According to the Tribune, Winn, a 2007 graduate, “said the idea for the group began last year as media coverage focused on the rise in teen suicide in the gay community. As someone who struggled with her own sexual orientation at Wheaton, she often feared losing her support system if she came out.”
As reported by the Christian Post, a recent OneWheaton media release declared: “We do not believe there is anything wrong with being gay. We are joining the conversation at Wheaton to show students that they have the option to live without shame and self-hatred.”
Organizers of the group began soliciting Wheaton College students in late April via informational fliers they distributed outside a chapel service. “Soon after, Wheaton College President Philip Ryken (above) sent an internal email to all students, faculty, and staff that cited passages in the Bible that condemned homosexual behavior,” reported the Tribune.
In his letter Ryken said that Wheaton College agreed with the homosexual group’s “stated desire to ‘affirm the full humanity and dignity of every human being, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.’” He noted that the college’s Community Covenant “upholds the commitment of every Christian to loving God, and to loving our neighbors as ourselves. We see each member of the human family as created in the image of God himself, and thus each of immeasurable value. This includes our neighbors and alumni who identify as LGBTQ.”
Nonetheless, wrote Ryken, the college remained “committed to following Christ as faithful disciples, which entails conforming our lives to God’s truth revealed in the Scriptures, and specifically to a biblically-based stance on sexual ethics.” He added that part of the responsibility of the school’s leadership was to “seek to prepare our students to maintain fidelity with the historic stance of the Church on these issues.”
The college president reminded the school’s community that the Community Covenant included the call “to pursue holiness in every aspect of our thought and behavior (2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thess. 4:7; Heb. 12:14; 1 Pet. 1:15-16),” and embraced the scriptural condemnation of “sexual immorality, such as the use of pornography (Matt. 5:27-28), pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexual behavior and all other sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage between a man and woman (Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31).”
While saying that the college’s leadership carried “a burden for our students, faculty, staff and alumni who experience same-sex attraction,” he emphasized that the school would continue to respond to all sinful behaviors with the “truth and grace” of Scripture.
That a college like Wheaton would find itself accosted by homosexuals demanding acceptance of their lifestyle can be explained, in part, by the willingness of its leadership to welcome to campus groups such as SoulForce, an organization of “Christian” homosexuals who travel the nation visiting evangelical campuses to “dialogue” with students and faculty.
Back in 2006, SoulForce’s “freedom riders” visited Wheaton College, where a crowd of some 1,500 students and faculty packed the school’s gymnasium to watch and listen as the pro-homosexual group confronted the school’s administration concerning its scriptural stand against homosexuality. “It is unacceptable for an institution of higher education with a reputation like Wheaton’s to suggest that a student could not, after study, thought and prayer, come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin without risking expulsion,” the group’s spokesman, Jacob Reitan, told the crowd.
Of course, such visits to Christian colleges by homosexual groups do not come without student casualties. Amanda Lee Genaro, a former student at North Central University, an Assemblies of God college in Minneapolis, told the New York Times that she became openly homosexual following SoulForce’s 2006 visit to several Christian campuses in Minneapolis and nearby St. Paul. “I thought, wow, maybe God loves me even if I like women,” Genaro recalled thinking after being influenced by the homosexual group. “In 2009, after she quit ‘reparative therapy,’ came out on MySpace and admitted to having a romantic, if unconsummated, relationship with a woman, the university suspended her, saying she could reapply in a year if she had rejected homosexuality,” reported the Times.
Wheaton College and North Central University are by no means the only Christian colleges facing an onslaught from aggressive homosexual activists. “Decades after the gay rights movement swept the country’s secular schools, more gays and lesbians at Christian colleges are starting to come out of the closet, demanding a right to proclaim their identities and form campus clubs, and rejecting suggestions to seek help in suppressing homosexual desires,” the Times reported.
Among the schools highlighted by the paper was Nashville’s Belmont University, aligned with the Southern Baptist denomination, which faced a firestorm of community opposition after the school’s administration terminated a female faculty member after she confided to students that she and her lesbian partner were expecting a baby. Pressure from homosexual groups, community activists, and donors to the school prompted the university’s administration to ease up on allowing homosexual student groups to meet on campus.
However, another notable Southern Baptist school, Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has insisted that students embrace a lifestyle that is informed by Scripture. While a group of homosexual students and sympathizers holding a weekly Sexual Identity Forum has attempted to persuade the school to give the group official recognition, thus far the school’s administration has held firm in its refusal.
Addressing the media concerning the students’ demands, a Baylor spokesman said that the university “expects students not to participate in advocacy groups promoting an understanding of sexuality that is contrary to biblical teaching.”