By this time it should be obvious to anyone who is not living under a rock that the left's LGBTQ!%!@#% agenda is a zero-sum game. And many people are saying as much. The attempt to pass SB1146 is further evidence. Moral traditionalists, even those with an explicitly religious rationale, are not going to be left alone to "do their own thing" as long as they leave the homosexuals and transgenders alone to do theirs. You must affirm. Ask the baker, the florist, and the photographer. Ask the employers and businessmen in New York City who are having their speech micromanaged by the civil rights commission to insure that they call a man by his "preferred pronouns" if he identifies as a woman. Ask all the colleges who almost had their California funding pulled because they wouldn't house homosexuals in married student dorms and affirm that a man can turn into a woman.
But some people are still playing the tired, old card, raggedy and fraying around the edges by now and instantly recognizable from any angle as a failed trick: If Christians would just be nicer to homosexuals, we could all get along.
The latest example thereof is this article on the web site of The Atlantic.
The author, Alan Noble, thinks SB1146 was a bad idea and is glad it failed. (See here for a previous post of mine that mentioned a post by Noble, who was at that time a graduate student at Baylor University.) His reasoning is that this would have penalized poor and minority students. (A variant on the old gag, this one would go, "Religious freedom under heavy attack. Women and minorities hardest hit.") To be fair, this somewhat liberal-ish argument was used by the schools themselves, so I suppose it's fair game for Noble.
But Noble explicitly sets himself up to offer advice to Christian schools as to how they can effect a compromise with their persecutors.
Both conservatives and liberals tend to approach the issue in absolute and uncompromising terms, but there are ways to resolve this conflict that will allow for both religious freedom and protections for LGBT students while minimizing further litigation. By increasing transparency about Title IX exemptions and codes of conduct, easing the transfer process for students who cannot abide by the codes of conduct, and taking a strict stance on bullying and abuse, religious schools can retain their distinctive mission while protecting students.
Actually, there is no way to "resolve this conflict," because the left is bringing this battle to us and will accept nothing less than complete and unqualified surrender.
But what "resolution" does Noble suggest? His first recommendation is that schools be clear about their standards. Schools should
be very open about their values and codes of conduct. Students should understand the kind of religious community they are joining when they enroll so that they can make a prudent decision about what is best for them.
Noble must know that any self-identified Christian school will have a student handbook and that, if the school is self-consciously conservative on the matter of homosexuality, the handbook will address these issues explicitly. It's a bit puzzling that he would talk as if this is some new advice that schools aren't taking. Does he actually know of Christian schools that are unclear about whether you're allowed to have homosexual sex or be housed as a member of the opposite sex but that, in fact, have traditional moral standards in practice? (See below on Baylor. It is not at all clear that Baylor does have traditional sexual standards in practice.) I find that highly implausible. The criticism of Christian schools arises in large measure because the schools are clear about this matter. So why bring up such a piece of advice? Indeed, a separate Atlantic article, linked from the one I'm currently writing about, complains all the more about schools that forbid homosexual expressions of couple-hood or dating. Perhaps clarity isn't all that valued by the compromise-makers after all.
If anything, it's precisely the schools who try to be extra kind and "supportive" of homosexual students and to oppose "bullying," as advised otherwise in Noble's article, that are likely to create cognitive dissonance. If the letter of the law (student handbook) states that you're not supposed to be having homosexual relations, but if an admissions officer assures you sweetly that the school is opposed to "hate and bigotry of all kinds" and has very strong codes to "make LGBT students feel safe and welcome," that could create a sense of a bait and switch if the student is later told that he can't be having sex with his boyfriend, much less "marrying" him, and remain a student at the school. So Noble's advice is, if not strictly inconsistent, unlikely to be applied consistently in real life. It's the very schools that are clearest and most consistent about their moral standards that are most likely to be accused of being unkind, unsafe, and "bullying."
Perhaps Noble's concern here is directed toward Baylor University (his alma mater) which removed its policy forbidding homosexual acts from its student conduct requirements but refuses to say whether such acts are allowed or not. But then again, Baylor could easily say that it did so in an attempt to make Baylor seem less hostile and more welcoming to homosexual students. Its spokeswoman said pretty much exactly that: The changes "were made because we didn’t believe the language reflected Baylor’s caring community."
