or not, as you think you are, because those are really important questions. And if you're in this for the right reasons, right, that that question matters.

Alexa  59:57

I also think that that goes back to what we were talking about. About the fruit, judging by the fruit that I'm sure maybe you can look at these are really disingenuous reading of judging by the fruit would say, and, you know, I'm sure you've heard this before, you know, queer youth have such a high rate of mental illness and mental distress. Doesn't that mean that something's wrong with them? You know? And I think what's really key there is the personal perspective, you know, that you need to, is this well being from your, from the perspective of the queer person, you know, take their personal experience into account. And that I think that's so so key, Randy, like, our, it doesn't matter how much I'm loving you, I'm loving you. If that person doesn't feel loved by you, then you're fundamentally failing. So if if we're judging by the fruit, we need to be judging by the fruit of the experience of, quote, unquote, the person eating the fruit.

Randy  1:00:55

Yeah. And if you have a problem with that, this is coming on strong now. So I apologize ahead of time. But that sounds, if you're saying, Well, no, I love you. And I don't care how you feel. It's what I feel what matters. That sounds kind of abusive, doesn't it?

Alexa  1:01:09

Yep. Absolutely. Absolutely.

Randy  1:01:12

I mean, to the welcoming, non affirming, I mean, I've been around I've been in networks. I mean, so you, you've you're dealing with the Church of Nazarene Tom, I mean, I was in the 24/7 prayer network, and that 24/7 global per network has a church network, that's part of it. And these are full of people who are seemingly love queer people. And I mean, love all people, I believe, to certain extent, and are welcoming, non affirming. And when we went affirming, and people found out about it, we got the boot really fast. And we were actually told, you can be friends of the movement, but not family. And I was like, wow, that's that's what so many queer people here. Yeah. In their own families of origin and in the church, and can we be careful with that? But to say that just to drive in the point of welcoming but non affirming, doesn't always mean welcoming.

Tom  1:02:04

Yeah, yeah. I'm gonna rock some theology on you here. Yeah, come on. Last time we were together, I talked about open and relational theology. And I said that relational theology says that God is not just giving, but also receiving God not only affects us, but God is affected. Most Christian theologians in history have not believed God is relational. They have not believed God is receiving. They thought love was always outgoing and benevolent. Now imagine what it is to be a Christian who's trying to live in the image of God. And think that love is always about fixing everybody else is not about receiving from them is not about listening from them. If you have a view of the Divine Love that says God receives God listens, and we should imitate that this can help us in the queer and a conversations with queer people and trying to figure out what how we should act in a loving way because it means that we're not just out to give and to be generous, but also we need to receive and listen and amass information to know how to then give and response so sorry, I got to do throw some theology in there ready love it

Alexa  1:03:18

to the to the welcoming, but not affirming folks who are a position that is the you know, love the sinner, Hate the sin, basically, you can be gay, but don't act on it, you know, we hate the behavior, the the lifestyle, oh. I mean, if, if you want to, and I hope that they do proclaim loudly that God is a God of love. And that you know, love is the number one priority. Reconciling someone a queer person to a life in which you know, they can never seek a partner if they want one. And two, they know that celibacy, both emotional, spiritual, and also sexual, especially if your church bans masturbation, like man, you are condemning them to a really sad life. And that is just I don't know how you sit with that by saying I'm loving you by removing this entire aspect of love, from the from your potential life and aspect that God gave you, you know, it just, I don't think that that holds water.

Randy  1:04:26

We need to listen to that.

Tom  1:04:28

That's, that's my daughter talking there. That's my daughter.

Kyle  1:04:34

I remember there was an LGBT like activism group on my undergraduate campus and they would hold events and give them really like shockingly sounding titles like live gay x and the quad and they would go and they would be like cooking breakfast

Randy  1:04:57

tell me what you think about this time and your experience but for Mi pastorelli being non affirming was actually detrimental to giving my whole congregation an understanding, and an outworking of our sexuality that promotes human flourishing or well being like you're saying, and sexual health and even purity. I hate using that word but it's still still means something being affirming as a pastor allows me pastoral Lee to offer our queer members a sexual ethic that is attainable, healthy, consistent with our straight members. And I think consistent with the Scriptures, can you speak to that dynamic, a little bit of like, actually moving to an affirming stance, helpless pastor people better?

