University Christian Ministry discusses homosexuality in the Bible

Jessica Floum

Bienen senior Austin Siebert went to a Catholic high school which, according to him, said gays didn’t exist.

He faced an even more hostile situation when first attending college, when his roommate threatened him with physical abuse and his roommate’s girlfriend told him he would die of AIDS and go to hell, he said. Siebert said he has found a much less hostile environment since transferring to Northwestern from American University and joining the University Christian Ministry.

“Those weren’t real Christians,” Siebert said of his harassers. “These are. The people at the UCM are.”

UCM hosted “Gay? Fine by us,” a dinner and discussion led by McCormick sophomore Alex Jablonski on Tuesday night. The event fit into a weekly discussion, the leader and theme of which change quarterly. This quarter, dialogues related to a theme of how the Bible influences faith.

“I figured this would be a good topic and something I could speak on on a personal level,” Jablonski said.

Jablonski grew up going to a Methodist church in St. Petersburg, Fla., that he described as moderate to conservative. Such conservatism meant the church refrained from addressing homosexuality, Jablonski said.

“It left me with the literal readings of these passages about homosexuality that, when read in that way, are hurtful,” Jablonski said. “I was faced with this false dilemma to choose between my faith and my sexuality.”

UCM’s event emphasized analytical readings of the Old Testament’s “clobber passages,” or passages usually referenced when condemning homosexuality. Jablonski supplemented these with other analytical readings. The group addressed a passage that described God’s creation of humankind as the creation of a man and a woman, an excerpt that spoke of homosexual rape and a section that condemned a man who lies with another man as someone who has committed an abomination and should, therefore, be put to death.

“It’s an incredibly hard book to read,” Siebert said. “I thought I knew the stories, but I had heard very warped versions.”

Siebert was among several other members of the LGBTQ community who said they had not read the clobber passages prior to the event. Attendees said many people who argue fervently for or against homosexuality point to the Bible without having read the passages.

Analytical readings of the passages led several people present to question how the Old Testament could apply to modern society and to criticize it as socially and scientifically outdated. One outdated theory was the Hebrew idea that sperm encompassed the entirety of a baby and that men had a limited amount of sperm, Cary Lee, a Bienen and McCormick fifth year senior, said at the event. He said such a theory judged loss of sperm in acts of masturbation or homosexuality as wasteful.

“Being homosexual wasn’t practical back then,” Weinberg freshman Hosu Lee said.

Event attendees acknowledged that scientific theories have since evolved, as have society and religion. Northwestern’s UCM considers itself on the progressive end of Presbyterianism and Methodism, Peer Minister Dana Behnke said.

“We describe ourselves as an inclusive community,” the Weinberg senior said. “We do have a number of LGBTQs. I certainly wouldn’t say that we’re the only group on campus but I think that’s something that can separate one group from another.”

Campus Minister Julie Windsor Mitchell sometimes wears a T-shirt that reads “Gay? Fine by me” which she said is in order to invite people to talk about God’s love for everyone, God’s love for gays and UCM’s love for gays.

“I feel very committed to creating a space for people to feel welcome and included in the Church,” Mitchell said.

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