The Background: Last fall, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) discussed whether Gordon College’s traditional inclusion of “homosexual practice” as a forbidden activity in its Statement on Life and Conduct was contrary to the Commission’s standards for accreditation. Prior to the NEASC meeting, Gordon College President Michael Lindsay submitted information about Gordon, its mission as a Christian institution, its evangelical Christian identity, and its “history of respectful self-critique and dialogue with individuals of diverse backgrounds.”
Gordon agreed to undertake a 12-18 month “period of discernment” and to submit, as requested by the NEASC, a report for consideration at the Commission’s September 2015 meeting.
Today, Gordon issued a statement that announces the next steps in Gordon’s process of responding to questions about the school’s sexuality policy. Three takeaways from the statement are:
• Gordon’s governing board unanimously voted to reaffirm the traditional theological position on same-sex sexual activity (which says homosexual practice is out of bounds for the Christ-follower’s life), and, as a result, affirmed that their Statement on Life and Conduct would remain unchanged.
• The launching of a taskforce, headed by the VP for Student Life, that will identify protocol improvements in residence life, in educational offerings, and in campus programming that could enable Gordon to “demonstrate greater pastoral sensitivity on issues surrounding human sexuality.”
• Gordon has begun drafting a white paper that will provide the pastoral and theological framework that will be used internally as the school addresses topics related to sexuality.
“We remain as committed as ever to historic Christian teaching on this topic,” Lindsay said, “while recognizing that members of the Gordon community hold varying perspectives. I am confident that this process and these initiatives will enhance our ability to care for all Gordon students while we continue to foster spiritual and academic transformation, which is the hallmark of the Gordon experience.”
Why It Matters: Gordon College should be commended for their refusal to appease critics by abandoning Christian ethics and the historical and biblical teaching on sexuality. Unfortunately, this latest response will likely only lead to enhanced attacks on the school. Rather than being a viewed as a pastorally sensitive attempt to address the issue, the “self-critique and dialogue” will be used as an excuse to pressure the college to exchange the moral convictions of the Holy Spirit for the immoral concessions of the spirit of the age.
Last October Collin Hansen explained what is at stake for Gordon and other Christian colleges:
Surrendering to the spirit of this age may seem like prudence to some who would encourage Gordon College to go beyond the requests of its accrediting agency and drop its convictions on sexuality. But at what cost? Boston doesn't need more buildings that used to house spiritually vibrant classrooms and congregations. Their silent witness speaks volumes. Meanwhile the one who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3) told his disciples in the most famous sermon in human history, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:12).
If we take the founder and perfecter of our faith at his word, then church leaders like Lints and Um and many others I saw in Boston this weekend are ready for abundant blessings. “Let not your hearts be troubled,” Jesus told his disciples. “Believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). Jesus goes before us to prepare a place among the many rooms in his Father's house (John 14:2-3). Why forsake everlasting joy in the courts of the King (Ps. 84:10) for another musty museum where the Son of Man will not find faith when he returns? (Luke 18:8).