At Q Conference, Christians Talk Transgender Issues, Muslims and Weed

Abstract cross in church interiorDuring an age when “42% of Americans believe people of faith are part of the problem in our world,” how can Christians continue to be leaders and influencers?

That’s the question posed by the organizers of the Q Denver 2016, held from April 21 to 23. The Q in the name stands for “questions,” and the annual conference has been bringing together Christians from all over the world. This year, about 1,000 Christian leaders from government, business, media, and the church flocked to Denver.

While 50% of conferences and trade shows take place in Las Vegas, Orlando, and Chicago, one of the hottest topics at this year’s Q conference is of special significance to the Denver area. In addition to transgender issues, secularization, and the refugee crisis, one of the key questions explored this year was the legalization of marijuana.

According to the event’s website, “With 62% of adults under 30 supporting legalization, it seems likely that more states may follow Colorado’s lead. What can we learn from this experiment? Is their validity to the argument that decriminalizing this drug’s use will lead to a more flourishing society? Chris Thurstone, a child psychiatrist and addiction counselor from Denver, discusses the effects and possible consequences of legalized marijuana in many areas of life — from children and minorities to the homeless population and government.”

Millions of Christians in the United States say they feel like they’re under attack, with many of their most fundamental values and beliefs subject to intensifying attacks. That belief has led to the passage of so-called “bathroom bills” and other religious freedom laws in parts of the country, most recently in Mississippi and North Carolina.

Q Denver organizers want to take issues like this head on, and one of the most controversial panels at this year’s event was how Christians can respond to changing attitudes towards the transgender community. The Christian Post reported on a presentation given by Melinda Selmys, a married Catholic woman who now struggles with gender dysphoria.

About a year after becoming a Christian, Selmys said she fell in love with a man, married, and eventually bore six children. But, after 13 years, she suddenly felt at odds with her feminine body. “I felt like I didn’t belong in my body. Putting on women’s clothing felt like I was dressing in drag. And, I was really fearful about my ability to be a mother to my six children.”

Selmys attributed her 13 years of congruence with her feminine identity to being pregnant or nursing. But, now that she’s no longer bearing children, she says her so-called “gender dysphoric” condition has persisted. Despite this, Selmys has chosen to stay married and raise her children, though she sometimes experiences extreme emotional distress.

While some questions have no easy answers, Q founder Gabe Lyons says conversations like this are more important if there is to be understanding between Christians and the LGBT community.

That’s why Sheikh Muhammed Abu Zaid, the Chairman of the Sunni Court of Saida in Lebanon, was invited to give a presentation called, “How Can Middle East Partnerships Be Forged?”

Other speakers included Olympic Gold Medalist and Snowboarder Kelly Clark, whose speech was titled, “How Do Cultural Platforms Advance God’s Purposes?”, and Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, who gave the presentation, “How Can We Find Common Ground When We Disagree?”

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