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Safe at Home: keynote speaker addresses same-sex attraction on a Christian campus

“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.

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  1. An alum An alum March 24, 2016

    I certainly hope that this speaker didn’t confuse love with acceptance. Unless the bible has changed, from the way I read things, Gods not too keen on same-sex relationships.

    • An Alum An Alum March 26, 2016

      I am an alum too and am very disturbed by this. What will they do next… welcome discussions by those who feel compelled to have sex before marriage and move to change the rules on that?

  2. Fellowbro Fellowbro March 26, 2016

    I think what the speaker is trying to emphasize is how we should treat people who are struggling with same-sex attraction. A person can have same-sex attraction and never act on those feelings. What many of us forget is that we do not consciously choose who or what sex we are going to be attracted to. Whatever the cause is, whether it’s environment or genetics or a combination of both that lead us in a direction and the root has not been fully determined yet. What all of us have control over though is how we choose to act on those desires.

    I have some friends who didn’t want those feelings of being attracted to the same sex when they first started being felt and noticed, and they tried several things to make the feelings go away. Praying, going into ministry, dating the opposite sex, etc. The feelings persisted. Some gave up on Christianity because they couldn’t resolve the conflict of feeling the way they did. They askied God to take those feelings away and still had the feelings, and then being condemned by fellow Christians for just having same-sex attraction whether they acted on those feelings or not.

    I also have some friends who started out feeling same-sex attraction but either chose to live a celibate life or were able to change their attraction and marry and have a hetero relationship.

    We are not going to get very far in having conversations with those who feel same-sex attraction if we don’t show them love. That doesn’t mean that it would be an easy conversation. But if we believe that sex is for marriage and marriage is only between a man and a woman, we have to recognize that there are quite a few religious organizations that accept same-sex marriage and believe they have scriptural authority to back them up. We are not going to get anywhere if they don’t feel that we genuinely love them and care for them. That does not mean that you have to agree with their view but it will open the door to honest conversation about what scripture says. We love our brothers and sisters who suffer from other forms of temptation whether it’s drugs, alcohol or pornography. If we believe that homosexuality is a sin then we need to love them as well. We need to make sure we don’t confuse same-sex attraction, which is just the temptation, with homosexuality, which would be the acting out on those desires.

  3. An Alum An Alum March 26, 2016

    I am an alum too and am very disturbed by this. What will they do next… welcome discussions by those who feel compelled to have sex before marriage and move to change the rules on that?

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