It was standing room only at Hickman High School’s Speak Your Mind Forum Tuesday night. More than 100 people attended the evening’s discussion about the legal issues concerning marriage and the religious ordination of gays and lesbians.
“This is a pretty hot topic in the news right now,” said Jimmy Janes, a senior at Hickman. “The idea that you want to restrict a group of people from achieving a pretty basic goal (of marriage) in society seems over the top.”
It’s the third of four Speak Your Mind forums throughout the school year on substantive issues facing the American public. The night’s controversial topics revolving around gay rights sparked a continuous barrage of questions from students to the forum’s four panelists: Kurt Jefferson, chairman of political science department at Westminster College in Fulton; Ric Rodeheaver, youth ministries pastor at Evangelical Free Church; Fred Thayer, priest and rector at Calvary Episcopal Church; and Christina Wells, professor of law at MU.
While legal and constitutional issues were addressed regarding gay marriage, much of the discussion focused on differing religious views of homosexuality.
“In my opinion, all that God has created is intrinsically good,” Thayer said. “Homosexual persons are part of what God created, therefore homosexuals are intrinsically good.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum was Rodeheaver, representing the Evangelical Church, who cited Bible passages saying, “The (homosexual) lifestyle in general is something God in Scripture calls an abomination.”
Rodeheaver, who interprets the Bible literally, also cautions that Scripture is written in a particular historical context, which makes it sometimes necessary to interpret its context.
Although the forum was open to the public, only students are allowed to ask questions and participate in the dialogue. They showed no hesitance in asking Rodeheaver to further justify his views of homosexuality as a behavior. He quickly became a lightning rod for questions asking why it is right to take one Bible passage literally but to say the next requires contextual interpretation.
One thing that was agreed upon by the panelists was that gay rights is not an issue that is about to disappear. Jefferson said there’s no question it will make an appearance in the Supreme Court in the next few years.