Gay choir’s OU concert could open hearts, minds, dialogue

Jeanny Sharp, editor and publisher | Ottawa Herald

It’s easy to have an opinion when the issue doesn’t require you to be informed or have a personal investment. When it hits closer to home, however, maintaining a staunchly black-and-white opinion gets far more difficult. Republican U.S. Sen. Portman learned that the hard way. The Ohio lawmaker now is doing some back-pedaling on one specific issue — same-sex marriage — two years after his son disclosed he is gay.

For most people, “marriage equality” is a complicated issue that continues to evolve as more and more people they know and respect “come out” as gay. The number of people polled who are in favor of same-sex marriage continues to grow, with a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll saying 58 percent of people support it. The U.S. Supreme Court soon might rule on the legality of the issue, but in the meantime some people still are coming to terms with accepting gays as equals.

For those who want to learn more about gays’ struggles — in a safe and non-judgmental environment — Ottawa University has the perfect opportunity this week. The Heartland Men’s Chorus from Kansas City is expected to present a concert — titled “When I Knew” — 7 p.m. Wednesday at Fredrikson Chapel, 1011 S. Cedar St. The concert is free, though a free-will offering will be taken to support the choir’s outreach efforts.

The university took a political risk by playing host to the choir, but it also shows the college’s willingness to embrace diversity, much like Sen. Portman did last month. Here’s an excerpt from a column in the Yale Daily News, written by Portman’s son, Will, a junior at Trumbull College, which is part of Yale University.

“I’m proud of my dad, not necessarily because of where he is now on marriage equality (although I’m pretty psyched about that), but because he’s been thoughtful and open-minded in how he’s approached the issue, and because he’s shown that he’s willing to take a political risk in order to take a principled stand. He was a good man before he changed his position, and he’s a good man now, just as there are good people on either side of this issue today.

“We’re all the products of our backgrounds and environments, and the issue of marriage for same-sex couples is a complicated nexus of love, identity, politics, ideology and religious beliefs. We should think twice before using terms like ‘bigoted’ to describe the position of those opposed to same-sex marriage or ‘immoral’ to describe the position of those in favor, and always strive to cultivate humility in ourselves as we listen to others’ perspectives and share our own.

“I hope that my dad’s announcement and our family’s story will have a positive impact on anyone who is closeted and afraid, and questioning whether there’s something wrong with them. I’ve been there. If you’re there now, please know that things really do get better, and they will for you too.”

Portman is just one of three Republican lawmakers who support gay marriage. Portman’s situation might just be the beginning, as more people come out and their loved ones accept them — regardless of their sexual orientation. The senator’s situation also is emblematic of the need for society to focus on inclusiveness, rather than exclusivity. Only then will things truly get better for everyone concerned.

Note: the editorial above was published the day after the following “Letter to the Editor” was published:

Sodomites Coming to Town

Back in the mid-1960s, I was invited to hear a guest speaker at Ottawa University. Commenting on a statement by a pseudo-theologian, Dr. Nels Ferre, who suggested in his book, “The Sun and the Umbrella,” that Jesus was the bastard son of a German soldier and that Mary was a harlot who hung around a German mercenary camp, the proposed speaker said something to the effect, “And who can say that these words are not true?”

Having no longer Biblical scruples for truth, it is not surprising that Ottawa University would have the Sodomites come to town.

Paul sees the same pattern in Romans 1 where they “changed” the glory of the incorruptible God. Having departed from Biblical Doctrine, they soon became filthily corrupt themselves. (Romans 1:27) “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”

He probably was referring to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as the recompense. (Genesis 19) Philo, who lived around the time of Christ, said the smoke of these cities was still rising in his day. That would be 2,000 years later.

As Bill Grasham once said, “If America gets away with such filth, God will have to apologize to these filthy cities.” Pray for revival!

—    Daryl McNabb, pastor, Peniel Bible Church, Waverly