Christian colleges caught in the culture clash

by Nick Eicher

Posted on Friday, August 21, 2015, at 2:54 pm

Each week, The World and Everything in It features a “Culture Friday” segment, in which Executive Producer Nick Eicher discusses the latest cultural news with John Stonestreet, president of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Here is a summary of their conversation.

This week, I talked with John Stonestreet about the controversy within the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). Two CCCU member schools, Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) and Goshen College, announced they will hire faculty members in same-sex marriages. 

Because EMU and Goshen remain members in good standing with the CCCU, Union University has pulled out of the coalition. By the end of this month, Oklahoma Wesleyan University and some others are threatening to leave as well.

“The CCCU has been the only game in town when it comes to accrediting these sorts of institutions, but it hasn’t been very clear on certain things,” Stonestreet said. “Here you have two institutions within the CCCU … [that are] actually redefining marriage within the structure of their own institutions, including in their own leadership and in their faculty.” The CCCU is known for moving slowly, but Stonestreet predicted other colleges would part with the institution if it does not respond to the issue soon.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, a county clerk is embroiled in a legal battle over whether she must issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. A judge ordered her to do so, but granted a stay of the judgment pending appeal. 

Stonestreet said the best response for a Christian in the clerk’s situation is not as cut-and-dried. There are times when Christians must decide whether to pursue legal action or to simply practice civil disobedience and take the consequences of their actions.

“I think this clerk has every right to act according to her conscience, and she has,” Stonestreet said. “However, in this particular case, unlike the baker in Colorado or the florist and the other bakers that we’ve heard about … this clerk actually is an agent of the state. As an agent of the state, whether she has the right to sue is a tough one. I think a lot of Christians, though, are going to find themselves in similar situations. I don’t think we’ve thought through all the ways we’re going to be asked to violate our conscience because of this ruling and other rulings.”

Listen to “Culture Friday” on The World and Everything in It.

Nick Eicher

Nick is chief content officer of WORLD and co-host for WORLD Radio. He has served WORLD Magazine as a writer and reporter, managing editor, editor, and publisher. Nick resides with his family in St. Louis, Mo.

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