Invitations usually come by phone.
Follow-up, details, are by email.
“Can you come? We’re sponsoring a debate on campus. The topic is homosexuality. Your opponent is gay, a churchgoer. The crowd will be about 500 or 600. Mostly non-Christians. The press will be there. And, oh, yes, you don’t mind being heckled, do you?”
Without thinking, I find the date blank in my schedule book, tell the student I will come, and hang up.
The days preceding the debate are a blur of other events, but I catch myself praying, gathering statistics, scouring the Word.
Several days ahead, I feel my pulse quicken, my throat is dry.
I arrive on campus, eat with the students but am not really hungry.
We file into the public hall already filling with students.
I shake hands with the gay man I will debate. We exchange pleasantries.
House lights dim. Spotlights illumine two podiums. A moderator solemnly calls the crowd to order.
In my opening remarks I say that sex is a gift of God, it is good, and while it is a wonderful servant, it is a cruel master when allowed to ensnare us in lust. I tell students God has given us boundaries to our sexual expression, inside of which the good things of life can run rampant with joy, but outside of which life becomes perverted and crippled.
I also tell them I do not pick on homosexuals alone, that adultery, divorce, pornography, bother me, too.
My debate opponent assures me he was born gay and that he finds great meaning in the succession of relationships he has enjoyed. He tells me the Bible is a worthy book, but outdated on many sexual issues.
I point out the word “sin” in Greek is an archery term. It means “to miss the mark.” Then I ask why God created sex in the first place? What was his aim? His bull’s-eye?
Companionship. “It is not good that man should live alone.” Genesis
Procreation. “Be fruitful and multiply…” Genesis
Joy. The Song of Solomon is a nuptial poem celebrating married sexual love.
Christ is the Groom. The church is the bride. And how a husband and wife care for one another is something of a foretaste of glory divine. Ephesians 5.
I ask, “Can homosexuals have companionship? Yes? Can they have joy? Yes. Can they procreate? No! Is God’s image expressed in a man and a man or a woman or a woman? No.”
“See then how gays miss the mark? But so do fornicators, adulterers, pedophiles, and divorcees! Yet there is forgiveness!
I tell them about Christ, about how He can forgive, change us…
Though I am heckled some and my debate opponent cheered often, when the debate is over, I stick around and banter with the youngsters.
Students pick clean the literature table I have set up with 10 or 12 handouts.
One gay student asks if he can hug me. I say yes. We embrace. He says, “I do not agree with you, but I sense you are a nice man.”
I drive home, exhausted.
I wonder if I have done any good.
Ah! But the duty is mine; the results are the Lord’s.
I am tired for two days.
But I know I’ve been in the right place.