Tuesday night almost 200 students, faculty and staff came to hear best-selling authors Tony and Peggy Campolo debate about the place where faith and spirituality intersect.
In Beyond the Sound Bites: Conversations about Christianity and Homosexuality, pastor, professor and speaker Tony Campolo and his wife, author and speaker Peggy Campolo, took turns expressing their individual views concerning homosexuality.
Tony said Peggy allowed him the privilege to speak first.
”One of the reasons why we do this is because, we want to exemplify what Christian marriage is about,” he said. “We aim to seek out the truth.”
To begin the discussion, Tony told the story of a young man named Roger he and his classmates once terrorized because of his sexual identity.
“We tried every way we could to humiliate him,” he said.
Tony said he wasn’t there the day five guys dragged a naked Roger into the back of the men’s locker room, forced him into the fetal position and urinated on him.
Later that night, Roger committed suicide, Tony said.
“That day, I knew I wasn’t a Christian,” he said. “If I was a true Christian, I would have stood up for Roger and said he was my friend. But I was afraid to be Roger’s friend.”
There is hurt in so many hearts, and when people are killing themselves out of desperation, we know the church is doing something wrong, Tony said.
Tony said he and Peggy take the Bible very seriously, but they hold contrasting opinions regarding the hermeneutics, or interpretation, of the Holy Scripture.
“My wife says she takes the Bible seriously, not literally,” he said. “It’s an interesting comment, and I have no idea what she means.”
Tony said he holds firm to the first chapter of Romans that condemns same sex relations.
“Traditions of the church have to be taken seriously,” he said. “We do not have the privilege to offer up new interpretations of these traditions. I realize I am on shaky ground, but I still hold on to what I believe to be true.”
Peggy Campolo said she disagrees with her husband, and that the first chapter of Romans refers to a period of time when Pagan rituals, idol worships and sexual obscenities were a way of life.
“I do not believe there is anything in the Bible that deals with homosexuality as we view it today,” she said. “Is it right, or fair, to keep some Old Testament arbitrary rules and not others?” she said.
Traditional family values are code words that are often used to shut homosexuals out, Peggy said.
“There are times when we must transcend tradition,” she said. “Gay people are not the only people who live in closets.”
Tony said even with their vast differences, he and his wife agree homosexuality is not a choice, and the government should have no influence on marriage.
“I do not think the government should interfere with people’s spiritual convictions,” he said. “The government should get out of the role of marriage and give straight and homosexual couples the same legal, civil rights.”
This is no taxation without representation, and homosexuals should not have to pay taxes if they are denied a lifelong commitment, Tony said.
“You would have the biggest coming out party this country has ever seen,” he said.
Tony said after being together for so long, people ask how he and Peggy maintain a healthy relationship with such conflicting ideals.
“By simply saying, ‘I could be wrong,’ before we make a point, we are able to stay open with each other,” he said. “The truth is, you can’t have a successful conversation, or learn anything, if you don’t entertain the idea that you could be wrong.”