At several Christian universities, LGBTQ students are refusing to choose between their identity and their faith, and they are finding allies in their classmates.
Lauren Slagter reports for MLive:
The pastor’s booming voice filled the Spring Arbor University chapel as he grew more passionate, testifying to students about the power of prayer.
“I don’t have the time to tell you the history of those who have come to our church transgender and given their heart to God and changed,” the visiting pastor said…
“I don’t have time to tell you the stories of lesbians that come to our church and repent of their sins and now are living straight lives. I don’t have time to tell you about murderers who walk in and they get changed by the power of God,” he continued, his voice rising with each refrain. “I can’t tell you the drug dealers who actually hand me drugs and say, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’ And it’s not by my might, it’s not by my power, it is by the spirit of the Lord.”
He paused. Applause filled the room.
But the LGBTQ people in the audience who’d just been compared to murderers and drug dealers were not inspired. They were filled with sadness and frustration. And they wanted to do more than sit in silence.
So, they did the unthinkable. This small group of students organized a protest.
(Side note: Let’s hope those murderers were fresh out of jail, having paid their debt to society, and looking to start over, and not people fresh from a killing spree wanting immediate forgiveness from Jesus. Because that would be creepy.)
The protesting students from Spring Arbor, which is affiliated with the Free Methodist Church, gathered on the steps of the university library after the service and held up a rainbow flag, silently telling the school that they existed and would not stand by while bigotry was freely preached from the pulpit. They did so knowing they could be expelled for expressing viewpoints that do not align with the school’s doctrine, though it’s not exactly well-defined. Saying gays and lesbians exist may not violate any religious rules, but saying they should be able to have relationships and get married could. Even saying trans people exist may go against biblical definitions of gender.
The point is that the demographic shift in support of LGBTQ rights, which was always larger for younger people to begin with, is hitting Christians too. And that puts religious young people in direct contradiction with much of what their churches teach.
It’s not enough to say they should walk away from the faith since they still hold those beliefs and think the older crowd is simply misinterpreting what the Bible says about these issues. (It’s also unrealistic to say they should leave those schools since not all students have that option.)
That’s why it’s encouraging to see some students push back against the sort of bigotry we often see in religious settings. If the students at Spring Arbor faced any consequences, we’re not told of them. But it seems safe to say their presence made a difference to LGBTQ students who could rest a little more comfortably knowing some of their classmates had their backs.
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