Pepperdine Today


Transforming the Conversation

{...a Christ-centered approach to LGBT conversations}

April 11-12, 2012

So much of the conversation about LGBT issues has become tense, angry, and unhelpful in addressing the real spiritual needs of people on both sides. How can we show more love to one another without compromising our theological convictions on sexual morality? Is it possible to love someone without agreeing with them? What would that look like on this issue? This two-evening Pepperdine community event is designed to explore the questions and the disagreement within a loving, Biblical framework that puts Christ first. Two unique presentations will be co-led by Ron Belgau and Justin Lee, two Christians with differing views on the issue but a shared commitment to Christ, the Bible, and the need for compassion. Seating is limited. The two consecutive ticketed events are open to Pepperdine students, faculty, staff, and alumni. Faculty, staff and students can obtain tickets from Smothers Theatre box office by presenting their Pepperdine ID cards (1 ticket per card per evening). Alumni interested in attending should email and request seating (1 ticket per alum per evening).

Wednesday, April 11, 7:00–8:30 p.m., Elkins Auditorium

Practical tips for ending the culture war

Our culture tells us that gays and Christians are enemies, so how can we as Christians have loving dialogue on the issue of homosexuality that changes hearts and minds for Christ? Ron and Justin will use stories, humor, personal experience, and the Bible to discuss how they can be friends in the midst of strong theological disagreement, and how we as Christians can better show love to the gay community without compromising our convictions. Among the topics Ron and Justin will discuss: Common misconceptions each side has about the other; being missionaries with our language and avoiding the buzzwords that shut down conversation; understanding the difference between behavior and attraction; why dialogue is more effective than debate; and what Paul's experience in Athens can teach us about representing Christ in the midst of disagreement.

Thursday, April 12, 7:00–8:30 p.m., Elkins Auditorium

A conversation about the Bible

Of course, the biggest disagreement in the church is about how to interpret the Bible on this issue. On the second night, Ron and Justin will demonstrate the dialogue techniques taught on the first night by engaging in a public discussion of their differing views on the Bible. The conversation will resemble a debate, but with more grace, compassion, and understanding, designed to help attendees better articulate what they believe and also better understand those who disagree with them—to create a space for more loving conversation in the future rather than inflaming an already tense situation. Immediately following the presentation and Q&A, guests will be invited to head over to the Waves Café where Ron and Justin will be available for coffee and conversation.

Guest Speakers

Ron Belgau

Ron Belgau received his undergraduate degree at the University of Washington. After working at Microsoft for several years, he is now in the PhD program in philosophy at St. Louis University, where he teaches Medical Ethics and Philosophy of the Human Person. He also spent one year at the University of Notre Dame as a research assistant at the Center for Philosophy of Religion. He has served on the steering committees for Bridges Across the Divide and the Seattle Archdiocesan Gay and Lesbian Ministry, as a group leader for Multifaith AIDS Projects, and as leader of the Gay Christian Network's celibacy support forum. For almost a decade, he has travelled around North America speaking about Christian teaching and homosexuality. His essay, "My Alternative Lifestyle" shared first place in the Catholic Press Association's "Best investigative writing or analysis" category in 2005. Many of his essays and speeches are available here.

Justin Lee

Justin Lee is the founder and executive director of The Gay Christian Network (GCN), a nonprofit, interdenominational organization serving LGBT Christians and those who care about them. Justin grew up as a conservative evangelical, preaching against homosexuality until questions about his own sexuality forced him to reevaluate everything he thought he knew. Today, he focuses on building bridges between those who disagree. He has been featured in numerous print, radio, and television venues including Dr. Phil, Anderson Cooper 360, CNN Headline News, The Washington Blade, OUT magazine, the LOGO network, the Associated Press, and a front page article in The New York Times. Justin co-hosts the popular podcast GCN Radio and speaks frequently at conferences, churches, and college campuses. His first book, Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate, hits bookstores in November. Justin's essays (as well as Ron's) are available here.


This program was recommended by the Building Bridges Committee and is sponsored by the Dean of Student Affairs Office, Pepperdine University, Seaver College.

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