When it came to anything gay, in my family it was hush, in my church it was harsh and in my neighborhood it was a joke.
As a boy in the Corey home, I have no recollections of conversations about gay issues other than whispers. Nor was homosexuality talked about in my church, other than being cited among the list of moral abominations rattled off in a fiery, crescendoing sermon. Never do I recall a preacher saying that the gospel of grace is also free and unconditional for gays and lesbians. Around my boyhood friends, we skirted the subject except for our repartee of one-liners, each quip reaffirming our masculinity. To this day, I have no idea who among the guys in my circle was only laughing on the outside.
When it comes to human sexuality, it is time for more conversations and not fewer, more thoughtful dialogue and less thoughtless comments. It is time to listen in ways that shape our understanding.
Next week on campus, two different sides will be discussing same-sex attraction and behavior. We welcome Justin Lee and Wesley Hill to hear their stories and to better understand their respective journeys. I hope you attend, and I hope you listen through a biblical framework.
Stories of each other’s experiences are important, but they need to be understood through Scripture. Biola has long looked at issues of the day through a biblical lens rather than a political or cultural lens. Our positions are carefully drawn from the Bible and not scripted from a partisan manifesto. Last week I requested that a paper be circulated on campus drafted by members of our faculty and approved by our board that states the theological basis for our understanding of human sexuality and same sex behavior. I encourage you to read it. As we listen to Justin and Wesley as well as to each other, may our hearts be open to the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit.
On this issue, I have some avuncular words for Biola students I encourage you to consider, just as I have been considering them.
May we not abandon a careful reading of Scripture as it was intended, even as it relates to sexuality. May the word of God be our standard for truth, not a cultural reading or a homegrown bias. May our opinions not shape our reading of Scripture but may our reading of Scripture shape our opinions. May we avoid the temptation to toss some “God” vocabulary and random biblical texts into arguments to prove a predetermined point. I encourage us all to steer clear of clichés and tired euphemisms on all things LGBT. Keep thinking biblically about everything, understanding sexuality through the panorama of Scripture. And listen to each other.
One of the dimensions I have considered lately is that we need to be careful not to frame marriage as the pinnacle of relationships. It is not. Jesus was single. Paul was single (I think). We need to be leaders in expressing and embodying a robust theology of singleness for the same-sex-attracted or opposite-sex-attracted among us. We need to articulate a compelling, countercultural vision of a new family in Christ that is more attractive than the American white-picket-fence ideal of a marriage, a family and a hybrid SUV.
May we be unassailable on our Christology, never budging on Jesus. Our problem is that too many followers of Jesus wear a WWJD bracelet that is more informed by the culture they live in than the Bible they read. May we as thinking Christians always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that we have, yet may we do this with gentleness and respect, as the disciple Peter reminds us. Help us to remember that we do not beat an idea by beating a person. We beat an idea by beating an idea. May we be full of grace and truth, not half of each. Remember, firm center and soft edges.