Flavor du Jour: Intolerance
The "Lifestyle Choice" Bus
by Special Corresblogdent, Beth
On March 5th, the 'Soulforce Equality Ride' will begin transporting a bus of "25-30 young adults on a seven-week bus tour to confront numerous religious and/or military colleges that ban the enrollment of GLBT students." And they're doing it all under the banner of the Freedom Rides of the 50s and 60s, as if upholding Biblical standards (which you personally choose to either follow or not) is somehow similar to discrimination against someone based on their race or gender (over which you have no control).
One of the stops along their route is the college I attended. They state the following about Wheaton: "Sadly, Wheaton is amongst the most conservative schools when it comes to enforcement of their policy pertaining to GLBT issues. In addition to expelling students who come out as openly gay or lesbian, Wheaton also expels students who express the Biblical belief that God affirms gay and lesbian people."
What they don’t say is that Wheaton expels people who openly drink. Wheaton expels people who openly smoke. Wheaton expels any student who openly engages in any form of pre- or extra-marital sex. Wheaton expels people who participate in unethical practices such as cheating. And they do this because Wheaton makes it very clear from the moment you consider applying exactly what Biblical standards they expect you to uphold while you’re a student.
I will never understand what prompts someone who is vehemently opposed to the tenets and standards upheld by a group to try and join that group. It can't be because they want to belong, can it? The only thing I've ever been able to surmise is that they want to make a splash and try to disband whatever group it is. And it seems that Christian colleges are on the GLBT radar. If you look at the route chosen, it is primarily Evangelical Christian colleges that have been chosen. They did also select BYU and two of the military academies, but why are they not also visiting the many Islamic high schools that are on their route?
The thing is, I think if you asked the majority of Evangelical Christians, they would say, yes, that homosexuality is a sin, but they would also say that someone who participates in that lifestyle is still a child of God, created in His image, and deserving of our love – the same as anyone who chooses a life of sin (i.e., lies, cheats, steals, is adulterous, etc.) Yet still, at the end of the day, it's all sin. And so what it seems to boil down to is that Christians are not allowed to stop at loving tolerance (wherein we can continue to state our beliefs that their lifestyle is active sin and urge them to change), we must proceed directly to approval or face charges of bigotry. In fact, it seems that most people today have no concept that there is a difference between the words tolerate and approve – for most they are used incorrectly and interchangeably.
I'll admit the difference is small, but it's crucial – because while tolerance addresses "sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own," approval is "to accept as satisfactory" or "to give formal or official sanction to." And while Christians can, and should, lovingly tolerate those who live in any sinful lifestyle, we can not cross the line into approval of the same.
It will be interesting to see what comes of the bus ride. Various reactions have already started taking place, with Jerry Falwell reportedly already having threatened to have any of the riders arrested should they actually come to Liberty, while Wheaton's administration is planning two days of activities and seeming to welcome them. I have to believe that Wheaton's reaction is the better one, provided they are able to stand fast and provide a message of loving rebuke rather than approval. (My guess is that the riders are happier with Falwell's (rather predictable) response because it gives them the opportunity to express outrage at the closed-mindedness of the conservative Christians. It's certainly a chance for more press and media frenzy. Who's going to cover peaceful meetings when the possibility of arrests loom?)
In the end, I imagine that only schools who cause a fuss and ruckus will be covered. And yet again Christians will be painted as mindless Bible thumpers who refuse to change with the time. Because the very thing these riders are seeking is that which they refuse to give to Christians: tolerance.
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