This is a point I’ve been trying to make for quite some time; Julie pins it down well.
A friend of mine posted up a link to the latest to come from Patrick Henry College. You can read about it here, but the gist of it is this:
Patrick Henry College in Loudoun County is among the country’s most conservatives centers of higher learning. The Christian college is so conservative, in fact, that its founder and chancellor recently rejected the possibility that any gay students might even attend, reports the Loudoun Times:
Gay students at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville don’t exist. They can’t exist.
So says Dr. Michael Farris, the college’s founder and chancellor.
It’s simple, really. Homosexuals can’t exist at Patrick Henry College because the students sign an honor code, Farris claimed.
“[Homosexuals] could not sign our honor code,” Farris said, adding that he considers the actions of gay men and women “sinful.”
“Part of the honor code is to be sexually pure,” he added.
The honor code in question (available from their website) states:
We, the students of Patrick Henry College, fully aware of our daily dependence on the grace of God, commit to set ourselves apart in thought, word, and deed, to honor Jesus Christ, and to love our neighbor. We passionately aspire to live our best for the Lord by conducting ourselves in the spirit of Titus 2:11-12: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”
Therefore, I pledge, by the grace of God, to submit to proper authorities, to be honest, to respect the property of others, and to speak edifying words. I will refrain from using any substances, such as alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, in any way prohibited by proper authority such as the government, church, family, or school. I will reserve sexual activity for marriage, shun sexually explicit material, and seek parental counsel when pursuing a romantic relationship. Finally, I will seek biblical resolution and reconciliation in my conflicts. I pledge to hold my fellow students accountable to these principles and ask that they do the same for me, in order that Jesus Christ might be honored and glorified.
Now, let’s be fair to the chancellor. In conservative Christian circles, being gay means having multiple partners, sleeping around, no marriage vows to secure a place in the bed of the person you’re sleeping with (by default, of course). And, given the way many (though certainly not all) activist and parade-gay types have acted, this is sort of understandable. The mores in question are not held in common and this creates repulsion and aversion.
Is Christian practice of chastity futile? Chastity is, culturally speaking, fairly peculiar as a life behavior. In the rare instances that one finds the broader, western/American culture endorsing chastity, it is for selfish reasons: “Wait to have sex until you’re ready. Find someone you love or at least find attractive.”
In generations previous to ours, there was a sense of shame from the community. “If I have a child out of wedlock, the neighbors will talk. I don’t want them to think I am a whore (or, if a man, a “cad,” perhaps).” This is no longer a concern for most people, having been replaced with a concern for personal pleasure.
Not a self-punishing ritual, but a ritual of turning away from sin and turning toward Christ.
Whether I sin while sleeping alone or if I sleep with someone else out of wedlock, I need repentance to mark my life.
I need the grace of forgiveness which comes from Christ’s sacrificial death to be applied to me on a daily, hourly basis.
Even my thoughts about others–my bitterness, my lust, my anger, my judgmentalism–need to be subjected to this repentance. God’s kingdom extends even to my bed…and fornication is not the only sin that can happen in one’s bed. Not by a long shot.
I toyed with a couple of different titles, but settled on this one despite its being too narrow for the first installment. It does, however, get at the punch-line of what I’m going to try to say.
This installment will be brief, but I want to begin with a quote from Robert Gagnon because I think he is unusually clear…not on behalf of himself, but clear in comparison to many other well-meaning theologians from all sides of this debate. It’s from the Introduction of his 2001 book, The Bible and Homosexual Practice:
“The whole of what we do and who we are should proceed from a desire to please the sovereign God who created humankind and is working to redeem it. …To love God with one’s whole being and to pray for the coming of God’s rule entails submitting one’s pursuit of sexual pleasure to the revealed will of God. To suppose that God does not have much interest in regulating the human sex drive, one of the most powerful and potentially destructive human impulses, is both counter-intuative and in direct conflict with Scripture. From a Judeo-Christian standpoint, it is a truncated vision of reality to accept various forms of sexuality merely because the participants involved give their consent to a given sex act.”
–Robert Gagnon, “The Bible and Homosexual Practice,” pg. 33. Emphasis mine.
You see, I have several friends who have said to me that a pastor making pronouncements on this or that is fine, but the pastor “needs to keep out of my bedroom” or private life. That sounds all well-and-good for our modern and American sensibilities, but it doesn’t have a lot to do with the overall story of Scripture.
I was reading an NPR article where the following two paragraphs can be read:
Chambers also believes that homosexual acts are a sin because the Bible calls for heterosexual marriage. He says gay Christians must either be celibate, or if they want to marry, it must be with someone of the opposite sex. But he says even if you are in a gay relationship, you can still be a good Christian.
“I believe that once someone knows Christ that they have an irrevocable relationship, that if someone has a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, that God’s bigger than removing something at the first sign of trouble,” Chambers says, referring to salvation.
Now, having “an irrevocable relationship” is NOT the same thing as being “in a gay relationship [while being] a good Christian,” as the article asserts. Maybe Chambers said this in the actual interview, but in terms of this NPR article, I’m not certain Chambers should be judged on a summary comment written by a (most-likely) non-theological writer.
Something for your consideration. I’ll have up an analysis by Tuesday, but I thought I’d let my readers hit the ground running.
At the present time, I have only read the first link of the two. Gagnon’s article is on my slate for this afternoon since I’m leading worship this morning and need to get going.
Some of the thoughts in this post came from my reading of this article. I highly recommend it. The article’s author and I don’t share the same theological affinity, but I think there are some wonderful things he expresses in his post.
When it comes to dating women, I’m not terribly experienced. I’ve never been in a dating relationship per se… but I have taken two women out on dates. I’ve been turned down flat by two others. I’ve never dated a man.
I’m about to start my third year of seminary and am taking the summer to read and think. I opted not to take any summer classes–I’m convinced that my never taking summer classes prior to seminary is why I actually enjoyed school at all, so I’m testing that theory. So far, so good. 🙂
One of the things I’m thinking about is whether or not God is calling me to be an unmarried minister. I really don’t know, so I sought out some advice from close friends who have told me that one way God’s will is revealed in these situations is to date. That’s more than a little scary for me, honestly.
When I was in Junior High through college, I didn’t have any young cousins. There’s just me and my brother, who is only four years my junior. I’ve never been around a ton of kids, so they mostly scared me. I’ve always been the guy to have friends who are older than him and the idea of relating to people who were younger was scary.
But the more I’ve worked with kids, the more I’m open to having some of my own. I’ve had friends who have elementary age children. I’ve worked as a music teacher in an elementary school…and kids need godly role models who are men. Sorry ladies…not that what you do isn’t important, but it makes me sick that more guys aren’t involved in children’s ministry and elementary education. I think I was in Junior High before I ever had a male teacher, with the exception of my gym teacher. I certainly didn’t have a male Sunday school teacher until the same age. Why is discipleship of children women’s work?