Monday, May 16, 2011

Messiah College's Community Covenant

Lately, the spotlight has been on Messiah's community covenant as a result of an openly gay student's decision to leave the school stemming from incidences of harassment. For a while there, it was the first Google news entry concerning Messiah College (though to be fair, Messiah does have it's share of weird stories from time to time), but I only got to know about this because there's an actual petition going out asking Messiah to strike the "homosexual" clause from its community covenant.

We've come far as a society, and we've learned to tolerate and embrace a lot, 'cause as the human race we just have a suicidal tendency to seek out the smallest things that can divide us. In all this time, I believe that we've learned that we can get along with people, without necessarily agreeing with them or supporting them.

I empathize with the student who had to face that kind of discrimination. No one deserves to have death threats or any unbecoming behavior strewn their way - whether it be from peers or even teachers. What I do take issue with is this disordered desire for people to erase one injustice using another. A school is more than just the bricks and mortar that are used to put its buildings together; it is mainly the community and the tenets that bind that community that are the true heart and soul of the school.

Messiah is by its own admission a Christian school, and it's tried to base its principles on that (whether they succeed or fail is another matter altogether...but then again Christ never expected us to be perfect, but rather to work out our faith with a view towards being Ipse Christe - same as Christ.)

One friend of mine wrote that we Christians fail when we tolerate a porn-addicted pastor, but scoff away at people from the LBGT community. This reminds me of a friend from High School who once talked with me at length about the story of Jesus and the Adultress. My friend's take home message from the whole thing was that we are not supposed to judge people no matter what they do, and we should just 'live and let be'.
But there is an addition to that whole lesson: Jesus didn't condemn that woman, but He certainly didn't commend/condone what she was doing either. He extended mercy out to her, but He also enlightened her... He didn't set the bar lower so that the hooligans wouldn't have an excuse to execute the poor woman!!!

Seeing as the Community Covenant is in-line with Christian teaching, there is no need to change it. What does need to change is the hooligans who choose to take out their wrath on people they view as different. The school Provost admitted that the school does not screen students to find out whether they are homosexual or not. I'm guessing the school doesn't screen for hooligans, bigots, smokers, drunkards, philanderers, sluggard or a host of behaviors spanning the gamut of human failings either - that would be a logistical nightmare.

But they do have principles by which to proscribe this behavior, and hopefully remain relevant as Christians in a world where people are either deserting their Christianity or resorting to some trends that bear only a superficial resemblance to Christianity.
Apart from the whole discriminatory incidents, was the gay student really expecting a traditional Christian school to support him in his openly-gay demeanor? (Messiah is not Episcopalian, last time I checked).

This reminds me of a quote from that oft-misunderstood social commentary - the Boondocks:

"Not every [black person] that gets arrested is Nelson Mandela"
And so too with this case, the "LGBT query" is not the last unanswered wrong that humanity has not righted. We are called upon to be tolerant, but we don't have to condone. And I certainly would never condone this being used as an excuse to change a Community Covenant that is not the source of the problem. People will always find reasons to hate, but our moral compass always needs to hold true.

God Bless.

1 comment:

Benjamin Jancewicz said...

I am honored to have you as a friend.

I think you're right, but with your line of thinking, I think the petition holds true. The covenant singles out homosexual acts. It ought to condemn ALL immoral sexual acts. And bigotry, and everything else you mentioned. Messiah is a lamppost in a dark world. The clause singling homosexuality is a crack just wide enough for erosion to happen, and I think it would probably be best to fix it.