Heather Griggs, Nursing (2011), writes:

We have (or had) the privilege of attending a university that values community. George Fox University’s website is full of emphasis on community. The introduction to the Community Lifestyle Statement includes the following statements: “As a community we encourage and teach our members to follow Jesus Christ and be collaborators in God’s work in the world. We urge each member to become the kind of person and live the kind of life that Jesus taught and modeled….We believe the Bible teaches that all persons are created in God’s image and that God actively seeks renewed relationships with every individual. We are bound therefore to regard each person with love and respect (Romans 12:9-21, 1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 4:32). So we avoid discrimination, abusive or manipulative actions, and gossip or mean-spirited behaviors. We seek actively to honor each person, loving and serving one another as Jesus taught us” (www.georgefox.edu).

 This is a summarized presentation of how community at George Fox is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Community at GFU extends beyond this agreement, to include floor bible studies, small group worship meetings, clubs, a garden, community service, etc. The opportunities to connect seem endless. However, it comes to an abrupt halt.  Right after the proud claim to community, George Fox goes straight to delineating their stance on sexuality. They make a very clear declaration that sex outside of a loving, committed, heterosexual marriage is unacceptable on this campus. In one exclusive sentence, LGBTQ students are silenced. This does not foster community: it stifles any honest discussion from happening in the open, and paints a “we’re all straight here!” veneer for any concerned parents and students.

We are failing a specific group of students: those who identify themselves as gay and lesbian. Contrary to what many unaware Christians may assume, gay students do attend George Fox. However, they don’t have a place in community here, because their voices are not allowed to be heard. Because George Fox is in fact neglecting the very community they claim to nurture. How Christians will react to homosexuality is at the heart of this generation. We must find ways to interact, engage, and discuss. We cannot bury our heads in the sand any longer, or waste our breaths on useless, so-called compromises. We all want to love and be loved in return. Fifty years ago, it was interracial marriages making waves. Stop caving to evangelical peer pressure, for these are the waves worth making today. Raise the bar, and intentionally seek out ways to welcome rather than reject.  Cultivate and foster a community that will guide individuals towards the light of Christ rather than slamming the church doors in their faces.

Silencing is the first step to violence. We know this from studies done about gender, racial, and ethnic inequalities. We know this from studies on genocide, terrorism, and war.  Because the bottom line is, it’s easy to dismiss, judge, hate, or simply pretend it doesn’t affect you when “they” don’t exist. But “they” do exist. “They” have names, faces, souls.  I have several gay, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning friends, all of whom I met quietly during my time at George Fox. I have not been corrupted, “turned,” or had a “gay agenda” shoved down my throat, as some would claim. What I have gained is the deep knowledge that we are all human. And that we all deserve to have our voices heard. And that we all are seeking a place to belong. And that God’s kingdom, of all the places in this life, ought to be the strongest place of belonging.  George Fox claims to foster community. My challenge to you, George Fox, is to live up to that claim. After all, we all want to figure out where we fit in God’s great kingdom, and “Be Known” for who we really are.

Have an alumni perspective that you would like to share?  Email us at contact@onegeorgefox.org

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