Archive for the ‘celibacy’ Category

CBC’s DNTO to air my story on Coming Out to My Church for “Lost Causes,” Nov 3   Leave a comment

Definitely Not the Opera, (DNTO) a CBC Radio One program devoted to the art of storytelling in Canada, asked me to tell my story of coming out to my church for their Nov 3 show “Lost Causes”.

I had pitched the idea to them last year for a different show called “Making Enemies” but withdrew the pitch because a) I don’t think I meant to make enemies, nor do I think I have made enemies; and 2) because I didn’t want to restir a pot that has finally calmed down.

But they remembered my pitch.  And they sought me out.  Which is humbling, and cool.  We recorded on Friday morning and they are editing my lengthy story to 3-4 minutes.  I appreciate Andrew Friesen’s belief that my story was important and needed to be told.  I feel like the story is more appropriate under “Lost Causes” because trying to reason with people who don’t want to listen to you, or discuss with you–and believing that you alone have to spark change–well, it can feel like a “Lost Cause”.  But in the end–and the end hasn’t come yet–who knows if the cause is lost?  I think every person who says the church must look at the evidence, must consider the Christian testimonies of LGBT folks in the discussion, is a step towards change.  We need more people who realize how many people have fallen away from the faith, have decided against Christ, have been repelled from the church, and who, sometimes when there is no hope left, taken their own lives, all because the Church has historically refused to consider the scriptures in an accepting light–and this causes their members to refuse to accept their children in an accepting light.  This splits familes.  My God and my Christ are not what I encounter when I come into a Baptist Church anymore.  I daresay they wouldn’t recognize it.  Churches are not all one defined Mass though–as many churches are beginning to change their minds about LGBT people.  Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, United Church of Canada–all have begun seeing that this is just the next issue the church has to rethink.  As it did slavery, race, and its treatment of Women.  And divorce.  Change comes when people inside churches decide they can’t hold false doctrine anymore.  Christianity and Faith are not the problem.  Interpretation is.

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Introducing the New Biola University Queer Underground!   Leave a comment

It is with great pleasure that I read of the exciting things happening at Biola University in California.  It breaks my heart to go back onto Christian campuses sometimes–knowing that the LGBT community cannot express themselves as both “good Christians” and LGBT people (unless they pledge celibacy).  My recent trip to Calvin College moved me to respond–and while I see in SAGA a group that is surviving under the pressures of Calvin, I see the students at Biola, riskier perhaps, thriving.   They are pushing the envelope, not happy with the “yard privileges” that the university gives them, still prisoners, in many ways, of the administration and policy decisions on sexuality that are in place at Biola.  They have instead spoken out, strongly, and I hope that their speaking out creates a conversation for change in the administration.

For more amazing stuff, read the article in Inside Higher ED here.  I put a picture of Bryn Terfel as Wotan in the Ring Cycle here to let you know, Biola Queer students, that I think of you as bold warriors.  That what you are doing takes courage.  That it’s going to be a tough fight.  That the denomination which controls Biola may not play fair.  But that you are warriors, every one of you.

May God bless you and bring you peace in your decisions, in your convictions, and strength in holding to them.

For the Biola Queer Underground’s website, click here.

I hope more Christian campuses follow your lead.

Gay at Calvin College   9 comments

I’m here at Calvin College attending the Festival of Faith and Writing, one of the most amazing, one of the best, writing conferences out there.  The quality of the speakers—Gary Schmidt, Jonathan Safran Foer, Marilynne Robinson–not to mention the different seminars I’ve already taken–gives depth and urgency to writers who hope to change the world.  I have never felt such deep emotional responses to these calls and challenges to be good writers and write good stories.  Calvin College does a great thing for writers of faith.

And yet…. I find myself, as I knew I would, disturbed by Calvin College’s policy towards GLBT students.  It’s an ethical dilemma.

Calvin’s stance on GLBT issues

To their credit, Calvin is far more liberal than most Christian colleges.  They do not run them off campus, as they did in my day.  So by that measure, I should be pleased.  I have read their FAQs on their policy towards homosexuality and GLBT students, and you can read it here:  Calvin’s FAQs about homosexuality.