Gotcha. Or maybe not. Would Noble be happier if Baylor had retained its policy against homosexual acts and applied it consistently? Permit me to express some doubt about that.
Noble's second piece of advice is to the dispensers of aid: He thinks they should go on giving it to Christian schools, at least to those that follow his other advice.
His third point returns to the schools:
Third, religious schools should help students who enroll and later decide they can no longer attend in good conscience. These students should be able to transfer to another school with the administrative, emotional, and practical support of the religious school. In addition, religious schools must be vigilant about dealing with bullying and abuse and create an environment in which students who have suffered feel safe to report these incidents without fear of expulsion or retribution. Many religious schools are working toward these kinds of practices; the challenge for all of them is to go beyond policies and rhetoric to ensure the safety of all students.
Earlier in the article he states the same point like this:
By...easing the transfer process for students who cannot abide by the codes of conduct, and taking a strict stance on bullying and abuse, religious schools can retain their distinctive mission while protecting students.
Words like "bullying" and "abuse" and "taking a strict stance" sound nice in generic terms, but anyone who has been around the block with this issue even one time knows full-well that what is meant by the left by taking a strict stance on bullying and abuse is banning any statements that are going to hurt the feelings of homosexuals, even active homosexuals, and those who are gender-confused. We are way, way, way past forbidding contentless, vicious, anti-homosexual slurs. At this point it's considered "bullying" and "hateful" to affirm that homosexual acts are contrary to nature, to read Romans 1 out loud, much less to preach clearly on the homosexual reference in that chapter, to state that Bruce Jenner is a man but is a badly messed-up and partially mutilated man, and so forth. As for questioning whether people with same-sex attraction disorders ought to be housed with those to whom they are sexually attracted, I find it difficult to imagine that that wouldn't count as "bullying" or "abuse." Can you imagine what would happen to a student at a school, even a Christian school, with a strong "anti-bullying" code who posted on social media that he would not want to have a homosexual roommate in the dorm because of privacy issues? Boom!
Either Noble knows these code meanings of "bullying and abuse" and is pretending otherwise or else he is so immersed himself in left-speak that he really believes that it is only reasonable and kind for a Christian college to make its campus gay-friendly and to come down hard on anybody who uses phrases like "unnatural acts."
But now let's turn to all this talk of "easing the transfer process" and "helping" students to transfer with "administrative, emotional, and practical support." I admit frankly that I don't know for sure what cash value that is supposed to have. Transfer credits are transfer credits. It's not as though a student who is asked to leave because he insists on violating the school's sexual conduct policy is going to have his transfer credits poisoned so he can't use them at another school that will take them! What could Noble be talking about? Well, he clearly thinks it is extreme to kick students out for homosexual acts, as seen in this sentence:
While Christian universities may not go so far as to kick students out, many prohibit same-sex relationships or sexual activity, which some LGBT students believe are intrinsically tied to their identity.
He's also clearly talking about students who insist upon engaging in homosexual acts. One can see that from the above sentence and also from this:
The school may believe it is enforcing the agreed-upon values of the community. But from the student’s perspective, this may seem confusing or hypocritical: They are being told by some schools that they can “be” gay, so long as they don’t “act” gay.
Then, too, there is his phrase "students who cannot abide by the codes of conduct," making it clear that he is talking about students whose conduct (not just their private feelings or "orientation") violates the school's rules.
I note, not merely in passing, the use of the word "cannot." Really? A student literally cannot refrain from homosexual acts? Talk about determinism.
So Noble has some idea of a school's "easing" the transfer process and offering "support" in transferring to students who flout the school's sexual conduct rules. What kind of "easing" does he have in mind? He doesn't say. Here are a few possibilities, by no means mutually exclusive.
--At a minimum, Noble seems to be talking about some generic implication given by the school that they really like the homosexual students who are flouting their rules, that they sympathize with them, that they aren't angry at them or punishing them, and that they are merely helping them to move to a school that is a "better fit" for them. So, non-judgemental rhetoric. Indeed, it is hardly extreme to think that Noble wants the schools to adopt his own talk of students who are somehow impelled to have homosexual sex, who "cannot," poor things, abide by the school's code of conduct.
--Since he clearly thinks kicking students out is extreme, he may be suggesting that the students should never be expelled, even if they are openly living the homosexual lifestyle. At the most, it might be suggested to them that they leave of their own free will because they are, you know, not really abiding by the school's standards.
