Public Forum

This letter was sent to Pepperdine University President Andrew Benton, David Baird, dean of Seaver College, and Mark Davis, dean of student affairs.

I am deeply saddened by the news of Andrew Weisser’s resignation from Pepperdine University’s American Humanics Scholars Board.

It brings up a lot of painful memories for me:

You see, I was raised in the Church of Christ. I was baptized at the age of nine at camp Tonda Bible Camp in the San Bernardino Mountains. I attended church two to three times a week for many years. My mother, Eugenia Goodman, was the South Bay chapter president of Associated Women of Pepperdine.

I also came of age during the late ’70s-in the era of the Anita Bryant crusades-and I heard horrible things-very un-Christian things-about gay people from the pulpits of our churches in Hermosa Beach and Torrance, California. Specifically, we were taught that: gay people were sinners; gay people chose to “be that way;” gay people should try to change; and, if gay people couldn’t change, then they should live alone and be celibate.

These teachings brought me excruciating pain because I knew I was gay, and, at the same time, I felt a deep connection to the church and the teachings of Christ.

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So, here’s what I did. At first, I tried to comply; I tried to change a la behavior medication therapy. After several horrendous years of that, I learned that, while some of this therapy can alter behavior for a while-if the individual puts enough energy into it-no psychological treatment has ever been proven to alter feelings (only to suppress them temporarily). (I now have an M.S. in counseling and have studied this topic extensively. So, I know what I’m talking about.)

After this failed, I tried the “live alone / celibacy” route. This was the most desperately lonely and unhappy time of my life. Anyone who advocates this approach should have to live it him/herself: No close human contact and no hope of ever experiencing close human contact! This was truly awful, miserable, in fact, I really don’t have the words to adequately describe it. Toward the end of this period I was in so much despair that I started contemplating suicide.

That is when things changed for me. One night, in the fall of 1986, after crying and crying, I just decided there had to be another way. I knew that if I kept going like this I was going to kill myself and if I did, that I would go to hell. I also understood-from the church’s teachings-that if I came out as a gay person, I would eventually go to hell, too. So, I thought, as long as I’m going to end up in hell, I might as well have a shot at some happiness before I get there.

This is the position gay Church of Christ Christians are put in. It is inhuman!

From that moment on, my life changed-and I have been on a path of growth and expansion ever since. I have also experienced the presence of God more in the years since I came out than I ever did before.

I know, from the inside, that the teachings of the Church of Christ and the policies of Pepperdine University about homosexuality are wrong.

In the Nov. 18, 2004 issue of the Pepperdine University Newspaper (The Graphic), you, Mr. Baird, are quoted as saying, “The university has the right to, indeed the obligation, to act in defense of the values upon which it was founded.”

Interesting … It has long been my understanding that Pepperdine was founded on Christian values, and that Christian values are based, above all, on these two teachings of Christ: “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like this, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12: 30-31)

The Church of Christ and Pepperdine University’s position on homosexuality is clearly not consistent with these teachings. How do you reconcile this?

Now at this point, we could get into a long, drawn out debate / discussion about Biblical references to homosexuality in the Bible (ala Leviticus 18:22). But, I think it is important to simply point out a couple of things:

First, as I’m sure you are well aware, Christ never mentioned homosexuality. Second, the Bible is full of sanctions and prohibitions no reasonable human being would practice today, such as, sanctions: The possession of slaves (Leviticus 25:44); the selling of one’s daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7). Prohibitions: Eating shellfish (an abomination) (Lev.11:10); working on the Sabbath (punishable by death) (Exodus 35:2); contact with a woman while she is in her “period of menstrual uncleanliness” (Lev.15:19-24); the trimming of male hair around the temples (Lev.19:27).

It makes absolutely no sense that homosexuality is still singled out-while all these other prohibitions are routinely ignored by “Christians” today.

One last thing. The Nov. 18, 2004 issue of The Graphic, also quotes you, Mr. Baird, as writing the following in a letter to Mr. Weisser, “Pepperdine University discriminates against no one or group on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.”

This, of course, is not true. To discriminate is to treat differently. If you did not discriminate against gay and lesbian people, then the Students Against Homophobia would be allowed to exist, like any other group on campus. Please, please, show some integrity here. If you are going to deny this group equality, then for heaven sake, please be honest about it, and don’t insult our intelligence with Bush-esque double talk.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Truth is God.” Truth will ultimately prevail, like it always does. Eventually, the Church of Christ and Pepperdine University’s position on homosexuality will seem as outdated as slavery and gender inequality do now. It is inevitable.

Robert J. Goodman, M.S.

Career Counselor,

Work ‘n Life Matters

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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