The faculty of a Christian college in Washington state has cast a vote of “no confidence” in its board of trustees after the board voted last week to affirm the traditional, biblical view of human sexuality and marriage.
According to The Seattle Times, the faculty senate of Seattle Pacific University received responses from 90% of all faculty members, 72% of whom favored the vote of no-confidence.
“The board’s decision to maintain SPU’s discriminatory hiring policy related to human sexuality, as well as its manner of delivering that decision, have regrettably compelled the faculty of SPU to pass a vote of no confidence in the SPU board of trustees,” the faculty senate said in a statement, adding that the decision by the school’s leadership “imperil[s] the ability of SPU and its community to flourish.”
The school issued a “statement on human sexuality” back in 2005, which reads, in part:
Human beings are created in the image of God, male and female, and are of inestimable worth. Because we are created in God’s image, people must be treated with respect and dignity by all institutions in society whether male or female, young or old, rich or poor, believer or unbeliever, homosexual or heterosexual. This priceless value constitutes the theological and anthropological foundation of our discussions regarding human sexuality. We, therefore, affirm the fundamental worth of all human persons, including those with whom we disagree.
Human sexuality is intended by God to include more than the contemporary cultural emphasis upon physical, sexual experience. Our sexuality is intended by God to reflect the whole of our sensual and relational createdness. We, therefore, renounce the equation of sexuality with genital sex alone and the false representation of sexuality found in pornography. We believe that such an emphasis results in the dehumanization of all people, especially women and children.
In particular, we affirm the institutions of marriage and family as central to the purposes of God. We believe it is in the context of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman that the full expression of sexuality is to be experienced and celebrated and that such a commitment is part of God’s plan for human flourishing. Within the teaching of our religious tradition, we affirm that sexual experience is intended between a man and a woman.
The school’s hiring policy, found in its employee handbook and cited by the Seattle Times, says staff members “are expected to refrain from … sexually immoral behavior that is inconsistent with Biblical standards, including cohabitation and extramarital sexual activity,” citing its statement on human sexuality.
Those found in violation of the policy are subject to disciplinary action, including possible termination, the handbook says.
The board has thus far declined to comment on the vote of no confidence. Last week, however, board chairman Cedric Davis told the Times that “The Board recognizes that fellow Christians and other community members disagree in good faith on issues relating to human sexuality, and that these convictions are deeply and sincerely held.”
“We pray that as we live within the tension of this issue, we can be in dialogue with the SPU community,” Davis added.
That hasn’t stopped many students and faculty at SPU from revolting against school leadership over affirming LGBT staff.
Matt Bellinger, an assistant professor of communication at the college, described the board’s decision as “so out of touch with the convictions and values of the SPU community,” adding that he believes it “calls into question the legitimacy of the board’s leadership.”
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