I’m gonna get opinionated up in here.
Hail to our alma mater,
Hail to our varsity,
Steadfast as the anchor ever in our loyalty.
Hail to the orange and blue,
Firm may our motto be:
Spera in Deo,
Hope, our varsity.
Homosexuality wasn’t exactly on my radar as a teenager. If someone had asked me for an opinion, I probably would have used that *super helpful* line about loving the sinner and hating the sin. I don’t recall it being much of a topic either at home or at church. I know there was one lesbian couple at church, and I know that Bud, our pastor, believed strongly in a culture of love and welcoming. He led very strongly by example.
College is where I began regularly interacting with people who openly failed to adhere to my original understanding of sexuality. I encountered this diversity both in faculty and fellow students. Again, if pressed, I probably would have said that I was against homosexual relationships, but I also failed to see any ‘evil’ in these friends and teachers.
Then, religion class happened. This is where one might expect it to all go south: in religion class at my conservative Christian college, I learned that “God hates gays,” right?
Except I didn’t.
In Religion 200-something, Professor H. led us through an exploration of all of the biblical texts generally used to condemn homosexuality. Turns out you can just as easily (or even more easily) read Sodom and Gomorrah as a condemnation of rape, not homosexuality. And Leviticus? I mean, come on. If the rest of Leviticus is out of date, so is Leviticus 18:22. Don’t you dare tell me that being gay is a sin if you’re okay with tattoos, polyester, and shrimp.
I left that conversation convinced that the Bible doesn’t actually say anything definitively. And in the absence of a clear biblical directive on homosexuality, “love thy neighbor” wins out.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
My views have broadened since then. I have moved from “well I guess I shouldn’t judge” to openly and proudly supporting LGBTQ rights in all their forms and strive to be a strong ally. I consider myself a feminist, I believe #blacklivesmatter, and I recognize that whole cultures should not be stereotyped down into costumes or mascots.
So why exactly is this on my mind today? Well, because there seems to be some unrest at our alma mater, Hope College. The rumors are swirling that Pres. John Knapp could be ousted. A recent email confirmed that the firing/forced resignation part has truth to it, but uncertainty still surrounds the reasons why Knapp would be forced out. Students, faculty, and alumni seem to think it has something to do with his commitment to inclusion and diversity, which- at least when it comes to homosexuality- stands contrary to the official stance of the Reformed Church in America. Hope College did me proud when they extended benefits to same-sex partners of staff and faculty, but it seems Knapp may have ruffled some feathers among trustees.
The push toward greater inclusion is one of the many hallmarks of President Knapp’s tenure thus far. Yet, while it is a great start that spouses of gay employees will receive benefits, it doesn’t hold much weight on an institutional level if the college still does not recognize marriage as anything other than between a man and a woman, does not recognize pro-LGBT groups on campus, and seemingly will not promote openly gay faculty. There is much work to be done in this area, and I believe that President Knapp is the perfect person to drive this charge internally and by engaging the community. Moreover, Hope has a unique position in Holland, a city that has actively blocked protecting sexual orientation under its anti-discrimination policy. Now is the time for Hope to take its rightful place as the city on a hill and set an example for how we should treat one another with the dignity and respect that our historical Christian values mandate.
-Andrew Bredow, Hope College Class of 2006
An Open Letter to My Fellow Alumni and The Board of Hope College
I am proud of the students and faculty of Hope today. I am proud of President Knapp. I am thankful for the time I spent there and for the diverse group of people I learned from. I agree with Andrew- it’s time for Hope to take its place as the city on the hill.
Let’s go Hope,
Links in this post:
- Religious Tolerance: Why Christians should embrace same-sex relationships
- God Hates Shrimp
- From Reddit: Why is it so controversial when someone says “All Lives Matter” instead of “Black Lives Matter”?
- Native Appropriations: Step away from the “Indian” costume!
- MLive: Leaked emails show Hope College president won’t be fired – yet
- Hope College Position Statement on Human Sexuality
- MLive: Hope College amends controversial position on sexuality, opens door for study and discussion
- Andrew Bredow: An Open Letter to My Fellow Alumni and The Board of Hope College