Calvin through queer eyes

If there is one thing this university is proud of, it is being a liberal arts school – just look at the curriculum. This is because Calvin recognizes that God’s creation is diverse, and all aspects are uniquely loveable. 

Whether present in the school’s creative and empirical opportunities, the variety of interests of the student body, or the opposition of political views, Calvin is anything but uniform. Therefore I, and many Calvin students like me, felt comfortable coming out as queer here. However, considering recent events and in examination of Calvin’s traditional values, queer students, including myself, no longer feel safe on campus.

On Tuesday, Mar. 9th, my head flooded with every grimace, narrowed eye, or smug look Grace and I had provoked by holding hands on campus. My mind wandered towards every “hate the sin; love the sinner” statement I had been subjected to growing up and Calvin’s current, unaffirming stance in much need of change. Before me stood every microaggression I had stomached for eighteen years.It held no power, it displayed its hate on posters and flyers, and my oppressor was finally honest. Their homophobia, much like myself, was no longer closeted. When I debated my salvation with the student behind the table I saw something behind his eyes wince every time I admitted my orientation and declared the love I have for Grace, pure. After what felt like thirty minutes, their table came down due to COVID concerns, and, despite the challenge on their banner, nobody changed their mind.

I was mad. All the queer students and allies of Calvin were mad. But we were not embarrassed until Senate’s statement, and I was not ready to be publicly mad and embarrassed until President Le Roy’s email. I am not ashamed of my love for Grace. I am not skeptical of my homosexual identity in Christ, but I am, however, disturbed by this institution’s excuse for a loving statement, fueled by their financial skepticism. I understand that Calvin’s hands are tied, whether by the homophobic views of their much-needed donors or the CRC. But Jesus’ hands were tied by church leaders and monetary need, yet he chose to be a radical. He redefined love as self-sacrificial and counter-cultural- as anything but self-righteous. Therefore, I ask of Calvin: what would Jesus’ email have looked like? On which side of the table would he have stood, or, better yet, in examination of his character, would he have flipped it?

If what Jesus wrote in the ground in John 8 was revealed, I would shout it from the rooftops. But, after Mar. 9, I am skeptical that the CRC would back the message. I am skeptical if the CRC is committed to reforming. We, as the church and as a university, need to rethink our call to holiness and love, because there is nothing holy about excluding Grace and I from promising our lives to each other. There is nothing loving in an email that places conditions on affirmations. “The church teaches that orientation is not a sin,” President Le Roy writes, “[t]he church also teaches, and Calvin affirms, that sexual intimacy is a gift from God to be celebrated in marriage between a man and a woman.” We, as a church and university, need to acknowledge that God has no orientation but is quite simply love. 

Therefore, I bear His image in my sexuality. I bear Hisimage in my love for Grace. Because of His design for devotion and intimacy, I find it disrespectful for the CRC to ask for us to suppress our love. I am hurt by their message of lukewarm acceptance, and I am sickened by the idol they have made of straight relationships. If Jesus values heterosexuality above embracing the fullness of love in one’s identity, then He did not make image bearers driven by love but, rather, agents of procreation. Queer Calvin students have been hurt by the recent homophobic events. However, queer youth everywhere are accustomed to the sting of homophobia. But we grow up and leave damaging homes. However, despite the perseverance, courage, and vulnerability of our queer students, Calvin University has chosen to become yet another homophobic home. Calvin University, when given a chance to show bold, unconditional, and just love, failed to be affirming and when given the chance to be Christ’s agents of renewal, publicized their decision to be lukewarm. Because of the loving potential I have seen in my peers, professors, and communities here, I am not fleeing. Although I find myself in yet another homophobic home, I am here to stay. I am here to make sure there is change. I am here to be the gay image of Christ.