I grew up in a small town with a relatively small perspective of the world. Everything began to change in 1978 when I enrolled at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). Not only did I meet people from all over (Pennsylvania that is), but I had my first real opportunities to meet homosexuals and born again Christians. I can’t really say that I thought much of either.
Two guys on our floor were reputed to be gay. I would greet them in the hall but didn’t pay much attention otherwise. I will say they received at least some measure of abuse from some of the guys on the floor.
Eventually I met a small handful of professing Christians that I thought to be somewhat normal. As we began to build friendships I was confronted with the reality of the Bible. I had always possessed a vague belief in God, but reading the Bible challenged me in a way I never anticipated. In time I surrendered my life to Christ and got more involved with the conservative Christian community.
On one occasion a gay activist came to speak on campus. A couple of friends and I decided to attend. We wanted a better understanding of this whole issue. The turnout was extremely small: the three Christians constituted almost half of the group.
The speaker was undeterred, gathering everybody together and passionately sharing his vision to see homosexuality become mainstream in American culture. Most of the plan centered on a massive public relations (PR) campaign and the infiltration of key centers of influence.
Ten years later I found myself back at IUP leading a campus ministry. How things had changed! While not violently hostile, the university community was no longer friendly to the conservative Christian faith.
In struggling to get established we decided to change the name of our campus ministry, which required a new constitution. Much to my surprise our constitution required an anti-discrimination statement including sexual orientation and religious beliefs.
In a meeting with a Student Affairs representative I explained our case. Anybody was welcome to attend our meetings and everyone would be treated with respect. But when it came to choosing leaders, we had to be free to choose them according to our beliefs—otherwise we would cease to be Christian!
No matter! The university policy (while illegal) was unbending. We could have gone public, but that’s not really my style. Instead, we appealed to the legal counsel of the PA State System of Higher Education (SSHE). Their response was the same, so we appealed again. Again we received the same answer. For almost two years we were denied campus privileges and our First Amendment rights to freely exercise our religious beliefs.
About that time the university hired a new Vice President of Student Affairs. He seemed like a fair man so I explained our quandary. A short time later we received a letter stating that our constitution would be accepted as we had written it, but we still needed to abide by university policies. I accepted the letter and the issue never surfaced again—for our group.
In the years following I served in various leadership roles and had the privilege of interacting with Christian campus leaders from all over the country. My eyes were now wide open to a very real issue on college campuses across the U.S. And as the college campus goes, so goes the culture! (Check out this recent article from the Christian Post.)
A few years later a gay professor blasted one of our students for her beliefs in front of the class, “We should light Sara on fire and throw her out the window!” Sara bravely responded with love and by the end of the semester had built at least a friendly relationship with the professor.
The trend continues for a vague, nebulous form of spirituality to be accepted, even encouraged, by universities everywhere. Jesus is okay as long as portrayed as some warm, fuzzy god accepting of all. Adherence to the actual teachings of the Bible; however, is highly disdained. Statements by Christ such as “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by Me,” are by no means acceptable. Upholding Biblical teaching that sexual activity must be limited to a man and a woman within the bond of covenant marriage is immediately labeled as narrow minded and bigoted.
I share all of this to help bring a more complete perspective to this volatile issue. To portray those in the GLBT community as the only victims of discrimination and mistreatment is downright wrong. It’s no less wrong to vilify all who disagree with a homosexual lifestyle as being homophobic and hateful.
Let’s do our best to distinguish between reality and PR!