The homosexuality debate that has torn apart mainline denominations is fanning faculty and student protests at Calvin College, and highlights a growing issue facing evangelical schools.

The spark was a memo issued by trustees of the Grand Rapids school prohibiting "advocacy of homosexual practice and same-sex marriage" both in and outside the classroom. Sent to faculty and staff before fall classes began, the memo provoked charges that the board was curtailing academic freedom, due process, and Calvin's tradition of vibrant Christian inquiry.

The Faculty Senate has asked the board to rescind the memo, arguing it bypassed normal faculty-review procedures for policy changes.

The board recently (Oct. 24) declined to do so but appointed a committee to revisit the statement in consultation with faculty. The committee also will suggest ways for Calvin to articulate academic freedom at a Reformed Christian college, and recommend whether the whole issue should be referred to the Christian Reformed Church Synod.

The case is being watched with interest by other schools struggling to balance compassion and doctrine in their policies on gays.

"I think it's a symptom of the growing lack of consensus about this issue," said Stanton Jones, provost at Wheaton College and a sexuality scholar. "The debates that once were contained within the mainline denominations are spilling over into the evangelical denominations."

He added that young evangelicals increasingly see homosexuality "not as an issue of sexual morality but as an issue of justice, dignity, or tolerance." But other prospective students and their parents want colleges to hold to traditional positions.

"There are some people for whom this has become the litmus test for whether you are ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
Quick Media Takes Subscriber Access Only
Books, films, music of note in November.
RecommendedTrump’s Religious Liberty Order Doesn’t Answer Most Evangelicals’ Prayers
Trump’s Religious Liberty Order Doesn’t Answer Most Evangelicals’ Prayers
Prayer breakfast pledge to ‘totally destroy’ Johnson Amendment comes up shy; conscience exemptions from LGBT anti-discrimination rules missing.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickSix Ways Men Can Support Women's Discipleship
Six Ways Men Can Support Women's Discipleship
Male clergy and laity who want to enable women's ministry often don't know how to get involved or what to do.
Christianity Today
The Litmus Test
hide thisNovember November

In the Magazine

November 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.