The Need for a Better Dialogue

In our July 1985 issue, Sojourners published an article on sexual ethics. It contained a short section on homosexuality, which became the overwhelming focus of the response to the piece. The essay's broader discussion on Christian ethics and human sexuality was unfortunately lost in the controversy that followed, and, even more regrettable, a number of our readers felt hurt and angered by what they regarded as a very brief -- and to some insensitive -- treatment of gay and lesbian sexuality. Others liked the article, and we were literally deluged with letters to the editor, many filled with great emotion.

Neither the magazine staff nor Sojourners Community had discussed the topic of homosexuality before that article was run, and its publication generated much discussion, strong feelings, and divided opinions here at home. We said in subsequent issues of Sojourners that we would continue the dialogue among ourselves, while publishing articles that reflected the consensus we did have on issues such as the just and equitable treatment of gay and lesbian people in regard to civil and human rights and the urgency of addressing the AIDS crisis -- a special concern to members of the gay community -- with compassion, sensitivity, and political commitment.

We now find ourselves in a dialogue and debate that has swept up the churches in one of the most painful, anguishing, and perplexing questions the Christian community has encountered in a long time. How should the churches respond to homosexuality and, most important, to gay and lesbian Christians in their midst? Sojourners' own constituency is not of one opinion on this issue. Christians deeply and passionately committed to justice and reconciliation find themselves at different places on the complicated questions raised by gay and lesbian sexuality.

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