In Defense Of Gordon College

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 8 2014 @ 11:55am

Here’s a possibly troubling story out of Massachusetts:

The regional body that accredits colleges and universities has given Gordon College a year to report back about a campus policy on homosexuality, one that may be in violation of accreditation standards. The higher education commission of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges met last week and “considered whether Gordon College’s traditional inclusion of ‘homosexual practice’ as a forbidden activity” runs afoul of the commission’s standards for accreditation, according to a joint statement from NEASC and Gordon College.

Here is that college’s public statement about its policy on homosexuality:

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They key issue here, it seems to me, is whether the college’s orthodox views about sex are being fairly implemented. If the prohibition against non-marital sex is enforced only on gay students, we have a problem. But there is no evidence that it is. And the college – which implemented its own review of this policy – seems attuned (see the last sentence) to the problems for gay students in such a setting.

In a liberal society, a college should not be denied accreditation because of its religious teachings, as long as they do not endorse double standards for different individuals who are enrolled.

I’ve spent most of my adult life challenging the notion that the distinction between a homosexual person and “homosexual acts” makes sense – but I am not omniscient, and I respect those who sincerely disagree with me. I certainly don’t want them penalized for such religious convictions. This is something called “liberalism” – the toleration of different faiths in a civil society, and the conviction that the best long-term way to discern the truth is not to suppress such faiths but to allow them to flourish (or not) in the free marketplace of ideas and beliefs. You don’t have to agree with Rod Dreher that this is about “hatred” of Christianity, just as you don’t have to agree that all difference of opinion on homosexuality is about “hatred” of gays. But Damon Linker is onto something:

Contemporary liberals increasingly think and talk like a class of self-satisfied commissars enforcing a comprehensive, uniformly secular vision of the human good. The idea that someone, somewhere might devote her life to an alternative vision of the good — one that clashes in some respects with liberalism’s moral creed — is increasingly intolerable. That is a betrayal of what’s best in the liberal tradition.