So like many of my peers, I’ve been shocked by the recent explosion of Harding University in the news. Anytime the topic of how Jesus followers treat homosexuals is a public conversation, I cringe. I love my Alma Mater and because I’m not privileged to know the conversations going on behind the scenes. I’m trusting that they are asking questions about the students who are there who don’t fit into the easy categories that are being created.
The truth is that this could happen at any Christian university in the country. It just happened to occur in Searcy.
I also need to say up front, that I affirm the orthodox position on what the Scriptures say on homosexuality. Because I know quite a few people who deal with this I wish I knew another way to interpret this, but I don’t. But I don’t think the way we’ve historically responded is Biblical either.
I wanted to ask a friend with a closer perspective on this to weigh in. I hoped that he could give us a creative third way to talk about what is going on. A couple of ground rules for comments on this post:
1. It’s okay to disagree with me, or what my friend wrote, but if you attack him personally I will not allow your comment to be posted.
2. Remember where this post is coming from. It’s not a slam on Harding University, or an invitation to do so. This is applicable to all the places that Christian gather. I’ve posted this because I know there are a lot of people who are out there who wrestle with their sexuality…and the one thing I took away from this is that there are a lot of students who don’t feel like they can talk about it. That’s got to stop. We’ve got to make our churches and religious institutions places where people can share their struggles safely and without fear of being rejected. If the church honestly believes that our sexuality isn’t our identity, than that should come out with our behavior. From what I heard my friend say, this isn’t just something for an administration to fix. This is something that happens on the student level just as much, if not more.
3. The person writing this is doing so from a good place. They aren’t bitter, God is healing their wounds, and he has great community that he is able to be honest and open with. You’d like him if you knew him, maybe you already do.
So with all that said, meet my friend:
Being gay is not easy. Being gay at Harding is hell. I don’t think it’s Harding’s intention that anyone on their campus feel miserable or disenfranchised. Being dedicated to the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament, it’s just long been accepted that homosexuality is wrong. For the longest time, the church at large and even the world were primarily in agreement. Homosexuality was a closed case – sinful, forbidden, wrong. However, from time immemorial homosexuality has existed and I dare say that since Harding University has been in existence that there have been homosexuals (admittedly primarily closeted ones until now) in attendance and likely as supporters, donors, faculty, and staff.
My story could have fit right in with some of the ones included in the HUQP zine, somewhere between Every Young Man’s Battle and Swings for a Cure. Being gay at Harding was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was in the proverbial closet almost the entire time, at least I never told anyone until just before graduation when I told my two best friends. I waited to the end to tell my two best friends because I feared that even these beloved friends might not accept me. Suffice it to say that if I worried that the two best friends of my life might not accept me, that I was convinced that the student body and the faculty, staff, and school leadership would not. My friends handled the news with surprising grace, though neither of them advocated for me to tell anyone else. As straights they both feared what coming out at Harding would look like for me. It might have been somewhat that they didn’t want their friends to know that they had a gay friend, but more than that I think they both feared what the response would be. Continue reading A Christian Response to Homosexuality