By Justin Davis
I am disappointed that the recent proposal to change the language of Baylor’s Sexual Conduct Code was vetoed. While the gesture did little to address the issues present with the current policy, it reflected the desire of members of the student body to express a more compassionate tone towards the LGBTQ community at Baylor.
A major problem with the current policy is that it sets the ambiguous phrase “homosexual acts” in conjunction with a list of violent and traumatic sexual crimes. Furthermore, it emphasizes homosexuality by giving it special mention apart from other the others. What does Baylor mean by “homosexual acts”? Does that include hand holding, going out on a date, a kiss? Or does it specifically refer to sexual activity? Consider in its place the phrase “heterosexual acts.” Does that make it any clearer?
Let us be mindful too, then, of what Jesus says about the lust of the heart.
Even more pressing are the effects of highlighting and shaming others. Many students who were interviewed for the article referred to LGBTQ students as “homosexuals.” How much different is it to say “lesbians and gays,” or “students, Bobby and Betty?” This may seem trivial, but the term “homosexuals” is sterile, clinical, and is often used to abstract the humanity people of the LGBTQ community.
It thus becomes much easier to talk about “issues” than about brothers and sisters in Christ, made in the image of God. The reality is that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and allied students, staff, faculty and administrators on campus. There always have been and there always will be. It does not serve Baylor well to ignore or pretend that a very real part of the university population doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist.
I am a Christian, I am gay, and yes, I am even a Baptist seeking ordination. My time at Baylor was not easy for many reasons, one of those being my struggle with my sexuality. Being aware of Baylor’s policies and being afraid of discussing anything regarding sex and sexuality, let alone not having any venues to do so, made Baylor an isolating and lonely place for most of my time there.
I graduated in the spring of 2009 and came out to myself, family and friends two years later, something I never thought I would do. The freedom from guilt, shame, fear and lies has since led me to live a quality of life and love for myself and others that I did not think myself previously capable of. Yet there are students, staff and faculty that still must sit quietly in oppressive fear and shame for being who they are — fear that Scripture says is driven out by God’s perfect love?
I’ll close in saying that this conversation is not monolithic. Both inside and out of the walls of the university, we all struggle for love, acceptance, hope and charity. We do not extend love, nor do we represent Christ when we point out the “otherness” of those who are different from us. As the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians, “there is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
I pray this finds my Baylor family well, and that we can move forward in humility, grace, compassion and love as we endeavor as the Body of Christ.
Class of 2009