Monday, February 27, 2006

Far out beyond our dreams

Dramatic tip o' the hat to Greg Kendall-Ball, who has linked us to a great article on the SoulForce site.

The article's author, Lewis B. Smedes, is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed tradition, and a former professor. In the article, Smedes asks an interesting question:

Was the church's embrace of people who were once divorced and are now living faithfully in second marriages a precedent for embracing homosexual people who live faithfully in covenanted partnerships?

In arguing that the two are similar, Smedes asks the following additional questions:

The first question is this: Is a partnership of two homosexual persons morally similar - in relevant ways - to the marriage of divorced and remarried heterosexual people?

The second question we must answer is this: Does the Bible's word about homosexuals lay down a rule for excluding partnered Christian homosexuals from the church's fellowship? Or does it witness to God's original intention for sexual orientation without laying down abiding rules for the church?

Smedes's arguments are interesting, and although I disagree with some of his conclusions, I think his approach to the text will speak clearly to some of my more conservative readers.

(Also, don't miss the opportunity to listen to Dr. Money's Chapel speech commenting on the upcoming Equality Ride visit ... the links are in the post below.)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

President Money, in THX Surround Sound!

As people commented on my latest post about Equality Ride, an anonymous visitor (presumably from ACU) had some sharp criticisms:

After reading this post, I have to wonder if the author was actually in chapel on the day that Dr. Money spoke. There were equal amounts of clapping/cheering, if not more, when Dr. Money stated they would be welcoming SoulForce...

For those of you who feel that this is cool, that you're sad it didn't happen while you were at ACU, and for those who would like to be at ACU to see have no idea what difficult decision this has been for the ACU administration and ACU community. The administration is completely aware of the "underground homosexuality" on campus and is completely aware that ACU had an SA president that is now "out." The bubble is not that thick. Instead of guessing at the facts surrounding these decisions, instead of wishing you were here during this trying time, instead of stating how you would handle these things differently, instead of saying you're dissappointed in the student body...I would encourage you to pray. Pray for those who are making the decisions about SoulForce. Pray for the "riders." Pray for the ACU administration and for the students, faculty, and staff on campus while this is going on. This is not easy, nor is it a show for the ammusement of bloggers.

The anonymous visitor makes a good observation: I was not at chapel on the day in question, so I received all of my information second-hand. My only information about that talk came from some (fairly reliable) students and staff members who were there.

So in the interest of clearing up this difference of perception, I managed to get a copy of Money's speech, clean up a little of the tape hiss, and convert it into a format you can download. So here's the clip of the audience responses to Money's speech, in MP3 format.

Chapel Clip
Jan 19, 2006 (MP3)

I've also converted the entire speech, so if you'd like more context, here it is.

Entire Chapel Address
Jan 19, 2006 (MP3)

After having listened to the clip, it seems that our visitor was at least partly right ... the second bit of clapping does seem to be as loud as the first. On the other hand, there were not equal amounts of cheering.

But either way, the version of events in my previous post was inaccurate. A lot of people did applaud president Money's announcement that we would not have the Equality Riders arrested. Thank you, anonymous visitor, for forcing me to clear that up.

On the other hand I am a bit perplexed about the second part of the anonymous visitor's comment, in which the visitor criticized those people who thought the Equality Ride visit was book. (That's "cool", for all you old folks.) In a following comment, I asked for clarification:

I'm sure that you're being completely sincere here, but I have to confess to a little skepticism because you don't give us any explanation. What makes this this such a "difficult decision" and a "trying time"?

I mean, after reading their Web site, and talking to an equality ride coordinator, it seems pretty clear that the riders won't be megaphone-toting belligerents. So it seems to me that in the interest of open discussion, administrators should simply welcome the riders and let them wander the campus. Then people can make their own decisions about whether ACU is upholding Christian values.

But maybe there's something I'm missing?

No clarification has been forthcoming, but I'm still hopeful.

Oh, and for those of you who are actually interested doing something: I'm also talking to some locals and ACU alums who want to make sure that the Equality Riders are greated warmly and taken seriously. The people I'm talking to have different opinions about whether homosexual behavior is displeasing to God, but they all agree that hospitality and openness are appropriate Christian responses. So check back here for updates on our plans, and leave me a comment if you're interested in being a part of this group.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Equality Ride

Ok, I've weighed in on the implications of the size of President Money's house. Now here's something else that ACU alums might find interesting.

The Equality Ride is an event sponsored by Soulforce, a faith-based organization that promotes civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The Equality Ride is meant to recall the freedom rides of the Civil Rights movement, and will consist of 30 young adults taking a bus tour of the U.S., periodically stopping at a university that has discriminates against students on the basis of their sexuality. When the bus arrives at a university, the riders will have press conferences, meetings and (in the case of Christian schools) Bible studies, all attempting to explain why they think the university's policies are wrong.

ACU administrators are well aware of the upcoming visit - in a recent Chapel talk, Dr. Money told students that the Equality Ride was coming, and he described how he thought ACU students, faculty and staff should behave. Unfortunately, Money and the student body seem to disagree on the proper way to handle the visitors.

MONEY: Now we could tell these people that they're not welcome on our campus, and when they show up, we could call the police and have them arrested.

[The audience cheers and applauds.]

MONEY: Um ... but ... that's not what we want to do.

[Silence. Then a few people clap. One voice yells, "Thank you!"]

Then Money goes on to describe how everyone should behave. (That's just an approximation of the talk, but I'm sure I got every third or fourth word right.)

So from what I hear, the Equality Riders will be allowed on campus, but their movements will be very tightly controlled. They will not be allowed to speak in Chapel, but they will meet with certain administrators. I don't know if they'll have any Bible studies or press conferences on campus, but I'm guessing they'll have a few off-campus.

Their technical gripe, by the way, is the section of the student manual that reads:

2. Section Two violations. These violations will result in a minimum disciplinary response of probation on the first occurrence or suspension/dismissal on the second occurrence, with additional conditions or alternative requirements. They include, but are not limited to, the following: ... 2-14. Cohabitation and/or sexual immorality, including homosexual behavior.

Homosexual behavior, of course, could include quite a bit more than extramarital homosexual sex ... although that's kind of a catch-22, because homosexual marriage is also illegal in Texas ... nevermind.

In general, though, I think the riders object to the theological position that homosexuality is a sin or psychological sickness. They claim that this position is false, but they also say that promoting this opinion fosters discrimination and prevents gay people from coming to terms with their sexual identity.

I'll be posting more about the equality ride in the coming weeks, but I'd kind of like to open the issue right now, and solicit comments from you reader-people. Feel free to say whatever you like. As long as it's not stupid.

Update: I apparently didn't finish that sentence about what they'll do when they arrive at a university. It's finished now.