December 6, 2023

Speakers Call Church to Redefine Relationships

Branson Parler speaking at the LGBT in Christian Community event. Photo by Owen Haworth.
By Collin Hall ’21
News Editor
What does it mean to be gay and Christian? Greg Cole, the author of “Single, Gay and Christian” spoke as part of Gordon’s “LGBT In Christian Community” lecture series to give his testimony and to share his experience as a gay man in a Christian context.

The three-part lecture series, planned by Student Life, is part of an effort to discuss sexuality at large at Gordon. Nicholas Rowe, head of Student Life, was concerned that a conversation regarding sexuality at large is not occurring. In a GCSA meeting this past February he said: “In coming here, one of the things I have observed is that there seems to be very few ways in talking about sexuality full-stop.”

This lecture series is an attempt to more openly discuss human sexuality in a healthy context. These conversations happen anyway among students; sexuality is at the core of being human; Student Life is fostering an environment where these conversations can happen in a constructive context.

Greg Cole’s lecture touched on the manifestation of same-sex attraction in his life. He stressed that his testimony is not a simple one, and that it certainly does not represent all gay people and their conclusions regarding sexuality.

Cole grew up in a context where to be gay was to be fundamentally in error. When Cole realized that he was not attracted to women, life became very complicated. “Very quickly I went from being one of the holiest 11 year olds to one of the worst 12 year olds to ever walk the earth…”

“My thought was: it’s bad to be gay…I knew I wasn’t supposed to be, so I prayed not to be.”

Cole thought that maybe if he did the right things or acted in the correct ways, God would ‘fix’ his problem.

Cole would plead with God to turn him straight. When Cole was 12, he struck an ultimatum with God, because he simply could not accept that God would allow him to remain gay. Cole told God: “There are two options here. You can make me straight, or you can just kill me.”

Cole is not straight, and he is certainly not dead. What would follow would be at once an acceptance and a rejection of his sexuality. He would eventually accept that there is nothing he can do to be “straight.” That is not God’s plan for Cole’s life. Yet he also had to confront the idea that God is not calling Cole to sexuality at all.

As a Christ follower, Cole says he and other Christians must ask the questions: “What do I need to do to follow Him? Will it be worth it? These are questions that directly pertain to sexuality. For Cole, these questions have an answer: he feels called to give up sexuality and to give up romantic love. In a word, celibacy.  

Cole reached this conclusion by believing that “the Bible also needs the authority to tell us the things we don’t want to hear.” Along these lines, he claimed that “having sex is also not a Biblical guarantee…the Bible does not call for same sex sexual expression.”  

So this is Cole’s burden. He is giving up his innate sexual and romantic desires for something he sees as greater, the body of Christ.

This same notion was echoed the next night, at the second sexuality week lecture. Dr. Branson Parler, a professor at Kuyper College specializing in Christian sexual ethics, said that Christians must value the Church and its family before any other kind of family.

Parler spoke of man’s innate longing to be in conversation and companionship with other people. He said that “God’s ultimate solution to this is not in spouse, but it is in Church… Your call is to be the family of Jesus.”

This call should supercede man’s desire to be even in a romantic relationship. Ultimately, Parler said, man is most wholly satisfied in the Church. While gay people might be called to give up romantic love, they should not despair. The hope of all Christians is in Christ and in His new family.

“With this call, it puts marriage and sex in their proper place. It pulls them down…We idolize these things,” Parler said.

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