STAFF EDITORIAL: Biola must continue in challenging conversations

Elizabeth Sallie argues that the Biola community must move beyond stigmas in order to stimulate conducive discussion on challenging topics.

This week, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with numerous people involved with the Biola Queer Underground controversy. I’ve emailed with the Underground, I’ve interviewed Chris Grace, I’ve talked with four alumni who have come out since attending Biola, I’ve spoken to students struggling with same-sex attraction, and I’ve chatted with numerous Biolans.

I’ve monitored all 209 comments that showed up on the Chimes website. I’ve read blog posts by John Shore and Andrew Kelley.

Each person I’ve spoken with has put forth a different opinion on the Bible’s approach to homosexuality. Even people who would agree on a doctrinal statement have different reasons and backstories for why they support it.

There are some refrains I’ve heard countless times: dialogue, grace, holiness, compassion, sin, understanding, fear.

And for good cause, as they are all critical words. Whether or not you agree with the ideas set forth in Biola’s Statement on Human Sexuality, as a Christ-follower, you must agree that “we aspire to be a gracious community that promotes openness and honesty.”

Challenge to move beyond stereotypes to engage in difficult discussions

There is one question that we should all be asking in this time: How do we have a conversation about deeply sensitive and controversial issues with a firm regard for truth?

Biola, that’s a question that it’s time to start answering as a full community. I commend the administration for having done this in unique ways over the past year, tackling addictions and sexual assault as awareness weeks.

Students, you have shown a passion for displaying God’s heart in the most broken of places through dealing with things like homelessness and human trafficking.

But, for both students and administration, I would claim what we have done to this point is not enough. We have allowed a fear created by stigmas and stereotypes in the church to prevent us from engaging in some of the most difficult of conversations.

Face-to-face discussions need to happen, Biola — not comment wars, Facebook posts or speeches. We, as a community striving to seek out the Truth, must do that every day, in deeply personal and rooted ways.

Panel discussions, policy reviews and formal meetings will get us only so far. We will only accomplish something long-lasting and significant through relational conversations held between people interested in pursuing God’s holiness together.

In this dialogue, brothers and sisters, may we make the holiness of our conversations our pursuit. Eternally, this matters far more than convincing our friends to agree with our biblical doctrine, despite doctrine’s value.

I urge you, Biola, as we head into finals week and summer, do not stop talking. Please continue to pursue the conversation regarding the complex topic of homosexuality. I believe we can arrive at biblical and solid conclusions regarding doctrine, but we must seek God’s grace first. I echo Paul’s exhortation to the Ephesians to speak “such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those hear.”

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