Everyone on this tiny campus has heard, on some level, the “Sin is Sin” vs. “Love is Love” debate. It has become much more than an opinion, much more than words and much more than the seemingly simple decision to choose a t-shirt. It has become a debate of faith, freedom and understanding. It has furthered the evidence that the upcoming election is going to pit neighbor against neighbor—in the biblical sense.

On Sept. 18, Iowan Zach Wahls visited Concordia and gave a lecture entitled, “What Makes a Family?” And, despite your personal affiliations, Wahls has an opinion that no one can deny: “I think love is a more powerful message than fear.”

Wahls, as a 19-year-old engineering student, testified before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee about his personal experiences as a boy with two moms.

“I’m not really so different from any of your children. My family really isn’t so different from any of yours,” he said in his 2011 testimony. “The sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other—to work through the hard times so we can enjoy the good ones. It comes from the love that binds us. That’s what makes a family.”

After appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show and having his testimony played on ABC, CBS, CNN and MSNBC, Wahls somehow found himself facing this question from a student in the full-house audience at Concordia:

“How should we handle this ‘Sin is Sin’ situation?”

Wahls answered calmly, saying, “If you look at the words Christ speaks in Scripture, his message—overwhelmingly—is not one about sin or about fear. He emphasizes, repeatedly, the importance of loving others, treating others the way we want to be treated and not judging lest you be judged.”

Although Wahls cited the best part of his newfound stardom as the opportunity to “have incredible conversations with all different walks of life,” he was quick to mention how exhausting it can get. Yet he continues to make his voice heard amidst the roar of political campaign commercials and onslaught of protestors. His cause? Vote!

This November, an amendment will appear on the ballet that reads: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage in Minnesota?” This amendment, Wahls said, limits the freedom to marry in a very permanent way. His stance? Vote no.

“There are two critical things that students can do,” he said. “The first is to talk with people about this topic. It’s not easy. It’s not always fun. But it’s so, so rewarding. If our offhand comments have the power to change lives, imagine the power of deliberate conversation.

“Next, vote! Register to vote and register your friends to vote and literally drag them to the polls.”

If Wahls’s call to action isn’t enough, he urges you to think about the amendment from the perspective of those whose lives it will change. As he said in the conclusion to his 2011 testimony, “So will this vote affect my family? Will it affect yours?”

 

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