JBU leaders talk sexuality

Apr. 11, 2012
Brittany Reading

After the discussion of sexuality on campus moved beyond dorm rooms and into chapel weeks ago, students were left with more questions than answers.

Questions regarding the University’s stance on homosexuality poured in as Chaplain Rod Reed and Nick Ogle spoke in a Q & A format during sexuality week in chapel.

In an effort to better understand the nuances of same-sex attraction, Student Development delved deeper into the issue by starting a study accompanied by Director of Student Counseling Tim Dinger.

According to Dean of Students Andre Broquard, the institution does not focus on identifiers such as heterosexual or homosexual; rather it works on redeeming sexuality as a whole.

As outlined in the student handbook under community standards, “John Brown University seeks to foster an environment of sexual purity based on the Biblical standard which allows sex only within a marriage relationship.”

While the handbook does not blatantly address homosexuality, the reality is that the majority of students on campus are single, whether they are straight or gay.

As the institution works with students who experience same-sex attraction every semester, their goal is not to evoke change but to help those struggling to better understand their identity.

“There’s room for same-sex attraction here at JBU, but it is actions outside of the context of our community standards that cause us to step in,” Broquard explained.

Students will not face disciplinary action for being attracted to the same-sex, but they are expected to live according to the same standards as other students on campus.

“We have disciplined students for behavior, but we separate that from attraction,” he said.

According to Broquard, our culture at JBU is very uncomfortable with living in a non-romantic environment with someone of the same sex, which makes restrictions more complex.

If students in a heterosexual relationship are engaging in sexual misconduct, residence life can easily restrict or even remove their visitation rights, but it is more difficult for students wrestling with homosexuality.

Though it isn’t ideal for students to be isolated, those struggling with same-sex attraction have lived in single rooms in residence halls.

“More than often, students move on because they want to pursue a lifestyle that does not fit the community standards of our institution,” Broquard said.

As the University works to help students view sexuality in a biblical manner the chances of a change in community standards are bleak.

“JBU won’t embrace a policy that encourages sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman,” Vice President of Student Development Steve Beers said.

Helping students strive towards holiness is the ultimate goal for the University as they help students identify healthy behaviors and thoughts in their sexuality through guidance, boundaries and support.

“People sometimes think it’s all-or-nothing such as if I’m struggling with homosexuality then I have to be gay,” Beers explained.

Chapel speaker Christopher Yuan wrestled with his identity as he spoke openly about his struggle with homosexuality. During his spiritual journey, he had a decision to make: let his sexuality define him or let his identity in Christ be the defining part of him.

“God does not say, ‘be homosexual for I am homosexual,’ or, ‘be heterosexual for I am heterosexual,’ he says, ‘be holy for I am holy,” Yuan said.

Though residence life and campus ministries offer various approaches in helping students discover their identity, the University often encourages counseling for students who are struggling.

The counseling center offers a safe place for students to explore whatever issues they are facing confidentially.

“Students often face the stigma that if they seek help with something they struggle with personally, they’ll be met with judgment and that’s not our aim,” Dinger said.

By creating venues where students can speak openly about issues, the institution hopes to provide a safe place for students to be challenged and grow in their relationship with God.

The University believes God created each one of us in His image and celebrates the sexual beings that we are.

“The critical question then becomes how do we steward God’s gift, and what is God’s plan for our lives,” Beer said.

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