With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. 
Romans 12:1-2 (J.B. Phillips)  

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. 
Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

"…the body makes the invisible mysteries of God's nature and redemption manifest and visible as a tangible marker in the world. Our bodies, therefore, have a story to tell, and we want to hear what God is telling us through our bodies." Tennent, For the Body, 14 

On Sunday morning we delved into an overview of how the image of God in human beings fits with the overall plan of salvation in the Bible. Sunday evening, over 20 RCC’ers met together at the church for our first “Wrestlin’ with the Word” meeting. If you weren’t aware, Pastor Carl and I have committed to spending time working through the implications of our study on the body and sexuality with whoever wants to join. Our initial meeting was a great time of discussing together how we can apply what we’ve learned about being made in God’s image to the wider questions our culture is asking about personhood, identity and sexuality. Both Carl and I felt it was a really great start to doing this work as a congregation. 

For those who couldn’t make it, you can find the guide used on Sunday evening below. We discussed the idea of being made in God’s image and then spent the remaining time discussing question #2 (The other questions are there for you to ponder as you choose!). I’ve transcribed the feedback from as well as some of the key concepts we’ll dig into as we move forward in the series.

As always, if you have questions or feedback around these topics and our approach, Pastor Carl and I would love to hear from you.

Wrestlin’ with the Word – Session 1   

Prayer for Wisdom and Unity 

God, your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light on the path of life. Jesus is the Word made flesh, and he lived in a human body like ours and shared this human life. May we, in our desire to be your image-bearers, love others as you have loved us. May your voice be heard in our conversation, and your mind be known in our pondering the mystery of our creation as your icons. Amen. 

Key Concepts
  • the secular, post-Christian view of human beings (no “sacred order”) 
  • the Church’s approach to issues related to the body – negative prohibitions without a positive vision 
  • integrated humanity – body, soul, spirit 
  • putting our whole selves on the altar 
  • the image of God: representative, relational and moral capacity 
  • the body is an icon of God’s goodness in the world 
  • thinking of the body in theological terms, not simply biological terms 
Discussion Questions
  1. When your think of what both the Church and the culture have said about our physical bodies, how does it line up with Paul’s vision of the whole self, given to God in worship?  Has anyone felt their bodies were affirmed as good and part of our “spiritual service” by either church or culture?  Have we ever come close to Paul’s vision for our bodies? 
  2. How have we not been faithful to scripture in dealing with people who believe differently from us?  How might we build bridges to the LBGTQ+ community to repair the non-biblical things that have been said in the name of Jesus?  Can this be done even if we hold to a traditional Christian view of sexuality? 
  3. How might we parent and disciple our children, youth and young adults into a positive vision of their physical body, instead of a negative reaction to certain behaviours or attitudes? 
  4. Humans’ representative capacity means partnership with God in creation (“dominion” or “stewardship”).  What does the concept of stewardship mean for how we care for our own bodies? 
  5. The term “psychosomatic” in medical circles describes how physical symptoms are related to mental processes in humans.  The word comes from two Gk words: psuche = soul/mind, and soma = body.  How does the Biblical understanding of humans as integrated “embodied spirits” help us approach holistic health and healing in human beings?  (see Ps 6:2-4; 31:10; 32:3-4; 102:5; Pr 15:30; 16:24; 17:22; Is 58:11) 
  6. Christian theologians suggest that our bodies “tell God’s story” and are “markers of God’s goodness in the world.”   
    1. Does this high vision of human purpose seem unattainable?  too unrealistic?  Why or why not?
    2. How does this vision for humanity relate to other worldviews and the way they understand the purpose of bodies?  How might your neighbours who hold other worldviews respond to these ideas? 
Group Feedback to Question #2
  • Non-biblical messages the Church has given to LGBTQ+ community: 
    • superiority – “we’re better than you” 
    • you’re excluded from the Church 
    • you don’t meet our standards 
    • there is a hierarchy of sins, and homosexuality is the worst 
    • selective/inconsistent application of scriptures – e.g. why isn’t remarriage equally sanctioned? 
    • “pray the gay away” 
    • unwilling to listen to and learn about the stories and struggles of LGBTQ+ individuals 
    • “love the sinner, hate the sin” (is this what scripture teaches?) 
  • Other behaviours that have been hurtful to the LGBTQ+ community: 
    • unwillingness to discuss the issues openly (fear of being “pigeon-holed” into a particular position (political associations) 
    • avoidance of addressing the topics involved in identity, sexuality, the human body 
    • “bait and switch” – come to our church, but don’t clearly discuss our stance 
    • stereotyping of LGBTQ+ experience 
    • blaming – “you should change” 
    • having an “us vs. them” attitude 
  • Some bridges that could be built to those who believe and live differently to us 
    • apologize (personally and corporately – what might this look like?) 
    • what does support for the LGBTQ+ community look like? 
    • offer assistance 
    • learn about the LGBTQ+ community 
    • show respect for all people, since every human being is created in the image of God 
    • what is each individual’s situation – hear their stories 
    • defend the political rights of all people 
    • form meaningful, loving relationships with LGBTQ+ individuals 
  • Some ongoing questions and topics we need to study and discuss: 
    • how are behaviour and identity linked in the modern discourse? how does the Bible conceive of identity for human persons? 
    • what has Jesus said and not said? 
    • how do we weigh the testimony of the Gospels with integrity? 
    • can we clarify our definitions of key topics and stances: “affirming” “traditional” etc.  what is the spectrum of approaches that various Christian thinkers and churches have proposed? 
    • what does it mean to identify as “gay” and “Christian”? 
    • how have other churches navigated having a diversity of opinions and approaches to these important issues?