When campus speakers are consistently selected from a narrow slice of the wide spectrum of theological viewpoints on LGBTQ people, Wheaton does a disservice to its students—students who are wholly capable of seeking truth in dialogue rather than swallowing pre-packaged doctrine.
Dear Wheaton Students,
I and many Wheaton alums were saddened to learn that the speaker in chapel on January 31, 2014 would be Rosaria Butterfield–a woman who would paint LGBTQ people as disobedient, prideful, and confused about their identity in a space sanctioned by the college. You might remember that it was a chapel address almost three years ago that inspired Wheaton alumni to come together as OneWheaton and organize a letter drop. I remember the day vividly. What I wanted then and still want today is an end to the single and (I believe) harmful narrative that has characterized Wheaton’s sporadic responses to the question of LGBT people’s place within the church.
As a member of OneWheaton, I am proud to stand in solidarity with the students today as they assert that there is “More Than a Single Story.” When campus speakers are consistently selected from a narrow slice of the wide spectrum of theological viewpoints on LGBTQ people, Wheaton does a disservice to its students–students who are wholly capable of seeking truth in dialogue rather than swallowing pre-packaged doctrine. Many respected theologians affirm that gay and trans people can live as Christians, complete with spouses, children, and full participation within the church, yet Wheaton has refused to engage these theological viewpoints.
While I respect that Butterfield changed her beliefs after much personal reflection, I believe that she paints false dichotomies: feminist or humble; Christian or gay. I have hope that the college’s stance on homosexuality is not the axis on which the school pivots. Robust conversation surrounding homosexuality will not threaten “Christ and His Kingdom” any more than the robust conversation that exists surrounding other complex issues such as feminism, to name a pertinent example. Why this one exception to Wheaton’s generous orthodoxy?
Students, I ask you to widen the discussion on campus in your classroom, with your friends, in your DSG, and on the forum wall. Take the opportunity to talk with the brave students who are proclaiming today that “More than a Single Story.” Though I hope this will not always be the case, at this moment in time you will likely find in your assigned reading and chapel messages only a sliver of the wider discussion regarding homosexuality. Think bigger. Think broader. Even if you circle round to the same understanding of these issues, you will be able to participate intelligently in a discourse that is nowhere near complete. Looking for a place to start? Gay Christian Network has done a great job of compiling resources from a wide array of viewpoints. And if you’re looking for a good counterpoint to Butterfield’s chapel message, a powerful (although lengthy) video by Matthew Vines that had a huge impact on my view of what the Bible says about homosexuality can be found here.
In love and solidarity,
Katie Campbell, Class of 2010