Hope College is not a welcoming environment for homosexual students. Numerous students either have come out on Hope's campus and been disrespected, discriminated against, or judged with "Christian" justification, or been smart and kept their sexual orientation a matter between themselves and God for fear of such treatment. Unfortunately, homosexuality is an issue that Hope has shied away from addressing because it is unpleasant, unpopular, and controversial. However, the time has come for this school to do right by its homosexual students.
Although the formal stance of the Reformed Church in America is that homosexuality is contrary to a Christian lifestyle, the Church has made a few statements about the treatments of homosexual individuals in the church:
• The church should acknowledge its sins against the homosexual. Homosexuality is neither to be celebrated nor persecuted. Homophobia must be replaced by a sense of common humanity, the desire to understand, and the determination to put away the sins commonly committed against the homosexual, including stereotyping, caricaturing, and enjoying disparaging humor at the homosexual's expense.
• The church should make a genuine effort to understand homosexuality. The church must be willing to understand and deal with the concrete life situation in which [the homosexual] finds himself. There is much we do not know about homosexuality, but we do know that it is a complex phenomenon.
In 1994, General Synod voted to adopt another resolution addressing the church’s relationship with homosexuals. The resolution stated:
The General Synod of the Reformed Church in America recognizes and confesses that the Reformed Church in America has failed to live up to its own statements regarding homosexuality in 1978 (MGS 1978, pp. 229-40), 1979 (MGS 1979, pp. 128-135), and 1990 (MGS 1990, R-11, p. 461). Few in the Reformed Church in America have creatively and lovingly spoken with persons with a homosexual orientation about the truths of Scripture and the hope of the gospel. Many have participated in or tolerated forms of speech and behavior which humiliate or degrade such persons. Many of the churches within the Reformed Church in America have not provided an environment where persons have felt the acceptance and freedom to struggle with hard issues involving sexual orientation. Many Reformed Church in America members have shown no interest in listening to their heartfelt cries as they struggle for self-acceptance and dignity. For all these wrongs, this General Synod expresses its humble and heartfelt repentance, and its desire to reflect the love of Christ to homosexual persons. In all that this General Synod does, it seeks to obey the whole of Scripture, demonstrating in its own life the same obedience it asks from others. It calls itself and the whole church to a greater faithfulness to Christ in relationships with persons of homosexual orientation.
To this end, the General Synod calls the church to a process of repentance, prayer, learning, and growth in ministry.
As a school that takes pride in being of the Reformed Church in America, we ask that the school take a stand with the RCA and the students here and amend the College's Statement on Human Sexuality to recognize and support ministry and student groups aimed at LGBQT students.
We recognize that the school has not set out to make a place hostile to gay students, and that the character of school does not condone poor treatment of its homosexual students. However, the statement of sexuality states that the college "will not recognize or support campus groups whose aim by statement, practice, or intimation is to promote a vision of human sexuality that is contrary to our understanding of biblical teaching". I admire that the college wants to "affirm the dignity of every person as a creature made in the image of God and thus worthy of our earnest respect, our insistent protection, and our self-sacrificing love.” However, the current statement that homosexual students cannot have formally recognized organizations that support them in their walk with God and understanding of themselves is contrary to this statement. However, as any gay student will tell you, it is not the aim of Gay/Straight Alliances LGQT support groups to make the campus a place that approves of homosexuality, but one that understands and loves those individuals, and provides support while that process takes place. Homosexuals live very difficult lives: many are shunned by families and churches, and made to believe that they are "less than", and many are shown by the actions of Christians that God does not love them. We write to urge the school that so many love and are invested in to grow its ministry. Do not leave this school in a state of intolerance. We are asking Hope College to step out of what is conventional and do what is right.
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