Gospel, not support groups, allow for balanced view of homosexuality
Biola University should not be responsible for providing healing or community for men and women with homosexual inclinations. The university has many wonderful functions, but it should not be the gay or straight student’s primary resource to address personal problems. The university can, however, provide more gospel-centered speakers in chapels and continue to provide a vibrant education to students in classes, but the school’s abilities and purpose only go so far.
University's approach well-intentioned, but flawed
On the surface, creating support groups for gay students and encouraging more dialogue about the issue seems unquestionably helpful and spiritually exciting in the “oh my gosh, God is doing some amazing things on campus” sort of way. But as well intentioned as these groups and conversations may be, they will likely further alienate students and exacerbate the feeling of victimization that caused them to seek special attention in the first place.
While not without some good, the open mic confessions at Missions Conference and the resulting support groups are products of some churchless students’ need to spiritually binge rather than foster natural, gospel-centered relationships. I do not write from a place of antagonism, but deep concern and encouragement in the The Gospel. Brothers and sisters, I lovingly ask you to hear me out on this.
It has been said before, and I believe it needs to be shouted from the rooftops for the healing of broken students and for the glory of God: Biola University is not a church.
Support groups can create unhelpful artificial communities
Creating artificial communities for students because they struggle with “especially difficult issues” is to believe the lie that everyone else on campus is in less need for growth and healing. Why not make support groups for every sin, such as for gossipers, liars, those who have lost loved ones, etc? The philosophy behind constructing hundreds of support groups is a faulty replacement for the church that has segregating effects.
Student gatherings that exist because of alienating issues and for the purpose of discussing them will likely reinforce such false identities. Support groups reveal that students’ current relationships are not meeting their needs, or else there would be no need for the groups. This lack of fulfilment for the student likely comes from feeling misunderstood, and can lead to the belief that only those who have shared their experiences can provide effective healing.
The cross provides true basis for healing
However, it is not necessary to have experienced or even understand the nuances of someone’s suffering in order to effectively minister to them. Any lasting healing, strength or transformation comes from being pointed to the cross of Christ. Jesus sympathizes with every person in their suffering and offers assurance in the revitalizing truth that He defeated death and we, too, shall rise and see him face to face. The gospel must be the sustenance of every Christian. People with any struggle who look to the gospel focus less on their victimization and hopelessness and more on the truth that Christ endured disintegrating alienation that no weeping student knows, yet broke through in victory and is coming again in judgment as King.
The gospel of Jesus Christ should be proclaimed from every church pulpit Biola students attend because no other message will bring maturity or healing. The gospel gives, and is, the answer to every problem in this life, including homosexuality. Jesus had no wife, children or money and was murdered at 33 years old –– what are we entitled to? You and I are entitled to the wrath of God, yet we often believe that we are deserving of different. All who have trusted in Christ have been spared because of his sacrifice. I may never have a wife, family, or sex before I die, yet the truth is that I have been given Christ instead of destruction. I share the same conviction of the apostle Paul in saying, “I count all as loss for the sake of Christ.”
University must not usurp church's role
Whether students at Biola should be involved in a local church is not an open-ended question. However, the responsibility to serve others and be served in the body is detailed throughout the New Testament. The church offers discipline, accountability and the sacraments, whereas Biola institutes legal accountability and does not perform baptisms. Passive attendance in the local church is not the answer either. Students who hear and respond to the gospel in brokenness or joy are met with with the support of believers from varying backgrounds, of different ages and with specific strengths and gifts.
Struggle should not come as a surprise
The Bible’s teaching is explicit concerning the sighing, groaning, and painfully throbbing nature of this world and the suffering promised for Christians. Therefore, the Western mentality that conditions minds to feel entitled to an unscathed life is incompatible with the Christian worldview. Students who overlook Jesus’ teaching about the harsh realities of life and prescribe to the culturally dictated idea that “everything’s fine” end up putting up a façade that makes the troubled student’s suffering out to be merely theoretical or very confusing.
This underestimation of sin’s consequences and the gospel being forgotten causes people who suddenly experience suffering to feel surprised by it or isolated from those around them. Christians who understand the gospel are able to console their friends and lend perspective on their suffering in comparing it to Christ’s death and victory. The church stands in stark contrast to the world when it comes to addressing the issue of homosexuality –– the issue is neither promoted over other concerns nor overlooked as simply a matter of behavioral modification.
Putting the issue in proper perspective
There is a difference between soberly addressing homosexuality as a complicated identity issue that is worked out relationally and exaggerating its place in culture. Struggling with homosexuality is anything but strange or unordinary. Since becoming a Christian, the counter cultural nature of the gospel and it being “the power of God” has become more evident to me, especially in conversations with unbelieving friends or strangers. I am able to respond nonchalantly to their anger and concern that I am repressing “my true identity” and say, “Yes, it’s true I feel like [expletive] sometimes, but we all do. My sexual urges do not define me. I’ve been spared the wrath of God and am so genuinely grateful for that. The men I have had relationships with in the past seem like shadows compared to knowing Jesus. If you’re going to be perplexed and outraged about something, it should be that God came to earth to be brutally murdered for us because that is what does not seem fair in this conversation.”
In light of the life and work of Christ, Christians can be brutally honest about their suffering while maintaining a unparalleled hope that is strengthened by their brothers and sisters in community.