A new group made up of hundreds of Wheaton College alumni says being gay is not a sin and that one can be a faithful Christian and still hold onto the LGBT identity.
OneWheaton, which includes openly gay Wheaton College alumni as well as straight graduates who question the traditional biblical view that homosexuality is a sin, says it seeks to support LGBT students and offer a different theological perspective on sexuality.
“We do not believe there is anything wrong with being gay,” says OneWheaton in a media release. “We are joining the conversation at Wheaton to show students that they have the option to live without shame and self-hatred.”
Wheaton College, one of the most respected evangelical higher education institutions in the nation and the alma mater of Billy Graham, takes the position that homosexual relations is a sin but that Christians should love those struggling with same-sex attraction instead of judging or ostracizing them.
The new LGBT group, launched last week, says it is does not intend to battle Wheaton College and its stance on homosexuality, but it hopes to be part of the conversation on sexuality.
“We don’t have a political agenda and we are not opposing or engaging the administration through this letter,” says OneWheaton in a statement. “While we might hope Wheaton’s theological position towards homosexuality based on its particular interpretation of biblical tradition changes, we did not unite for a divisive theological debate.”
“Our desire is to simply reach out to students and other alumni who may be hurting and show the broader Wheaton community that there are better ways to love,” the group says.
The OneWheaton website, the group explains, offers a space where students struggling with same-sex attraction as well as those whose friends just came out can question and explore their faith and sexuality.
Wheaton College President Philip Ryken has responded to OneWheaton by sending out an email that reaffirms the school’s commitment to “loving our neighbors as ourselves” and the LGBT’s group’s message of “the full humanity and dignity of every human being,” according to the Chicago Daily Herald.
“While we recognize that Wheaton’s stance may be unsatisfying to some or our alumni, we remain resolved to respond with truth and grace,” wrote Ryken.
OneWheaton, which holds the belief that one’s “sexual identity is not a tragic sign of the sinful nature,” says it was created partly in response to Wheaton College’s special lecture series “Sexuality and Wholeness,” where an alumnus said he chose celibacy over homosexuality.
“We have built communities that accept us and do not fear our LGBTQ-ness. You will find a community that, rather than alluding to acceptance contingent on celibacy, welcomes and loves you,” reads a message on OneWheaton’s homepage.
Included among the hundreds of alumni that have endorsed OneWheaton are graduates as old as the class of 1957 to as young as class of 2010.