Program takes gays and Christians 'over the rainbow'

"Over the Rainbow," a joint discussion sponsored by PRIDE! Kent and the United Christian Ministries in the student center last night, allowed members of the Kent community to voice their opinions of the relationship between Christianity and homosexuality.

 

Darren Stevenson, right, led the discussion Wednesday in the Student Center about how christians and the LGBT community and its allies can bridge a social gap between one other. (Simon Husted)

“Over the Rainbow,” a joint discussion sponsored by PRIDE! Kent and the United Christian Ministries in the student center last night, allowed members of the Kent community to voice their opinions of the relationship between Christianity and homosexuality.

A member of both organizations, Kent State sophomore Darren Stevenson, the orchestrator of the event, sought to unite the two groups in a respectful, educational discussion, using the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So” as a focal point.

Stevenson interspersed discussion prompts with clips from the video, which reconciles Biblical arguments with homosexual lifestyles, to encourage insight from attendees.

“The struggle between faith and sexuality . . . leads a lot of people to hate themselves and ultimately end their lives,” Stevenson said. “The more we can continue this conversation, . . . the more acceptance and tolerance we can have in the world. I just wanted to get people thinking.”

Most in attendance agreed that LGBT-friendly religious organizations need a more solid, unified movement in order to stand up against their formidable conservative opposition.

Another topic that sparked much discussion was the context of the Biblical passages that mention homosexuality. Some said the Old Testament was clear in its stance on gay behavior, but they admitted the material was outdated; others stated the language in the Old Testament never definitively labeled homosexuality as a problem. Most concurred that the New Testament is far more open-minded on the subject than its precursor.

After viewing the video, KSU freshman Katelyn Stouffer said she was struck most by learning about the varying ways in which the Bible’s words could be interpreted.

“Because it was a different culture and a different time period, [words] meant different things,” Stouffer said.

The group also discussed the nature of genetics in the manifestation of homosexuality; some believed genes entirely determine one’s sexuality and others endorsed a balance of genetics and circumstance.

Stevenson ended the program with a verse from “Corinthians” that he said summarized his purpose.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love,” Stevenson recited.

Stevenson said he felt that the seminar made a big difference in the minds of its attendees.

“One of the people came up to me at the end of the program and mentioned that he was not a Christian, but if there were more Christians like us, he would have a lot less headaches,” Stevenson said. “[The discussion] painted a picture differently in his mind. That was one small example of its success.”

By allowing Kent gays and Christians this respite over the rainbow, Stevenson said he feels he provided them with the courage to question one another, the brains to recognize reason, and the hearts to express acceptance.

-Zachary Culler

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