My name is Dariel Chaidez. I am a Junior studying history and secondary education. I am the politics section editor for the Spectrum and have worked on the publication since I was a freshman. I am a commuter student from the west suburbs, a third generation Mexican-American, a left-leaning moderate, and a Catholic. I am sharing all of this information with you because I want you to connect with this text on a personal level and I would also like to give full disclosure on who I am and how it influences my ideas. As of late December 2017 North Park University and the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC) has been embroiled in a heated controversy surrounding Pastor Judy Peterson. Pastor Judy was placed on terminal sabbatical on January 2, 2018. The governing body of the ECC suspended Pastor Judy’s credentials within the church; subsequently she was deemed unfit to serve as NPU’s campus pastor. All of this corporate action results from the ECC board’s discovery that Judy officiated a same sex wedding back in 2016, violating one of the rules set by the church. Since then the dialogue on and off campus has become messy with morality, spirituality, ethics, and professional standards all up for debate.
We know the sides here. On one side we have what seems to be the most vocal: support for Pastor Judy and her actions. On the other side we have those in agreement with the decision made by the ECC council. In light of the two views, I feel as though my view speaks to the masses, it is one in the middle and not in the middle at all. I am confused and uncertain about what to think and what to believe. With all the competing voices present, it is always difficult for an uncertain voice to say just that: I don’t know. There is so much that we as mere people do not know. The underlying question that fueled the Pastor Judy saga is “How should the Christian faith regard homosexuality and the LGBTQ community within the church?” To this question I don’t know the answer.
I, like many of you, have been trying to find an answer to this conflict. Looking at it from a historical vantage point provides context, but like the other fields of study in which people have tried to search for answers, none have surfaced. Traditional Christianity has always been opposed to same-sex sexual relationships. In fact, relations among two men were common in Classical Greece and Rome until the Christianization of the Roman Empire in 313 CE. We know that for much of recorded modern history, the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) and the cultures that they have influenced have looked down upon homosexuality based on what can be found in the Scriptures and Hadiths. These religious values have been set in place for centuries but like many other things, values change. Many have pointed to these shifts in other areas, asking: will the church’s stance on homosexuality be one of those changing morals?
I wouldn’t say i’m a proponent of modernization in its purest form, but I do believe that times are always changing and institutions who wish to stay relevant must adapt to the world around them. I attend Queen of the Rosary church in Elk Grove Village every Sunday, and I have witnessed first hand the decline of the youth in the services. It is not an uncommon situation for me to be the only parishioner in the church under the age of 40. This decline in membership of my church has been on trend for some time, and I would bet to say that this same trend is present in the other traditional sects of the Christian faith. Let’s be real here, the institutions who do not at least make an effort to address the modernity of the world around them are doomed to fail. I commend and respect Pastor Judy for what she did. She was willing to put her livelihood on the line in order to bring this subject into the light. For so long, Christian institutions have ignored the dialogue surrounding the LGBTQ community, this is an issue that needs wholehearted discussion. This needed to happen.
I cannot tell you what to think or what to say. All I can tell you is what has happened and what is happening. I cannot tell you what is right or wrong, but I can tell you that we as Christians need to be accepting of all people who wish to participate in the faith no matter what their backgrounds are. It is in our dogma to share the word of God with all no matter what their humanity brings along with them. As for officiating and facilitating same sex marriages, I honestly do not know what to believe. Part of me wants to accept my LGBTQ brothers and sisters actions and wishes, but another part of looks to the tradition of the church and there is inevitable internal conflict. I wish I had an answer, but I do not. And if you are like me and don’t have an answer either, do not worry. We don’t have the answers to everything, and frankly, we don’t need to have the answers to everything, we only need to have faith. What I do know to be an absolute fact is that we as humans are to love our neighbors with the same love that God gives. We are called to walk in the steps of Jesus, to love unconditionally, and to respect all. In the grand scheme of things, politics are a human’s game, not God’s. We can no longer look at gay people, or anyone who is different from us be it race or religion, as outsiders. All people deserve respect and kindness. I firmly believe that for the church to make an adequate decision on this conflict, it needs to make it with love. As for now, continue studying, praying, researching, talking and searching internally and externally. I pray that we as a community can come together peacefully and that the church and its members will be healed.