It's a shame that there seems to be one culture war issue dominating the news these days, but even I, who often try to buck some current trend in blogging, find that new items are cropping up that need to be highlighted:
Baylor University has dropped its explicit ban on "homosexual acts" in its sexual conduct policy. It has switched to saying only that "physical intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity."
A couple of points to note:
This is obviously highly deliberate. A spokeswoman from the school did not say, "Oh, gee, how did a thing like that happen? Must've been a printer's error." I mean, that would have been a lie, but the point I'm making is that they are being at least kinda sorta open about how deliberate this was.
“These changes were made because we didn’t believe the language reflected the university’s caring community,” Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman wrote in an email. “The university has a responsibility to articulate clearly and consistently Baylor’s commitment to its values as a Christian university.”(emphasis added)
Fogleman would not elaborate on whether the policy opens the door for married same-sex couples at Baylor in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling knocking down bans on same-sex marriages.
Um, yes, that's the $64k question, isn't it?
There is still a tenuous and highly indirect connection to the normal definition of marriage. It works like this.
She instead referred to the application section on the policy, which states that it is to be “interpreted in a manner consistent with the Baptist Faith and Message of 1963,” the doctrine outlining the faith principles governing the Southern Baptist Convention.
The “Family” section of that document states that, “Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God’s unique gift to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race.”
So the spokeswoman says the new "language" is more in line with their "caring community," won't say if the university now endorses homosexual "marriage," refers the inquirer to a section of the policy which says that it is to be "interpreted in a manner consistent with" a different document, and that document (from 1963) says that marriage is between one man and one woman.
Somehow, I am not remotely reassured that Baylor actually forbids its faculty and students to engage in homosexual acts.
And here's an interesting tidbit:
“An organized effort to review and keep current the university’s policies began several years ago to make sure Baylor has the necessary policies and processes in place to comply with the many legal and ethical mandates to which the university is subject as an institution,” Fogleman said in the email, adding that the process began in 2013.
Which one of the ethical or legal mandates was this meant to address? Please be precise, Ms. Fogelman. Because I don't think that saying that the language forbidding homosexual acts "didn't reflect the university's caring community" is very precise.
No good can come of this. If some misguided person at Baylor thinks the school can actually have it both ways by doing this--not getting sued or persecuted while actually maintaining a university that upholds Christian sexual mores on this issue--he is sadly mistaken.
Baylor is running in exactly the wrong direction. In fact, I think we'd be fooling ourselves if we didn't believe that Baylor is already trying hard to be gay-friendly. The fact that a simple majority of the student senate voted two years ago to remove the explicit ban on homosexual conduct (with, as far as I know, no reference to a 1963 document on Baptist faith and message) is telling as well. The president of the student senate vetoed the motion at that time.
One sad moral of the story, I believe, is that it's well-nigh impossible for a Christian institution to become large and more prestigious while retaining its identity. Other institutions would do well to take heed.