Friday, February 3, 2012

quick hit: christian college presidents + human sexuality

Libby Nelson @ Inside Higher Ed reports on a recent meeting of Christian college presidents on the subject of non-normative sexuality (specifically homosexuality) and the Bible:
Part of the goal of the session was to allow college presidents to discuss how to handle [incidents of bullying and harassment] and other situations, which are happening with increasing frequency on college campuses as more students come out as gay as undergraduates and as other groups, including many representing alumni, ask the colleges to change.

“It’s important to us as leaders of Christian colleges and universities to promote sexual purity, to exercise good pastoral care and to articulate Biblical convictions,” said Philip Ryken, the panel’s moderator and president of Wheaton College in Illinois. At Wheaton, gay alumni and their supporters founded a group, OneWheaton, that counters the college’s view on sexuality, and held an unofficial homecoming event.

All three presidents [from Messiah, Wheaton, and Westmont] pointed out that they do not discipline students for same-sex attraction, and that the restrictions on sexual behavior are roughly analogous to those on heterosexual students: all prohibit sexual contact outside marriage. Gay students and alumni argue that a ban on premarital sex is not the same as a ban on homosexual “behavior,” since they would not be able to hold hands with a partner of the same sex, while straight students would.
I'm headed back to Hope College at the beginning of March to speak at a Women's Studies symposium, and I'll be very interested to hear and see first-hand what the climate for queer students and faculty is like now. It's been seven years since I graduated now (!) and with the current president now in his final year of service, I get the sense things are ripe for change -- though in what direction it's hard, as yet, to gauge.