My response to “Gay Chapel Week” at Bob Jones University

Last week, Bob Jones University held a series of talks during chapel related to “Same Sex Attraction,” otherwise dubbed as Gay Chapel Week. I was invited by a friend affiliated with Bob Jones Unity (which represents an absolutely amazing group of people who provide an affirming alternative for Bob Jones U alumni and students) to share a response, so here it is:

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4 responses to “My response to “Gay Chapel Week” at Bob Jones University

  1. I’m not sure that we can claim Paul’s Views on men laying with men is cultural. The only culture at the time that condemned it was Judaism, and Paul had discarded much of the Jewish cultural ideas about what was profane, what was holy, and what was an abomination. And in all of the letters he writes to the primarily gentile churches in Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus their culture was not homophobic like Judaism, not even remotely so. In fact, Paul’s teachings concerning men laying with men runs completely counter-cultural to the common lifestyles of the day among the Romans and the Greeks.

    I think one of the big issues I have has to do with just how saturating sexuality can be in someone’s life when we talk about Homosexuality. You mention that they become miserable, and struggle, and their life is much harder, which can certainly be true on many occasions. But I think that’s kind of the point. What does it say about how important their sexuality is to their self-identity and self-worth if losing it destroys them? Wouldn’t that suggest that it has, in fact, become an idol to them? I think it is particularly telling that culturally speaking, there is even such a thing as a LGBQT community and a homosexual culture at all. No other kind of sexuality has a culture built around it like this. If a man or woman put most of his identity into his heterosexuality we would say they has a serious problem. And we can find plenty of men and women who have to see therapists and psychologists because they have turned their sexuality or their need for a man or woman into the essence of who they are and how they gain self-worth.

    Personally I would fall in line with those who take the position that Homosexuality is a sin, and we should reach out to them and try to help them deal with it. But I think most churches do it wrong. The problem is not their homosexuality but what runs deeper. That they all too often have allowed their sexuality to become so intricately tied to their sense of self-worth and their sense of identity that it has become an idol to them. I think that is what they need to deal with. I think they need the same thing we all do, to take whatever it is that we have tied our self-identity and self-worth to and replace it with Jesus. That is, at any rate, my opinion. I think it bears more exploration and conversation. And I would hope, it’s not two sided at the end of the day either. Perhaps being on the side of love is a bit broader than any of us would define.

    • Phil Snider

      Josh – Thanks for taking the time to watch my video. I would encourage you to reflect on a couple of things: First, cultural bias is cultural bias, whether it is Roman or Jewish or Christian or whatever. You might check out the book Plato or Paul by Ted Jennings. Also keep in mind that much of the context surrounding Paul’s teachings about “malokoi” and “arsenokoitai” (I use the Greek terms because they don’t at all mean “homosexual orientation” as we understand it today) is directly related to the Roman cultural practice of having young boys play the passive role in sexual intercourse as a cultural rite of passage in which older men demonstrated their power and place within society (a practice Plato praised). This has absolutely nothing to do with two people of the same gender who share in a mutually consenting loving relationship. Paul was quick to point out problems with cultural hierarchies (i.e., “there is no longer slave or free, male or female, Jew or Gentile), for in the community of Christ all are on mutual ground. We have to wonder if Paul, who was condemning what he saw (a rite of passage to demonstrate power and privilege), would also condemn mutual loving relationships between equals.

      Second, you say that “No other kind of sexuality has a culture built around it like this.” This is how things appear to you, only because the normative culture built all around us is hetero (hence the strong reactions against “homosexual” culture). This is similar to the way that one hears people say, “Why is February Black History Month? Why isn’t there a White History Month?” Well, the reality is that the normative, dominant culture we live in is geared toward straight white males (every day of the week, every week of the month, every month of the year), and often it is only if you are not a part of this dominant culture that you notice how things are structured. So to say that the LGBTQ community represents the only kind of culture related to sexuality out there is to make the fundamental mistake of not paying attention to the obvious fact that straight white hetero culture is the normative culture (this is like a fish not recognizing the water that it swims in — it’s all around them but they’re not aware of it).

      I do appreciate you taking the time to watch the video. I hope you’ll read my sermons and some of the books available in the “resources” section of my blog.

      Best,
      Phil

  2. Thank you, SO MUCH, for this amazing response :).

  3. Kay

    I appreciate you for appealing to the church to love this misunderstood & harshly judged group, the LGBTs. And the most judgmental I hear are those with no LGBT family/friends closely knit to have personal experience with it. It is hate shining in them, not love.
    I’ve heard gay Christian believers agreeing about the need to turn from sin to Christ, but they say sexual orientation is not something that changes – no more than we can change left or right handedness. And relationships are more than sex; they are companionships of life support. But we straight Christians have expected them to live in closets, or stay celibate (lonely) not being real & genuine (a form of mask wearing, of forcing conformity into what makes us comfortable). Jesus mentioned some eunuchs born that way & never taught against them.
    I am sad for losing some LGBTs from the faith over unloving, disrespectful treatment like seen in BJU & mostly fundamentalist churches. And I am concerned for the homeless gay youth disowned by religious parents & the LGBTs guilted into committing suicide (Mary Wallner shared her testimony of that regret at teach-ministries.org ). I pray for compassionate pastors like you & am waiting for Love to Win, as we know Love Never Fails.
    Also Videos by Dr Cynthia Chappell are at this link on Science of Sexual Orientation & Biology of .. that also helps educate – http://houstonsvoice.com/channel/pflaghouston
    I also read Jack Rogers’ book that you referenced & your sermons on this topic. Peace to you in Christ

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