I remember answering this question exactly a year ago. This week is very similar: I’m reading books and making meals, but instead of dentist appointments my wife and I are going to Harrison Hot Springs for two nights! I think I can handle that change.
Actually, my reading this year is more like research. I’m working on a presentation for the Ecclesia and Ethics conference, hosted online in May by St. Andrews University, Scotland. Here is my working abstract.
Hospitality, Holiness & Homosexuality: How can Christian colleges and universities with traditional views of marriage be welcoming for students with homosexual identity?
This paper will begin with a theological and moral assumption that holiness and hospitality are two core Christian values that guide all human relationships. It will be written from the perspective of a college with a traditional statement restricting marriage to life-long monogamous heterosexual unions. How can such a college be hospitable and helpful to young adult students who are forming sexual identity, including those who may have a tendency towards a homosexual or other minority identity? This paper will include a survey of Christian post-secondary institutions in Canada asking the question: A Christian student in good standing at your institution reveals that they have a homosexual identity, are struggling with a homosexual identity, or are questioning their sexual identity. How would you and your institution respond to this student?
The paper will examine a few key biblical texts, as well as relevant theological, psychological and sociological material on this topic. My hypothesis is that there will be three groups of potential responses: 1) Colleges do not accept homosexual identity and counsel all students toward heterosexual identity. 2) Colleges accept homosexual identity as a valid orientation and equip such students for life-long celibacy. 3) Colleges accept homosexual identity as a valid orientation and support such students in their identity, and work with affiliated denominations and churches to include homosexual unions in their statements on marriage. The responses from colleges will be examined and evaluated in light of the research material.
It is a new subject matter for me and I’m not excited by the fact that it is a controversial topic but I believe it is important that Christian colleges address this openly. Although I will not be able to avoid the biblical/theological diversity of perspectives, my primary concern with the paper is pastoral. I’m hoping that colleges/churches can offer helpful pastoral care while at the same time disagreeing and working on the biblical and theological issues. Responses so far indicate that this might be possible.