Where are the wise at Gardner-Webb?
    March 25 2014 by M. Doyle Holder, Guest Column

    The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:20, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age?” I would ask the Gardner-Webb University (GWU) leadership these same questions in their decision to allow an openly gay, ordained Baptist minister to speak in their “Life of the Scholar” (LOTS) series.
     
    Cody Sanders, a 2005 graduate of GWU, spoke about his most recent book, Queer Lessons for Churches on the Straight and Narrow: What All Christians can Learn from LGBTQ Lives. He also published the second edition of: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Resource for Congregations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. According to his website, Cody lives in Sacramento, Calif., with his partner Ben Curry, who is also a Baptist minister.
     
    According to the Feb. 27 issue of The Shelby Star, “Dr. Ben Leslie, GWU provost and executive vice president, sent an open letter to members of the GWU community highlighting the event’s purpose, which he said was to understand a position on an increasingly common point of view within Protestantism. In his letter, he also said Sanders is a professing Christian and an alumnus of the university.
     
    This young man is a son of GWU who has taken a different road, and the LOTS lecture is an opportunity to understand better the views that characterize his writings. Mr. Sanders’ views are not the views of the university or its leadership. But university leadership does believe that mature college students benefit from talking openly about the serious issues and challenges of the day.”
     
    Where is the wisdom in allowing Mr. Sanders to speak at GWU? Is there wisdom just in the fact that he graduated from GWU in 2005 and has become a rising star and a published author in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community? Or was it his notoriety as a Baptist minister who is living an openly gay relationship with his Baptist minister lover? Who is next in the LOTS lecture series?
     
    Will GWU allow other alumni who have openly violated scripture to present a lecture on his or her perspective?
     
    According to scripture, homosexuality is not descriptive of who one is, but of the sin that individual practices.
     
    The forgiveness of that practice is promised in 1 Corinthians 6:11 where the Apostle Paul said: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
     
    Is it wise to give Mr. Sanders a forum for promoting his publications, his assumption being that if we would only read his books, we would be as enlightened as he is? Even one of his titles suggests that if, we Rightly Divide the Word of Truth, we could arrive at his distorted conclusion.
     
    There is fear that GWU leadership may be guilty of 1 Timothy 3:7, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Is it wise for the leadership of GWU to compromise their convictions for the sake of academic freedom and fairness; then take little thought in offending a holy God and North Carolina Baptists who have supported GWU?
     
    Is there wisdom in believing that mature college students can actually benefit from the musings of an individual who has committed his life to distorting scripture, disobeying the Savior and denying the sinfulness of his own behavior?
     
    The lack of wisdom assumes that mature college students, whether Christians or not, need to at least be given an opposing view of sexuality which will enable them to make their own choices.
     
    What students need is to be challenged to live godly and holy lives, loving Jesus and loving sinners enough to call all sin what it is, whether homosexual or heterosexual.
     
    I noticed on the GWU homepage this motto: “Learning and leadership for God and Humanity in a changing world.” Did Cody Sanders go down a different road in spite of his days at GWU or because of it?

    Is there more to his life than just being a son of GWU? The apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:17, “Do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
     
    (EDITOR’S NOTE – M. Doyle Holder is pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Connelly Springs.)

    Related: Frank Bonner, president of Gardner-Webb University, responded to this letter. Click here to read the response.

    3/25/2014 11:06:04 AM by M. Doyle Holder, Guest Column | with 4 comments
    Filed under: Gardner-Webb University, homosexuality




Comments
Doris Blankenship
I find it unsettling to see remarks commending a Christian university on the ability to 'go with the flow.' The Bible is true today, as it was originally.
Cody Sanders (speaker in question) states, "Indeed, churches have been trying to 'teach' queer people lessons about our lives for far too long. And queer people have often ended up worse off for the lessons we’ve been asked to learn." So in other words, opposing the scriptures, Sanders is comfortable in bending whatever rules he feels suits his comfort level best and pays no attention to the Word of God. This is where the danger lies.
Also, according to Cody Sanders, "Coming out as queer teachers and prophets invites churches into a transition of posture away from the suspicious scrutiny that normally forms the questions asked about queer lives—serving to define the boundaries of marriage, communal belonging, Christian faithfulness, or civil rights." So, now he wants to bend rules, even regarding BOUNDARIES of marriage. These all too clear are bending God's Word.
What exactly is Gardner Webb University standing for or against? They skirt around issues but do not make a clear stance.
4/8/2014 11:24:26 AM

Justin Humphries
Perhaps everyone should take the time to learn exactly what Mr. Sanders spoke about. His entire presentation was about compassion, love and understanding. He did not promote a "gay lifestyle"; he did not suggest that all students must accept gay people or go to hell; he did not even suggest that being gay is not a sin. Mr. Sanders opened some very interesting discussion about what the church (and all Christians) can learn from those who have been pushed to the margins of society, yet still love the church and still practice Christianity.

Furthermore, this was not held in a "chapel setting." Mr. Sanders spoke in an auditorium that is often used as a lecture hall about his book. Students were not required to attend; faculty and staff were not required to attend. It was completely voluntary, and those who were in attendance can attest to this.

Mr. Sanders was invited to speak because he is an extremely gifted scholar who is a graduate of GWU. LOTS (Life of the Scholar) hosts speakers throughout the year who come to campus to speak and they often have different viewpoints than several in attendance. We recently had a Holocaust survivor on campus who identifies as an atheist. Are we to shun her because she was invited to speak on a Christian campus and share her stories from the Holocaust? I think not.

As a graduate of GWU, I am extremely proud of my Alma Mater for allowing Mr. Sanders to speak on campus, because it shows that GWU is willing to have in-depth conversations and to learn from those who have different opinions.

I believe that the world has come to hate Christians because so many of us choose to persecute others and then proclaim that we are the persecuted. Where are the wise Christians, Mr. Holder? Where are they?
4/7/2014 11:39:34 AM

Tim Rogers
Thank you Doyle Holder. Your questions are appropriate ones that need to be answered. While we want our students exposed to the culture we certainly do not want them enveloped by the culture. It seems that GWU's position is one that we heard all the time at SEBTS when the moderates were leading--we need to be exposed to everything. It is one thing to expose our students to various thoughts, but it moves from exposing to endorsing when we place that culture before them in a chapel setting. Where is the dialog? Where was the community of pastors that were invited to attend and dialog with this person. Also, Dr. Leslie's letter stating this person is a "Christian" reveals the lack of grasp GWU has on the clear teaching of Scripture.
3/28/2014 2:46:55 PM

Paul Batson
Having received my M.Div from the School of Divinity at Gardner-Webb University, I'm grateful for the wisdom of the decision to offer dialogue with different perspectives on life, faith, church, etc.

For centuries, Christians have interpreted Scripture in godly, prayerful ways and there has never been unanimity in interpretation. There never has been. I read a blog recently from Jen Hatmaker and a quote in it is very appropriate here as well: "What seems crystal clear to you is not necessarily to another believer. You don’t have to like that, but it doesn’t make it any less true."

Thank you, GWU, for introducing different perspectives to students who seek to be informed decision makers who hopefully will be thoughtful, respectful leaders in faith now and in the years to come.
3/26/2014 4:21:23 PM