I just returned from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. I was invited to give the Cultural Engagement Lecture Series, which were three lectures provided during the chapel time – one for the undergraduates and two for the divinity students. The one for undergrads was on an alternative narrative for discussing sexual identity. The two for the divinity students were on the relationship between sexual identity and a Christian identity.
What impressed me about Trinity was the hunger to elevate the discussion about homosexuality to another level. This is something I have seen at many Christian colleges and universities over the past few years: many Christian students are growing up with friends or family members whose lives are affected by sexual identity questions or concerns, and students are not particularly impressed with how they see the local church addressing the topic (or not addressing the topic, as the case may be).
The discussion with divinity students was particularly interesting to me as they represent church leadership in the years to come. I asked them to think about the question: “Whose people are we talking about?” By which I meant that it is important for church leaders to think about the people in their church who experience same-sex attraction as their people, as part of their community of faith. Too often I hear people discuss this topic in the church and refer to those people, suggesting we are not talking about people who are in our own communities (or worse that they belong somewhere else or belong to another community altogether). It was a small part of a larger discussion carried over into the various lectures, but I hoped that in some small way it would shift how leadership talks about the subject and engages their own community when thinking through and teaching on human sexuality, sexual identity, and sexual behavior.