“Abomination” is a word that shouldn’t taste good coming out of anyone’s mouth; it implies hatred, disgust, and judgment. If you ever overhear that word in anyone’s conversation you immediately know what they are talking about.
Most students at Malone, like me, probably grew up in a conservative Christian home and church where the topic of homosexuality wasn’t addressed very often, and when it was, it was always in a disapproving manner. Perhaps at Malone you’ve had the chance to engage this conversation a little more. Maybe you’ve discussed it with your peers or engaged Dr. Hollon’s discussion of the different arguments in Intro to Theology. Yet in theology class you could only read the stories about someone who was gay and Christian, you never had the chance to hear a person’s story directly.
Equality Ride came to Malone in hopes that they could share their stories—an opportunity for Malone students to hear the struggles of an LGBT person rather than just reading about them. Even though their time at Malone was short, everyone knew that they were here.
Several students were asked to host some of the riders, I was one of those. As a host I wanted to make sure that the riders could sense that Malone was a safe Christian environment— one where they would not have to fear judgment and one where there was genuine interest in hearing their stories.
Faced with injustice everyday many of the riders feel strongly about promoting social justice for LGBTQ persons, which is really the point of their trip. Their desire is to unite young adults in the struggle for common equality. This is why listening to their stories was and is so important.
Equality Ride’s visit to Malone was a chance to promote equality in Malone’s policy towards homosexual activity. Instead of directly targeting homosexual activity, the code of conduct should be more general suggesting that all sexual activity be forbidden, thus allowing for a safer environment for LGBT students.
As Christians at Malone we may not be aware of the struggles our LGBT neighbors are facing. The rate of suicide is 4-7 times higher than among heterosexuals. They are denied an estimated 1,047 different rights that are offered with marriage. Several states still have sodomy laws, gay couples are deprived of the right to adopt a child, denied the ability to openly serve their country in the military, and the list goes on.
As a Christian political science major and a member of be:justice I’ve thought a lot about the importance of justice. As any of the member s of equality ride would have shared with you—the Biblical call to justice cannot be ignored. However, when Evangelical Christians begin to think about justice in terms of the LGBT community we seem to get uneasy.
Gay rights issues such as gay marriage and open service in the military are not going to simply go away when we as Evangelicals persists that they are wrong. We must discern these issues seriously knowing that there is a face to this struggle for equality. That is what the Equality Riders did for me; they allowed me to think about how these issues concern them directly.
I don’t think Christians should even question whether or not gays should have the right to marry or serve openly in our military. Instead what we should be concerned about is how to appropriately deal with this issue in our churches. First we must show love to everyone. That means we can’t deny memberships to an LGBT person. We must also think about what role an LGBT person should have in the church and whether the Church should bless a monogamous relationship or whether it should only encourage celibacy.
I was glad to have the Equality Riders visit Malone. I was excited to see their passion for social justice and I was interested in hearing their view of scripture related to homosexuality. I was hoping that they would present a perspective that would challenge my opinion of the way the way that the Church should deal with these issues.
Although I was sympathetic the Equality Riders coming to Malone I was disappointed with their presentation, their organization, and their zeal for the issues. They didn’t clear up any of the issues the way that I hoped they would; instead they only made me more confused. I asked one of the riders why they didn’t have a clear theological standpoint and he told me they had presented more of clear theological standpoint in the past but now they were trying to move away from that approach.
It was hard to engage them on the questions that I think matter most to the Church because to several of them Christianity was only understood in terms of moral theistic deism. Also as someone who cares about social justice I didn’t sense the genuine concern for social justice issues that I expected. While it is easy to see how LGBT issue deserve attention in this way, their arguments were vague and seemed to be based more on emotional appeal.
My opinions might be more controversial than you expected; however, as a Christian I am still trying to figure out how to respond to these issues. While I support what Soul Force and the Equality Riders are doing I was disappointed in their inability to challenge my perspective. More importantly what they did for me was make the issue personal by placing a face in the struggle for equal rights. They gave me the chance to hear their story and see what is important to them.
Phil Cordes is senior class president.