The Dialogue That Never Happened
This article was written by Jake Whitfield.
When I first heard of the event on human sexuality and the Bible sponsored by the Provost’s Office, I was excited. North Park had avoided the subject; it was the elephant in the room we were all waiting to address. Based on the uproar following the dismissal of campus pastor Judy Peterson it was obvious that there was a serious disconnect between North Park’s denominational home, the Evangelical Covenant Church, and the student body. I attended this event expecting it to explore both sides of the same-sex marriage debate in a thoughtful, respectful, and stimulating way. I was not disappointed in the participant’s thoughtfulness and respect. Unfortunately, the dialogue lacked two sides and was not the least bit intellectually or spiritually stimulating. The entire event was a disservice to the students in attendance and to the spirit of intellectual and spiritual curiosity that universities ought to promote.
There are two sides of the same-sex marriage debate, conservative and progressive. Conservatives hold a traditional view; same-sex marriage is not biblical and is not honoring to God. Progressives argue that a same-sex marriage can be defended biblically and God can be honored in a same-sex marriage. The Evangelical Covenant Church, our university’s denominational home, is conservative in this sense. Unfortunately, the conservative side was not defended during last night’s “dialogue”. There weren’t two sides, only an outwardly progressive view and a secretly progressive view. Dr. Brownson provided a thoughtful argument based on a particular biblical hermeneutic that defended same-sex marriage. The “traditionalist” Dr. Collins refuted none of Dr. Brownson’s claims and instead chose to focus on the shortcomings of the contemporary church in welcoming LGBTQ people.
His claims were valid and led me to serious self-reflection, but they weren’t useful in understanding and defending the traditional view of marriage. They were irrelevant to the matter at hand. Dr. Collins refused to answer the question “Does God honor a same-sex marriage?” and provided no Biblical evidence to justify why he believed gay sex was sinful. I don’t question Dr. Collins’ conviction or thoughtfulness, but he represented nothing in the mainstream popular debate. The audience should have been provided a thoughtful defense of why the traditional view of marriage is biblical, good, and true. The dialogue failed at doing this. Dr. Collins’ view would not justify a pastor losing their ordination for officiating a same-sex marriage. His views certainly didn’t align with the “conservative church” he spoke so condescendingly about. If the two sides of the current debate are progressive and conservative North Park’s dialogue only represented one.
If you were in attendance and thought you witnessed a productive presentation of the two sides, you are mistaken. For those that want to further explore the defense of traditional marriage, I encourage you to explore on your own. North Park continues to be a place where students are forced to explore answers alone because there is no balanced approach to the presentation of ideas. As a university we would rather have our students “united in mind and thought” in progressive theology than be free thinkers.
Participate in the continuing dialogue by leaving a comment below or drafting your own response to the Human Sexuality Debate and submit it for publication on Vista.