Panel on Homosexuality, Biola and Jesus announced
Associated Students will be hosting a panel next week on homosexuality titled “Sexuality Matters: A Discussion on Homosexuality, Biola and Jesus.” The panel, featuring professors Tamara Anderson, Erik Thoennes and Chris Grace, will take place on Sept. 27 at 7:15 p.m. at the Fireplace Pavilion.
This is the first panel of its kind at Biola and the only one AS religious lecture coordinator, Matthew Fier, will be organizing. He said the panel is a continuation of president Barry Corey’s chapel address on Biola’s response to homosexuality in the last chapel of spring semester.
Engaging in a family discussion
Corey explained then that Biola would be facilitating conversations this year on the complex issues of human sexuality, stating that students would be provided with a safe place to ask questions and give perspectives on their sexual identity.
Fier wanted to hold what he referred to as a “family discussion” because he feels that often, Christians have two very polar responses to issues of homosexuality: They tend to be either too grace-giving or too condemning, he said. He wanted to do this event to educate students so that they are able to have grace and also know what they believe. Fier explained that he had the support and backing of Danny Paschall and Grace in Student Development to conduct this panel.
“Last year was the rise and concern of homosexuality and that community — not just here at school but abroad. A lot of students had questions and so really I’m just facilitating an event that will hopefully bring answers for these students,” Fier said.
He said that his position with AS is to represent the students and produce events that vocalize their concerns.
“It seems like a worthwhile thing; I don’t know why they didn’t advertise it better,” said sophomore graphic design major Amy Van Vlear. “I’ll definitely stop by because I was really intrigued about what Dr. Barry Corey said during the [chapel] and I thought that was really good, and I kinda want to know more about Biola’s policies and also what people on campus think about it.”
Panel’s diverse background to provide well-rounded insight
Fier explained that he thought Thoennes’ sound theological perspective and Grace’s knowledge of the Biola community and its standards would contribute greatly to the discussion. Anderson has a background in psychology which will help her provide a unique perspective on homosexuality, according to Fier. Fier’s hope is that these three panelists will help educate students with a well-rounded and informed perspective of the issue. During the panel, students will have the ability to anonymously text in questions. Fier hopes that this will help students be more open.
Providing a place for asking questions
“We’re pretty excited about the text questions. We think that’s really going to help students open up — I know I open up more when its anonymous,” Fier said.
Aside from mailbox fliers, posters and Facebook invites, Fier hopes that the location of the panel and the free dinner AS is providing to attendees will also draw many. Fier hopes that 200-300 students will stay for at least 20 minutes at any point during the panel.
“My hope is that students will attend the event willing to engage in this topic with open hearts. I think it's important to provide a forum like this for students to ask all types of questions, not just about Biola's official stance on homosexuality, but on the realities of homosexuality in the church and in the world,” said Laura Igram-Edwards, AS adviser, in an email.