Coming Out at Liberty University: The Story of One Gay LU Grad

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KD Merrill's picture

...wouldn't 1 Corinthians 5 apply here?  And because LU won't apply it, are they not "walking disorderly"? 

A little compromise here, a little cultural relevance there and voila...

Sad.

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I wanted to cite another article on the same subject, written by the gay student himself, but Jim beat me to it! It is definitely more "colorful," but worth the read nonetheless.

I would add one observation about homosexuality. It is one grievous sin among many which men commit. Running from the issue, or holding homosexuals at arm's length is not the answer. Jesus Christ is the answer, for this or any other sin men struggle with. Too many Christians have such a visceral reaction to the sin that it impedes evangelism of a group of folks who sorely need the Gospel. The testimony of Rosaria Butterfield comes immediately to mind.

Nobody would advocate ministering to alcoholics by deriding them, barring the church doors to them or calling them "lushes" from the pulpit. Yet, some of us would not hesitate to shout the word "sodomite" from the pulpit, almost relishing the chance to condemn this particular sin. It does need to be condemned, in no uncertain terms, but if we're being deliberately spiteful while we're doing it we achieve precisely nothing.  

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Jonathan Charles's picture

Brandon Ambrosino wrote:

 

"The school he says taught him being gay and being Christian aren't that different after all."

 

Brandon is now enrolled as a graduate student at Liberty in the school's seminary program.

 

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Tyker,

You are right of course, but some of it has to do with the people we are dealing with. Drunks don't hold parades promoting "drunk rights" or go to court to get recognition and equal status under the law. The homosexual issue is about the way proponents approach the discussion as much as it is about the sin itself.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

This is sad but not shocking. I am two years into an online grade degree at Liberty. Part of the reason i chose them was because they generally recognized as a conservative evangelical school, but that has not been my experience. I just finished a class on  conflict resolution where we had a secular text but did not spend a single minute on scriptural principles. I have had texts by 3rd wave charismatics who openly promoted additional reading from universalists and lots of squishy theology. It has been very disappointing - as is this whole story. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

josh p's picture

Chip, they are accredited right? Could you transfer credits elsewhere?

TylerR's picture

Editor

That is a very sad state of affairs. I was pondering going with them for a ThM online down the road. I am disappointed to hear about your experience with them. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

@ JoshP - Yes they are accredited. However, my degree is an ed degree online. They are the only Christian program offering it, and I still think it's better than a secular university.

 

@ Tyler - I would never pursue a theological degree here. I looked at their M Div program a couple years ago. It looks really good on paper, but I wouldn't even take classes for something like that to transfer somewhere else now. Education degrees are a different matter. Though, honestly, I would never recommend the school for an undergraduate. For a mature Christian educator looking for graduate or post graduate work it has its limited value.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Appreciate the insight, Chip. I'm leaning heavily towards going back active-duty as a Navy Chaplain once I get my MDiv, so I'll have to find an online ThM going forward at that point. I'll scratch Liberty off the list for now. Thanks. 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Rob Fall's picture

Maranatha has an online MA.  http://www.mbbc.edu for more info.

TylerR wrote:

Appreciate the insight, Chip. I'm leaning heavily towards going back active-duty as a Navy Chaplain once I get my MDiv, so I'll have to find an online ThM going forward at that point. I'll scratch Liberty off the list for now. Thanks. 

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

The administration of LU is faced with the reality that they have a student who is openly and proudly defying God's blueprint for human sexuality.  Will they follow the principles set forth in I Corinthian 5?

 

 

Jim's picture

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:

The administration of LU is faced with the reality that they have a student who is openly and proudly defying God's blueprint for human sexuality.  Will they follow the principles set forth in I Corinthian 5?

 

 

Walking on Liberty's campus for the 2008 graduate Brandon Ambrosino is like taking a trip back in time.

(Or did I miss something). 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I would suspect their situation is very similar to what the military was like before the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We all knew fellow Sailors who were homosexual; some very openly so. However, unless there was an explicit pronouncement by the homosexual servicemember, then everybody . . . sort of looked away and pretended the issue wasn't there. Unless the gay student walked into the administration office and announced, "I'm gay," I am not surprised no action was taken. 

 

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Long's picture

Chip Van Emmerik wrote:

This is sad but not shocking. I am two years into an online grade degree at Liberty. Part of the reason i chose them was because they generally recognized as a conservative evangelical school, but that has not been my experience. I just finished a class on  conflict resolution where we had a secular text but did not spend a single minute on scriptural principles. I have had texts by 3rd wave charismatics who openly promoted additional reading from universalists and lots of squishy theology. It has been very disappointing - as is this whole story. 

Chip, I am about 1/3 done with an EdD degree from SBTS. It is a 60 credit, 30 month research degree that is a combination of online and on campus time. I am really enjoying it and highly recommend it. You spend one week on campus four times over the course of two years (once in July and once in January) and then an additional time or two on campus at the beginning and the end of the degree for entrance exams and thesis defense.

Everything is done within a biblical and Scriptural worldview.

http://www.sbts.edu/edd/

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jay's picture

I'd rather look at SBTS, Dallas, or one of those schools before I'd consider Liberty...but my postgrad studies would almost definitely be for pastoral theology, theology or something like that, not education, like Chip is working on. 

