Letter from the Editor: why I wrote about homosexuality on campus

Dear Biola,

We’ve had some big conversations in the past year. One that’s come up repeatedly is homosexuality on campus. Thrust into the spotlight through the Biola Queer Underground going public last May, homosexuality has been one of the hot topics.

In the past few weeks, though, it’s started to simmer down. So why is it making a comeback in the final few issues of the Chimes?

Because we believe it matters. We think that this conversation needs voices of the Church in it. We want those voices to be bold, courageous, nuanced and informed. To accomplish that, we think that this conversation needs faces, especially on campus.

Over the next three weeks, we’ll publish a three-part series: Homosexuality on Campus. In it, we’ll talk to students who range from Richard, who struggles with same-sex attraction while believing it’s a sin, to a former student who has come out, to members of the administration regarding how they handle this topic.

Stigma surrounds conversations of sexuality — homosexuality, most of all. We talk about sexual orientation, “lifestyle” and gay marriage without thinking about the people it affects.

How much would it change our tendency to rattle off homophobic slurs or quickly condemn the student who doesn’t embrace his gay lifestyle if we carefully stopped and considered the people this affects? (Students at Biola fall on both ends of this spectrum and all throughout.)

Stopping and thinking is just what we want to do. These stories aren’t sexy and they’re not for the sake of controversy. It’s a project in understanding people more than anything.

I’ve met with the people who will be covered multiple times over the past three months. I’ve prayed and sought wise counsel and thought about whether to run this series — and if so, how and when.

Biola, I think you’re ready for a conversation that runs deeper than knee-jerk reactions to panels and posters. These profiles are not intended to provide any commentary on what the Scriptures say about homosexuality. As a publication, we support Biola’s stance on human sexuality — though we always encourage thoughtful and careful research into various viewpoints.

This isn’t about an agenda. It’s about stories that are powerful, moving and painful. We want you to get to know the people who live day in and day out with this thing that makes them so different — they’ve nearly abandoned the faith because of it. We want you to meet the students who walk alongside you with a burden so much bigger than you know they have.

My sources have taken a huge risk merely by sharing their story with me and now, you. They’re laying themselves out there for you to see and they’re terrified of your response. One told me he thought there wouldn’t be anything positive.

Biola, breaking down fear and stigma surrounding difficult social issues starts here. We don’t have to compromise our biblical doctrine to be a community that exemplifies grace, love and care for every individual.

I can only pray that as you meet these individuals, you will briefly set your tendency to judge their sins aside. However, should you choose to judge, then go and ahead and judge me for my tendency to gossip and my sinful struggle with pride as well.

My prayer is that we will walk away from one of these stories and understand our place in Christ’s kingdom better. My prayer is that you will walk away from these articles with a better sense of the people behind these labels — that the labels will be a little less scary. My prayer is that we will be strengthened in our spiritual and scriptural convictions in ways that lead to the most excellent way of love.

If you have questions or concerns that run deep, please contact me. I’m always happy to meet in person. My email is attached to this piece and the first of the series, and I welcome your response.

All for his glory,

Elizabeth Sallie

Editor-in-Chief, The Chimes ‘11-’13

Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. Alicia Miller

    Well said, Sallie. Thanks for not taking the path of least resistance. May 9, 2013

  2. Jason Brown

    Thanks for believing there are voices that still need to be heard, Sallie.

    May 9, 2013

  3. Marie Bakerpoole

    Sallie,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you! I leave Biola (gladly) in 2 weeks. So happy and hopeful that this conversation is being started in this way. May 9, 2013

  4. Michael Asmus

    Yes! May 9, 2013

  5. Natalie Tinnerman

    I, too, leave Biola (gladly) in 2 weeks. My time at Biola was not colored with the kind of rich discussion you seem to be advocating, Sallie, so I am thankful that the conversation seems to be finally REALLY getting started. May 9, 2013

  6. Emily Woodroof

    Sallie,

    I'm proud to be your friend. Thank you for starting this important conversation with such honesty and wisdom. May 9, 2013

  7. Alan Shlemon

    Perhaps the most important statement you made: "We don’t have to compromise our biblical doctrine to be a community that exemplifies grace, love and care for every individual." Thank you for saying this! May 10, 2013

  8. Richard Padilla

    Oh wow I didn't see this before, so good. May 10, 2013

  9. Katie Watson

    Sallie, as a former Chimes EIC who had the privilege of handing the baton to you, I am so incredibly proud of you and excited for what God will do with this series. Praying that God will reward you and your sources for the remarkable courage and commitment you are displaying, as I know He will! May 10, 2013

  10. Maddy

    Slash, you are a gem and a half and I am such a fan of your heart. May 10, 2013

  11. Christian Stokes

    "Stigma surrounds conversations of sexuality — homosexuality, most of all. We talk about sexual orientation, “lifestyle” and gay marriage without thinking about the people it affects."

    Thank you! Yes! If I can be allowed to "soapbox" for a moment...: The "big picture" conversations have become wearisome to me, mostly because people forget that their high and lofty principles (on both sides) deeply affect real human beings. This is a conversation about people. When we forget that this is about people, we risk really hurting people for the sake of whatever cause we find ourselves on.

    To anyone reading out there: Don't assume you know the answer. Don't degrade someone for making a choice that you disagree with. If you actually think that you offer a better alternative to someone, then approach them with love and concern. Ask questions. Explain what you think will help. Do not hate them if they disagree. Above all, pray, for them, for you, for everyone affected by this issue today.

    In the interest of disclosing my own bias, I support a "Type B" perspective. (Read Sallie's other article for more clarification). That said, I don't think that proselytizing my views is helpful if I'm not willing to engage in actual conversation and relationship with real and specific people. My "help" also means nothing if I am not willing to listen.

    Hopefully we can all learn to engage this, and other things, in a manner that is actually Christ-like, instead of hateful. May 14, 2013

  12. Heather Johnson

    As another former Chimes editor in chief (94-95), I wish to add my voice commending The Chimes for your thorough and thoughtful coverage of this issue. Well done! May 17, 2013

  13. Jeremy Littau

    Another former Chimes EIC ('96-'97) who wants to commend you for this great series. I appreciate that the coverage is thoughtful and nuanced. You are giving voice to people who have previously been shut out of the discussion and I am so glad you've taken this on despite the criticism I know you you'd face. June 6, 2013

  14. Peter

    I think this is a positive sign, as an alumni I remember a time when it was against 'the rules' for a student to play cards, and women had to wear skirts or dresses.

    Some day in the future people will look back on homophobia in the same way as we do today at racism, not that it is gone of course, far from it. They will onder how people could have treated others in such ways.

    Good for you for focusing on individuals, I think this will help, and the other thing that has helped SO much is simply the appearance of gays on TV.

    When people see that they are just people, like everyone else, the underlying fears dissipate, and the same is no doubt true of opening up the lines of communication and focusing on the human cost of prejudices and hate, wherever they are found.

    June 12, 2013

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