This week, in light of the recent suicides caused by homophobic bullying, Opinion is discussing homophobia at Columbia and how it affects students of all sexual orientations. Sean Udell writes about subtler forms of homophobic violence. Minori Takahashi urges students both to learn and to educate others about LGBT concerns. Joy Harrison speaks about reconciling her Christian faith with her tolerance for homosexuality. And Avi Edelman emphasizes the importance of maintaining a safe space at Columbia....
By Joy Harrison
For many years now, I have grappled with how to align my religious beliefs and my beliefs about homosexuality. I am a Christian, and what that means to me is that Christ died for my brokenness and sinfulness and called me to live a life following Him. Jesus's two greatest commandments are to love our God and to love others, and everything else falls under that. Therefore, nothing that we do matters if we do not love unconditionally. I also believe that homosexuality is not inherently a sin. It saddens me that these two statements seem contradictory and conflicting, but for me, my beliefs coincide. I'm not ignorant of the verses in the Bible that seemingly condemn homosexuality and homosexual behavior. I have extensively studied these verses, but I have concluded that God's love, acceptance, and salvation do not discriminate based on sexual orientation. I don't want this to mean that Christians should be put in two definitive groups: anti-gay or pro-gay. I have spent a lot of time in the gray, middle area of the spectrum, and I think that a lot of Christians are there, struggling to reconcile God's love for sinners and judgment of sinners. I also don't want this to mean that Christians and the LGBT community are placed into two separate and independent groups. These two groups are each based on a continuum, and I don't believe there to be a definitive dichotomy distinguishing the two. There have been times when I have been silent about my support of the LGBT community, especially in the presence of other Christians. I am very aware that many Christians are of the opinion that homosexuality is fundamentally sinful. It saddens and angers me to think that some people group Christians into one group that is "anti-gay." I know that this stereotype plays out in many ways, but one of my goals is for people to know that there are Christians who are more than conceptually or abstractly supportive of the LGBT community. I envision an active outreach in which the homosexual aspect of their identity is embraced as freely as the rest of their characters. I am aware that many members of the LGBT community feel targeted and labeled as sinners who are unworthy of God's unconditional love. I believe that Christians should reach out to the people of this community instead of denouncing their sexual preferences and behaviors. I am a member of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, which is made up of many Christians and non-Christians who differ in terms of race, ethnicity, denomination, and background. There are so many great people who come together to worship our Creator and seek truth. I would love for people to know that we are a welcoming community and that there are no limitations to that. Although there are members of InterVarsity who probably don't agree with my opinions about homosexuality, I am confident about where I stand, and I think all Christians should agree that the Church, and Christians in general, need to be more loving and welcoming to members of the LGBT community. I would be lying if I didn't admit that it has been challenging to be part of a religion in which many of the members denounce homosexuality. However, I have been able to "agree to disagree" with many of my Christian brothers and sisters, and I am grateful for their acceptance of our diverse opinions on hotly debated issues such as this. What implications does this have for Christians at Columbia? Instead of passively accepting and welcoming the LGBT community, we must foster an atmosphere of commitment to actively embody Christ's love as a community of believers. The next step is to allow God's love to permeate all of our personal relationships indiscriminately. This means incorporating our LGBT friends into our faith communities without ostracizing them or categorizing them as "the Other." The author is a Barnard junior majoring in Spanish and Latin American cultures. She is a member of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and the Columbia Clefhangers....