Two American colleges that identify as Mennonite institutions have announced changes to their hiring policy to now allow the employment of homosexuals who have “wed” their partners.
Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) in Harrisonburg, Virginia and Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana announced the alterations on Monday, while claiming to still hold to the biblical principles as Christian schools.
EMU’s decision followed a two-year “listening process” to “review current hiring policies and practices with respect to individuals in same-sex relationships.” As previously reported, in 2013, the university outlined that it would open up a time of 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.
On Monday, Board Chair Kay Brenneman Nussbaum and President Lauren Swartzendruber stated that they believed the compromise was satisfactory.
“[EMU] is grounded in Mennonite/Anabaptist values, and we believe people in same-sex covenanted relationships are valued members of our learning community with equal rights to standard benefits,” Nussbaum remarked in a statement. “As always, EMU’s hiring processes will continue to focus on hiring individuals who are the best fit for the position for which EMU is recruiting, and who are committed to EMU’s mission and core values.”
“In making this decision, the board affirmed EMU’s strong commitment to our relationship with Mennonite Church USA even while the denomination continues its discernment,” Swartzendruber said.
Goshen College made similar statements, remarking that there is a “diversity” of opinions on whether or not biblical law prohibits sexuality between those of the same gender.
“As an institution rooted in the Anabaptist tradition, we reaffirm our strong relationship to Mennonite Church USA, and recognize the diversity of interpretation of Scripture on this issue within our denomination and the broader Christian church, a diversity reflected within the board of directors and on our campus as well,” said President James Brenneman.
“We seek forbearance and grace amidst our differences,” he continued. “We deeply affirm the goodness of marriage, singleness, celibacy, sexual intimacy within marriage, and a life of faithfulness before God for all people.”
In a special FAQ section on the decision, Goshen also asserted that the “decision is in keeping with our commitment to non-discrimination and our Christ-centered core values.”
The announcements come just weeks after the Mennonite Church USA rejected a proposal to allow same-sex “marriages” within the denomination, but agreed to a resolution stating that Mennonites will tolerate those who believe homosexual behavior is not sinful.
“We acknowledge that there is currently not consensus within Mennonite Church USA on whether it is appropriate to bless Christians who are in same-sex covenanted unions,” it reads.
“Because God has called us to seek peace and unity as together we discern and seek wisdom on these matters, we call on all those in Mennonite Church USA to offer grace, love and forbearance toward conferences, congregations and pastors in our body who, in different ways, seek to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ on matters related to same-sex covenanted unions,” the resolution continues.”
While EMU and Goshen have spoken favorably of the policy changes, others are not so pleased with the development.
“Please read 1 Corinthians 6:9, [which declares], ‘Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s Kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers or anyone practicing homosexuality.’ How can you hire someone who will not inherit the Kingdom of God and teach students what the Bible says?” one commenter stated.