The university recently expelled a student, 20-year-old Jason Johnson, after discovering from his personal Web site that he was gay.
While the university has largely been mum about the whole ordeal, the student handbook does in fact cover the school's proverbial rear. The handbook reads, “Any student who engages in or promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles (including sex outside marriage and homosexuality) may be suspended or asked to withdraw.”
There are two sets of facts to be considered in the controversy. The first set is strictly legal - and in that sense, the university is completely within its rights as a private organization, although it seems like a no-brainer that the school should not receive state funds to open a pharmacy school. Gov. Fletcher really dropped the ball there - but that's a whole other column.
The second set of considerations, however, goes beyond the legalities to the personal side of the debate.
You're entitled to think what you want to think about homosexuality. I happen to believe that the Bible calls it a sin, but if you don't happen to agree, that is your right.
I don't, however, happen to believe that it is somehow “worse” than other sins, as many self-appointed judges make it out to be.
What's next? Will the college also expel liars? How about anybody who envies someone else? UC students should be extremely careful not to disobey their parents, or they might find themselves looking for a new school.
By the way, I think it's probably a very safe bet that the entire heterosexual student population in Williamsburg isn't celibate, thus breaking the same rule that got Johnson a ticket out of Williamsburg.
“But, Jarrod, you liberal knucklehead, the Bible calls homosexuality an abomination” - as if the use of the word “abomination” somehow sets it way up above all the “lower” sins.
Well, guess what - a quick search finds plenty of other things the Bible labels as abominations. In one three-verse passage in the book of Proverbs, in fact, seven abominations are listed - including dishonesty and pride.
You don't see many protesters holding up “God hates liars” signs, do you?
Rich Mullins is someone I respect greatly. He was a Christian singer, songwriter and thinker who gave away most of his money, opting to live simply on a Navajo reservation for the last several years of his life. He died in a car crash in September 1997.
Rich frequently shared a story in concerts. I'll leave you with that story:
“I remember one time my friend Beaker and I were hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and he met some friends of his, so I walked into town. It was about a five-mile walk from the campsite down the trail, down into town.
“And when I got there, I went into a restaurant and I was having a steak, and this guy started talking to me and we had this great conversation. We were having a good time, and he said, ‘Hey, look, it's dark and it's five miles up the road to your campground. Why don't I drive you up there?'
“And I said, ‘Hey, great!' And so we got into his car, and just as we pulled out from the last light in that town, the guy said, ‘You know what, I should probably tell you that I'm gay.'
“And I said, ‘Oh! I should probably tell you that I'm a Christian.'
“And he said, ‘Well, if you want out of the car ...'
“I said, ‘Why?'
“And he said, ‘Well, I'm gay and you're Christian.'
“I said, ‘It's still five miles and it's still dark.'
“Then he said, ‘I thought Christians hated gays.'
“I said, ‘That's funny, I thought Christians were supposed to love. I thought that was our first command.'
“He said, ‘Well, I thought God hated gays.'
“And I said, ‘That's really funny, because I thought God was love.'
“And then he asked me the big one. He said, ‘Do you think I will go to hell for being gay?'
“Well, I'm a good Hoosier, and I puckered up to say, ‘Yes, of course, you'll go to hell for being gay.' I got ready to say that, but when I opened up my mouth it came out, ‘No, of course you won't go to hell for being gay.' And I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, I've only been in New Hampshire for one week, and I've already turned into a liberal. What am I going to tell this guy now?'
“Then I said to him, ‘No, you won't go to hell for being gay, any more than I would go to hell for being a liar. Nobody goes to hell because of what they do. We go to hell because we reject the grace that God so longs to give to us, regardless of what we do.'”
Jarrod Sherman can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org