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It’s a bad idea, Baylor

The Baptist university seeks to balance Christian faith with concessions to LGBTQ+ identity claims

A 9-foot-tall sculpture of a bear stands watch in front of the McLane Student Life Center on the Baylor University campus. Facebook/Baylor University

It’s a bad idea, Baylor

Last week, Baylor University chartered its first-ever LGBTQ+ group on campus, Prism at Baylor. This is a stunning but not unsurprising development. The university, based in Waco, Texas, still claims affiliation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, but the institution has been subtly shifting on the question of Biblical authority on sexuality and gender for some time. Baylor is now at a place of no return.

That, of course, is not the message the university wants to send.

According to Prism’s co-president, Lor Duncan, the group will provide “not only a space for LGBTQ+ students to have a community and have respectful discussions about sexuality, gender identity, and how those things can intersect with faith and spirituality, but we also want to provide resources; educational, physical, mental, spiritual, emotional.”

Nearly a year ago, Baylor’s board of regents passed a resolution affirming the school’s commitments on issues of sexuality. These included “The dignity and worth of all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, as we strive to fulfill our Christian commitment of a caring community” and “the Biblical understanding that sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage between a man and a woman are not in keeping with the teaching of Scripture, as summarized in the University’s Statement on Human Sexuality.”

That Statement on Human Sexuality encourages students struggling with issues of sexuality to avail themselves of resources at the school’s Spiritual Life Office and Counseling Center. “The University remains committed to extending biblical grace in caring for all our students and meeting them where they are, just as Jesus did, and adhering to traditional biblical teaching of Scripture regarding human sexuality,” the resolution states. The school has been charged to provide sources of “care, connections, and community” for LGBTQ+ students, and Prism finds its justification in this assignment.

Let’s be very clear about what is going on: With Prism, Baylor is conceding the very ground of Christian orthodoxy by extending official recognition to an LGBTQ+ student group. Legitimizing LGBTQ+ identities—as a legitimate category for Christian discipleship—is not consistent with Scripture. The message of the group suggests it is just a place to grapple with sexuality. But the existence of officially sanctioned groups for LGBTQ+ students, brought about by campus activism, is itself a dynamo for further campus activism.

In school after school, these groups exist to advocate against traditional Christian teaching.

Such groups take on an ideological and activist approach, implying that rebellion against Biblical Christian sexual morals is acceptable (and even officially sanctioned) within the institution. It is not at all uncommon for such groups to clash with groups committed to traditional Christianity. The conflict is inevitable. The move to sanction LGBTQ+ identities never stops just at consideration or exploration. The entire context implies forced affirmation.

Baylor is not the only Christian college to entertain such changes to policy and campus life. Many schools with solid evangelical backgrounds are also looking for more neutral “third-way” approaches to these hot-button issues. In so doing, they engage in a massive project of self-delusion.

The wider academic world increasingly accepts no surrender when it comes to the LGBTQ+ issue. Anything less than enthusiastic affirmation and celebration of LGBTQ+ sexual identities counts as “homophobia.” And yet, it is from this demanding, adversarial academic world that so many religious institutions crave approval. Eventually, this creates a pretext for surrender to the larger sexual culture. In school after school, these groups exist to advocate against traditional Christian teaching.

After all, the very terminology of LGBTQ+ identity imports an ideological slant against the Christian tradition’s Biblical ethic on sexuality and gender. And yet, some Christian colleges indulge in the chartering of groups and the adoption of language that will inevitably push against Biblical fidelity. All of this to advance the fiction that Christian institutions can pretend that there is a middle ground where endorsed sexual immorality coexists with Biblical fidelity. That middle ground does not exist.

By definition, LGBTQ+ campus groups represent some form of affirmation for LGBTQ+ students. A Christian university should surely care for its students and should call all members of the university community to Christian faithfulness as defined by Scripture. But the modern identity politics of sexuality, represented by the very language of LGBTQ+, is incompatible with such faithfulness.

Once a “gay Christian” identity finds endorsement within an institution, the “circle of diversity“ goes into motion, leading to further inconsistency, confusion, and departure from Christian truth. In all honesty, it’s already quite clear that any effort to mix the Christian faith with LGBTQ+ identitarianism is doomed to fail.

Barton J. Gingerich

The Rev. Barton J. Gingerich is the rector of St. Jude’s Anglican Church (REC) in Richmond, Va. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from Patrick Henry College and a Master of Divinity with a concentration in historical theology from Reformed Episcopal Seminary.

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