Wheaton and the Homosexual Activist Tour

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A few weeks back it got into the news that a group of young men and women were getting on a bus and planning on visiting Christian schools which had a policy against homosexual behavior. They wanted to bring attention to these policies and assert a new way of looking at homosexuality. They felt the historic Christian policy was wrong. And they wanted to make everyone face this issue, rather than simply push it under the rug, or into the closet. I happened to graduate from one of these schools, one of the schools that decided to respond to the activists rather than deny them any access. Earlier this week I got an email from the president of Wheaton asking the alumni to pray for wisdom and peace during the confrontation, so that it would be a civil conversation rather than a nasty fight.

I just received this email telling us what happened. No matter how you fall on this issue I think it should be encouraging that there can be civil discussion and conversation. For while there are people on both sides who merely want power and assert their own opinions on issues, there are also people on both sides who really do want to find the fullness of truth in all things. May both sides listen, and may the Spirit give counsel to those who do listen, and peace to those with turmoil in their hearts.

Dear Patrick,

I promised you a report on the recent visit to our campus of a group of gay activists. We can provide you more details later if you like, but for now let us settle for this early summary.

The occasion proved on one level to be rather uneventful. There were no unfortunate incidents, no other activists made an appearance, and the media gave the event only scant attention. All parties on both sides handled themselves not only civilly but graciously. The many issues were fully and freely aired with honesty and candor all around.

At a deeper level, however, I think this event has proved to be a significant one for Wheaton College. I cannot speak for our visitors, but for our part I think this episode turned out to be the very learning opportunity for which we had hoped.

Our task as Christians is to speak the truth in love, and it appears to me that we made progress during these two days on both sides of this tension. On the “truth” side, the impasse between the two positions was laid bare. And Wheaton upheld its commitment to the historic truth of the Bible, not to mention the monolithic testimony of two thousand years of church history, without waffling. Here we stood, for we could do no other.

Yet we also gained something on the “love” side of this tension. These visitors condemn us for maintaining an historic Christian stance on homosexuality. So what does this require of us in return? It cannot mean abandoning the truth. But it has served as a reminder to us all of our Lord’s instruction to “bless those who curse you,” and to “revile not in return.”

“If you love only those who love you,” Jesus asked, “what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48).

These visitors were real people, with real stories, real struggles, and real needs. They are individuals our heavenly Father loves and for whom he gave his Son. According to Jesus, we are to emulate the Father’s love. If we cannot do that, I found myself thinking during these last few days, then no matter how clearly we maintain the truth, we are just “a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal … we are nothing … it profits us nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

I want to thank all who expressed your willingness to pray for us. The Lord has used these events to remind us of what it means to uphold his truth in the face of some strong challenges, but to do it in love. Which means the Lord appears to have answered your prayers.

Duane Litfin
Wheaton College

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