Two Christian colleges have altered their codes of conduct to allow married gay faculty members.
Until Monday, Goshen College and Eastern Mennonite University had joined many other schools with avowed Christian identities in recognizing only heterosexual marriages and requiring unmarried faculty members (gay or straight) to be chaste. But now, both schools have announced they will hire gay, married professors as well. The school will continue to expect chastity of unmarried faculty.
“Our education is grounded in Mennonite/Anabaptist values, and we believe people in same-sex covenanted relationships are valued members of our learning community with equal rights to standard benefits,” said Kay Brenneman Nussbaum, board chair at Eastern Mennonite.
The two colleges are the first members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities to adopt such a rule change. Both are aligned with the Mennonite Church USA, which has not as a denomination recognized gay marriage, but recently adopted as “forbearance resolution” calling for members to be tolerant on the issue.
Still, the new policies put both schools “at variance” with the official policy of the Mennonite Education Association.
Goshen president James Brenneman sought to reaffirm the school’s Mennonite values despite the decision.
“We deeply affirm the goodness of marriage, singleness, celibacy, sexual intimacy within marriage, and a life of faithfulness before God for all people,” he said.
Both schools have been reviewing their policies on the matter for some time, and both claim they weren’t reacting to last month’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage across the country.
Nevertheless, many Christian groups have raised the prospect that colleges that refuse to recognize gay unions could face legal challenges in the future, and the schools’ decision is similar to those occurring at several other Christian schools. Two weeks ago, Baptist-aligned Baylor University removed its ban on “homosexual acts.”
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