Tom  1:05:34

Yeah, let me give you a very specific instance, I told you that the Church of the Nazarene is comes from the Methodist or Wesleyan tradition. And we are the largest organized holiness group in the world. So we represent the holiness tradition and part of holiness, biblically, has been purity. Well, if we really care about purity, in the sense of staying faithful to one's partner for a lifetime, we ought to be at the very front in the same sex marriage agenda, we ought to be pushing for laws that support and protect same sex relationships. Because what we're doing is we're saying, we really care about lifelong commitments. And we know if same sex people are, can be as horny as anybody else, why not have them be committed in a lifelong situation, be it expressed or sanctioned by civil law by the church. That's a way in which we can actually affirm the purity of the scriptures, by affirming same sex marriage, in terms of the sexuality thing, and and sort of once you become affirming, welcoming, and affirming how that helps you, your sexual, how it helps you promote a healthy sexuality overall, I think one of the best here I'm talking theoretically, because I don't have, I haven't been a pastor for quite some time, at least not a lead pastor. But I think in congregations that are affirming, there is a greater sense of sexual diversity, such that people can have greater freedom not to have to live up to certain stereotypes, including the stereotype among men that men are macho masculine, you know, let's watch football, whatever, there's lots of men who are not like that.

Randy  1:07:34

Not that there's anything wrong with football,

Tom  1:07:36

not not football. But you get or, you know, let's take the female side, you know, dainty feminine, you know, wear pink, whatever. Once you start affirming a diversity of sexual expressions, then people feel far more comfortable having a diversity of I'll call it gender expressions, or my terminology is probably not right and lexicon correctly. Okay. So, you know, I think that makes even straight people feel better about expressing themselves in authentic ways.

Randy  1:08:18

Alexa, what's your take on? On that, even though you're, you know, I'm removed yourself from the church and all that stuff. But you've been in church circles. What, what do queer people here, they're trying their best threat. They're at church, like a queer person at church means that's a remarkable Christian person who really loves Jesus and really loves the church is willing to tolerate a lot of BS because of it, right? And then you're, you're told, Oh, no big deal here. Just don't ever be sexual at all. As a human being, what do you like? What? Help me Help us out here? Like, what do you what do you what's the response to that? As a as a queer person?

Alexa  1:09:00

I mean, leaves. And I think this also kind of gets at sort of, as we hinted at earlier, Tom, and my sort of, we don't quite see eye to eye on, you know, if we were forced at gunpoint to draw the line on affirming that, you know, I, but this is sort of the thing about I am not a part of the church and so if the church wants to say that we prioritize monogamous, long term committed relationships, great, you know, that's, that's fine. You know, I'm all here go out and have as much casual, gay, horny sex as you want to go to. But that's not you know, I'm not part of the church. So I don't get to make those rules. But all this being said, Wouldn't it be better if we were all having casual gay, horny sex? Or whatever that looks like? I agree. I think Tom, that's a really interesting point that I have never thought of that. Having an affirming church. Really how helps break down you know, patriarchy hurts us all man and really break down those those barriers and explore a more authentic being for everyone you know, not just queer people and even further I think, sort of tangentially to to becoming queer affirming is sort of the quote unquote like the lowercase q, queer affirming, even though you don't, you don't capitalize queer, but you know, which is this sort of, we're meaning against the grain resisting the status quo, counter acting, sort of the powers that be having a queer theology and a queer church can be really, really fruitful for rethinking sort of the structures of how of what church and what religion has always been taught to you. If you instead take a lesson from your queer community, and queer everything around you, you know, queer, your, your sermons, and your communion and your fellowship and your songs, that honestly is so incredibly fruitful, like, you can really explore so much more by taking queerness as sort of an ethic rather than just you know, a behavior or a type of person. I like that

Randy  1:11:16

last thing, because Tom, you dress this to your tradition, who I'm assuming you care somewhat about at least. Yeah, otherwise, you would not be in this arduous process of going to trial, which I don't even know what that means. That's that's high church, and I can't do it. But the conversation can be so gut wrenching ly slow. And like any urgency in church leadership circles, you know, I mean, I just know there's people listening to this who are intrigued, but who, it's not even close to being. Let's talk about this with our next Elder meeting. But it is urgent for queer people and their lives are at stake, especially queer people, and queer youth in the church. And we seem to be losing large, large swathes of young people because of this conversation. If we were in St. So, Tom, what would you say to the pastor or elder or leader in a local congregation who aren't having these conversations? Or who are having these conversations, but at a snail's pace?

