Several readers comment on the controversy over Gordon’s policy on homosexuality:
This is clear bigotry. The college can believe anything it wants, but the organizations that set up “accredited” requirements can also be free to set their own requirements. Being accredited is not a right; it’s a privilege.
Orthodox Christian teachings on sexuality are not ipso facto bigotry. Intolerance of others’ sincere views comes closer to that definition. Another reader fisks me:
Gordon alum here, who has been working for LGBT acceptance at Gordon for many years, and to this day. You’re so wrong. And it’s so disheartening to be thrown under the bus.
“They key issue here, it seems to me, is whether the college’s orthodox views about sex are being fairly implemented.”
What are you trying to say? The Gordon administration’s view is that “homosexual practice” is inherently sinful. Straight students can and do get married (inadvisably young, perhaps) and have sex; gay students would be expelled for doing so. How can such a policy be “fairly implemented”?
“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.”
That is false. If you take the time to read the stories of actual Gordon students and alumni, you will find that LGBT students experience hate speech, anxiety, depression, suicidality, and everything else you would expect from a campus that declares homosexuality to be sinful, and promotes ex-gay therapy to its students.
I’m wondering if the source of our disagreement is that you might simply not realize that gay marriage is not recognized by the college. Here is the policy at issue, that bans “homosexual practice”. Not “homosexual practice outside marriage”. Any “homosexual practice”. It’s lumped in with theft and drunkenness, as things that “will not be tolerated”.
Still want to defend Gordon College?
Absolutely. Do I agree with them? Not at all. Did I agree with the Boy Scouts with their previous ban on gay kids? No. But one principle of liberalism is that you can profoundly disagree with someone while accepting their right to do as they see fit according to their conscience. Yes, marriage is barred by the college for gay kids, while heterosexual marriage (and thereby sex) is allowed. That is, in a very limited way, a double standard of sorts – if with respect to college kids, an uncommon one. But is my reader really arguing that an orthodox Christian college should therefore have to repudiate its own religious doctrines or not get accreditation? That simply shreds any concept of religious liberty. It removes any possibility for the college evolving on this issue on Christian terms – the kind of thing that Matthew Vines is working on. It would put countless religious institutions beyond the pale. I’m sorry but that is not what I think a liberal society should mean.
As for this notion that I am throwing my fellow gays under the bus.
This is not the first time I have been accused of this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. All I can say is that I have spent a lot of my life countering the theology and the politics of homophobia and that this is my sincere belief about what a free society means. I’ve been consistent from the get-go on this – just check out Virtually Normal. I am not going to change my mind because it makes me highly toxic and beyond-the-pale in the gay community at large. I understand that and have long accepted it. Another points to practical evidence of a double standard at Gordon:
You wrote that it is important to know how Gordon College treats homosexual physical encounters vs those of straight couples. As I suspect the college doesn’t keep track exactly, I can say this: boy, do Gordon College boys throw some amazing parties and have plenty of premarital sex.
As a student in Boston in the mid 2000s, and a native Bostonian, I knew students at many of the colleges in Eastern Massachusetts. I knew one boy, whom I played ice hockey with, who went off to Gordon, as his parents wanted him straightened out after being minimally troublesome in high school. It wasn’t long before he realised how easy it was to get to Salem from Gordon, and Salem State is a great school for parties. A small chunk from my high school ended up at Salem State, and it was a good place for my old hockey team to meet up. The hockey boys from Gordon that my friend now knew would come down to Salem and effectively co-host parties. And these were crazy affairs, which I have a hard time describing, simply because it was rather the point to drink to blackout.
Anyway, the Gordon boys had no problems with the typical college amorality, and you were just as likely to find a Gordon boy having random hookup sex on one of the futons as you were to find a boy from Salem State, Endicott, UMass, or anyone else who happened to be in town from Boston, a short train ride away. Sometimes the Gordon boys snuck girls back into their dorms to spend the night. My old friend got caught with a girl in his room, and while he had to apologise, it didn’t seem like a big deal. The schools seemed to take a policy of “try and keep it off campus”, but there were never any consequences for anyone I knew who engaged in all sorts of sexual acts on and off campus … but always between opposite sex partners.
The problem with Gordon College is less to do with the students, by the way, and more to do with the fact they want to turn away any openly LGBT job applicants. Massachusetts has long been against intolerance in this way – there’s a reason Catholic adoption agencies left the state – and it doesn’t surprise me at all that targeting intolerant educational bodies that receive federal funding has occurred. Can we seriously say the federal government should be backing a college that wants a policy of straights-only? I guess ultimately if that’s what the federal government does, that’s one thing, but Massachusetts has been ahead in many other ways, and I hope it continues to push for progress and a higher standard of equality.