Parents, Choose Your Christian College Carefully

The Religion News Service (RNS) reports, “Whitworth University, a Christian school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has revised its policies to allow for the hiring of faculty who identify as LGBTQ and to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination statement.” The report adds that Whitworth is among a “sliver” of Christian colleges who have made the decision to hire “faculty in same-sex marriages.” Included in this list are Eastern University (American Baptist Churches USA) and, according to Vincent Funaro, writing for the Christian Post, “Goshen College in Indiana and Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia announced on Monday that they will now hire faculty who are in same-sex marriages.” Both schools are tied to the Mennonite Church USA. These moves have caused tensions with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. In 2017, all seven members of the faculty senate at Gordon College resigned because the college refused to promote a faculty member who criticized the school’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

As important as a school’s official stance toward same-sex marriage is, and the LGBTQ agenda generally, this is what is happening among students and faculty. For example, when the president of Gordon College publicly opposed same-sex marriage, it stirred controversy among students and faculty who, according to a report in the campus paper, disagreed strongly with the president’s stance. Some schools have officially approved LGBTQ student groups. Others have unofficial groups.

According to a 2015 report, eight schools associated with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities have school-sanctioned (approved) student-run LGBTQ groups. Some of those schools are those already listed, who have approved the appointment of homosexual and same-sex married faculty. Other schools include Calvin University. In 2020 the student paper, The Chimes, published an op-ed by Claire Murashima, “I Am Calvin University’s First Openly Gay Student Body President.” She writes,

One thing’s for sure: I am not straight. I’m sharing my story with the community because I take the weight of representation seriously, I have a desire to lead Calvin and the CRC into the future and want other queer students to see themselves in my story. I’d feel as if I’d made a mistake as student body president if I did not use my platform to do so.

She offers no discussion of the teaching of Holy Scripture on homosexuality and no reflection on the confession of the Christian Reformed Church on human sexuality, but she does complain that she finds no other LGBTQ representation on the faculty or administration.

Other schools with sanctioned LGBTQ student groups include Fuller Seminary, North Park University, and Pepperdine University.

PCA families and others may be pleased to know that Campus Pride (a pro-LGBTQ group) denounces Covenant College as among the “worst” for LGBTQ students on the basis of its student handbook:

As such, students are to live in accordance with the birth sex gifted them by their Creator. Actions taken toward adopting a different biological sex (Gen. 1:27), sexual immorality (I Cor. 6:18, 1 Tim 1:8-11), adultery (Exodus 20:14), homosexual practice (Romans 1:26-27), and all other sexual relations (1 Cor. 6:9-10) outside the bounds of marriage between a man and woman are inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture and will result in disciplinary follow-up by the College.

Students are also required to abstain from all activities which violate biblical teachings, such as theft, drunkenness, slanderous or profane language, all forms of dishonesty including cheating, and sexual sins (such as premarital sex, adultery, homosexual behavior and the use or possession of obscene or pornographic material).

There is not much in the student newspaper regarding the LGBTQ movement generally or about a LGBTQ movement among the students. One 2015 article chronicled the struggle of a few students with same-sex attraction and the attempt of the faculty and administration to address those issues.

Grove City College is #4 on the Princeton Review’s list of “LGBTQ Unfriendly Colleges.” Wheaton College is #8, Gordon College #10, and Calvin University #18. “One Wheaton” is a “grassroots network of alumni and students of Wheaton College, an Evangelical Christian college in Wheaton, Illinois, who affirm the full humanity and dignity of LGBTQ individuals.” It has no official standing with the college. The college, however, also has a “Sexual and Gender Identity Institute” the mission of which is “from a Christian worldview, to further our understanding of sexual and gender identity, and the intersection of these identities with religious identity, and to be a resource to the church and to the broader culture.  We do this through research, training, and consultation.”

Analysis And Advice

Parents looking at colleges and universities with their children should obviously do their research. Financial aid is important, but so is the culture of the campus. The school under consideration may have an orthodox official policy regarding sexuality, sexual ethics, and marriage—but do the faculty and students agree? Is there a student-run LGBTQ group? In the case of Calvin University, it seems significant that the student body elected an openly “queer” student body president. Was this just a childish act of rebellion—middle-class, middle-American Dutch kids doing their best to make Mom and Dad uncomfortable—or does it signal a growing conviction among Gen-Z students that queering human sexuality is just fine with them? Any parent considering a school with an on-campus LGBTQ movement should investigate very carefully the situation on the ground.

