I recently heard from one of the founders of Biola QueerUnderground, the group of LGBTQ students at conservative Christian college Biola University who earlier this month contacted me after their big coming out event. (If you’re new to this now-national story, see my They’re here; they’re queer; they’ve plenty to fear: LGBT students form secret club at conservative Christian university.)
He/she (as in “maintaining anonymity,” not “shamefully unfamiliar with appropriate language for transgender people”) wrote to me:
On the morning of May 18th, President [of Biola] Dr. Barry Corey dedicated an entire chapel (the last chapel of the year) to responding to our group. It was so hurtful and misinformed in a number of ways. At one point Dr. Corey even called us Pharisees. We recorded parts of the audio on our phone. We transcribed the part about us being Pharisees:
“We will not be in agreement with those who see sexual relationships legitimized in same sex couples. Biola’s position will not satisfy those in the LGBTQ community. I am willing to live with this level of disagreement. … God is calling us to a life of purity and holiness … . We’re called always to retreat to the cross where repentance and forgiveness happens, surrendering my will every day to Christ’s will. These are the people who Jesus received, right? He always received the sinner, the struggler, who came to Him with an open heart to be forgiven, and be called His disciple. This is how Jesus still is.
Who did He [Jesus] rise up in anger and not receive? Those who quoted scripture like the Pharisees, who wanted to legitimize a certain way of life that Jesus said was not right.” *
See below my responses to these words of the good Dr. Corey.
“We will not be in agreement with those who see sexual relationships legitimized in same sex couples. So this sets off an alarm in my head. Less for what it says (though of course that also sets bells ringing) than for how foggily it says it. When people who at the moment are invested in coming across as thoughtful and/or spiritually sound begin to say something which at some level inside of themselves they know to be aggressively crazy, they almost always right away use language that is seriously tweaked, if not outright incomprehensible. While these words aren’t entirely incomprehensible, they’re also spoken by the president of a university. All in all, this is akin to Mohammed Ali in his prime dancing out from his corner at the first bell of a championship fight, immediately stumbling over his own two feet, and then, as he falls, punching himself in the head. At any rate, Dr. Corey seems to be saying that homosexual sex is “illegitimate.” I’m sure that will come as puzzling news to anyone who, in the course of homosexual sex, has ever climaxed.
“Biola’s position will not satisfy those in the LGBTQ community. And the Most Obvious Statement of the Year award goes to … .
“I am willing to live with this level of disagreement. Of course you’re willing to live with it, you rump-chapeau: you have all the power. You’re like the tiger dangling the mouse over its mouth who says, “I am hungry, while you would rather not be eaten. But I find that I can live with that level of disagreement. So all is well.”
“God is calling us to a life of purity and holiness … . We’re called always to retreat to the cross where repentance and forgiveness happens, surrendering my will every day to Christ’s will. Interesting use of the word retreat. And why on earth do we have this sudden switch from our will to my will? Inexplicable! Until, that is, you imagine this whole speech being delivered by a man inside of a closet.
“Who did He [Jesus] rise up in anger and not receive? And boom: there it is. There’s the absolute, unmistakable, all-powerful, violence-implying, bald-faced, sickeningly inevitable threat. Right there, up in the pulpit, pretending to care about nothing so much as extending the love of Christ, is every encouragement any bully could ever need to viciously hound, beat to a pulp, or push to suicide a desperately forlorn gay person. Such actions are, after all, nothing less than the will of the God who will “rise up in anger, and refuse to receive” gay people. This is the odious black magic that transmogrifies God’s love into man’s hate.
“Those who quoted scripture like the Pharisees, who wanted to legitimize a certain way of life that Jesus said was not right.” Speaking of ignorant. Does Dr. Corey actually not know who the Pharisees were? Is he unaware that the Pharisees were arrogant, self-righteous religious authorities whom Jesus roundly denounced for their consistent refusal to put compassion above dogma, love above the law, mercy over man-made rules? That it was the Pharisees who routinely scorned the very people whom Jesus sought out? That it was the Pharisees against whom Jesus rose up in anger—that it was the Pharisees whom Jesus did not receive?
And as for Jesus saying that “a certain way of life” was not right?
Dr. Corey: Jesus never uttered a word about homosexuality.
But the problem is not that you’re unaware of that. The problem is that you don’t care about it to anywhere near the degree that, God knows, you should.
* When in response to this note I asked the student how he/she and the BQU group was doing, the reply was, “The day of chapel was so difficult, and sitting in chapel was practically unbearable for most of us. I’m personally doing okay, but some in the group took it pretty hard.”