October 28, 2010 Volume CXXVIII Issue 7

Balance rights and heritage

Student suggests maintaining Christian heritage and beliefs while supporting everyone equally
By JONATHAN BALMER
Staff Writer

I laughed obnoxiously the night when the “kiss-that-never-was” actually was. It was unexpected and hilariously timed. Like the Back Page, I wonder about its censorship. Am I wrong in thinking a close-mouthed kiss can be non-sexual? Circumstantially, one can hold hands or kiss in greeting without suspicion of eroticism. Apparently, a platonic kiss for comedic effect in a sketch is not seen in the same light. But, I may just be looking for ways to justify the kiss because it was so funny. Still, other skits were more overtly sexual (I’m eyeballing you and your Snooki/Shake Weight performance, Phi Kappa Tau).

To the point: I don’t agree with the Back Page’s proposition for a Gay-Straight Alliance. I uphold that my view is not homophobic because it is based upon principle—not an irrational fear of homosexuality or gay individuals. For any gay students reading this I want to make this clear, though we will likely disagree on this issue, please do not hesitate to talk to me (even if it is just to tell me you hated my article).

As best as I can, I wish to respond to three points made in last week’s Back Page. The first is that gay students “deserve … to be validated by a sanctioned organization” and, secondly, the refusal to provide them with this organization denies them “the rights afforded to everyone else.” Finally, I will answer the plea that diversity is “straight, gay and innumerable other distinctions.” The personal hell those five teenagers, mentioned by Perry, experienced through the harassment of their peers is deplorable. Christians are often ready to help the oppressed but too frequently fail when it comes to standing up for the value of a person’s life if they are gay.

Months ago, I heard of wonderful mission work, in Thailand, which provides occupational programs for young women wishing to escape prostitution. These girls’ families (mostly subsistence farmers) sold them into prostitution to make ends meet. The friend who told me of this did not pass judgment and even extended compassion to the families who sold their daughters into prostitution because of the huge pressures upon them.

Sadly, I hear few words from justice-seeking Christians about the plight of threatened homosexuals. Just last week, a Ugandan newspaper printed pictures, names and addresses of 100 homosexuals with the headline “Hang Them.” Are not these Ugandans facing immense pressure both from internal desires and hostile neighbors? My apologies to my fellow Christians for these harsh words, but it distresses me that only one of two misguided views is taken toward homosexuality: complete alienation of homosexuals or blind disregard of creed.

This is not simply “a perceived conflict with a certain brand of Christianity.” While there are churches who do not believe homosexuality goes against their teaching, Christian scripture is clear about its view on sexual immorality, and in its emphasis on a man and a woman becoming “one flesh” (Gen 2:23-24; Mt 5:32-33; Mk 7:70; Eph 5:32-33; 1 Cor 1:9-10). It is for this reason dozens of prominent Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant clergy and ministry leaders collaborated, drafted and signed “The Manhattan Declaration” affirming, among other things, the sanctity of sexuality.

Christ’s relationship to the Church is even compared to that of husband and bride. While homosexuality is listed as morally wrong, it is not set apart from any other vice listed with it—adultery, for example. Jesus held the radical view that “anyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27). Knowing my own thoughts, I am guilty and have no room to judge anyone who struggles with sexual vices—including homosexuality. And if last year’s pornography blocking protest is any indication, neither does a sizeable portion of campus. Let us not undermine the struggles our fellow men and women experience. How does this rudimentary summary apply to campus policy? This is a school, after all, not a church.

Our college pledges to provide an “atmosphere that encourages belief and supports it,” while still allowing an individual to make his or her own decisions about faith. Faith should be supported, not disregarded, but also not enforced with staunch oppression. Examining the proposed GSA shows that it does not fit this cause.

If we say that gay students deserve to be “validated” through a school-sanctioned organization, what do we mean? If we mean that we must provide a forum to ensure no students lose sight of their inherent worth and despair because of harassment, I agree, but why create an organization limited to gay students? Shouldn’t all students who are marginalized or harassed be allowed consolation and reaffirmation of their worth as individuals? The importance of preventing harassment is too great to be limited to the group most noticeably affected.

In truth, a GSA does not leave students who have even the quietest moral qualm about homosexuality unaffected. It aims to win the support of the public for gay students, above ending harassment, to receive the same distinction as an ethnic minority group. Those who disagree with the life decisions of LGBTs are reduced to bigots. This was the case in England, circa 2006, where Christian Unions were banned in some universities for their “discriminatory” policies (views on homosexuality) and prejudiced language in their constitution (using “man” and “woman” instead of “person,” a “bias” against transgendered people).

Students are free to differ in philosophy of sexuality, and many certainly do, but they cannot expect the college to bolster their personal doctrine of sexuality as concurrently equal with the Christian view. Gay students are not being denied a right “afforded to everyone else.” A gay student was expelled from nearby University of the Cumberlands in 2006; fortunately, I do not see that occuring here—just as students here will not be expelled for many actions that do not fall within the Christian confines of sexual behavior because of individual freedoms value here. This does not mean the college should officially encourage any of these behaviors (it should be tolerated, not endorsed).

Finally, is the question of diversity. How do LGBT students relate to our school’s quest for diversity? My response is this: the humor, intelligence, political musings and creativity of our gay friends should be accepted with joy. The college should allow students to explore different ideas and cultures. But this does not mean the college should support two contradictory principles. Consider Ancient Indian culture: we can learn about, appreciate and celebrate its art, lore and even the development of the vaccine (in 200 BCE!). This does not mean the caste system, polytheism or the old practice of burning widows (sati) should be honored. Notice, I am not trying to associate homosexuality with widow-burning. I am just giving an example of how we currently enjoy differing views without sacrificing Christian ideology.

The question is bound to surface: what causes people to become gay or straight? Honestly, this question is extremely complex. From my reading, no studies have been able to prove conclusively that sexuality is genetically linked. Most psychologists postulate a mix of genetic, environmental and social factors. From the Christian perspective, we are given the promise “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor 10:13b). This does not necessarily make our struggles easier.

Henri Nouwen struggled with homosexuality and the ideas of unconditional love throughout his life.

Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest and psychology professor at Harvard. He struggled with homosexual desires all of his life—they never went away, but he never translated desire into action. In one of his many books, he stated, “We often confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. God loves us without conditions but does not approve of every human behavior.” It is curious that humans are inclined to lie, cheat, steal and manipulate, but it is only our sexuality for which we question why we are so tempted. Our ultimate goal should be love, understanding and a policy that allows for personal decision-making, while maintaining what makes Georgetown unique.

The drafters of the Manhattan Declaration present it to a waiting crowd.

 


 

SGA hosts Q&A

On Nov. 4, Georgetown students will have the opportunity to attend an SGA General Assembly and Executive Cabinet Forum. This event will take place at 11 a.m. Students who attend will be able to hear what is happening around campus with SGA and participate in a question and answer session with the Executive Cabinet of the SGA. As of now, five of the seven Executive Cabinet members have agreed to attend and participate in the question and answer session.

Students interested in presenting questions to the Executive Cabinet should submit them by Tuesday, Nov. 2. Questions may be submitted by e-mail to gtownsga@gmail.com or by text message to 859-428-8SGA (8742). All questions must be submitted with the first and last name of the person wishing to submit the question. Any questions submitted without both first and last name will not be considered.

If time allows, students might be allowed to ask questions at the event without having submitted them in advance. NEXUS/CEP credit is being considered for students who attend the event.

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