Homophobia and the church

Homophobia and the church

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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.

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