Darleen (Mock) Ortega, BA, Writing/Literature (1984), writes:
In 1984, during my last year at Fox, there were rumors going around that a professor with whom I had a particularly close relationship was a lesbian. I defended her against what to me equated to a charge that she was a pornographer or child molester–and then she came out to me shortly after leaving the faculty. I felt betrayed, but also confused by my own sense of betrayal. What exactly had she done to betray me? I felt both foolish and proud to have defended her, and found myself uneasy with the fact that she needed a defense at all.
Unable to shake my uneasiness, and with the encouragement of my pastor, I did some reading on the subject of the church’s views on homosexuality. I learned that the church’s current views are actually only a few centuries old. I studied all of the scriptures that have been used to condemn homosexuality and found that what I had been taught was indefensible. And more importantly, I realized that the clearest part of the Christian message to me was to love people and trust God to speak to them. Why should that be any less true of how I should treat my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters than of how I should treat anyone else? I became convinced in my own mind that homosexuality is not a sin–but I became even more convinced that it doesn’t matter whether I think it’s a sin. I am not the judge of any person and, if I am going to err, it’s pretty clear that I should err on the side of loving and accepting people. There didn’t seem any downside to doing that, and it seemed the only response that was consistent with the example set by Christ. It seemed to me that Jesus would probably be spending a lot of time with the LGBTQ community if he were on earth in human form today.
At that time in my life, I was in the habit of telling my parents everything–so I went home and innocently told them about how my thinking had evolved. Their response was quite hurtful. My mother told me that “[t]his will have to come between us,” and that if I were a good daughter, when I had questions about this subject, I would have gone to my parents and they would have told me what to think. I was planning my wedding at the time and my parents had pledged a modest sum to help with the wedding costs, but they withdrew all financial support for my wedding. For years they brought up my “unscriptural views on homosexuality” in making their case as to why I was such a disappointment to them. As painful as that was, I knew I was experiencing just a small taste of what my LGBTQ brothers and sisters experience.
My brokenheartedness over the treatment of LGBTQ people by the church and by George Fox University has only deepened since that time. I have sat in church and felt the absence of the LGBTQ community, have grieved that my brothers and sisters would neither feel nor be safe in most churches. How can this be what Christ wants? It seems to me that Christians simply do not trust God on this issue. We refuse to allow God to have God’s own conversation with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters because we don’t want to allow for the possibility that God will tell them they are beautiful just as they are. We act as though we have to put words in God’s mouth rather than allowing for God to say something we don’t want God to say.
I am proud to stand with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters in claiming a place for them in the kingdom of God. I trust God to provide healing for the hurts we in the Christian community have caused them and forgiveness for our blindness and our unbelief.
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