Two Christian colleges have adopted new policies that will land them in potential conflict with their denomination’s belief that marriage should be a union between a man and a woman.
By adding “sexual orientation” to their non-discrimination policies, Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana, and Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will not only hire prospective employees who identify as gay or lesbian, but will also extend benefits to the spouses of professors and staff who are in same-sex marriages.
James Brenneman, president of Goshen College, said other traditional expectations for staff of a Christian college will continue to be upheld, despite a disregard for the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.
“We deeply affirm the goodness of marriage, singleness, celibacy, sexual intimacy within marriage, and a life of faithfulness before God for all people,” he said, according to Christianity Today.
“Our education is grounded in Mennonite/Anabaptist values, and we believe people in same-sex covenanted relationships are valued members of our learning community with equal rights to standard benefits,” said Kay Brenneman Nussbaum, the chair of Eastern Mennonite University’s board.
Nussbaum added that professors and staff will still be expected to support and reflect the “mission and core values” of the school – even if they disagree with the church’s teachings on homosexuality and gay marriage.
Faculty for both schools could still face discipline, and even dismissal, for other sexual behavior, such as adultery, sexual harassment, and failure to remain celibate before marriage.
While the new policies might place the schools in hot water among certain Christian groups, at least two other prominent Christian colleges have already adopted similar policies. Hope College, in Holland, Michigan, and Belmont University, in Nashville, Tennessee had previously announced they would begin extending benefits to same-sex couples of faculty and staff.
The decision puts the schools at direct odds with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, which has been a staunch advocate for the right of Christian schools to hire professors and staff who comply with Church teachings.
But political correctness, apparently, is more important to some institutions of higher education than the religious principles upon which they were founded.