Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thoughts on Harding University's Policy on Homosexuality

My alma mater Harding University came into the national news recently in part thanks to a NY Times article entitled "Even on Religious Campuses, Students Fight for Gay Identity". Read the article if you wish though you might have to circumnavigate the NY Times pay wall. Basically it talks about school policies at Harding, Abilene Christian University, and Baylor University regarding homosexual students.

This plus some recent comments on FaceBook by classmates and friends got me thinking and writing. In some of the comments and much of the national dialog, one of the phrases I've heard used is that we need to "affirm the dignity" of all people (in this case gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, etc.).

Affirming the dignity of a person is a very nebulous concept. I'm not sure what it means or how it would be practiced in the context in which it is being used. In my mind, letting someone know that God loves them (each and every person) so much that He wants a relationship with them and sent His Son to die for them to enable that relationship is the heart of the Gospel.

In Dr. Burks's recent chapel address on the issue  (video embedded below) I believe he stated something very similar. (As with all Youtube videos, please don't read the comments).

However, in the way Harding interprets scripture, homosexual activity is sinful just as other forms of sexual immorality are sinful. Therefore according to the university rules it is behavior that if discovered will be subject to disciplinary action, just as any other breaking of the rules.

You may debate whether the interpretation of scripture is correct, but it is fully consistent with their beliefs. Affirming behavior that you understand to be sinful would be inconsistent.

Jesus loved everyone, but when he encountered people engaged in sinful behavior, he didn't say "That's okay, just keep on being that way and I'll still love you." He said, "Go and sin no more." Then he died showing how much he loved them whatever choice they made.

I work with all kinds of people each day that engage in behaviors I don't myself engage in or often approve of and I treat them respectfully and kindly. I don't make it a point to tell them all their flaws or how sinful they are being. Such things rarely come up. But were I to have influence in their lives to inject my own opinion, it would be wrong of me to just say everything is ok.

I've rambled on too long and I know this is not a popular opinion, but I felt it on my heart to write something. I hope that Harding will continue to look for ways to minister to every single person attending or on whom they have influence. It is also my prayer that they never stop seeking to uphold the standards to which God has called us to be holy and pure in His sight.