Julie Rodgers recently resigned her position as a counselor at Wheaton College. Wheaton College is avowedly Christian in its worldview and educational mission. The school’s motto is “For Christ and His Kingdom.” Billy Graham graduated from Wheaton College. Julie’s service at Wheaton received notoriety because she claimed to be a “gay Christian” who was celibate. As you can imagine such a claim stirred some controversy and conversation. All of which was laid to rest with her resignation. Julie felt compelled to resign because she had, in her own words, “quietly supported same-sex relationships for a while now.” Julie’s situation before, but thought it best to wait because this subject tends to generate more heat than light. But her resignation and her reason for it prompted this article. I want to applaud her for being honest about her feelings and sensitivity to the plight of those who believe themselves to be gay and Christian.
Yet, I must be honest when I say she has brought more confusion than clarity to an issue that for many seems cloudy. I am concerned when anyone attempts to qualify his or her Christianity with an adjective. I do not introduce myself as a “heterosexual Christian.” My sexuality does not and should not define what it means to be a Christian. Being a Christian should transcend every aspect of the believer’s life including his or her sexuality, and there is no facet of one’s life that should dictate or even rival what it means to be a Christian. When Paul wrote, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28),” he was not denying the reality of race, social status or gender; he was making the point that all of these are subordinate issues to what it means to be in Christ and Christian. That is true of one’s sexuality as well.
Julie said she was gay but celibate. In other words, she is attracted to and tempted to engage in gay sex but has resisted the temptation and remained celibate. In Scripture one is not defined by their temptations, they are defined by their practices. If one tells lies, he might rightly be called a liar, but if one is tempted to lie and instead tells the truth, he would be considered an honest man. Claiming to be gay while being celibate is not a biblical perspective, and confuses what being gay and being a Christian mean. But this is also a matter of the heart and its allegiance. As it turned out, Julie’s allegiance to same-sex relationships was stronger than her allegiance to Christ. By deciding to support same-sex relationships she has chosen a decidedly gay course of action that cannot be reconciled with what it means to be a Christian counselor at Wheaton College. This is why she had to resign. I appreciate her honesty.