Mennonite University Considering Policy Change to Allow Homosexual Faculty

Eastern Mennonite University Credit Michael SheelerHARRISONBURG, Va. — A Mennonite university in Virginia is considering making a change to its current hiring policy to allow faculty members to be in same-sex relationships.

Eastern Mennonite University issued a news release on the matter last week, noting that it has decided to open up a 60-day listening period “to review current hiring policies and practices with respect to individuals in same-sex relationships.” President Loren Swartzendruber was authorized unanimously by the school board  to design and oversee the process, which will begin in January.

“As a Christian university, it is our responsibility to engage in community discussion and discernment over issues that Mennonite congregations—indeed almost all denominations in the United States today—are wrestling with,” he stated at a recent staff forum. “One responsibility of leadership is to help define reality.”

The board also released a statement which “reaffirm[ed] EMU’s relationship with Mennonite Church USA and its practice of biblical discernment in community.” Mennonite Church USA believes that homosexual behavior is sinful, and that marriage is solely between a man and a woman. The university has also distinguished between resistance of homosexual temptations and capitulation to sin. However, the board also reaffirmed “EMU’s Academic Freedom policy,” which upholds the right of each individual staff member “to articulate their personal beliefs and values.”

Therefore, the 60-day listening period is said to involve dialogue between students, faculty and administration to understand the level of interest in allowing a policy change that would permit university employees to be in homosexual relationships.

Eastern Mennonite University already has a homosexual student group on campus, known as Safe Space.

“Safe Space members commit ourselves to building interpersonal relationships while maintaining a long term vision of equality and justice for the LGBTQ community,” the group page, posted on the university website, outlines.

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Darian Harnish, Safe Space co-founder, told Inside Higher Ed that some of his former classmates, who are homosexuals, have been aware that they would be unable to find jobs on campus.

“Many of my friends who have graduated from the university and gone on to pursue higher degrees really love the institution, but as openly gay men or women, have said, ‘It will be a very long time before I can come back here and teach,'” he explained.

But some current faculty have opined that change is imminent.

“I do believe we’re moving toward an acceptance policy,” said history professor Mark Sawin, who attends a Mennonite church that recently adopted a policy to allow members to be in homosexual relationships.

However, others who are aware of the pending policy change have expressed disappointment.

“I think of a ‘Christian school’ as having a specific worldview based on principles outlined in the Bible,” one commenter wrote. “If students and professors don’t agree with the doctrinal statements of the school, then look elsewhere to teach or be educated. Being private education is just that—private. Don’t try to be too inclusive.”

“This college reminds me of how the UMC likes to approach homosexuality: let’s have a discussion about it and see if we can agree on a way to go forward,” another stated. “That’s exactly how Satan got Adam and Eve in trouble, and the rest of humanity after them.”

“Here is a prime example of how the Christians start to bend God’s rules in favor of Satan’s agenda,” a third wrote. “Who is going to reexamine his or her sinful ways if the church doesn’t oppose sin? I think that generally speaking, Mennonites have more spine than this particular group.”

Photo: Michael Sheeler


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  • Glenn Homes

    As the institutions and leaders/pastors go, so goes the church. If you are a Mennonite and truly love and serve The Lord, you need to stand for the clear teaching of God’s Word. If your traditions and culture mean more to you than God and His Word, you are just as guilty as those within your denomination who condone and accept homosexuality and other worldly practices that are creeping into your churches.

  • Tommy Stewart

    Glenn is correct on this one. It seems the damage was done long ago when leaders came on board who had no intent of of holding high the banner of truth. The leadership at Eastern Mennonite have allowed truth to fall into the streets (Isa.59:12), and nothing short of total repentance will save this university. Once a university decides to abandon the truth and sufficiency of God’s Word and follow the ways of the world, you can no longer call yourself Christian.To even consider making a change in policy is to admit that God’s Word is insufficient. It appears that leadership has decided to except the mixture of the world rather and place the truth of God’s Word under the bushel basket to be seen no more. It is not the place of the president of the school to define reality. Reality was defined years ago on that hill called Calvary. It is up to the university and its leaders to embrace that truth unashamedly. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”. The hope of the homosexual is not to condone and support his sin, but to lift him up to the one can save him from his sin. How absurd it is to say that staff members have a right to express their own beliefs. A Christian university has the responsibility to express only the truth of God’s Word. The rotten apple is in the barrel. Purge it before it rots the whole barrel.

    Tommy Stewart

  • Sister Wanda Johnson

    Hello, Happy Thanksgiving. I believe the bible gives us a lot of biblical truth about how we should deal with these type of situation. We as followers of Christ knew this day would happen, meaning that will are going to have to choose whose side we are on. The question is do we allow the wrongful practice in an institution to become leaders of influence to dictate, instruct and lead people into a life style of what God does not approve of? I say absolutely NO! Christians that are follows of Christ and his doctrine can not and should not adhere to this kind of compromise or any others. God loves the sinner but not the sin. It is fine that they be educated at this university, it is fine that they have equal rights to food, books and good teachers, but to allow these individuals (don’t get me wrong) but to allow them to become leaders to lead people in the wrong direction, and cause double standardards to be set in this institution just causes confusion in what this college stands for. Will we stand for Truth(which is found in God word) or will we Fall for comprised Truth?

  • Arnie

    At this rate, God will judge America and His first stop is at the churches and those institutions that bear his name who have chosen to become lukewarm and compromised. We need to repent and pray with fervency that American churches will choose righteousness and the way of the cross!