--If not quite that, perhaps Noble is suggesting that students be allowed to lengthen the time that they remain enrolled in a Christian college while flouting its rules. If you're going to ask a student to leave, give him the option to complete the semester or even the school year, even if meanwhile he's engaging in sexual relations with a member or members of the same sex
Noble simply doesn't bother to be clear as to which of these he has in mind or whether he has in mind something else that I haven't been able to think of. But it seems safe to say that anything like summary, mid-term dismissal of a student who "comes out" as homosexual and tells everyone proudly that he's having sex with his lover or has gotten "married" to the person he loves would be contrary to Noble's idea of "easing the transfer process" and offering the fullest practical, administrative, and emotional support to students who "cannot" abide by a school's code of conduct.
Now, why is it incumbent upon schools to do any such thing? Why is it anything other than a disastrously bad idea? Would we apply this to anything else? If a student "identified" as polyamorous and openly held multi-person sexual encounters in his apartment or dormitory, claiming that this was a necessary expression of his deepest identity, that he "cannot" abide by the school's code of conduct concerning orgies, and that he would be a "hypocrite" if he didn't act on his inclinations, would we really say that he shouldn't be kicked out effective immediately? What if he identified as a thief and insisted on acting "honestly" in line with his identity? What if several heterosexual males and females at a Christian college claimed that they would be "hypocritical" if they didn't go to bed with one another in the dorms, because acting on their sexual identity is part of being themselves? Should the school sympathize with their open flouting of its rules? Should it treat them as sensitive plants and do everything possible to "support" them in their transfer to another school? Should it give them plenty of time, while meanwhile tolerating their refusal to abide by codes of conduct?
So what is so special about homosexual acts?
What Noble is asking for is that schools pretend that homosexual sin isn't really sin, that flouting a school's clearly stated rules in this area is something one cannot help, unlike a zillion other potential rule-floutings, and that the school's requirements in this area, unlike in others, are just unimportant peculiarities, strange, tribal things that many people can't really be expected to abide by.
The funny thing is that actual sectarian rules are such that one actually could abide by them and should be expected to do so if one previously agreed to do so. If you agreed to eat kosher in order to attend an Orthodox Jewish seminary, would anyone be impressed if you insisted on bringing ham sandwiches into the cafeteria and said that you were "unable" to abide by the school's rules? If you were required to wear a special uniform to classes at a military academy, would it make sense to insist on wearing shorts and a T-shirt as part of your "identity" while asking the school to give you plenty of time and lots of emotional support while you made the transition to another school?
And yet these really are ceremonial or customary rules. How much the more ridiculous is it to imply that a student should be able to flout rules about homosexual sex acts, tell the world that he's doing so, and be treated with the utmost sympathy and deference during a leisurely transition out of a school at which he is thumbing his nose while availing himself of their educational services?
It's possible that Noble will say that that isn't what he meant, but what in the world did he mean? Would anyone ever use the kind of language he uses about students who break the rules I listed above? The answer is an obvious no. And if someone did, it should go without saying that he would be suggesting not actually enforcing the rules, at least for a while, in order to "ease the student's transfer." Noble is free to make up something, either vaguer or other, than the interpretation I've suggested here. But I maintain that the article would be ludicrous as applied to any rule-breaking that hasn't yet achieved the status of a cultural mascot.
Christian college administrators would be fools to try to figure out some way to enact Noble's injunction to "be more empathetic." They are already doing far too much of that kind of thing--student support groups for "LGBT" students, insistence that they don't discriminate on the basis of mere orientation (despite the fact that that undermines the privacy of other students in residence halls), constant harping on the idea that we Christians need to be more accepting of homosexuals. This would just be one more confusing step.
But as long as requirements to abstain from homosexual acts even remain on the books at some school, even if they become an increasingly dead letter, the left won't be satisfied anyway.
Christian school administrators, don't listen to the people telling you that there is a way to "resolve the conflict" between what you stand for and the "LGBT" agenda. There isn't. Be clear about what you stand for, by all means. And be proud of being clear. And then kick out at least the unrepentant sinners and the fifth columnists who are blatantly trying to change the nature of your school. Don't ease their transition. Do it right away. And do it because you know exactly what is really going on.