The "Soulforce" Bus Litmus Test

Your teen is considering a Christian college, and you're wondering how four years in a cloistered environment will equip him to serve as a diplomat for Christ in the "real" world. Here's your chance to find schools which excel at that task. Track the route of 33 young adults on a seven-week bus journey with a mission "to confront colleges that ban the enrollment of LGBT students," and consider the varied responses of the administration, faculty, and the students on each campus. If my son wanted to apply to Abilene Christian University, for example, I'd support him wholeheartedly after reading president Royce Money's response:
(This visit) been a sobering reminder to me that it's easier to condemn and avoid than encounter and be a Christian witness ... One of the good things it has done (is) make us realize that we had not done a good job in informing our students to deal with a variety of cultural forces that they will face after college. So this has encouraged us to do a better job ... The true character of an institution is shown in the way it faces certain challenges, and this visit is such a challenge. Therefore, it is important we conduct ourselves in a Christ-like manner in what we do and say -- and I think we will.
A student editorial echoes Money's sentiments. The bus arrives on that campus today, and it seems to me that members of the Church of Christ can indulge in a bit of godly pride (if there is such a thing) as their flagship University hosts these young visitors. I encourage you to pray for each college as the bus travels across the country, as well as for each of the thirty-three riders by name, and share with us what you know and think about their visits.


Chris Field said...


I am a student at ACU and posted a lengthy post on my blog about my interaction with the group so far. Feel free to check it out.

Great words by the way.


Mitali Perkins said...

Thanks for visiting, Chris. I read your postand am so thankful that God is at work in the lives of twenty-something followers like you! Blessings to you at Texas Tech, too -- we need lawyers who are passionate about Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Would you prefer to send your kids to a four year stint at a crack-house, or house of prostitution to experience "real" life situations, or perhaps 4 years in a "cloistered environment" away from most temptations, soaking in the Word of God, and experiencing Godly influences would be a better choice?

As a Pastor's wife you know that your children need to be in an environment where they can grow and be nurtured with the Word of God.

Why give special notice to the GLBT anyway? Christ is compassionate for all of us--sinners--but we are still cautioned in the Scriptures to avoid and expel the "immoral brother"! --1 Corinthians 5: 1-3

Mitali Perkins said...

Anonymous, thanks for writing. First, I wasn't suggesting that some of our kids wouldn't be better off at Christian colleges. I was making the point that this bus ride is a chance to discern some of the differences between the colleges. BTW, I'm glad that some Christian teens choose to go to secular colleges, as people like me often hear the good news of the gospel for the first time on those campuses.

Second, I have the sinking feeling that members of the GLBT community are as distasteful to most Christians as the bleeding guy on the road in Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan. So, let me ask you, who is your neighbor? And when it comes to "expelling" a so-called Christian brother or sister out of the church, Jesus outlines the strategy in Matthew 18:15-17, telling us that if all else fails, to treat them as "pagans and tax-collectors." Does that mean we shun them? No way. That means we strive to extend the loving hospitality of God to them. They hated our Lord for spending time with pagans and tax-collectors, remember? May they do the same to us.

And finally, why should being a pastor's wife make me any better of a parent than anyone else? I don't get that. It seems like an unreasonable expectation on all those pastor's wives out there. I'm slogging along like everybody else, making mistakes, praying, hoping for the best. Cut us some slack, will you?

Write back soon! :)

Steve Maxwell said...

Oh My! God bless you Matali. I am minister working in an Urban Ministry and it has taught me lessons I will never forget. I have traveled all over the United States, Europe, and Brazil. God was trying to show me the true meaning of "different" cultures. Well, after visiting Uganda, Africa it sunk in. The power of Gospel is indeed powerful, and a lot of times it speaks most powerfully before we even open our mouth. I am familiar with ACU and not only do I applaud them but I look forward to possibly doing some graduate work there someday. God bless you and your Sister Perkins.
P.S. I am a church of Christ boy or better said, a Messy Christian saved by Jesus

Peter LaBarbera said...

Mitali, I must admit after reading Chris' blog, I find his take on Soulforce decidedly naive. Soulforce was founded by Mel White, a noted Christian writer who left his wife declaring his homosexuality, and who has made vicious and inflammatory claims about Christians, including that they are guilty of "spiritual violence" against homosexuals because they disagree with that lifestyle. Here's how Chris describes SF's purpose:

"Many people have asked what the purpose of this group's trip actually is. I will try to answer that as best I can. In short, this group wants people to understand how homosexuals are treated differently than most any other group in our country. They want people to see some of the ways in which homosexuals are ridiculed, made to feel "sick", and sometimes even beaten up because of their lifestyle choice. The group wants to engage university administrators and students on the topic of homosexuality and the proper ways in which to respond to it.

"The group is not loud, obnoxious, rude, or ungrateful. In fact, I have rarely met a group of more friendly, kind hearted people. Many (if not all) in the group are professing Christians. The truth is that homosexuality in the Bible is not nearly as easy a topic as we would like to make it. A Google search will show that Biblical scholars themselves are divided on the issue. This is one of the other main issues this group is hoping they can bring light to."

I doubt you would be so enthusiastic if another group defending a different sexual sin (say, hetero promiscuity) were to venture to Christian college with the goal of eroding Biblical truth.

I'm with you re: the need to reach out in love to people trapped in sinful lifestyles. But please don't underestimate the main goal of "gay" activist groups, which is, always, to undermine Biblical truth.

Mitali Perkins said...

Dear Peter,

Thanks so much for visiting. I agree that our theology of sexuality should be based on more than a Google search, and appreciate you reminding us of that. President Money at ACU is commandeering this visit to convey truth to students like Chris in a way that his generation can receive it -- underlined by a loving hospitality towards all in need of grace.

My own "enthusiasm" about the Soulforce visit stems from the fact that when we are challenged by people who want to change us, for better or worse, we're refined. Confontation helps to reveal who we are in Christ -- and especially how much we're willing to obey His call to "speak the truth in love." That's what's happening at some of these colleges as the bus stops on their campuses.

I'd laud a robust firm-truth-strong-love response to a group with a "hetero-promiscuous" agenda as well. We're called to rejoice at every opportunity to echo our Lord's prayer on the Cross for the forgiveness of people who oppose us, aren't we?

Blessings to you,