Concordia Portland Issues a Statement Changing the Name and Purpose of the Gay Straight Alliance Club. Is this Change Sufficient? by Pr. Rossow
A few weeks ago we reported that Concordia Portland had started a Gay-Straight Alliance Club. We have now received the following statement from Concordia about the group:
Concordia University [Portland, Oregon] recognizes the Unity Club, a student club that provides a safe gathering place for discussion of issues related to homosexual orientation, in particular the harassment, discrimination or otherwise un-Christian treatment of marginalized groups.
The club provides the campus community with opportunities for discussion and education, while honoring and upholding The Lutheran
Church-Missouri Synod’s teaching about sexuality, sexual orientation and human care (found in the December 2009 Report of the Commission on
Theology and Church Relations of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod:
The club aims to help all students grow in friendship, knowledge, faith and service, making the University an even more safe place to study, understand and minister for all.
The club recently changed its name to Unity Club to ensure that the club does not inadvertently align itself with any other local or national organizations that may have (a) different purpose(s) or agenda(s).
Here is how the May, 2010 Student Chronicles (a student publication from Concordia, Portland) described the club:
The GSA was created by students at Concordia in order to ensure that our university is a safer, more inclusive place. The purpose of the club is as follows: “To create an open, honest, safe, and non-threatening environment where dialogue can occur in issues related to sexual orientation, to support students in crisis and/or those who feel unsafe/threatened/harassed because of their sexual orientation, and to create public awareness of current discrimination and prejudice toward GLBT students.”
The club wants the Concordia community to know that it is not attempting to force anyone to accept or approve of homosexuality. Simply put, this club has been created by students for students. It wants to give a voice to gay students and their allies, who up until this point have had no representation or support at our university. (Vol. IX, Issue VII)
Notice how the recent statement tones down the purpose of the group as reported by the student paper in May. My guess is that after feeling some pressure the administration of the university changed the stated purpose of the club.
The new statement has a lot of apple pie and motherhood in it. Who would be against growing in “grace, knowledge, faith and service, making the University an even more safe place to study, understand and minister for all.” We fear the students understanding of this group as reported back in May might be how the group is perceived by its members.
We are glad to see the official purpose of the group has changed and assume the administration gets credit for that. What is odd however is that there needs to be such a group at all. Grace, knowledge, faith and service ought to be the normal course of preaching and teaching at the university. (“Friendship” should be taken out of the list since Paul tells us not to associate with the sexually immoral.) Why would there be such a group set up for the specific issue of gay and lesbian rights? Is there a known problem of abuse of gay students at Concordia? If so, the administration should deal with it as they would any other outburst of sinful behavior, with God’s law and Gospel. If there is such a problem, does anyone really think setting a club like this will change anything? Where is the club to protect the rights of oppressed sinners of other types – fornicators, haters, adulterers, those who lust? Of all the clubs a university would sponsor, this particular one just does not seem to rise to the top of needs on teh campus of a confessional, conservative, Bible-believing university such as one of our Concordias.
Of course, if there were regular club meetings for the “Lusters Club,” because of our fundamental belief in Biblical morality, each club meeting would begin with a straight-forward denunciation of the sin of lust and encouragement for all club members, whether they are lusters or not to resist the temptation to lust. That would be the Biblical solution to the problem, that is, confront the sin and help those involved in it to overcome the temptation with God’s law and Gospel. There is no excuse for non-lusters to discriminate against the lusters, but the basic Christian response to the issue of lusting is to speak against it and help believers who fall prey to Satan’s trap to lust, to stand strong and resist the temptation.
Of course this little example about the “Lusters Club” is silly. Hopefully it demonstrates how silly it is for Concordia to promote a group like the “Unity Club.” Let’s all work to grow in grace toward all people and to take a firm stand on the law of God as well. That should be the approach of a Lutheran university toward sexually immoral behavior. I am not sure the Unity Club will accomplish that.