No one wakes up wanting to be considered a “freak” by people who used to love them. No one wakes up wanting people to use slurs or dirty words against them.
So why stand up? Why put yourself out there? Why make known that on a small, conservative, Christian university campus there are members of the LGBTQ+ community? Why step out into danger?
My favorite reaction to the silent protest that happened the Wednesday before Good Friday was one that I had to shoot down. One of my friends brought up this point: every student signed the student handbook. If we disagree, why are we at Corban?
But it made me think. Why, since I fully agree with the silent protest and took a minor part in it, am I here even after signing the handbook? Simple. I am a Christian. I love Jesus, and I want to get my education in a place that will feed me spiritually as well as academically. I signed the handbook because I promise to behave as God would want me to, at which point I turn away from Leviticus and to Matthew where it says not to judge, but to love. That is why I come to Corban despite disagreeing with one small part of the handbook.
SGA Vice President Aric Wood, who tends to lean conservative, also attended the protest.
“It’s the action of gay sex that is the sin,” Wood said. “There is no judgement besides that. The Bible doesn’t talk about it beyond that.”
Wood spoke about his friend he met in high school who was gay and explained that while he never went back on his beliefs about sin, he also began to accept people who were different than he is.
When I returned from class at 1:00 that day, none other than President Sheldon Nord himself was sitting among the protestors. I got a picture that lives up to the phrase “a picture worth a thousand words.” Nord was looking at Trevor Bond, one of the organizers, with a smile, as Bond spoke about why he was sitting there. I haven’t been to many other universities, but I can’t imagine there’s another where the president would sit with students holding signs, look them in the eye, and have a conversation about how he can make the school a place where everyone feels safe.
This silent protest was more than sitting on the library steps hoping people would notice. It was more than holding signs in rainbow colors to catch people’s attention.
When someone says they struggle with porn addiction, people respond by helping them, telling them they can defeat it and suggesting counseling. When they slip up or relapse, they get grace. When people are honest about sins, sexual or otherwise, people usually try to help them and still love them no matter what.
However, the second a Christian or anyone else comes out as gay – even if they, like most students here at Corban battling this attraction, aren’t living the lifestyle – chances are good that the Church will turn their back on them. But if you’re addicted to porn, even once you’re in a relationship, that’s normal and no one stops loving you. If you have one-night stands, as long as they’re the opposite gender, you can be forgiven. If you’re addicted to masturbation, no one wants to talk about it, but, if you do talk, they don’t turn you away. But, heaven forbid you should be gay! That’s unacceptable, and you are going directly to hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
That is why we stepped out into danger. That is why the sign said “Love,” not “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” God IS love. Everyone is made in the image of God and no matter who they are, gay, straight, Muslim, Hindu, Christian they are worthy of love.
Is the Christian called to condone sin and religions other than Christianity? Of course not. I don’t claim that. I claim that we are called to love out neighbor as ourselves, for this is the first and greatest commandment.
From here, after the silent protest, organizer Elyssa Fahndrich said the next steps are to reconvene and discuss.
“I don’t know what the next few days will look like,” Fahndrich said. “I’m glad we started the conversation out in the open and I hope it gets momentum.”
Nord; Brenda Roth, the Vice President for Student Life; Nathan Geer, the Dean of Students; and other Corban administrators left the protest when it was over, open and willing to continue the conversation, and even reword the student handbook. The future looks like it might change for the better for Corban students who are members of and are allies with the LGBTQ+ community. Our conservative school will remain conservative, but that doesn’t mean it will be void of respect and love for everyone who needs it.
In a group of fellow Corbanites, if I had asked the question, “How many here were raised to think being gay is a sin?” many hands would go up. After this silent protest, I hope that if I asked, “How many here now understand that members of the LGBTQ+ community are not committing sin just by existing?” the number of hands would be just as high.