LANGLEY, B.C. — Trinity Western University, the Christian-identified institution that has been at the center of three lawsuits in which various provincial legal societies that have denied approval for the university to open an accredited law school due to its stance on sexuality and marriage, has decided to no longer require students to sign a lifestyle covenant agreeing to save sex for marriage, and that between a man and a woman.
“In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 Academic year with respect to admission of students to, or continuation of students at, the university,” a statement from Trinity Western Board of Governors outlines.
The covenant, which may be viewed in full here, underscored the “God-enabled pursuit of a holy life” and noted that the agreement “involves a commitment on the part of all members to embody attitudes and to practise actions identified in the Bible as virtues, and to avoid those portrayed as destructive.”
Therefore, students were asked to abstain from sins such as lying, cheating, stealing, drunkenness, viewing pornography, using vulgar or obscene language, and engaging in sexual intimacy outside of the marriage bond between a man and woman. They were to pursue lives of honesty, modesty, purity, generosity, integrity, forgiveness and love, among other biblical virtues.
“People face significant challenges in practicing biblical sexual health within a highly sexualized culture. A biblical view of sexuality holds that a person’s decisions regarding his or her body are physically, spiritually and emotionally inseparable. Such decisions
affect a person’s ability to live out God’s intention for wholeness in relationship to God, to one’s (future) spouse, to others in the community, and to oneself,” the covenant reads.
“Further, according to the Bible, sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman, and within that marriage bond it is God’s intention that it be enjoyed as a means for marital intimacy and procreation,” it outlines.
“Honoring and upholding these principles, members of the TWU community strive for purity of thought and relationship, respectful modesty, personal responsibility for actions taken, and avoidance of contexts where temptation to compromise would be particularly strong.”
While students will no longer be required to agree to the covenant, staff and faculty must still commit themselves to this pledge.
The university also says that while it will no longer treat the covenant as mandatory for students, it also wishes to note that it has not changed its mission.
“Let there be no confusion regarding the Board of Governors’ resolution; our mission remains the same. We will remain a biblically-based, mission-focused, academically excellent university, fully committed to our foundational evangelical Christian principles. We will continue to be a Christ-centred community; one that is defined by our shared pursuit of seeking to glorify God by revealing His truth, compassion, reconciliation and hope to a world in need,” it stated.
2005 graduate Megan Jespersen, who identifies as homosexual, told the CBC that she supports the change, but does not like that faculty and staff still must agree to the lifestyle covenant. She said that the agreement made her feel shame when she came to terms with her feelings for the same sex.
“What it created within me was a mistrust of my own heart,” Jespersen told the outlet. “That was one of the most traumatizing parts of that whole experience for me. I learned not to trust my heart because I felt that my heart was betraying me.”
Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it?”
Jesus also taught in Mark 7:21-23, “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness—all these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”
Others lamented Trinity Western’s change, stating that it appears that “the left bullied yet another entity,” as the university had been denied accreditation for its proposed law school due to its lifestyle covenant, which a number of courts had ruled was “exclusionary” and could “harm” homosexual students. The justices of the Canadian Supreme Court ruled in June that the Christian-identified school can’t “impose” its religious beliefs on students.