The debates on Sunday between me and the minister from Metropolitan Community Church Windsor went very well. As I announced here two weeks ago, at stake was the statement "Homosexual practice is contrary to the gospel and inconsistent with a Christian lifestyle," which reflects the teaching of the host congregation, Lakeshore–St Andrew's, and its denomination, the Presbyterian Church in Canada. The debates, along with other events in the same series, were intended primarily to educate the local congregation in how to deal with hot-button topics in a sensitive and scripturally sound way.
The church has two services, at 9:30 and 11:00. A friend of mine who wasn't present speculated that this meant there were two formats, contemporary and traditional. No, I said, contemporary and contemporary. Rather than a traditional sanctuary, the space is a darkened auditorium with stage lighting and adorned, a little incongruously, by two cheerful-looking blue inflatable toy elephants, to symbolize the "Elephant in the Room" theme. Each service began with a chorus, "God of This City," and prayers--especially prayers of thanksgiving that the adult son of one of the band members had escaped unscathed from a serious car crash.
Both sessions, which followed similar formats except that we had a little longer for rebuttals in the second, were recorded. The church should be posting an mp3 fairly shortly. I'll link to it as soon as I know it's up.
The debate will speak for itself, I think, but I'll say I appreciated the respectful and irenic way in which Martha presented her case.
I can't resist recounting one anecdote: in the first debate Martha argued that homosexuality couldn't be against nature, as it had been documented in hundreds of animal species. Well, I responded, cannibalism is found in the animal kingdom, but we don't take that as a model of appropriate human behaviour. She didn't use that line of reasoning the second time.
I closed with an original limerick of which I'm rather proud:
Second Peter and
Jude are akin
As they warn against libertine spin,
“Sodom’s toast, so beware
Of the prophets who dare
To treat grace as a licence to sin.”
Thanks to Pastor Brad Watson of LSA for setting up the event. He and his wife and two others from the church graciously took Martha and me out to dinner on Saturday. It was indeed good for us to get to know each other a little outside our roles as debating opponents.
I deeply appreciate the prayers and encouragement from many people. Fellow bloggers Woodrow and Dale and Heather came over from the Detroit area, with the Price kids in tow of course, and we had a grand old time afterwards at a Mongolian Grill. My friend Owen, who first connected me with Brad, unfortunately had another engagement out of town.
This event and the preparations for it were quite a challenge. The stress has taken its toll on me physically and emotionally, but I am very glad to have taken the opportunity to witness in this way. May the seeds that were planted bear much fruit.