You’ll notice that it’s very kind and generous.  It acknowledges that gays and lesbians are attracted to same sex people.

“While the orientation seems usually to lie outside the scope of an individual’s will, by God’s power and grace, behavior lies within it.

Calvin College is also concerned that homosexual members of our community are treated with respect, justice, grace and understanding in the Spirit of Christ. We recognize the complexity of current issues around homosexuality and desire to engage this conversation with courage, humility, prayerfulness and convicted civility.”  (I use the quotation marks here because my pic makes it difficult to know where the quote starts and ends.)

It’s that sexual behavior that seems so SEPARATE to Calvin; it’s almost ridiculous.  However, they want to frame a “conversation” in respectful terms.  Conversation, of course, means that both sides are listening.  But I appreciate their dedication to civility, a civility that they have the authority to enforce.

In the classroom, Calvin College notes that multiple perspectives may be explored by students:

In exploring the full range of human experience, faculty will certainly acquaint students with many perspectives that are inconsistent with the confessions, but will do so from a perspective of adherence to the confessions.

That policy– the adherence to confessions–can be found in the the newest document on academic freedom for professors and students.   Mentioned in these FAQs, it addresses how faculty should approach difficult topics.  The underlying conclusion, as you read here, is that the administration is not wrong, and that they are not the ones listening, but the ones correcting:

We have learned that the best outcomes for such conversations are those in which an inquirer later reports “I’m glad I asked. I really do see this now from another, more biblical, point of view,” or where the faculty or staff member reports “I’m glad you raised this. I hadn’t been aware of all the ramifications of my view, and I’ve now refined it to take other concerns into account,” or where both later say “we disagree, but we remain open to learning from each other” or “I realize that I need to learn more and think further about any position I advance.” Not every inquiry will end in this way. But we have learned to give such questions every chance to end with a positive outcome.

I like to point out that their “positive outcome” is one where there is learning on the inquirer’s side only.  However, Calvin’s new policies on homosexuality do protect gays and lesbians from negative slurs, prejudice, etc.— however, they don’t realize the institutionalized creation of prejudice they engender by their different treatment of gays and lesbians.  Watch the FAQs carefully:

[SAGA–Sexuality Awareness, Gender Acceptance] is not a ‘student organization,’ but a group of students with a counselor mentor from the Broene Counseling Center, who seek to educate others at Calvin about the challenges faced by homosexual students.

Gays are given groups within the auspices of counseling.  “These are not student organizations” the policy says emphatically, thereby denying them student rights.  They are, instead, places of refuge for gays and lesbians and places where they can, apparently, come to terms with the fact that God wants them to remain celibate–and teach others how to treat them better because of their “challenges”.  *note the student response below for a great insight into SAGA and Calvin College that I didn’t know, and am very pleased to hear.  While policy may be against gays at Calvin, the people there aren’t.

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The Only Good Gay is a Celibate Gay: and other myths the church embraces   6 comments

The new message given to gays these days by evangelical churches is one of acceptance– with a catch.  Several mainstream evangelical churches have begun preaching that, as long as gays stay celibate, they can be fully accepted by the church.  Unfortunately, this message has convinced straight Christians, and some gay Christians, that gay sex is the problem.


The history of the church’s reaction to gays

Clearly, churches have been much worse to the GLBTQ community.  They used to burn us.  Certainly early Church fathers condemned us, saying that we were aberrations (at best) or the devil (at worst)–with a midscale reaction that lasted through my lifetime, that gays were normally heterosexual people who got seduced by the devil to turn to homosexuality which was unnatural.  (As if no normal person could ever BE gay…this fooled me for a long time.)

In my lifetime I have seen that stance change.  It went from condemnation, saying that God never created gay folks, to an acceptance of the fact that gay people might be innately attracted to the same-sex–or born that way.  Created gay–but abnormal, in the sense that some children are born with defects, and that gay is just another defect.  Right now, pastors are calling it “not God’s best”–and they are willing to embrace gays if they remain celibate.  Well, it just so happens that Evangelicals have stumbled on an accidental “agreement” with a smaller percentage of gays, called Side B Christians, who believe the Bible has “no room for gay sexuality.”

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