On Gordon College and the Charge of Sexual “Discrimination”

On Gordon College and the Charge of Sexual “Discrimination” July 16, 2014

I just wrote a piece for First Things in which I decry the charge of “discrimination” that Gordon College and its president, D. Michael Lindsay, face for seeking to adhere to biblical sexual ethics. This used to be called “religious practice” and is now called “discrimination.”

The essay is called “Religion in a Heart-Shaped Box” and it ranges over Gordon, Bowdoin, and the broader public square today. A swatch:

In high school, many of us read the story of Hester Prynne, the character created for The Scarlet Letter by my fellow Bowdoin alum Nathaniel Hawthorne. Hester, in Hawthorne’s rather grim presentation of history, had to wear the famed scarlet letter for her adultery. At least Hester was able to remain a member of society, however. The mark of shame Evangelicals and their Catholic friends wear is such that they cannot even appear in public.

Those that remain do so under conditions. They may keep for themselves a heart-shaped box, small and worn. There they must tuck away their religious liberty, keeping it under lock and tiny key. Once in a great while, when they have followed the rules, they may take it out. There, they may hold it close to their heart, savoring the piety of a precious moment, listening to the little music box, pink and heart-shaped, play a long-forgotten song.

Read the whole thing.

Pray for Lindsay and for Gordon, embattled because they dare to believe and live by the Bible. I have admired Lindsay’s work for some time, and I almost went to Gordon some years back (and have numerous friends who are alumni), and the fact that this controversy is taking place in my native New England is personally poignant. Gordon could lose its accreditation over this.

Also, note this controversy: the local community, including a stream of writers for the Boston Globe, is turning against Gordon, a school with a long-standing reputation. Though this pushback might seem unique to Gordon, this could well be a pattern that religious institutions–including Christian colleges, seminaries, and churches–witness. We’ve been focusing on the threat of top-heavy federal attacks on religious liberty, but the threat of local communities suddenly and swiftly turning on evangelical organizations considered “discriminatory” is very real, and not just in Massachusetts.

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