Where do faculty stand on these issues? Will your student hear both sides of the issues? Will the orthodox position be treated respectfully and fairly? Is the historic Christian view well understood among the faculty?

There are some important off-campus questions to consider. Is there a confessionally Reformed congregation near campus? How are they handling these issues? Are they able and willing to help students think through the sexual revolution thoughtfully from a Christian perspective? Does the campus or a local church offer counseling from an orthodox Christian perspective to students who may be struggling with same-sex attraction? Are they using Chris Gordon’s New Reformation Catechism on Human Sexuality?

Has the campus invited speakers like Rosaria Butterfield to campus (as Covenant College has), or is it a haven for Revoice oriented advocates?

These are the kinds of questions parents need to investigate as they anticipate sending their children off to campus in the fall.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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9 comments

  1. There is a definite move to acceptance if not advocacy for the LGBTQ within the orthodox Reformed churches with Gen z and Gen x.

  2. The long march through the institutions has finally reached the gates of the Reformed academies. We all knew this day was coming.
    Progressives, like fire ants, like rust, never sleep until they have infested and eroded every bastion of God-designed civilization.
    It is this fact that motivated R.J. Rushdoony and his successors Douglas Wilson and Gary North to establish an “American Redoubt”, a theonomic community of Reformed believers who recognize that western civilization cannot be repaired – indeed, must be rejected – until such time as the population hears the Gospel message, accepts Jesus Christ, and follows his commandments.

    • Roger,

      Doubtless you are correct as to why the Reconstructionists/Theonomists are attempting to establish “the American Redoubt” (fortress) but it’s already a failed project just as every monastic project has failed. We always bring the corruption with us when we attempt to flee the world around us. If you doubt me ask the victims of Stephen Sitler or Natalie Greenfield about how safe the theonomic fortress was for her. There are other victims. It hasn’t prevented multiple instances of plagiarism nor has it prevented the corruption of the gospel, which is on display again right now.

      Gary North’s attempt to establish a fortress, literally surrounded by tires, was an even greater and obvious failure. Thus, he died in obscurity, ridiculed for his fear-mongering about Y2K.

      Before that, Tyler, TX was a failure. Theonomy is a failed theory—rejected by the Protestant Reformers and all the orthodox since the 1520s.

      Setting up a cult in Idaho is exactly the wrong response to corruption of institutions. The theonomists have never understood the Reformation and its essentially conservative ethos. Like their Anabaptist fathers (Karlstadt) they are radicals, revolutionaries, and cosplayers.

      • Mr. Clark – I’d argue that the “Redoubt” founders envision their communities more as a recreated Geneva under John Calvin’s governance, than as a monastery. However, I share your implication that such communities are no longer possible in the modern era. The Great Commission basically forbids them in any case.

  3. Great article Dr. Clark. I worked at Grove City College as a Residence Hall Director for 6 years in the middle of the 2010’s and I can testify that you can trust the leadership and Bible department at the College. Many departments have professors that are members of or are RE’s in NAPARC churches. However, where a lot of this progressive ideology plays out is within the Student Life/Student Services departments.

    There is a lot of “best practices” pressure from the rest of the Christian colleges to adopt these attitudes and advocacy. If you go to the annual Christian student development conference, it revolves around these topics (including all types of diversity topics). When I was going to these conferences in the 2010’s, Christopher Yuan was still providing an orthodox voice in these conversations at the conferences and truly set the tone on these topics. My wife and I always made a point to attend his breakout sessions and I vividly remember my last year attending the conference, Dr. Yuan received a question from the audience respectfully challenging Dr. Yuan’s orthodox view. Coincidentally, (or perhaps not) that was June of 2015, just a few weeks before the Obergefell SCOTUS decision. I would imagine Dr. Yuan would not even be invited to speak at these anymore.

    My kids are still 12+ years from college but I would suggest parents to look at the chapel schedule of the college. It defines the Overton window of the college. While there will always be chapel speakers that are more or less orthodox, you can see how often they are bringing in solid speakers (GCC brought in Chad Van Dixhoorn and Craig Troxel for their Faith for Life series) and what is allowable (Catholic apologist and GCC alum Scott Hahn).

    • I entirely agree with you, Ross, that student life, residence life, or whatever else it is called at a given institution are the areas of greatest concern at nearly any university. Sadly, these departments are among the most opaque to outsiders (or even professors like me and others engaged in classroom instruction).

