I just finished reading what has to be one of the most riveting articles I’ve ever seen. The author is Brandon Ambrosino, and the title is “Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University.” Writing for The Atlantic, Ambrosino tells his story of coming out as a homosexual while he was a student at Liberty. This is not a conversion story. Ambrosino writes as one who has come to terms with his homosexuality and has embraced it.
The real import of the story is how the Christians at Liberty University responded to the revelation of his sexuality. He had feared that they would want to stone him. But instead, he found out that quite the opposite happened. Even though professors and administrators believed homosexuality to be a sin, they loved him and embraced him with open arms. His expectations were so off that he realized he had been suffering from “homophobiaphobia.” These fundamentalist Christians didn’t turn out to be the nasty caricatures that they are often made out to be.
Even when it came to Dr. Falwell himself, Ambrosino believed the caricature didn’t fit. He writes:
Well, what about Jerry Falwell himself? After all, he did blame 9/11 on the gays. He did make that remark during service about “even barnyard animals knowing better than that.” He also did make certain to ban Soul Force, a gay-affirming Christian ministry, from stepping foot on our campus.
But what about when he opened the Liberty Godparent Home to take in unwanted children? Or when he hosted a forum on campus about homosexuality, and invited 100 prominent gay leaders to take part in the discussion? Or when he would drive around campus every night at lights-out to blow his horn and wave goodnight to all of us students?
When I think of Jerry Falwell, I don’t think about him the way Bill Maher does. I think about the man who would wear a huge Blue Afro wig to our school games, or the man who slid down a waterslide in his suit, or the man who would allow himself to be mocked during our coffeehouse shows. I think about the man who reminded us every time he addressed our student body that God loved us, that he loved us, and that he was always available if ever we needed him.
I never told Dr. Falwell that I was gay; but I wouldn’t have been afraid of his response. Would he have thought homosexuality was an abomination? Yes. Would he have thought it was God’s intention for me to be straight? Yes. But would he have wanted to stone me? No. And if there were some that would’ve wanted to stone me, I can imagine Jerry Falwell, with his fat smile, telling all of my accusers to go home and pray because they were wicked people.
I could go on and on about this article, but I won’t. You just need to read it for yourself. Before you do, however, a word of warning. This article is at least a PG-13. It has some crude and suggestive expressions in it. But I think the author’s description of how he was treated by Christians makes it worth weathering the tough stuff. I understand if someone might come to a different conclusion. Caveat lector.
One more caution. As you read Ambrosino’s piece, remember that you are only hearing one side of the story. I have already seen some people criticizing the faculty at Liberty University for not calling him to repentance. I would advise such critics to remember the wisdom of Proverbs 18:17 and not to jump to the worst possible conclusions about the good folks at Liberty. No, Ambrosino doesn’t mention calls to repentance in his article, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen. In fact, I am fairly confident that faculty and administrators at Liberty are no shrinking violets when it comes to repentance. Just because Ambrosino doesn’t say so doesn’t mean that it isn’t so. Be careful lest you find yourself in a circular firing squad shooting at the good guys.
(HT: Patrick Schreiner)