On Tuesday, Nov. 7, the Hope College group Growing Respect, Authentic Community and Edu- cation on Sexuality, more commonly known as GRACES, held a panel to discuss how conservative Christians can talk about sexuality. The panelists included students Benjamin (Ben) Davi- son (’19) and Isabel Bustamante (’19); Rev. James Ellis III, Hope Chaplain of Discipleship; Dr. Jeff Tyler, Hope Religion Department Chair and Joe Boersma, Pillar Church College Ministries Fellow.
The panel began with each member describing their beliefs on sexuality and their reason- ing behind it. Boersma went first and explained that his approach to Biblical scripture is the primary factor that shapes his ideology on sexuality. He emphasized that reading the Bible for all that it is rather than “picking and choosing” the parts that may appeal most to the reader is necessary to best understand the material.
Boersma spoke of the injustice that many LGBTQIA individuals have been exposed to by Christian groups, and went to state that although his beliefs may not support their actions, he strives to meet everyone with the love of Christ.
In an interview with Bustamante, also a Copy Editor of The Anchor, she said that she thought the panel went well. She explained, “it’s tough to gather people who want to talk about issues of faith and sexuality, especially from the more traditional side of things, but I think it’s necessary that we dialogue about these things and begin to understand the different beliefs people hold.”
Her words are representative of a true GRACES student. The club strives to create a safe place for inter-group dialogue and shared stories. She went on to reiterate the club’s mission by saying, “It’s so important to respectfully hear someone.”
Bustamante explained that not only her ideology on sexuality but her overarching life philosophy stems from “The Word of God.” She furthered this by explaining, “If I am unable to give reason and backing from a Biblical context, I think that I am living my life in a way that is for myself and not for God, which is not the way I want to live.”
In the midst of the dialogues over scripture, religious scholars and beliefs, the panelists made a point to maintain a reverence and respect to individuals within the LGBTQIA community and allies who may disagree with their beliefs.
The event upheld the GRACES hope of by “welcoming and honoring a variety of perspectives,” so a broader and more campus-wide “understanding and respect about these some- times difficult and divisive issues” can be met.
This evening, GRACES will be holding a dialogue in which all students are welcome to lis- ten and share their thoughts, opinions and beliefs. The event will take place at 7 p.m. in Martha Miller 239. Contact GRACES for more information on up- coming events.