Soulforce at Gordon College

Michael Paulson reports in today's Globe that Gordon College, an independent evangelical Christian college on the north shore (and alma mater to many, many illustrious graduates, including my friends Dan and Suzanne...) will be welcoming, rather than locking out, a group of Soulforce LGBT activists on their nationwide Equality Ride.

So what are we to make of this? Underhanded evangelical ploy to look nice while still hating on the gays? After all, the College is not renouncing its policy on homosexuality, and talks and presentations by the Soulforce riders will always be followed by presentations of the college's viewpoint by members of the Gordon community. Or is it a capitulation to the forces of sodomy, an endorsement of the gay lifestyle simply by allowing them to be on campus and (!) to share dinner?

Neither, IMHO. They're entering into explicit, polite, dialogue. Which is not easy to do, in a culture that doesn't promote talking with the people with whom you disagree, and on an issue which goes to the heart of peoples' lives. In the Globe story, the president of the student association, Josh Stoeckle, "said that he supports Gordon's policy against homosexual conduct, but that 'I find myself growing and realizing that the world is also a very complicated place, and we're often not really very good at loving people. We let beliefs become abstractions, and not people. And we have students at Gordon who are homosexual and really struggle with being here.'" Amen. The church's struggle with self-identified gay people is not going to end overnight, and inviting someone into a conversation, rather than shutting them out, is a good step to all of us being able to talk with each other and not about each other.

1 comment:

Dan said...

This is actually not a new practice. Sometime around 1992 when I was a sophomore at Gordon they had a gay evangelical (I know, I know) speak and followed by a professor to give the "official" point of view. All in all it was a very civil exchange and there were even other out evangelicals (or formerly so) in the audience. I remember this event well because it followed a friend of mine from high school coming out to me pretty recently and I had a ton of questions. My impression of places like Wheaton, Calvin and Gordon is that this is not unusual, unlike some other places in the bible belt. Perhaps it is the cultural location in New England and the Upper Midwest? Nice to see Gordon at least being in dialogue and being decent about it all.