Students Respond to Idea of An LGBT Support Group at SWAU

In recent years, the topic of homosexuality in the Seventh-day Adventist Church has become more and more commonplace, especially in our higher education institutions. Several schools have adopted the idea of a gay/straight alliance through support groups for LGBT students. In 2008, a Pacific Union College student created a group called GASP (Gay and Straight People) to open up the conversation of homosexuality and create a place for safety and support. According to PUC’s Campus Chronicle, the faculty, staff and student body have all become very open about the subject, and seek to somehow find common ground. Many other Adventist institutions, such as Walla Walla, Andrews, and Southern have all followed suit with this idea and the development of similar groups, and now the question arises: How would Southwestern Adventist University respond, if, or rather, when a gay-straight alliance were to emerge on campus? When asked this question, students were a little hesitant to respond, wanting to avoid any grand controversies, but considered the actual possibility of a group like this existing.

“I feel that support groups have good intentions,” Elisa Hernandez, senior psychology major said. “We are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God and therefore should accept our peers as they are. However, there is a difference between accepting others for who they are and promoting their sin.”

Benjamin Mondesir, junior communication major, who believes it isn’t his or anyone else’s place to judge, stated that we need to reintroduce ourselves to what the Bible teaches.

“Although I wouldn’t want to be ‘that guy’ who is said to be discriminatory, according to the Bible, which is law and unchanging and infinite, although God is merciful, homosexuality is not OK,” Mondesir said. “I could easily respect the group, but I couldn’t support them.”

Pastor Jonathan Henderson, the new college chaplain at PUC, believes otherwise. During a week of prayer at PUC, Henderson spoke to the student body about relationships, starting out the week with sermon titles like “God and Adam,” and “Adam and Eve.” On Wednesday, he took it a step further with a sermon entitled “Adam and Steve.” Henderson went on to explain how in the Bible, God has shown to give in to human desires multiple times, for example, giving the Israelites a king when they asked for it, simply because He loved them. With this reasoning, he came to the conclusion that God was accepting of homosexual sexual relationships.

Melissa Chacon, senior psychology and education major, agreed that God is an all-loving god, and that being saved doesn’t depend on actions, but your heart.

“When you get to know a person, you have to get to know all facets of them,” Chacon said. “It’s not God who doesn’t want us to be saved and doesn’t want us to be loved, it’s our own actions. He tells us what will save us and it’s ultimately belief in Him and loving Him that fuels our actions. It’s not our actions that get us anywhere it’s our love and relationship with God and how much we know about Him.”

Although Chacon strongly believes that salvation is based on the heart, not the works, she said she wouldn’t know how to feel about an LGBT alliance group on campus.

“I’d like to think that I’d be supportive of it, because, I mean, everyone needs support. But at the same time, I think if we put it in place, we’d be saying that we were accepting it,” Chacon said. “In my opinion, as Adventists, I think we need to recognize that [homosexuality] is a form of a sin, but we shouldn’t turn a person away because they’re gay. We should still love them and show them God’s love and minister to that person, if anything, more.”

Mondesir and Hernandez agreed to this idea, saying that although they’d be against the beliefs and values of such a group, they’d be as loving and caring as they’d be with other friends.

Although this movement has developed in Southwestern’s sister schools, the three believe that it wouldn’t occur on the Southwestern campus anytime soon, if at all. Because the campus is so close-knit and family-like, they said that there wouldn’t be much of a need for a support group, since everyone is already very accepting of the great diversity of students at Southwestern.

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