Tom  1:12:14

Well, I would begin by saying, at least three different denominations have approached us since this book came out six weeks ago, about doing a book like this for their denomination. So I would say to people, maybe you don't need to edit a book. But there might be some things you could do to jumpstart that conversation by getting people involved and, and putting things out in the social media world. And generally speaking, the Church of the Nazarene. Up until the publication of this book, very, very out, I'm tempted to say none, but very, very little public discussion of these issues. If a person just raised the question, they were looked at, in negative ways, but this book has stirred a hornet's nest up in our denomination, people are pissed. And, you know, people are losing their jobs because of this. There's resolutions to change things, you know, I wouldn't be surprised if I get kicked out. And so there's, I'm not saying it's easy, but people are talking about this now. And you could do some things to get conversations going. It's risky, but you can do some things. And maybe you don't want to take as big a risk as we did. But think about strategies for furthering the conversation.

Randy  1:13:45

Yeah. And I mean, in my perspective, include queer voices in those conversations. They're not real conversations if they don't include queer people. And I want to say this book is, even though it's addressed to the Church of the Nazarene, use this book, if if we're, if what we're seeing right now resonates with you church leaders, or, you know, influential church, people. Use this book as a resource, buy this book, because these voices, there are a wide variety of voices, from different angles, from biblical scholarship and from the queer community and from people in the church who care about the church. So use this as it's not unique to the Church of the Nazarene is what I'm trying to say. But please have these conversations.

Alexa  1:14:28

I also think it's really valuable. To not just, I mean, if you want to buy 100 copies of the book and give it to all your pastors go right ahead. I won't stop. Yeah. I think it's really important to if you are inspired by what we're trying to do here with the Church of the Nazarene to replicate it in some way within your own context. You know, I think part of what's so powerful about this book, is the names are names that people recognize, you know, their stories are I'm a third fourth generation Nazarene. It's about our specific community and culture. And if this does translate to other denominations, but you can be even more powerful if you get the stories of your community and your congregation and aggregate those, I think that you can really, really speak to the heart of your specific context.

Randy  1:15:21

And I want to appeal just to if, if the question is, well, I've talked to pastors like this, who literally will, after I publicly came out, say, Hey, can we grab lunch, and then they say, I'm affirming, I just, I just want to keep my job. You know,

Tom  1:15:34

I've got so many things, I got so many notes from those kinds of pastors since this came out.

Randy  1:15:40

He said, Oh, I just want to remind us, I just want to humbly remind us in us, I mean, church leaders, I want to remind us of why we got into this in the first place, and I hope you didn't get into it to be super influential in you know, get book deals and have huge income. Because of it, I hope you got into this, this, this vocation, because you really believed in the person of Christ and the the manifestation of his body on Earth called the church that brings that I think is gonna bring healing and life to the world. That's why we're in this not not for bottom lines, not for butts in the seats, not for income, not for any of that stuff. And we can get a second job. But the church is something that's way more important than than our bottom line or our success or failure. And it's might be worth, you know, there's this, there's this kind of, you know, idea out there that going affirming is so easy. It's caving to culture is what they say. You have no idea how not easy going firming as a Protestant church is, but it's fully worth it. Because again, if we're actually in the business of human flourishing, and the kingdom of God advancing it's just a slam dunk. A day at the altars

Tom  1:16:57

are open, the Spirit is moving. Let's come forward Pastor Randy.

Randy  1:17:05

Nice Alexa and Tom. So good to chat with you. Really appreciate you both of your perspective. They're so important, so needed, and hopefully look forward to talking to both of you again.

Tom  1:17:16

Thanks, Randy. Thanks a lot, Kyle.

Alexa  1:17:18

Yeah, thanks for having us.

Kyle  1:17:22

Well, that's it for this episode of A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar. We hope you're enjoying the show as much as we are. Help us continue to create compelling content and reach a wider audience by supporting us at patreon.com/apastorandaphilosopher, where you can get bonus content, extra perks, and a general feeling of being a good person.

Randy  1:17:41

Also, please rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, and Spotify. These help new people discover the show, and we may even read your review in a future episode. If it's good enough.

Kyle  1:17:53

If anything we said really pissed you off or if you just have a question you'd like us to answer, or if you'd just like to send us booze, send us an email at pastorandphilosopher@gmail.com.

Randy  1:18:03

Catch all of our hot takes on Twitter at @PPWBPodcast, @RandyKnie, and @robertkwhitaker, and find transcripts and links to all of our episodes at pastorandphilosopher.buzzsprout.com. See you next time.

Kyle  1:18:17


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