“Just since June we live in a world that has sanctioned gay marriage and whatever your opinion is on that, that is now the law of the land,” speaker and author Sally Gary said. “How do you navigate that as Christ-followers? How do we respond to that in a Christ-like manner?”
Sally Gary answered these questions on the controversial topic of same-sex attraction with a keynote lecture entitled ‘Safe at Home: Gay on a Christian Campus’ on Oklahoma Christian University’s campus on Wednesday. Gary spoke at daily chapel in Hardeman auditorium at 11 am. Later she gave her keynote lecture, followed by a Q&A session, to an audience in a packed Scott Chapel.
“Sometimes as Christians we think that everybody is in the same place; everybody is not in the same place,” Gary said. “Within this room, some believe homosexuality is an abomination, that it’s very clear what the Bible says about it and there is no way it will ever not be wrong. Others of you believe that same sex marriage can be a good thing and is something that should be affirmed and permitted and encouraged in our churches. The rest fall somewhere in the middle of saying, ‘I am not quite sure what I think about this yet, but I believe in a God that is loving and I want to be able to love my friends.’”
Senior Amy Winn said that she is glad Oklahoma Christian brought Gary to campus.
“I appreciate that OC went to this length to talk about something like this,” Winn said. “So many other schools and churches avoid topics, such as same-sex attraction, like it’s the plague and run away from them. It’s bold for [OC] to come out and really talk about it and say, ‘hey we love everyone.’ Everyone deserves to be loved unconditionally.”
Gary is the author of “Loves God, Likes Girls,” a memoir based on her struggles with dealing with the issue of same-sex attraction.
“You have grown up in a time where you can’t remember a time living in a space that there weren’t gay characters on television shows or some sort of innuendo about what it means to be gay,” Gary said. “See that didn’t exist when I was college-aged. You are living in a very different time than mine.”
According to Gary, it was not until her sophomore year at Abilene Christian University that she could no longer deny her attraction to the same gender. Gary said to herself ‘I’m on a Christian campus and we don’t talk about such things [same-sex attraction].’ She had grown up completely thinking this type of life was not what God wanted.
“Then everyone would know Sally Gary, the good little church of Christ, likes girls,” Gary said.
Sally said that she was the good little girl who always knew her Bible verses, a leader in her church youth group and attended every VBS and church camp she could.
“Intellectually, I knew a lot about God’s love and yet I didn’t truly get to experience and feel God’s love until I was brought to my knees,” Gary said. “Then I began to realize the power of feeling God’s love and how transformative that is, to not just know it intellectually, but to feel it in your heart.”
Gary said there were feelings cropping up that she didn’t know how to deal with and she was confused as to what the Lord wanted with her and her sexuality. She said that she was terrified of how her family would respond, so she didn’t tell them. Instead, she prayed about it.
“Seeing her have the courage to be vulnerable with this campus on such a large scale gives me hope that our society as a whole will be available to be vulnerable with one another in the future,” senior Anna Gudmundsson said.
Gary said a campus cannot be considered a safe place until anybody can come on campus and there is no fear of encountering someone who might be unkind to someone who experiences same-sex attraction.
“When there’s a joke, or a demeaning word spoken, it’s not enough to be silent,” Gary said.
Winn said she attended Gary’s talk because she wanted to be able to approach and learn more about this topic so she can be more understanding, sensitive and loving towards her friend who is gay and others struggling with same-sex attraction.
Winn said her takeaway from Gary’s lecture was Gary’s quote: “You don’t have to understand all of this to love people. It doesn’t take understanding and knowing everything about it, I’m going to love you with the love of the Lord.”
CenterPeace Ministries, a non-profit organization Gary is involved with, seeks to provide a safe place for anyone experiencing same-sex attraction. The ministry serves as an outlet for starting open conversations about faith and homosexuality.