How do you define Bridge Building?

What separates The Marin Foundation from all other organizations is the fact that we are intentional about strategically partnering, and working closely with both LGBTQ organizations and religious (conservative and progressive) organizations. A bridge cannot be built from one side as there needs to be a strong foundation on both sides in order to bridge the gap, and in turn, level the disconnect. Both sides need to be intricately involved in order to best dialogue and change thought processes, presuppositions, and pervasive stereotypes. It is just too easy to stay stagnant and rest on the traditional practices of our predecessors.

What are your views on the big 5 questions?

There are five main questions that The Marin Foundation gets from both the Christian and LGBTQ community. We call these the “Big 5.” They are:

  • Do you think that gays and lesbians are born that way?
  • Do you think homosexuality is a sin?
  • Can a LGBTQ person “change?”
  • Do you think that someone can be gay and Christian?
  • Are LGBTQ people going to hell?

The one common theme of these “Big 5” is that they are all close-ended, yes-or-no questions. Each of them must be answered with one word and they are all meant to end conversation. Based solely on one’s close-ended answers, it is easy to label, judge and dismiss the other community entirely. Thus we dehumanize a community based off of a word rather than create a productive conversation. In essence, by close-ended answers either the Christian or the LGBTQ community judges who you are, what you believe, whose team you’re on and how you should be treated.

Rather than answering close-ended questions, The Marin Foundation seeks to elevate the conversation and continual fruitful dialogue, as tense as that may be. This is a model taken from Jesus throughout the Gospels. Of the 25 times Jesus was asked close-ended questions, only three times did he respond with a yes or no. These three times were only after he was arrested and admitting he was the Messiah. Prior to this, Jesus never answered close-ended questions with a yes or a no. Instead, he elevated the conversation.

Our goal by not answering the “Big 5” with a simple yes or no is not to dodge the subject or avoid the issue. We long to engage it. We seek to elevate the conversation, we seek to continue dialogue, and we seek to understand one’s point of view even if it is diametrically opposed to our own. We want to be educated, not dismissed, and we do not want to dismiss others in the process. We want to elongate the conversation, thus changing the conversation.

For more information about this, see pages 178-185 in Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community by Andrew Marin.

Does working with both sides of the culture war belittle your message?

We do not believe that working with both “sides” of the culture war belittles or changes our message. We seek to live out our mission to build bridges between the LGBTQ community and the Church – and that means we have to live within, and work with both. As our vision statement says, we strive to live in the tension, and refuse to allow hate, disagreements, or past experiences to cause divisions in any community. As Christians, we do believe that we should be taking the first step towards reconciliation and healthy relationships.

Is The Marin Foundation staff a bunch of straight, evangelical Christians?

We believe strongly in inclusion. And The Marin Foundation understands inclusion as the actual inclusion of everyone—not just the people we want to include. Therefore on staff we have LGBTQ Christian individuals (both single and partnered) as well as straight Christian men and women (conservatives and progressives). This is the reason why The Marin Foundation does not take a stance on any issues corporately; as we are a group of individuals that comprise many different shades of faith, sexuality and politics in our culture today. If The Marin Foundation staff is not able to build bridges amongst ourselves on daily basis surrounding divisive issues even we disagree with each other on, how can we suggest any other entity should then, either. And our volunteers spread even further—to bisexual activists, transgender individuals, black, white, Asian, intersex individuals, celibate gays and lesbians, old and young, ex-gays, rich and poor. The Marin Foundation is trying as best as we can to live what we understand God’s kingdom to be on earth as it is in heaven.

Where does The Marin Foundation receive funding?
As a 501(c)(3), The Marin Foundation receives funding from charitable donations. This past year we received funding from individuals, churches, businesses as well as from speaking honorariums and book sales. Unlike many others, 100% of all speaking honorariums and book sales go directly to The Marin Foundation. For a more detailed breakdown of The Marin Foundation’s donations and expenditures, please see our Financials.

Are you a grant giving family-Foundation?
No, The Marin Foundation is not a family-foundation but a 501(c)(3) non-profit. We are officially recognized as a federal non-profit public charity under the 501(c)(3) Internal Revenue Service organizational code. The name The Marin Foundation was actually the idea of two 50-something year old gay men who attended Andrew’s gatherings in Boystown. They thoughts it was the only name everyone thought was bland enough that “the other” community (whether conservative or LGBTQ) would not be offended by just based on a name.

Is The Marin Foundation denominational affiliated?
We are not associated with one specific denomination. We have, however, worked with numerous denominations from all across the board—from very progressive to very conservative. Not being denominationally affiliated also assist our work with secular, and government agencies.

Online Responses from The Marin Foundation:

What does The Marin Foundation believe about evangelism?

You’ve talked about language that is misused in the ‘culture war’? What do you mean by that? (See: Tolerance, Reconciliation, Affirming)

Since Jesus told people to ‘Go and sin no more’ shouldn’t Christians that have a more traditional understanding of faith and sexuality do the same with the LGBTQ community?

Do you think that Christians that have attractions towards individuals of the same should try to become ex-gay?

Should more conservative Christian churches require that people behave a certain way before they can belong in the church?