Ambassador of Reconciliation
10/14/11 at 05:07 PM 0 Comments

I Wonder What Would Happen . . . If a Christian Took a Queer Studies Class

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As reported in the Christian Post on October 14, 2011, CSU Fullerton has become the fourth Cal State school to adopt a Queer Studies minor, to the delight of the LGBT community and the consternation of Christians. One more example of Christian values being eroded in our culture—what are we to do now?

When I read the headline “Cal State Fullerton Launches Queer Studies Minor; Conservatives Troubled,” I felt the same alarm as other conservatives. For decades the Christian values that once helped shape our society have been subject to erosion from all quarters, including the normalization and promotion of homosexuality as a perfectly acceptable lifestyle. Here is another venue where young people will be indoctrinated with LGBT values.

Then I started wondering, What would happen if Christians took queer studies courses? What if they were to attend the classes and ask for the same respect and opportunity to voice their opinions that the LGBT community is demanding? What if they could really get to know these people? If we want to be witnesses to those around us, we have to understand their culture. You wouldn’t go to Africa or Asia to be a missionary without first studying the culture of those you hope to reach; if we want to share our faith with those in the gay community, why not learn about their history and who they are and how they feel? Jesus made inroads into people’s lives by meeting them where they were, even eating and drinking with them. You might even find yourself developing a friendship with a struggling young lesbian or transgender person.

One of the most enlightening books I have read on the subject is And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic, which chronicles the history of the epidemic in the 80s. It was written by Randy Shiltz, a gay journalist and author who later died of AIDS. It was a stunningly candid revelation of what was going on within the gay community during the early days of AIDS. It was graphic and disturbing, but reading it helped me to understand a culture foreign to my own. It also strengthened my desire to help people avoid or escape from that lifestyle. Perhaps attending a queer studies class would have a similar effect and also open doors for dialogue.

Back in the mid-90s, a gay activist was invited to teach a health/sex ed class to the ninth graders at our local high school, raising a firestorm in our community. Mr. Cook and I exchanged several editorials in our local paper. In that context I stuck to the health issues, raising concerns such as the fact that he was being asked to teach “safe sex” while he was practicing very dangerous sex. For example, I quoted a statistic that I had learned recently:

One frightening fact I learned is that epidemiologists estimate that 30 percent of all 20-year-old gay men will be HIV-infected or dead of AIDS before they turn thirty. (Cited in E. L. Goldman, “Psychological Factors Generate HIV Resurgence in Young Gay Men,” Clinical Psychiatry News, October 1994, p. 5.)

Mr. Cook wrote back, “Mrs. Castro cites very accurate and troubling statistics about the disturbing resurgence of new HIV infections among younger gay men. The study she quoted is one that I too have quoted. . . . The study states that as many as 30 percent of 20-year-old gay men today may be infected with, or dead from HIV before they turn thirty. The flip side of that is 70 percent will not.” I was shocked at his “logic”—to find good news in the fact that “only” 30 percent of 30-year-old gay men will be dead or dying—but I was heartened by the fact that he respected me and that we were able to have a real dialogue. In the same editorial he wrote, “Diane Castro and her husband have been nothing but polite and courteous, but sadly the same can’t be said for some of their philosophical soulmates.”

The specific statistics are outdated, but the underlying issues remain the same: we need to address the challenges to our values, but we need to do so in a way that shows respect for other human beings. We must be informed and we must engage in thoughtful dialogue rather than just reacting in anger or quoting Bible verses or wringing our hands in dismay.

I'm not advocating the establishment of queer studies programs, but we have to deal with the fact that they are a reality in our society. So what should we do? Just wondering . . .

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