Some weeks have passed since Baylor University’s Aug. 27 letter on human sexuality, including its vow to “do more to demonstrate love and support for our students who identify as LGBTQ,” even as it also affirms “purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm.” In the spirit of trusting that open, honest, diverse and sometimes difficult dialogue in community may be one of our best hopes toward healing, I offer words I am teaching my children, the same words that God is spending most of my life teaching me.
To our students at Baylor who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and any other identity that doesn’t fall within the heterosexual, cisgender expectation: There is more than one single understanding of what is true. The belief that your identity is “non-biblical” is not shared by everyone at Baylor, and certainly not by the country or by the world. Many of us understand our collective, diverse human sexuality is not just “OK” but that this is one of the many sacred ways God works in the world. There are theologians, social workers, professors, pastors, entire churches (yes, even Baptist!), entrepreneurs, students, parents, farmers, scientists, community leaders, those on the left and those on the right who understand a different truth about you and a different truth about God than what is currently proclaimed through Baylor University’s policy stance.
Your sexuality is precious and sacred and holy and powerful. It is given by a big, mysterious, loving, radically inclusive God to be honoring and to contribute to your wholeness in whatever diverse form that takes. Identifying as LGBTQ+ is compatible with biblical teachings because it is compatible with this sort of extraordinary, hopeful, accessible, wildly open God… so wild that if we allow it, will keep taking us to new, hard, beautiful places.
Since the formal letter reinforcing our official stance at Baylor, I’ve talked, prayed, thought, listened, cried some and laughed some to try and make it hurt less for you and with you. I’ve realized I just don’t have the air to make an argument right now and I am exhausted of trying to move people toward one direction or another. I told this to my Virginia pastor and she said it’s a good thing I feel like I can’t move people because, as it turns out, it isn’t people who move people but God who moves people. Thanks be to God. The bottom line is that in the midst of all of this conversation and people-moving, it is you, our students, who are losing.
This same pastor closed a sermon one Sunday with a prayer from Julian of Norwich. It’s hanging in my office at Baylor and I’d like to pray it now as an invitation of sorts, for all of us. For those who are part of this conversation and for those of us who aren’t. For those who are hurting, who are confused, who are scared, and likely for a wide spectrum of reasons. It’s a big invitation that brings with it the potential to disrupt all we cling to, in the most sacred of ways, if we let it.
“God, if I am in your truth, keep me there. If I am not, put me there.”