Hope for the Gay Undergrad
Hope for the Gay Undergrad
When Jordan enrolled in Wheaton College in Illinois, he wouldn't admit to himself that he was attracted to other men. Raised in a conservative Baptist church and a student at a conservative Christian college, Jordan (who asked that his real name not be used) hesitated to identify with the gay community, which he perceived as flamboyant and sex-obsessed. He attempted to ignore what was in opposition to his Christian beliefs.
"I would sit in Wheaton's prayer chapel, staring at the cross, and beg God to please just let me be attracted to girls," Jordan said. "I used to pray for it every day: 'Heal me!'?"
Jordan waited for a chapel series at college, a sermon at the Anglican church he attended, or a fateful meeting with that one person who would change his orientation. "I just thought I'd naturally be attracted to a girl and get married—everyone says that's what happens," he said.
When that didn't happen, Jordan was faced with the dilemma of addressing his same-sex attraction as a student at a school that prohibits any sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage. Jordan and others like him point to the recent experience of Wesley Hill, a Wheaton alum, professor at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, and author of Washed and Waiting, as one example of a gay Christian's choice to live in celibacy to address same-sex attraction.
Leaders at Christian colleges and universities around the country told Christianity Today their schools are rethinking the way they address the needs of these students on campus. Recently, Wheaton's administration provided forums for dialogue about human sexuality and encouraged students to be more open about their experience. "I'm very hopeful for the current climate at Wheaton," said dean of student care Melanie Humphreys. "There is always someone wrestling with this. But they need to feel a sense of community—this issue won't be resolved at arm's length."
Students from several Christian colleges who spoke with CT said behavioral codes, which often forbid homosexual behavior in addition to alcohol and tobacco consumption, sex outside of marriage, and erotic dancing, inhibit their ability to be open about their sexual struggles or experiences. They fear disciplinary probation and being ostracized by peers.
"When I enrolled as a freshman, I would never have said I was gay," Jordan said. "I wanted to keep it quiet for fear of my guy friends being freaked out by me. You hear gay jokes around campus and you're afraid if you come out people will look at you differently."
Jordan often felt lonely during his four years at Wheaton, but insisted his experience was positive overall, especially after he made the decision to reveal his struggles with gay porn and same-sex attraction to his discipleship group and some professors, administrators, and close friends.
"When I first came out to my small group, they laid hands on me, prayed for me, thanked me for confessing deep, dark things, and said they'd be there to support me as I struggled through it," Jordan said.
Two months after graduation, he was faced with the challenge of coming out to his parents. "When those words came out of his mouth, I truly felt like I'd been gut punched," said Jordan's mom. But Jordan's family reassured him of their love, and turned to prayer to deal with their conflicted feelings.