About the Study

The intent of this landmark study is to educate participants about why they should care about the issue of homosexuality and faith; invite them to talk, but not necessarily agree; and give them the tools to respond to the issue out of love, rather than fear.

And as evangelical leader Brian McLaren points out in Lesson One, this issue raises many more fears than the fear of going against biblical authority. Some people may shrink from the divisiveness that homosexuality and faith has caused in churches. Some fear being criticized if they change their views. Others fear they will hurt gay people and their families by not knowing how to respond to their turmoil. The list goes on.

But why should everyday Christians even care about the issue of homosexuality and faith? Why should it be so important to people who don’t have a gay family member or friend?

Because no issue more than this one will determine the future of the Christian church in the United States.

Mainstream denominations are now plagued with declining numbers both in church membership and attendance. The average age of congregations is creeping higher and higher, as increasingly, young people forsake the church. The next generation of church members simply is not materializing at a rate that will sustain, let alone increase, the Christian population in America.

A recent survey conducted by the Barna Group of 16- to 29-year-old Americans tells us one of the most common impressions of Christianity is that it “no longer looks like Jesus.”

The poll goes on to delineate perhaps the key reason for this impression:

“Today, the most common perception [among young people] is that present-day Christianity is ‘anti-homosexual.’ Overall, 91 percent of young non-Christians and 80 percent of young churchgoers say this phrase describes Christianity. … They believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church has made homosexuality a ‘bigger sin’ than anything else. Moreover, they claim that the church has not helped them apply the biblical teaching on homosexuality to their friendships with gays and lesbians.”

It stands to reason that resolving this issue in the church offers the promise of healing and a resurgence in growth.

But how can the issue be resolved without compromising Christian values?

According to This I Know, it can by heeding the most important Christian value of all: Jesus’ call to act out of love, not fear. More than anything else, Christ’s ministry was based on love – a selfless and sacrificial love that embraced the marginalized. Yet time and again, the actions and policies of today’s churches have been the primary societal forces that marginalize – even persecute – homosexuals.

This study asks participants to use their hearts, and some of today’s most influential Christian thinkers have contributed lessons to help point the way. This study also demands participants use their minds, and some of the country’s most respected Christian theologians have added their scholarship as trustworthy guidance. All of the contributors have donated their work to this project.

This I Know was developed as a companion study to the award-winning documentary For the Bible Tells Me So, which poignantly illustrates the human cost of fear through the stories of Christian families coping with a homosexual son or daughter. Since its release in 2007, the film has inspired a new spirit of reconciliation and understanding among thousands of viewers in theaters and in churches.

The study expands the reach of the film by offering churches a trusted curriculum to generate constructive conversation and dialogue. Together, Sunday school classes and other small groups have the opportunity to create a safe space to grapple with the issue, to share their fears, and to heed Christ’s call.

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