Every liberal needs to be told something:
Whether you like it or not, there’s plenty of evidence that the God of the Bible does not sanction same-sex relationships.
You may not interpret the Good Book that way. Perhaps you’ve got reasonable theological reasons for it. Perhaps you just want to go with the cultural flow. Whatever your reason, know there are as many good arguments on the other side. I won’t go into it here because I could write a thesis on it. The point is this: There’s a reasonable argument that Christianity is incompatible with same-sex relationships and attendant issues like gay marriage.
At one of America’s premier theological seminaries, that’s led to a landmark series of lawsuits that could have a chilling effect on the ability of Christian educational institutions to hold to their interpretation of the Bible.
According to Christianity Today, a second student has joined a lawsuit against Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, asking for more than $1 million in damages for being expelled for having married someone of the same sex.
In November, former Fuller student Joanna Maxon sued the school for her dismissal in 2018. The school noticed that Maxon was married to a woman because the spouse was listed on her tax returns.
On Tuesday, Nathan Brittsan — a pastor with American Baptist Churches USA — joined the suit over his 2017 expulsion before he started his first quarter. He said the school found out about his marriage when he attempted to change his last name.
“Brittsan had not told the school why he wanted to change his last name in the request, but administrators knew he was part of an LGBT-affirming church,” Christianity Today reported.
Brittsan also claimed in his suit that he discussed the marriage with a dean and an administrator.
“Nathan was not informed that this discussion was actually part of an initial inquiry or investigation by Fuller into Nathan’s perceived Community Standards violation,” the suit alleges.
Fuller’s code of conduct holds that marriage is a “covenant union between one man and one woman” and finds “homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct to be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture.”
“The seminary does lawfully discriminate on the basis of sexual conduct that violates its biblically based Community Standard Statement on Sexual Standards,” the university’s policy states.
“It’s a very important case at this time in our nation’s history,” Paul Southwick, Maxon and Brittsan’s attorney, said.
“This case could set an important legal precedent that if an educational institution receives federal funding, even if it’s religiously affiliated, even if it’s a seminary, that it’s required to comply with Title IX prohibitions on sex discrimination as applied to LGBT individuals.”
Widely considered one of the top seminaries in the country, Fuller is being represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, best known for defending Hobby Lobby in the landmark Supreme Court case Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which ended in a victory for the faith-based retailer.
“The claims here are dangerous for faith-based institutions,” Becket Fund attorney Daniel Blomberg said.
“If the court was to accept them, then they would be harmful to religious groups of all backgrounds and particularly minority religious groups that have beliefs that the majority and the surrounding communities might find unpopular … We think that’s unlikely that courts would accept these kinds of arguments because they’re weak claims. But they’re dangerous.”
This is, according to Southwick, the first such lawsuit against a Christian institution for expelling a student for a same-sex marriage since Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court case in which the court ruled states which would not recognize or perform same-sex marriages were acting unconstitutionally.
When Obergefell was decided, there were fears that the decision would be used to erode religious freedom. We were told those fears were overblown.
Now we have an esteemed seminary staring down a chilling lawsuit because it held to its interpretation of the Bible. If this feint succeeds, it’s nothing short of using federal law as a blunt force instrument to abrogate the First Amendment rights of Christians. The fears we had in 2015, if anything, may have been understated.
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