Crisis Averted: Christian Colleges Avoid Split over Same-Sex Marriage
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The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) escaped a predicament in September, when two Mennonite members voluntarily withdrew from the association.

The schools—Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Virginia and Goshen College in Indiana—had decided earlier this year to permit faculty and staff to be in same-sex marriages.

Before the withdrawals, two other schools—the Southern Baptist–affiliated Union University and Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU)—quit the CCCU in protest.

“We believe in missional clarity and view the defense of the biblical definition of marriage as an issue of critical importance,” said OKWU president Everett Piper. “The CCCU’s reluctance to make a swift decision sends a message of confusion rather than conviction.”

The CCCU interviewed more than 120 member presidents, and found that about three-quarters of them favored demoting EMU and Goshen to “affiliate” status. That would mean they could not vote on association matters. But the Mennonite schools withdrew prior to a decision.

“Both schools have been clear from the outset that they did not want to be the cause of significant division within the membership,” stated the CCCU board.

The departure leaves the CCCU united about same-sex marriage but with deeper questions: How are Christian colleges engaging a post-Christian culture? And what part, if any, does denominational theology play in whether schools choose to engage or withdraw?

Both evangelical and Anabaptist traditions value separation from the world. But they express it in different ways, said historian Jared Burkholder at Anabaptist-affiliated Grace College, a CCCU member.

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November 2015

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