by John Henderson Dr. Gran’Pa)
The following article appeared in the Church of the Nazarene’s official organ, “Holiness Today:”
Note: SoulForce just recently visited Trevecca Nazarene University on March 11 and March 12, 2012, for an afternoon of discussion, fellowship and learning. It was open only to Trevecca faculty and students. No reports of the meetings are available at the moment.
Soulforce is scheduled to visit Southern Nazarene University on March 26, 2012
Gay-rights activists target MNU; university responds by respectfully sharing its message
Olathe, Kansas: During a day and a half of meetings with a group of gay-rights activists traveling the country to battle discrimination on college campuses, MidAmerica Nazarene University (MNU) accomplished its goal of communicating the love of Christ to its visitors without approving of the lifestyle they have chosen. Soulforce, a national gay-rights organization, initiated a program last spring called Equality Ride in which young adults travel by bus to Christian campuses to confront administrators, faculty, and students with policies and practices that Soulforce considers to be discriminatory against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students.
Soulforce Equality Ride was not invited to the campuses, but did give prior notice that they were coming. This year MNU and Northwest Nazarene University (NNU) are among the Christian universities targeted by the organization. The Ride is scheduled to visit NNU on April 13.
Many targeted colleges ban the activists from campus, and in most cases, the Riders have been arrested for trespassing on campus property. Before arriving at MNU on March 15, the Riders were arrested at the University of Notre Dame and Wisconsin Lutheran University.
In contrast, MidAmerica chose to welcome the activists, hosting them for a dinner with student leaders on Thursday night and six classroom presentations on Friday.
“We viewed this as an opportunity to listen to where they’re coming from and share the love of God with them,” said April Hansen, MNU’s director of public information and on-site coordinator for the visit. “We disagree, but there’s no reason to be afraid to talk to each other, to dialogue, and express Christ’s love, even in our disagreement.”
At an exit meeting, several Equality Riders expressed their appreciation for the kindness and openness with which they had been received by members of the university. One Rider tearfully expressed her thanks.
“When you told us you were offering Christ’s love to us and that you wanted to listen to us, we kept waiting for you to say, `but¿.’ and then share your condemnation,” the Rider said. “You didn’t do that. Thank you.”
For some of the Riders, it was their first experience with Christians being willing to love and listen to them.
“[The Riders] expressed how life-changing this has been,” Hansen said. “Those comments were very affirming and meaningful to all of us who helped plan the university’s approach to the visit.”
MNU President Ed Robinson said the visit and the campus’ preparations actually strengthened MNU’s commitment to its policy on homosexuality.
“Our position on the prohibition of homosexual behaviors from biblical and theological foundations was strengthened in the hearts and minds of the administration and, more importantly, students,” Robinson said in an e-mail report to MNU’s Board of Trustees. “You would be very proud of their spiritual discernment. The preparation we invested in students was beneficial and yielded the outcomes we intended.”
One of the Equality Riders wrote in his blog after the visit, “I know many, if not most, of the students differ with us in their views on homosexuality, but we were able to share fellowship. They truly modeled a Christlike response.”
MNU wishes to express its gratitude for the prayers offered around the world by churches and constituents during the visit. Most of all, thanks be to God!
[So… What Is Missing Here?]
On the surface, this would appear to be something that Jesus might do, but it stops short of what the Master would have actually done and has so demonstrated in the Scriptures. Where they stopped short is what is missing, but apparently that was their goal as stated in the article: “‘The preparation we invested in students was beneficial and yielded the outcomes we intended.’” Their intended outcome is clearly defined in the article:
“…communicating the love of Christ to its visitors without approving of the lifestyle they have chosen.”
“…to listen to where they’re coming from and share the love of God with them.”
“…to talk to each other, to dialogue, and express Christ’s love, even in our disagreement.”
To strengthen “MNU’s commitment to its policy on homosexuality…” their “… position on the prohibition of homosexual behaviors from biblical and theological foundations.”
The Board of General Superintendents recently issued a statement that essentially affirms a denominational position on the concept that while homosexual “orientation” is “amoral,” it is not the same as immoral homosexual behavior.
“Sexual orientation is not usually a willful choice. … It is amoral, neither moral nor immoral. Scripture clearly … does not address homosexual orientation. … the Manual of the Church of the Nazarene and the official statement of the Board of General Superintendents make a clear distinction between behavior and orientation. One is sinful, the other is not.”
[NOTE: The Bible makes no such distinction between “orientation” and “behavior.” It rather says that behavior emits from “orientation’—out of the wickedness of the heart.]
That error in logic and biblical doctrine has been addressed sufficiently by many who see it as the unscriptural compromise that it is, so I will move on with this matter at hand while keeping in mind that position by the General Superintendents as contributing to this response.
The important question about this incident is, “What is missing?” They expressed Christ’s “love.” What love? Was it the love of God who gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish? That was not mentioned. Was there a call to repentance, to accept Christ as personal Savior? That was not mentioned in the article as well as there was no mention of prayer at all.
The missing essential element was not brought up at all. Instead, we see something akin to the message of television’s “Touched by an Angel” that requires no repentance but rather tells sinners that God still loves you; or a Mr. Rogers approach that says, “God loves you just the way you are.” Well, of course He does but He loves us enough to save us and has shown us the way through His Son as told to us in the Bible. He will save us FROM our sins, not in them. He loves us more than we can love or understand but He commands repentance:
2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Acts 17:29-31: “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
The only response to all of that effort was someone’s tearfully telling a Nazarene host his or her appreciation for the non-condemning hosting. What a squandered opportunity to win that soul to Christ! He or she went away thinking that Nazarenes support them in their sin and the Nazarene went away empty handed.
I can go only on what I have read in this article, but the thought that comes to mind is a verse from the Bible:
James 4:4: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
If that encounter amounted to no more than being pals and no personal evangelism, I would say that the verse applies to tragic proportions.