Review: The New Normal Conference
Society is changing fast, especially in its attitudes to sexuality and gender. A revolution has taken place in recent years which is affecting schools, families, and public debate. A number of cases have been heard in courts across the country and covered in the media. But many of us feel confused by what is happening and ill-equipped to respond properly.
With this in mind, Christian Concern hosted the New Normal conference on 11th and 12th November, to explore some of these issues and discuss how we may offer a Christ-centred response.
Over the two days, around 200 delegates gathered at the Emmanuel centre in London to be equipped and encouraged from experts across a range of fields.
On Friday, the focus was understanding the cultural shift. The conference opened with introductions from Andrea Williams and Professor Bobby Lopez, who was raised by his mother and her same-sex partner. Professor Lopez also co-wrote ‘Jephthah’s Children’, available from Wilberforce Publications.
Speakers explored how society has shifted and why this ‘New Normal’ is so damaging, particularly for children and the family. They examined the issues through the lenses of medicine, biblical exegesis, sociology and even literature.
The afternoon ended with a sobering presentation from Anglican Mainstream’s Dr Lisa Nolland on the kind of explicit sex education being taught to our children. This wake-up call set the tone for Friday evening’s premiere of Sunlight, written by Bobby Lopez and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked. The original play is the poignant true story of a man who was brought up by a same-sex couple, the problems this led to, and the hostile treatment he received from the LGBT community.
Sunlight was a striking example of how the arts can be used to tell the stories of people affected by the sexual revolution, and speakers highlighted the necessity of being involved with wider culture in this way.
The focus of Saturday’s programme was responding to the cultural shift. There were a variety of seminars to choose from, including ‘I’m Gay: How to Respond’ with Core Issues Trust’s Mike Davidson, and ‘I’m Transgender: How to Respond’ with Daniel Moody. The conference closed with a lively Q&A session, where speakers offered final thoughts on how we can move forward, responding with biblical truth, love and compassion.
To help you further explore these issues, Christian Concern has created The New Normal Hub, featuring academic studies, personal accounts and comment pieces. During a discussion on the Friday, Bobby Lopez reminded us that confusion over sexuality and gender is part of a spiritual battle, and that most importantly we must pray into this confusion. Our resource hub also offers prayer points to help guide your prayers.
Anglican Mainstream’s Andrew Symes has also reviewed the conference and offers a summary of its various components.