I realize that this is not about libraries but this is important. Last week I read an article during a break at work shared by a friend on Facebook saying that Gordon College, my alma mater, had affixed its name to a document that urges the White House to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action.
I was so angry I found it hard to concentrate. My school – the school that I loved, that gave me a great education, that gave me most of my current friends, that taught me to write a good paper thesis, that allowed me to study the works of Chopin, Bach, and more, that instilled in me a love of discussion and critical thinking, that taught about me about the human condition through literature classes – was asking for permission to discriminate against LGBTQ employees? Did I mention that some of those friends Gordon gave me are gay?
I knew that this would get picked up in the local press. And it did. I am glad because so it is awful and hateful, and because some former Gordon students got to share their thoughts on the matter. Paul Miller, one of the alumni quoted in the article, is a close friend of mine. He’s gay and I love him. End of story. I have other gay friends from Gordon – some continue in their faith and some do not. They are still my friends.
After letting this all stew in my head all weekend and having a number of rants about it to let off some steam, I wrote a letter this morning. I’m going to send it to the president of the college tomorrow. If this cruel desire to discriminate, to have hatred allowed and encouraged infuriates you, write him a letter:
D. Michael Lindsay
255 Grapevine Road
Wenham, MA 01984
Here’s a link to his contact information and the contact information for his staff. I will probably also email a copy of my letter.
If you’re an alum of Gordon, even better. Your words matter. This is our college and it shouldn’t matter if you are gay or straight.
Here’s what I say:
Dear President Lindsay,
I am an alumni of Gordon College and have been proud to say so for the last six years. Not so in the last week. I was horrified and hurt to read your name prominently displayed on a letter for the Obama Administration seeking a religious exemption to discriminate against LGBTQ employees.
Not that it matters, but I am straight. I always have been and have always known that I am. My sexual orientation is a fundamental part of my being and something that I haven’t had to defend because it is the cultural norm. I know that my gay and lesbian friends have always known that they were gay. This is also a fundamental part of their being. Being gay or straight has nothing to do with whether or not you can be a Christian and accept God’s love. So why therefore is Gordon College, an institution where I received an exemplary education, and a love and desire to serve others in my current job as a public librarian, saying that this is so? And why are you making what is a clear political statement – despite what you write in the letter – that these two matters cannot work together. Why are you saying, in fact, they cannot work together to the point that Gordon should be able to discriminate against LGBTQ people in hiring practices.
Have you thought for a moment about the fact that you are desiring to discriminate? At a place that holds the foundational belief that grace, truth, and salvation come through faith in Jesus? Where is the grace and truth in a desire to discriminate? That does not sound like my Jesus.
I am not here to debate theological matters with you; I’m confident that you would know more than I. I would rather not get into a discussion of whether or not homosexuality is a sin: I don’t believe it is and I don’t believe the Bible is clear on this. I am here to say that I am disappointed and I know hundreds, maybe even thousands of alumni are disappointed as well. The Jesus in whom I believe loves all. The word of God is pretty clear on that point: Jesus loves and accepts everyone whether sinner, righteous, rich, or poor if they believe and confess their faith in him.
I urge you to reconsider your stance on this. When I was at Gordon I thought the student body was getting to a point where the intersection between homosexuality and Christianity was becoming a more acceptable topic of conversation. A student publication, “If I Told You” told the brave and challenging stories of LBGTQ students and their struggles with faith, acceptance, feeling physically safe, and extremely damaging anti-gay therapy. SoulForce, a nonprofit group of often Christian LBGTQ community members who travel to colleges to speak about LGBTQ issues and faith, visited Gordon during my time as a student. I was proud that we were having dialogues and showing Christ’s love to a community that other colleges and religious institutions have been hateful and violent toward.
But now I am not so proud. I believe this to be a large step backward in the journey of Gordon College toward compassionate, understanding, and accepting LGBTQ support. I also believe this letter to which you signed your name will be a turning point for Gordon. There is still time to change it for the better. I hope that you choose the right side of history and the right side of Christ’s love: the side that accepts all of God’s children, no matter who they are and who they love.
In closing, I’d like my close friend Paul who spoke to the Boston Globe in Evan Allen’s article from July 4, “Gordon College leader joins request for exemption to hiring rule,” to have the last word. If this heartbreaking sentence doesn’t make you pause and reconsider your actions, then I am afraid nothing will. What is more important for a college that has been a wonderful place for so many people: to make overt hateful and political statements for the sake of ultra conservative donors or to support people of faith no matter their sexual orientation? I would like to hope you will reconsider your actions. Please listen to Paul:
“I wonder, if Gordon had been affirming of LGBT people, if I’d still be a person of faith,” said Miller. “And the reason I’m not is the place that provided the most compassionate and intellectually robust and civic-minded Christianity that I’d ever encountered told me that I couldn’t be part of their community.”
Class of 2008