      That student life is a major source of concern adds another concern about most Christian (and other small, private institutions)–living in campus-owned or campus-sponsored housing is generally compulsory. The possible advantages of undergraduate education at a confessionally and practically Christian university seem great to me, but state schools may offer benefits in this context:
      1. Any person attending a state school is under no presumption that the environment in which he/she operates is Christian and indeed may expect varying degrees of opposition to Christian thinking, ethics, and conduct.
      2. Where error has slipped into the teaching and life of a Christian institution, a person may be more easily duped into error by trusting the outward “Christian” package in which the error is wrapped. The lack of explicit antithesis requires considerable caution for this reason (the concern expressed in Dr. Clark’s essay).
      3. The time spent in each of these environments may make the state university preferable. At a state school, a student may never have to live in university-sponsored housing under the purview of residence life; at a private institution, living under residence life may be required for the duration of undergraduate study.

      The spread of LGBTQ (and some other) ideologies is like a contagious disease running through society. Whether one becomes infected with any given disease relates to the virulence of the pathogen, the dose to which one is exposed (a mixture of amount and time), and the ability of one’s background immune state to ward of initial infection. Likewise, any prospective student should seek and use wisdom from God to discern the kinds of errors he/she will face (the pathogens); how strong, frequent, and long the bombardment will be (the amount and time of the dose), and his/her capacity to withstand the environment’s ideological errors (the baseline immunity). If you are entering a tuberculosis ward analogous to American state universities, you will don extra protection. If what you believe to be relatively disease free is instead laden with illness (some Christian universities), you are unlikely to wear these protections and become more susceptible disease.

      May God grant us all grace and wisdom to live in these last days. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!

  4. Thank you highly for these very pertinent comments and your article! I’ll pass this on to a number of Christian brethren around the US, particularly in the Midwest and south! All Glory to God✝️📖

  5. Very happy to see that Wheaton College (our daughter’s alma mater) has not succumbed to the spirit of this age.

  6. Dr. Clark wrote: “In the case of Calvin University, it seems significant that the student body elected an openly “queer” student body president. Was this just a childish act of rebellion—middle-class, middle-American Dutch kids doing their best to make Mom and Dad uncomfortable—or does it signal a growing conviction among Gen-Z students that queering human sexuality is just fine with them?”

    As a former member of the Calvin College Student Senate, I might know a bit about how that institution operated years ago. While I have kept up with some of the controversies on the student senate, college communities are inherently transient and virtually the entire student body turns over every four years. Therefore, current or recent students would be better positioned than me to describe the Senate’s current influence (or lack thereof) among the students.

    When I was at Calvin I was quite surprised by two things:

    1) The Student Senate, unlike similar institutions at many colleges, has real power over such matters as major dollar amounts allocated to student organizations and appointment of student members of faculty committees. I served on several of the faculty committees and know from firsthand experience that yes, the professors DID listen to students who paid attention and came with actual arguments. Concerns I raised, and proposals I made, were received well and resulted in significant change. Most had nothing to do with liberal-conservative issues, but in at least one case, my objections stopped a serious Lord’s Day observance problem that was about to happen. Faculty and administrators realized they were going down a path that could end badly, and took action to prevent the problem before it started. As for student organization appropriations, the dollar numbers involved were quite significant even for the 1980s and while my primary involvement on the senate wasn’t its financial affairs committee, sitting in meetings looked much like a budget committee hearing of a small city council or the school board of a small school district. In other words, the senators assigned to financial matters took their jobs seriously and the organizations understood they needed to justify their budgets and answer hard questions from those appropriating funds.

    2) Despite having significantly more real power than many similar organizations, the Calvin College Student Senate was largely ignored by the students. Vacancies were a significant problem with people getting elected who didn’t show up for meetings or who resigned once they realized the group wasn’t just a high school popularity contest. Election turnout was terrible. Now granted, lots of voters don’t take city council and school board elections seriously either, and I’m used to seeing aldermen and school board members resigning mid-term, but when I was at Calvin, there was a widespread perception that the Student Senate didn’t matter.

    Was the Calvin student body president elected because students supported a gay agenda or because most students didn’t care about the senate and a small group of pro-gay people aggressively campaigned to get her elected in a low-turnout election so they could claim a victory for their ideological agenda?

    I don’t know the answer to that question, but it needs to be asked.

    Did she openly campaign on a pro-gay agenda and make clear that her campaign platform included gay issues? I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and presume she was not only clear about her agenda but also widely publicized it. If so, the students knew what they were getting and that says a lot about Calvin students today. If not, there may be other issues in play.

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