Baylor University, one of the world's largest Baptist universities, has opened the door to possibly providing official campus recognition to an LGBT student group but maintains that its stance on marriage and sexual ethics continues to be unchanged.
Last week, the Waco, Texas-based school's board of regents approved a resolution that greenlights a path forward for recognizing a group of LGBT-identifying students.
The board of regents charged President Linda A. Livingstone and the university administration "to determine the appropriate pathways to provide additional care, connections, and community for Baylor’s LGBTQ students, including the possibility of establishing a new, chartered student group that is consistent with Baylor’s core commitments ..."
In addition, the board reaffirmed the "core commitments of our Christian mission," including "the biblical understanding that sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage between
a man and a woman are not in keeping with the teaching of Scripture."
But the resolution added that the university with over 14,000 undergraduates enrolled values "the dignity and worth of all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity." Baylor strives to "fulfill our Christian commitment of a caring community" that provides a "welcoming, supportive educational environment based on civility and respect for all."
The resolution also states that “as an important and faithful expression of our Christian mission, we desire to establish trust with our LGBTQ students so that, among other things, they might seek out the resources provided by Baylor.”
Livingstone told The Waco Tribune Friday that the university looks forward to proceeding with the resolution’s goals “in a way that respects the principles outlined there and respects our values and mission and then our deep care for our students.”
While both Baylor’s statement on human sexuality and policy on sexual conduct presently signal adherence to biblical orthodoxy, some say the allowance of an LGBT student group is the first step at chipping away at crucial theological foundations.
Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said in a Monday episode of his daily podcast that if an institution of higher education is not clear about what it believes and what those convictions require and “it actually begins to recruit students or even to accept students who hold to a contrary view and then allows official recognition of that group ... you have just sown the seeds for the revolution of your own institution.”
The latest resolution is part of a trend of Baylor gradually adjusting its policies over the years, removing the specifics as to what is and is not permitted amid intensifying cultural pressures and financial considerations related to federal funding and regulations, Mohler pointed out.
The university changed its sexual misconduct policy in 2015, taking out language on "homosexual acts."
And in 2019, an unofficial LGBTQ student group garnered over 3,000 supportive signatures from alumni, faculty and other students seeking charter status from the school.
“Just consider the mainstream media and beyond that, even the larger cultural pressure when it came to Oral Roberts University's men's basketball team making it to the Sweet 16 in the national basketball tournament this year," Mohler said. "But then consider something else. What team won the NCAA men's National Basketball Tournament this year? None other than Baylor university."
“Baylor can't possibly face the reality that its team that just won the national championship might not have access to post-season play," he added. "No one's denying that Baylor University faces incredible pressure. But what we are seeing is a one-step-at-a-time succumbing to that pressure.”