Homophobia and the church
One student’s thoughts on tolerance.
The Christian church has a public relations nightmare on its hand - everyone thinks Christians hate gay people.
Okay, so I’m exaggerating: not literally everybody thinks that. However, it’s closer to being true than we’d like to admit. A 2007 book by Christian pollsters David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons entitled unChristian found that an astonishing 91% of unchurched 16 to 29-year-olds described the Christian church as being “anti-homosexual.” This was also the number one negative perception against the church found by the authors, ranking even more highly than “judgmental” or “hypocritical.” For those of us with strong ties to Trinity Western University, this accusation is wearily familiar. In the early 2000’s, Trinity Western was forced to defend itself before the Supreme Court of Canada against accusations of anti-gay discrimination; these same accusations are now cropping up in 2013. And while the Supreme Court of Canada did rule in favour of TWU in 2001 on the basis of freedom of religion, it is unfortunate that the religion we are free to have is being reduced in the public’s minds to statements about gay people.
In the midst of the mainstream church fielding phone calls about discrimination and lamenting persecution by those who disagree with them, there is a very important situation that is not being addressed. When Christianity, a belief system whose core message hinges on God’s love for all people, is accused far and wide of hating approximately 10% of the population, that is a very serious problem. That the Christian church’s response has been at best, apathetic, and at worst, self-satisfied about this state of affairs is an even worse problem. When I first came out to my Christian minister parents, both of whom had strong Bible school training and spoke regularly in churches, I was told with complete sincerity that I could not be gay and Christian. So while, Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension could save somebody like Saul of Tarsus, my sexual orientation alone was sufficient grounds for my theologically educated Christian parents (who I love very dearly and have come a long way over the years) to doubt my salvation. I’m not alone in having to deal with new difficulties after coming out. A great number of gay Christians have found themselves rejected by their families, kicked out of their churches, or stripped of their leadership positions, all because of judgment against their sexual orientation. This should not be. If Christ truly came to save all, we as his followers should be eager to extend that same love and grace to all, without regard to race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Here at Trinity Western, we know Christian community does not have to be hostile towards gay and lesbians.
I am only one of numerous gay and lesbian students who have had very positive experiences being welcomed and loved by this amazing community. However, it is important for us here to be aware that the level of acceptance found here is not the norm among Christian communities across North America. It is to the Christian church’s detriment that such discriminatory, prejudiced patterns continue unchecked, causing them to be seen as defining what Christians are about. It is my hope that those who have experienced welcoming Christian community, be it here at Trinity Western or elsewhere, seek to carry the same accepting embrace beyond this campus. In doing so, may we as a community take even small steps towards correcting what is one of the modern day Christian church’s most grievous wrongs.