A woman is seeking more than $500,000 from a historic Southern California seminary after it expelled her for violating rules prohibiting homosexual conduct. Graduate student Joanna Maxon, 53, filed a lawsuit claiming Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena broke Title IX rules and California law when it expelled her for being married to a woman.
According to her lawsuit, school administrators learned from Maxon’s tax returns in August 2018 that she had entered into a same-sex marriage in 2016, within a year of enrolling. Maxon was married to a man when she applied to Fuller, but after her application was approved and she had a start date, she separated from her husband and then divorced him. Maxon contends she notified the school of her divorce and, after her civil marriage to a woman in 2016, openly talked with professors and students about her new relationship and no one challenged her conduct.
Like some other Christian schools, Fuller does not require students to adhere to a statement of faith and admits them regardless of their faith or sexual orientation. But admitted students must follow community standards stating that the sexual union is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman and prohibiting “homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct.” Maxon claims that Fuller administrators never asked whether she engaged in “homosexual forms of explicit sexual conduct” but expelled her simply because she was in a same-sex relationship.
Carl Trueman, a professor at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, argues that the Fuller case could test “confessional consistency,” or whether the school has consistently enforced its standards barring not only homosexual conduct but also un-Biblical divorce and other misconduct. —S.W.