PASADENA, Calif. — Nick Palacios struggled to get his conservative Pentecostal parents to accept him as a gay evangelical Christian for nearly a decade before his family found a common ground through faith.
Now, as an openly gay seminarian, the 29-year-old hopes to carve out a similar acceptance for other gays in the broader evangelical community through his role as president of the nation's first LGBT student club sanctioned by a major evangelical seminary. The group, called OneTable, formed last fall at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, one of the world's largest multi-denominational seminaries, and has attracted about three dozen students.
"It quickly became apparent to me that I was going to be OK and that I wasn't going to have to forsake my faith for my sexuality," Palacios said of his struggle for acceptance.
"I really hope that people will see Fuller and OneTable as a model of what the body of the church is supposed to do in this situation."
"At Fuller Theological Seminary, LGBT group tests boundaries of being a gay Christian"
Article by: SARAH PARVINI , Associated Press Updated: July 13, 2013 - 3:25 PM
At Fuller Theological Seminary, LGBT group tests boundaries of being a gay Christian | StarTribune.com
For some time my alma mater has been a pioneer in all kinds of "firsts" (cf. fellow alum Rob Bell). Now Fuller, boasting 4,500 students, is the first "major evangelical seminary" with its very own "LGBT" club "sanctioned" by the seminary. The fine print in the lengthly article suggests that the school still requires celibacy for its LGBT students, officially at least. However, it is difficult to see this as anything else than a gigantic shift from the traditional evangelical position on homosexual practice.
Founded: 1947 as a bastion of "neo-evangelicalism" (i.e., non fundamentalist orthodoxy) with a commitment to inerrancy
Doctrinal Shift: December 27, 1967 address by D.P. Fuller at the Evangelical Theological Society, advocating a modification of inerrancy
Change in Doctrinal Statement: 1972 (?) - drop "inerrancy" in favor of "infallibility"
Change in traditional Christian practice: 1975 Paul K. Jewett publishes "Man as Male and Female," arguing that Paul was "wrong" in his teaching on women in 1 Timothy 2.
Official acceptance of LGBT student group: 2013.
Founded on the proposition that the Bible was fully inerrant, within 20 years there was a modification to separate the salvific from the non-salvific materials while professing that the Bible is still the "infallible rule of faith and practice." At least in the areas of egalitarianism and homosexuality Fuller has proven itself remarkably flexible in "changing with the times" to embrace the contemporary Zeitgeist with respect to Christian practice in areas of human sexuality.
As for the student reaction . . .
For years, Palacios armed himself with biblical verses and religious texts he could use to defend his identity as a gay Christian. Now, after years of their son refusing to repress his sexual orientation, Palacios' parents have become more accepting and were even amicable toward a former boyfriend.
"Just as it has taken me the better part of 20 something years to figure out the blend of faith and orientation I can't expect my friends or family to get it that quickly," he said.
Some straight students at Fuller have also embraced the chance to discuss faith and homosexuality openly. Samantha Curley, 25, the group's former president, said hearing about her friends' struggles made her a better Christian. Before starting at the seminary, she said, she didn't have any gay friends.
"I think that's ultimately what faith does," she said. "Jesus wanted us to experience the full expression of humanity. I'm fearful of what will happen if we don't learn to do that in the church."