Controversy has been swirling around Harding University. About three weeks ago, a group of homosexual students came together to produce “HU Queer Press” and their self-published magazine called “The State of the Gay at Harding University.” This work included the testimonies of several gay and lesbian students at Harding. In it, these students discuss personal stories and feelings, political critiques, and religious thoughts. The goal of this magazine was to have their voices heard, gain and give support, and to express what it meant and felt like to be gay at a Christian University. So, that night, the students swept through campus and put a copy of their publication in every dorm and under almost every door. Knowing that Harding would respond negatively to this magazine, they also put it online. Soon after it appeared on campus, Harding blocked the website, addressed the student body, and either expelled the students or enrolled them into a therapy program.
Since this story came out, their publication has appeared on at least six different campuses, in publications like the New Yorker, Arkansas Times, Jezebel, Huffington Post, and in many other blogs and media sources. Change.org has even put together a petition, with over 1,000 signatures, to tell Harding to change their rules. When this came out, many students on campus went around getting signatures for a similar petition. It seems like the majority of people are furious about Harding’s decision. Some have said that Harding has violated the right of “free speech” and others say that Harding has misunderstood Scripture.
So, with so much controversy on this issues, where should Christians stand? Let’s address several categories.
Harding’s Rights. Many people have claimed that Harding is in the wrong for blocking HU Queer Press’ magazine online and expelling students. In reality, Harding actually had every right to do what they did. Being a private, Christian University, Harding has the right to enforce the rules they make. Also, every student who goes to Harding is given a copy of the handbook and knows (or is at least expected to know) the rules and must follow them. So, according to Harding’s handbook, these students violated at least three rules. (1) Any literature to be displayed or distributed (physically or online) must have prior approval. HU Queer Press did not do this. (2) The handbook states that the students are not allowed to put up material that is “threatening, obscene, discriminating, harassing, defamatory, or contrary in any way to the mission of Harding University.” Their publication includes cursing, descriptions of homosexual feelings and acts, and more. Clearly HU Queer Press violated Harding’s rule on this. (3) The handbook states that sexual immorality in any form will result in suspension from the university. Homosexuality is certainly a form of sexual immorality. Harding had every right to do what they did. They were not violating “free speech” or any right. These students violated Harding’s rules and were met with just punishment.
What the Bible Says. Throughout Scripture we see God directly approve of only one type of intimate relationship: the relationship between a man and a woman (Genesis 1-2; 2:18f; 2:24; Matthew 19:1f; 1 Corinthians 3:18f; Ephesians 5:22f; 1 Peter 3:1f; etc). Nowhere in Scripture is a homosexual relationship approved of. Those who claim this are twisting the text, speculating details, and assuming unsupported conclusions.
Here is one example of such twisting and assuming. In the account of Sodom (Genesis 19) when Lot was housing two angels, the men of the city came to Lot and told him to “bring them out to us that we may have relations with them” (vs. 5). Some claim this is a sin of “inhospitality,” not homosexuality. But once again, one has to twist and assume things to reach this conclusion. Genesis 18:20 states that Sodom and Gomorrah’s sins were exceedingly grave and were soon after destroyed (Genesis 19:27-29). So, these cities have exceedingly grave sins and yet “inhospitality” is the only sin that is listed? It just doesn’t make sense. It does make sense if it is a homosexual act though. Not only does the text itself tell of homosexuality, but Scriptures such as 2 Peter 2:6-8 and Jude 5-7 also claim that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were homosexual ones. The sin here is homosexuality.
Besides this account, the Old Testament directly condemns homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, 29; 20:13; etc). So does the New Testament (Romans 1:26-28; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; etc). Not only does the Bible teach that homosexuality is a sin, but it also claims that these sins can be controlled and changed. In 1 Corinthians 6:11, after talking about some of the sinful behaviors people were engaging in (homosexuality is mentioned), Paul said, “Such were some of you….” In other words, they changed their ways.
People try by many means and many ways to justify homosexuality. The problem is, the writers of the Bible were given by God the exact words to say. They didn’t say anything about “inhospitality” or “idolatry” or “temple prostitution” or whatever else people try to claim. The reason is because this was not what God said or wanted. These biblical writers claim that homosexuality is sinful, and this is exactly what they were inspired by God to say.
Where Should We Stand? There are two areas in which a Christian should stand. (1) Just like with the BYU controversy with premarital sex, we have the option to either stand with our culture, or we can stand with the Bible. I would much rather stand with the wisdom of God than with the wisdom of men (Isaiah 55:9). We should stand against our culture, against homosexuality, and stand with Scripture. (2) We should stand against bullying and acting hateful towards homosexuals. We should never speak or act in a hateful or bullying way towards homosexuals. We should hate the sin, not the sinner. Just like we would talk with someone dealing with any other sin, the truth needs to be told boldly, but in love (Ephesians 4:15).
It is tragic that Harding has had to deal with so much ridicule and controversy over HU Queer Press the last few weeks. However, from what we see in Scripture, Harding stands exactly where God has commanded in Scripture concerning homosexuality. Our culture says homosexuality is acceptable. More people and churches are swaying with our culture in accepting homosexuality. We can either stand with our culture, or we can stand with the Bible. Where do you stand? I hope and pray it is with God and against the sin of homosexuality.