Chip's best option since he's this far along is probably to finish the schooling at Liberty...and I won't 'separate from him' over that. Wink

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Greg,

I appreciate it. Honestly, I didn't even know SBTS had such a program. Transferring at this point is probably not a good option. Partly for convenience. I have to take three block classes on campus (two are already set for this summer June 1-15) and return to campus to defend my dissertation. Everything else is done online, which makes a difference living in AZ and dealing with dialysis around my work schedule.

 

Thanks Jay - you're a rock star. Wink Even if I had been fully aware of all of this from the beginning, I would have leaned heavily toward Liberty because I still think it is a better environment than a secular university would have been and because of the scheduling convenience. At least I wouldn't have had to experience the disappointment if I had gone in with full knowledge.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jim's picture

The "Gay" counselee:

  • At any given Christian college, a student comes in for counseling (say to the counseling office)
  • He states that he has a same-sex attraction
  • Counseling is ongoing (the counselor has a plan say NANC or Biblical counseling)
  • The school has a position that same-sex sexuality is sinful
  • The counselor has no knowledge that the counselee has participated in same sex sin
  • Should the student be expelled? Put on probation? Etc.
  • For the counselor: Should he or she share with school administration (say the President) that the student has a problem? And if so, how much detail? Is there a counselor - counselee privacy agreement?

--------------  a little different scenario --------- 

 

The "straight" counselee:

  • A student comes in for counseling (say to the counseling office)
  • He states that he has a problem with lust. He has impure thoughts
  • Counseling is ongoing 
  • The counselor has no knowledge that the counselee has committed fornication
  • Should the student be expelled? Put on probation? Etc.
  • For the counselor: Should he or she share with school administration (say the President) that the student has a problem? And if so, how much detail? Is there a counselor - counselee privacy agreement?
TylerR's picture

Editor

Jim:

Action should be taken against the straight student, not the homosexual. The policies will be an internal matter. The key point is that the homosexual student has not consummated his sinful lust with actions. The straight student has. He must be disciplined.

I once challenged my fellow Deacons with the scenario:

"What would you do if two men came into church, said they were homosexuals, were unsaved, but wanted to begin attending?"

The distaste on some faces was clearly evident. One man said , "No." One other nodded his agreement. I asked,

"Why is this any different than an alcoholic? Would we tell him to turn around and lock the church doors after him?"

It isn't a church discipline issue, because these men aren't even saved. They need Christ - period. The Scriptural position on homosexuality must clearly, plainly and lovingly be explained to these men. They must be told to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That alone is the answer. Kicking them out is not.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Long's picture

Jim, neither student should be expelled or put on probation.

Tyler, Jim said neither student acted on his temptations (other than perhaps thoughts).

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Jay's picture

Tyler - I think Jim is saying that neither student has acted on their temptations and are both seeking help.

I don't think you can discipline either student.  Dealing with temptations to lust (of either kind) is just that - temptation.  If the student were being tempted to rape or murder (to push the analogy further), then you have to put safeguards in place because of physical risk to others.  But temptations to lust?  I'm tempted every day by lust (as is just about any guy that will be honest).  I don't think you can or should involve any other school authorities, but it would probably be wise to enlist the support system at their home as well (provided, of course, that the support system isn't part of the problem).

I'm reading the excellent book "No Other Gods" by Kelly Minker.  She actually touched on the matter of sexual sin there, with the illustration she had met with a friend of hers who traded her body for the feelings of affection and love with a man she'd known for only ten days.  The deep seated desire to be loved or cared for that the woman had is where the real problem lie - not in the fact that she slept with a guy she'd not known that long.  The sexual activity was just external manifestation of a desire that was being met by something other than God (the guy she'd met - and the 'idol' in her life was the feelings of abandonment or unlovedness).  The story is a sad but common one, and Minker's method of approaching it was interesting.  The story is in Chapter 6, if anyone has the book - it was free on Kindle for a while, but they're charging for it now. Sad

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Jim's picture

Jay said: "I think Jim is saying that neither student has acted on their temptations and are both seeking help"

What I am saying is that as far as the counselor knows, neither has acted on his temptations. We all know that counselees are not always forthcoming. 

------- 

Now back the Liberty case. OK all of this is splashed in the news this week. How can we blame Liberty for their actions. If the guy is a student, it would seem that Liberty would have to act. But is it fair to criticize Liberty for not having acted if they did not know he was a practicing homosexual. And from what I've read so far, it is not clear to me that he is now a practicing homosexual.

 

TylerR's picture

Editor

For some reason, I mis-read Jim's points. Sorry . . .

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Greg Linscott's picture

Jim wrote:

But is it fair to criticize Liberty for not having acted if they did not know he was a practicing homosexual. And from what I've read so far, it is not clear to me that he is now a practicing homosexual.

 

This quote from the Atlantic piece certainly leaves an impression that he might be...

He was right, though—no one believed Eddie and I were just friends. But for some reason, we believed it. Or at least we pretended to. Even though our relationship started out with late-night cuddling and commiserating, it certainly didn't end there. Before I knew it, we shared our first kiss. Then... well, there were lots of firsts that we shared. But through them all, Eddie remained convinced that he was straight.

Greg Linscott
Marshall, MN

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Jay wrote:

  The deep seated desire to be loved or cared for that the woman had is where the real problem lie - not in the fact that she slept with a guy she'd not known that long.

Okay. A deep seated desire to be loved or cared for by another human is now a sin problem? LOL. The author of the book has a problem, me thinks.