I just read an article from my alma-mater Bethel University where a Seminary student living with HIV was invited to share his story of giving up homosexuality for holiness.
When I read this article I was sitting in bed, checking my phone for the last bit of the days news. And reading this article took me back to my days at Bethel…well the worst days I had there.
Yuan [the Seminarian and chapel speaker] looked to the Bible to find justification for homosexual relationships and was unsuccessful in finding it. At this point of his life he decided to put his identity in Jesus and not in homosexuality.
“The opposite of homosexuality is holiness,” stated Yuan. [read the rest of the article here]
So here I am, fully clothed at the computer in the middle of the night, writing this letter to GLBT students at Christian Colleges. And as a straight white male I realize I might not be the perfect person to write this letter, but I wanted to let you know that I’m heartbroken over this. Enough to get out of bed at 1 am and type this letter to you.
First off, it’s heartbreaking (I can’t say that enough) that Bethel would continue to use the Bible to discourage homosexuals from pursuing loving relationships. Bethel you can do better that this! You HAVE to do better than this. The Church needs you to do better than this! And frankly, as an alumni I need you to do better than this. I work at a Gay affirming Lutheran Church and I have my Bethel Diploma hanging in my office!
Make no mistake, moments like these will surely be seen by generations to come as another example of people in power using the Bible to hurt others. It will be seen in the same way that 1 Peter was used to justify slavery, women were forbidden to preach, and divorcees were excommunicated.
Please reconsider you position for the sake of your legacy if for no other reason!
And to those who are living as a GLBT person in secret or walking the halls under the hateful stares of your fellow students I want to tell you that LIFE GETS EASIER AFTER CHRISTIAN COLLEGE. I know a little of what its like to live outside of the Bethel Covenant, to walk the line between being honest and protecting my own ass from the disappointed stares of my fellow students.
My sophomore year I misplaced my faith. Somewhere between studying the philosophy of Heidegger and a historical reading of Paul, my belief in God collapsed under the weight of doubt and a thousand unanswered questions. But fortunately I was able to find a dozen friends who had also lost their faith and we huddled together in our apartments and spent the next three years protesting the war in Iraq and reading about socialism.
But I remember that even as an agnostic it took a long time to shake the nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that God was somewhere out there, shaking his head at me in disappointment.
And looking back I think that watching my fellow Christian students shaking their head at me had something to do with this feeling. But I was blessed to have a few friends standing by me, their smiles were enough to float me through.
So hold on, it’s amazing how much pressure is lifted when you are not surrounded on all sides by people who are convinced that their beliefs are God’s beliefs.
And for now remember that God loves you. (Oh, in case you didn’t catch that, I’m a Christian again. Its actually kind of a funny story, maybe I’ll tell you sometime over coffee) And I and thousands of others are hoping and praying that you will find people that love you too.
All of you.
Not just the parts that Christian Colleges approve of. For now I hope you find some people to stand with you. I was lucky that way.
So stay strong and don’t be afraid to check in with us over here at The Salt Collective. And maybe pick up a copy of my friend Jay Bakker’s book Faith, Doubt, and Other Lines I Crossed if you wanna read about a God who Loves Gays.
Frankly, I’d tell you to drop out and find a nice Lutheran School that would accept your sexuality and your theology, but I have a sinking feeling that many of your credits won’t transfer. And while it may be easier to be GLBT after Christian College, paying off your student loans in the middle of a recession is a serious challenge. A challenge that unfortunately only gets harder after Christian College.