I recently shared the full text of a letter that Dr. Graham Walker sent to Patrick Henry College Alumni about QueerPHC and the recent media attention. For the sake of brevity, I won’t quote the full text below. All text in italics is from Walker’s letter. Note: I use the term “homosexuality” because PHC rhetoric about LGBTQ issues is usually limited to the LG portion of the spectrum.
It seems that many of [the journalists reporting on QueerPHC] can scarcely believe that a community could exist in our day that still believes what Christians have believed for two thousand years about the good, the true, and the beautiful as they apply to sexuality. But PHC has always been clear about where we stand as an institution. Even apart from our PHC Standards and Honor Code, our commitment to the inerrant Bible would be enough, by itself, to make our position evident.
Yes, thanks to the PHC Handbook, we’re well aware of where PHC stands as an institution. However, apart from such documentation (and the many, many verbal statements that PHC leaders have made about sexuality), the college’s position on homosexuality would be far less clear.
Walker and other PHC leaders would like to reduce the conflict about homosexuality to a fight between Christians and non-Christians, in which the non-Christians support “deviant lifestyles” and the harried Christians attempt to defend traditional marriage against the onslaught of abuse, divorce, adultery, marital rape — oh, I’m sorry, against the onslaught of the homosexual agenda.
Unfortunately, liberal Christians and queer Christians complicate matters.
Failing that, Walker attempts to explain this conflict as a struggle between those who take the Bible seriously, and those who don’t. In this mindset, taking the Bible seriously means believing in the inerrancy of the Bible, and believing in the inerrancy of the Bible leads to an immediate and obvious condemnation of homosexuality, also translated as “all that weird butt sex stuff.”
For argument’s sake, let’s assume that taking the Bible seriously means believing in its inerrancy. Plenty of Christians wouldn’t equate the two, but we’ll leave them out of this round. However, even after we’ve excised this portion of the Body of Christ, we still have a deeply divided group.
Pro-LGBTQ Christians who still believe in an inerrant Bible believe that culture and context are important to understanding the Bible’s “clobber” verses about homosexuality, and usually believe that those verses actually refer to temple prostitution or pederasty or (in the case of Sodom) gang rape. PHC leaders commonly use the rhetorical tactic of claiming that the anti-LGBTQ side is the only side that takes the Bible seriously, and that the Bible’s position against homosexuality is self-evident. As a queer Christian, I don’t believe the Bible is the sole property of anti-LGBTQ fundamentalists. I take it seriously, too! I just interpret those verses differently.
As you may know, Patrick Henry is not alone in dealing with controversy along these lines. Lots of Christian colleges are dealing with the same thing right now. There are a number of new campus-aimed blog sites, all arising at about the same time, all targeting conservative or Christian campuses, and all deploying more or less the same rhetorical strategy. All these sites display a peculiar synchrony of message and method and timing.
When I first read this paragraph, I burst out laughing. “A peculiar synchrony”? What are we, the League of Extraordinary Queer Pajama Bloggers? (We’re printing the T-shirts now!) QueerPHC was not part of some vast queer conspiracy. We started the blog on our own, hoping only to encourage the LGBTQ students and alumni of PHC. Now we’re in contact with leaders of LGBTQ groups at other Christian colleges and universities. The support and encouragement we receive is phenomenal.
If there is any synchrony, it’s because many LGBTQ and allied students and alumni of Christian colleges and universities realize that the time to speak out is now. We’re not conspiring; we’re organizing!
I anticipate that the media coverage will blow over soon, since there really isn’t a story here.
The threat of a lawsuit, the denial of our existence, the accusation that LGBTQ students or alumni are liars because they signed an honor code — none of this is newsworthy in Walker’s eyes. This is erasure. Walker doesn’t think the school’s treatment of LGBTQ students and alumni matters.
But regardless of whether it does or doesn’t, please be assured that PHC will calmly maintain its principles. I aim to extend love and good will even to those who may think of themselves as our enemies. I think of them as potential friends.
I’m just gonna leave this here.