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Embattled evangelical college sticks with its defense of traditional sexuality

Gordon College near Boston isn’t changing its theological approach to sexuality, even at the risk of losing its accreditation.

The evangelical school found itself targeted by partners including a local government after its president, D. Michael Lindsay, added his name to a letter asking the Obama administration for exemptions from federal contracting rules surrounding hiring and sexual orientation.

At the end of a nine-month review, Gordon’s trustees voted unanimously to upheld the school’s “life-and-conduct statement,” which requires students, faculty and staff to abstain from “homosexual practice,” according to a letter from Lindsay to alumni, the Salem News reports:

Lindsay, however, acknowledged that the college “has not always lived up to our ideals” in its treatment of gay students and alumni and announced several plans to address the problem. …

On Monday the college announced a series of initiatives, including more training for staff, surveys to address the well-being of students as it relates to sexuality and sexual identity, stronger anti-bullying policies, and the formation of a task force of students, faculty and staff.

The college is also considering hiring new staff to provide support and programs for students around issues of human sexuality, along with dedicated courses and campus forums.

There’s a “fuller statement” going beyond sexuality in the works. Lindsay wrote in the letter that Gordon’s effort “may be unprecedented in Christian higher education”:

Gordon has hosted nearly two dozen forums and nearly a dozen speakers on the topic of human sexuality since December, according to the college. Trustees have met with gay students and alumni and read thousands of pages of briefing materials, including books and articles that differ from Gordon’s theological position, Lindsay said. Lindsay said he has met personally and formed friendships with leaders in the LGBT community.


The Gospel Coalition has more details on the letter, which Gordon does not appear to have made public from its own website:

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.

As the coalition’s Joe Carter says, though, “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.

Gordon is scheduled to submit a report to its accrediting body, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, in September “in order to discern whether the policy forbidding homosexual practice meets NEASC’s accreditation standards,” the Salem News said.

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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