Readers Respond: “Petitions ignite campus discussion”

By Trevor Alcorn

Last month during the petition drives – one for the Defense of Marriage Initiative and the other for the Love Petition – I was very happy to see civil, respectful and safe conversation ensue on the topic of homosexuality.

Being the one who ran the Defense of Marriage petition table, I obviously have strong beliefs on this topic. However, over the three days the petitions took place, I really appreciated that those on both sides conducted civil conversation on such a hot-button issue. By the last day of the petitions, members from both sides actually shook each other’s hands: a sign of the human dignity we all possess.

Certainly, this account of what transpired differed from the rant former Student Body President Evan Karg delivered on Facebook. Among other things, he stated that Olivet allowing the Defense of Marriage petition drive encouraged an “environment of violence.”

To begin with, Evan is not on campus anymore, so how does he know what the environment was like? Anyone who was actually on campus could testify to the fact that there was no such environment. If there was, why would leaders of both petitions shake each other’s hands?

As stated before, I loved the open discussion on campus about homosexuality. Although my intent for having the Defense of Marriage petition at Olivet was to defend the definition of marriage as it has always been (see Mark 10:6-9), our table was open to discussing this topic. In fact, the Love Petition was calling for greater discussion on this issue!

But in order for there to be a truly open discussion, all sides and beliefs should be represented.

Should Mr. Karg’s view of an open discussion be applied, everyone would be required to agree whole-heartedly with his position or risk being labeled “hateful” or “bigoted.”

Just because I do not agree that homosexuality should be proclaimed as a social and moral good does not mean I hate anyone. I strongly believe we should all be compassionate to those struggling with any type of sin. Keeping this in mind, authentic compassion does not equate to the condoning of sin. We are called by God to be faithful and loving, not to compromise truth. Telling someone the truth in a loving manner can be extremely difficult and awkward, but we are called upon to do so out of love for the individual.

In a truly open conversation, everything is on the table: from whether or not Olivet should allow an official gay/straight alliance to what the Bible and tradition say about homosexuality and marriage. This includes whether or not actively promoting and encouraging homosexual unions by raising them to the status of a “marriage” is a good thing.

God’s plan for marriage is abundantly clear throughout Scripture and tradition: It is a lifetime union of one man and one woman.

Let’s be clear: This is not an argument over whether or not homosexuality or other types of unions should be criminalized, but whether or not they should be promoted by the state.

Are we truly being loving toward an individual if we do not warn that person of the dangers of such a lifestyle, both spiritual and physical, by either remaining silent or encouraging it? Or, are we being hateful, discriminatory, closed-minded or “casting the first stone” if we lovingly warn against such a destructive lifestyle out of love for an individual’s spiritual and physical well being?

These are all questions we grappled with last month at the Defense of Marriage table. It is my great hope this discussion will continue and be open to all points of view in the coming months and years at Olivet.

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