In recent months a feature in the New York Times, followed by an announcement by certain alumni of Wheaton College, have drawn attention to student groups at Christian colleges dedicated to advocating in behalf of lesbian, gay, and other such students (covered by the ever-lengthening LGBTQIAW* label) at Christian colleges, in churches, and in other places where traditional expectations of married and celibate life might come into conflict with the expectations of those students to be involved in the life of the communities in ways they’re not now involved. Not long after these developments, Believe Out Loud, an organization advocating for Christian groups to become “open and affirming,” made a bid to advertise on the Sojourners website. While the organization has invited editorials on the topic, they declined to run the advertisement, and the fallout of that initial refusal has been significant infighting among self-identified liberal and progressive Christians.
This little series of posts (I’m planning on three, but there might be more) will not spend much time responding to that particular controversy but will rather attempt to think more deliberately about the rhetoric that folks have deployed when questions of policy (rather than abstract discussions of gender theory and sexual essences) come before congregations, denominations, colleges, and other such communities that claim Christ as their warrant. In this little series I will not spend much time at all contesting the answers that the “sides” (one troubling construct, just to begin) offer but noting the narrow range of possibilities that their questions will allow and attempting to point towards some more interesting and perhaps some more promising questions.
Such, I know, is precisely what many will expect from someone affiliated with the so-called Hauerwasian Mafia, and I don’t expect people who want action to the exclusion of inquiry to be impressed. But I do think that readers of The Christian Humanist tend to be people who at least value inquiry and who, more importantly, can point out my own blind spots so that I can approach this inquiry more truthfully. So over the next couple days, I invite you, the readers, to come aboard and help me to find some better questions to ask in the ongoing struggle over LGBTQIAW*.
I should note, since this line of inquiry is one that tends to invite side-taking and position-staking rather than deliberation and question-asking, that the by-line on each post really does mean that Nathan Gilmour and not anybody else wrote the post. Michial Farmer’s and David Grubbs’s contributions, should they wish to make them, will appear in the comments on each post.
* Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Interested, Allies, and Whatever letters they’ve added since I started typing this list.