Gay high school student challenges anti-LGBT Liberty University to ‘love neighbor as self’

Guest Commentary

jacobratliffJacob C. Ratliff, 17, a senior at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, and president of his school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, pens this open letter below to Liberty University:

I, like many other high school students, have had my email inbox flooded in the past months with messages from various schools urging me to apply. When I received my first email from Liberty University, I chuckled and joked with my family and friends, saying, “They wouldn’t be telling me to apply if they knew ‘what’ I was.” The “what” is that I am gay — and Christian.

From the controversy of your institution not recognizing the College Democrats club to the constant bigotry and disgust toward the LGBT community, Liberty University has a distinct history of intolerance toward those who are anything but what the university considers “right.” But I’m not here to try and discredit your school, seeing as this institution does some good things. I’m here to address the hate.

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While I am not attempting in any way to start a religious debate over the “sin” that you consider homosexuality, I will say that most everything the Bible preaches is that of love and acceptance. There is a reason that the message of scripture as well as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are called The Gospel. As I’m sure you know, “The Gospel” translates directly to “the good news.” Tell me, what is inherently good about considering the LGBT community to be sinful and less than heterosexuals? Nothing.

Refer to John 3:16, as I am sure many in your institution have it memorized. The verse does not say that only heterosexuals who believe in God shall not perish and will have eternal life. No, it is “whoever believes in him shall never perish but have eternal life.” In addition, Mark 12:31 does not say, “You shall love your heterosexual neighbor as yourself.” No, you need to love your homeless, depressed, gay, straight, rich and poor neighbors as you do yourself.

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I do not think you understand, though. I do not think you understand the fear. The fear of not being accepted everywhere you go. The fear of being seen as less of a human being than others. The fear of showing up to college on the first day of freshman orientation and seeing that everything the school preaches is against your very being. No human should experience that.

Growing up as a preacher’s son, I have been taught from birth that God loves me. God loves me not because of my sexual orientation, but because I am his creation and was created in his image. Even though I was aware of this from a very young age, I still faced the fear of coming out to my father. Not for a second did I think he would cease to love me when I came out to him, but it was that same element of fear that grasped me, causing me to hide it from my parents until it was eating me away inside.

Finally, I would like to add that I recognize and respect the religious freedom that this institution has, but I do not respect what you are doing with it. Until I am seeing freedom to practice religion being used for the good that God intended, you and your institution will have zero respect from the LGBT community, which is a shame for such a large university. I strongly urge you to reach out to the LGBT community and prove that your “Champions of Christ” truly love their neighbors as they do themselves. I genuinely hope to hear back from you with a vision of loving your neighbors as yourself.

Sincerely yours,

Jacob C. Ratliff

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8 Replies to “Gay high school student challenges anti-LGBT Liberty University to ‘love neighbor as self’”

  1. Good for him! Bravo.

  2. This young man and his letter just put a special shine to this day. Looking forward to hearing more from him. Have a feeling we will.

  3. Jesus also told the woman… your sins are forgiven, go and sin no more… so yes He loves everyone regardless, but there’s still a definition of right, wrong, sin. And if you read Romans you’ll find out more about what is right/wrong/sinful/ and not…

    1. So James, you’re saying you don’t WANT to love your neighbor as yourself. You just want to judge according to select Bible verses that YOU interpret in a certain way. OK–sounds like a Christian to me!

    2. James, please answer this foundational question, “Is being LGBT s choice?” And if it is s choice, why would someone choose to it?” Having a gsy son, and several gsy friends, I have come to understsnd that LGBT is not a lifestyle but who they are. It’s not an act, it’s a being.

  4. Jacob Ratliff is my nephew, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.

    And having gotten to know Jerry Falwell while covering religion in general and PTL in particular for the Greensboro paper years ago, I can say that Liberty comes by its bigotry honestly.

  5. How is it that people always find time to criticize something that their not really interested in but find fault with other people’s belief instead find a religion that accepts everything that you believe in and allows whatever you want. When anyone sins it is a violation of God’s law there is no distinction between one sin or another. God is love but our sin separates us from God. When I say sin I mean any sin if you don’t repent it includes everyone. Not picking or choosing.

  6. I have to say anger is mild in describing your letter. Liberty has their problems and like many have their fair share of close minded individuals. I was a graduate student there working on my Masters. I was openly gay, talk about it, may it be as it should just a natural part of my life. I was never do discriminated against, ridicule, and felt very comfortable and supported by faculty. Jerry was still around then. I assure you I was known. I received comments from faculty that I had made alot I’d people rethink their personal thoughts and beliefs. To live your life naturally and make your sexuality matter of fact than in your face I found has gone a long way in causing people to second guess what they thought were true. You don’t have to like Liberty or their views but when we as gay people don’t practice tolerance, compassion, and respect for different ideas and opinions, are we not as bad as they are?

    Ironically, I tried to intern at a gay youth support centered and presented myself as openly gay and was that since I went to Liberty I was not as good fit…now who I’d discrimating?

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