Support groups make struggle of homosexuality a more public discussion

The issue of homosexuality is entering a more public spotlight on campus as students aim to help those who struggle.

Briana Santillana, Writer

On the sunnyside hills of our beloved campus, behind the squeaky clean corridors of Biola University, students struggle with assignments, time management, relationship issues, and … oh yeah, their sexuality.

In the wake of Proposition 8, in 2008, I was attending a nearby junior college, where naturally the hot topic was homosexuality. However, when I transferred to Biola the following semester, I must have heard about homosexuality as much as I heard about plantations in northern Oregon. But let’s be fair, the topic is brought up from time to time. But, it is only lightly touched on — with brevity and in fluffy generalizations.

Others subjects receive more attention

Despite the fact that a growing number of people feel snuffed out of Christianity, we give more than double the air time to other subjects like predestination and eschatology. I’ve had one class devote special time to discuss how Christians ought to approach the issue of homosexuality — one class.

Due to the the chapels devoted to purity in dating, diversity, and relationship conflict, one would think these were the only issues students ever struggled with. But of course, who could fathom that on this campus there is anyone struggling with homosexuality?

Support groups to form on campus

But this spring semester, there is talk of a homosexuality support group on campus. Prompted by public confessions made at Missions Conference and the Singspo Afterglow, these groups offer a new realm of transparency for a struggle that has too long been brushed under the rug.

According to Rebekah Peace, co-leader of Missions Conference, these groups created an atmosphere of vulnerability and safety, and students revealed their hearts. Following these confessions, freshman Tanner Michels moved to start support groups titled Men of Victory and Women of Grace.

Michels says, “These groups are specifically formed for people who have unwanted same-sex attraction and want to truly pursue redemption and holiness through Jesus Christ.”

Sue Russell, chair of the anthropology department, has volunteered to be a faculty adviser for the groups.

Division over the issue

But let’s be real about this. Homosexuality is a very touchy subject. Even within the Christian community, opinions range from a stance of zero tolerance to full embrace. Biolans are divided on the issue, and the conversation does get messy. If these groups are made, we are forced to start asking how to address homosexuality in the church.

Homosexuality is usually painted as if it were as integral and unchangeable to the person as their gender. Thus, in an effort to reject homosexuality as sin, those struggling with it might often feel rejected as a person.

No one wanted a segment of the church to feel intolerable. At the same time, no one wants to embrace homosexuality as a perfectly acceptable Christian lifestyle. God’s Word is God’s Word, and we want to be true to that despite social pressures. It just happens to be one sticky button to push.

Purpose of the support groups

It is easy to see why Biola’s administration could be hesitant to approve the groups. After all, who wants rumors going around that Biola has bent the knee to social pressures and now has a gay club on campus?

However, one must look at the purpose of these groups. Are these groups for homosexual empowerment? Or, are these groups for finding freedom in Christ from homosexual tendencies? Michels has hopes for the groups to allow students to find their identities not in their sexuality, but in Christ. Isn’t that the Christian way to approach any sin struggle?

So, Biola, we can protect our Christian reputation — brush off the problem, pretend it’s not there — or we can get off our high horse and actually do what Christ did — commit other believers to the Father. We could encourage what Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

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