Biblical view of homosexuality debatedBy Eric Seymour
Disclaimer: The following is not strictly a news story. I believe the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin. Thus, my perception of the debate is biased. I have tried to present the details of the debate as accurately as possible, but since this is a column, my own opinion will be included.
A debate entitled "For the Bible tells me so...a debate about homosexuality and the Bible" was held on Thursday evening, March 6, in the Read Center Lounge. The debate was co-sponsored by the CommUnity Educators (CUEs) and Campus Crusade for Christ. The participants in the debate were Craig Boeck and Russel DiSilvestro.
Boeck graduated in 1994 from Evangel Bible College. He went on to graduate from the IU Law School in 1996. While a student at IU, he served as secretary of OUT, and is currently a member of OUTLAW, a GLB law caucus.
DiSilvestro is a junior philosophy major, and a member of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC). During the summer of 1995, he attended the CCC Leadership School at Ft. Collins, Colorado. In the summer of 1996, he participated in an applied ethics program at Oxford University, focusing on contemporary controversy.
Boeck spoke forcefully, and began his presentation by examining the old testament account of Sodom and Gomorrah. He said that God's judgement came not because of homosexual relations, but because those relations were not consensual.
As he continued his opening statement, Boeck examined the translation of many words referring to homosexuality. In many of these cases, he asserted that the condemnations referred to ritual impurity, and not moral violations.
After Boeck concluded his 15-minute talk, DiSilvestro gave his opening remarks (he was also given 15 minutes). DiSilvestro began by emphasizing that he was not there to judge homosexuals, and that his own personal sin was as bad in God's eyes. He pointed to the Biblical story where Jesus states "whoever is without sin may cast the first stone," and then tells the sinful woman "go and sin no more." DiSilvestro exhorted the audience to keep both phrases in mind "lest we quote one and ignore the other." Throughout the debate, he spoke in a conversational tone, and tried to foster understanding with his audience.
DiSilvestro pointed to three standards in his presentation. First, the Bible is the word of God, and takes precedence over our own experience and/or traditions. Second, context dictates meaning. Finally, open-mindedness is not an end in itself--it is the means to finding truth, which should then be held and defended.
Throughout his presentation, DiSilvestro kept to these main concepts, pointing out context and emphasizing that though it is a sin, homosexuality is not an irrevocable sentence to hell.
The opening statements were then followed by 7-minute rebuttals. After the rebuttals, the debate was opened to questions from the audience. Each question was directed toward one of the debaters, who had 2 minutes to answer, followed by 1 minute for the other to comment on the question.
The debate ended with both sides giving concluding statements. In this columnist's opinion, this is where the biggest difference was evident. Boeck ended with increasing intensity with statements like "We pick our sins according to political agenda...God...She will be pissed off when we see her someday," and "the blood of gay people is on your hands if you use the Bible against us." Boeck challenged women to reject the Bible because it has been used to justify sexism, and told blacks to reject it because it was once used to justify slavery.
Contrastingly, DiSilvestro ended by stressing God's love for all people, and that Jesus Christ died for everyone. With visible emotion, he re-emphasized God's forgiveness for all sins, including homosexuality. DiSilvestro clearly saw his position in the debate as similar to a missionary. He ended by emploring the audience members "join with me in fighting both sins of the flesh and sins of hate."
By the end of the debate, though the issue at hand may not have been definitively proven by either side, one aspect was clear. The stereotype of evangelical Christians as being full of hate for the homosexual community, while those who advocate "diversity" are loving and accepting, is not valid. If anything, the attitudes of Craig Boeck and Russel DiSilvestro proved the opposite to be true.