By Ryan Leclair, Study Magazine website, November 11, 2011
An American university has told their employees to sign a statement saying they’re heterosexual, or they’re fired.
Shorter University is in Georgia, and describes itself as a “Christ-centered liberal arts university dedicated to academic excellence within the context of a biblical worldview.” In keeping with their beliefs, the school recently urged their faculty to sign sworn statements that promise they’re not gay.
“We understand that there are those who do not agree with our beliefs,” said University President Donald Dowless, in a statement.
“Anyone who chooses not to sign the documents will be choosing to end their employment with the university.”
In late October, the university issued a series of new policy statements, including a Philosophy for Christian Education, Biblical Principles on the Integration of Faith and Learning, a Statement of Faith for the university, and a Personal Lifestyle Statement for university employees.
The Personal Lifestyle Statement also calls on employees to sign off on rejecting “all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible.” This includes homosexuality, as well as any form of premarital sex.
The same statement also asks employees to not drink alcohol around students, asking them to promise that, “I will abstain from serving, from using, and from advocating the use of alcoholic beverages in public (e.g. in locations that are open to use by the general public, including as some examples restaurants, concert venues, stadiums, and sports facilities) and in settings in which students are present or are likely to be present.”
Clearly the United States is going down the road to becoming a theocracy, if such policies are permitted to continue, and the practice is ever extended to public or state universities.
Signing off on "rejecting all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible" would render many millions of relationships sinful and thereby rendering participants in such relationships as "subject to dishonourable discharge" by institutions insisting on such an approach, as instituted in Shorter College.
The sex police, just like the abolitionist police during prohibition, are destined to extreme failure, as are those who compiled a list of "banned books" for the Roman Catholic church in the not-too-distant past.
I recall having a nonsensical conversation with my mother, when I was an adolescent, and she was smoking a cigarette in our family kitchen. Naturally, I wanted her to stop smoking and asked why she was doing this.
Her answer, as if it were yesterday, rings yet in my memory:
"If God had not wanted us to smoke, he would not have given us tobacco," she replied somewhat pompously.
I did not then know or understand the term "reductio ad absurdum" as the situation that exists when an argument is reduced to its ridiculous absurdity.
Shorter College in Georgia, its administration and its Christian philosophy, based on Biblical principles, is also using the reduction ad absurdum principle in its treatment of the Bible. To reduce the Bible to a set of rules, including those that either permit or reject permission for working at the college, to abstention from premarital sex, sex outside marriage, and all forms of gay sexual activity is nothing more than an edict, supported by their interpretation of Christianity and the obligations it sets for all disciples, based on their need for complete control of the staff and students in their college.
The pursuit of truth, something to which the Bible also ascribes considerable importance, as well as the pursuit of love, forgiveness and tolerance, not to mention the concept that all humans are created in the image of God (imago dei) are also prominent in the holy scriptures and they are rendered emasculated by this edict.
Attempting to create a community of "religious and ethical purity and perfection" renders those responsible for such a project in danger of complete unconsciousness of their Shadow side, having tilted their balance to a place where the Shadow is literally denied.
Such a construction is simply unattainable, as well as unsustainable, given the need of human beings to confront their individual temptations, in a world full of them, in a space that guides and mentors and even models such a journey. The edict openly demonstrates "hatred" of gay sexuality and participants in such activity. The edict also demonstrates a degree of immaturity and irresponsibility that is characteristic of pre-adolescent development. "Unless you become like little children you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven" is not interpreted by all scholars to have this meaning.
It is not to exhort disciples to a child-like innocence about their own world view, but rather to inspire an "awe" in the face of the majesty of God, an awe reminiscent of the memories from childhood in the face of the solar system, for example.
Sexuality, as we know from many sources, including our own experience, is a strong human drive, force, influence, and even desire and need. Its management and control are not enhanced by the imposition of "zero tolerance" rules, based on an interpretation of the mind, intent and expectations of God, as revealed in the Bible.
In fact, there is a very strong argument that a more moderate, tolerant and open approach to sexuality, discussed in a context of learning and acceptance and risk is far more likely to produce the kind of self-discipline that would be expected by a mature discipline of any faith, including and especially the Christian faith, released from the tight-fisted literalisms of Shorter College, which appears to merit its name, especially when considering it "shortage" of maturity and forgiveness.