By Melissa Kohler, Guest Writer
Today’s guest post comes from a dear friend and straight ally at Wheaton College. Melissa Kohler, a senior rhetoric major, was inspired to write this post after observing the way many straight people in our community tend to interact within conversations about the LGBTQ community on campus, particularly this week as events have unfolded since the “apple-throwing incident”.
Dear Wheaton College Community,
I am not talking to the infamous apple thrower. I am talking to you, the one reading this right now. Yes, you. I am angry because we sit in our straight privilege. Yes, you read that correctly, straight privilege. I have straight privilege and so do you. We don’t experience judgment, animosity, and malcontent because of who we are attracted to; that my friend, is privilege. We aren’t condemned because of who we are attracted to; that is privilege. Yes, the apple-throwing guy did a bad thing. But what angers my soul? What makes my body shake with angry frustrated sobbing on the bathroom floor? The complacency of the everyday evangelical Christian, in particular the Wheaton College Community, toward our LGBTQ sisters and brothers.
We are all too concerned about “right” theology versus “wrong” theology when it comes to the “gay issue.” Theology matters. But do you know who else was more concerned about the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law? The Pharisees.
The Pharisees thought Jesus was a crazy heretic. He prioritized loving people and broke cultural and social norms. He loved the prostitutes and the tax collectors. Now, take a deep breath and think about that for a second. Have you ever been accused of being a heretic, because you were more concerned about loving and listening than figuring out whose hermeneutics of Scripture were superior?
I’m tired of hearing dismissive voices saying, “Well I didn’t throw the apple!” or “Oh, I don’t make gay jokes!” But do you go out of your way to figure out what this whole experience is like for an LGBTQ brother or sister in Christ? Do you look outside of your own worldview and consider that there are LGBTQ Christians in our communities, even if they go unacknowledged at Wheaton College? Their presence is a fact. They exist. You can engage in selective exposure, but you cannot wish them away.
You can choose to only read arguments that you agree with. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that a Liberal Arts education combined with the earnest search for truth should motivate you to look at all sides of a debate. You need to look at the best arguments on both sides, even if that terrifies you and might prove your original stance wrong. If you change your mind, I promise the world won’t end. God won’t change. Your perception of Him might, but He will not change. If you truly listen to the stories of LGBTQ people, your heart will bleed with tears. You may need to beg God for grace and kindness toward Christians who don’t give a second thought about LGBTQ people. But he will remind you that you too were once that way. You too once didn’t care about the “homosexuals”. He will teach you that love bears all. He will also forgive you when you fail to speak with gentleness.
We cannot simply ignore LGBTQ Christians and our own assumptions about them. So, are they all mindless heretics? Do they just succumb to their attractions?
We need to consider that they may actually take Scripture seriously. That they might look into the context, audience, author, translation etc. and don’t just “chuck out the parts of Scripture that make them uncomfortable.”
You think the LGBTQ vs. Christian debate is hard for the Church? Just imagine having that turmoil within your own soul, ripping you to shreds from the inside out. While we’re sitting in judgment (maybe covertly and quietly, but judgment nonetheless), they are working out their faith with fear and trembling. No, legitimately, I mean real fear and physical trembling.
So, I implore you: examine your heart. Examine your mind. Ask questions. Hold off your judgments. Allowing yourself to suspend your judgment is not weak, it’s indicative of a heart full of wisdom, compassion, and discernment. Make a friend who is LGBTQ and connect with other peers who care about these topics. Read a book about someone who is navigating their LGBTQ identity or is deeply committed to walking alongside those who are (i.e. books by Justin Lee, Matthew Vines, Andrew Marin or Kathy Baldock). Read books of all experiences, not just ones you agree with.
Like it or not, this is the issue of our day. Closing our eyes and holding our bibles closely to our chests is not going to change that. Let’s not be afraid use the Liberal Arts education we’re blessed with to fairly, and likely uncomfortably, examine our presuppositions.
The world is looking to us. How will you respond?