A Massachusetts Christian academic institute under fire for maintaining a policy for students and faculty that only allows for sex within heterosexual marriage has reaffirmed its stance.
Gordon College, a Christian school located in Wenham, announced earlier this week that it's maintaining its conduct policy barring sex outside of marriage, including adultery and homosexuality.
Administrators at the college also announced Monday that they will form a task force called "Life Together" that will aim to work on human sexuality issues in the campus community.
Rick Sweeney, vice president of marketing and communications at Gordon College, provided The Christian Post with a statement from the academic institution on the matter.
"The taskforce, whose name is inspired by the Dietrich Bonhoeffer book of the same title, is one of several new initiatives focused on three key areas — residence life, campus programming and the overall educational experience," reads the statement.
"In addition, Gordon is bolstering its anti-bullying policies to ensure it is best serving all students. Gordon will conduct biennial surveys to assess the wellbeing of students as it relates to sexuality and sexual identity."
In an interview with CP, Sweeney explained the reasoning underpinning the decision on the part of Gordon's Board of Trustees.
"It was important to be clear [Gordon] supports the institutional commitment to orthodox biblical teaching around human sexuality," said Sweeney.
"At the same time, the college leadership is committed to ensuring we support and care for all students including those of diverse characteristics and backgrounds … while remaining faithful to our underlying Christian theological framework."
Over the past year, Gordon had made headlines over its official position that students and faculty cannot engage in sex outside of marriage or homosexual activities.
Last July, Salem's government ended its contract with Gordon over usage of the city's Old Town Hall due to the academic institute's ban on homosexual behavior.
Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll told CP in an earlier interview that Gordon College's "behavioral standards" policy was "in violation of the LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that was unanimously adopted by the Salem City Council."
"The city does not contract with private parties that willfully discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, disability, family status, gender identity or expression, marital status, military status, national origin, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation," said Driscoll."… [T]he city terminated the contract because Gordon's behavioral standards code conflicted with our fully LGBT inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. It is not discriminatory to reject discrimination."
Gordon's recent reaffirmation comes as part of their process of discernment surrounding a pending report meant for their accreditor, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Last September, NEASC's Commission on Institutions of Higher Education and Gordon released a joint statement noting that Gordon was to undergo a process of discernment as to whether or not their policy on human sexuality was discriminatory.
Barbara Brittingham, president of the NEASC Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, provided CP with a copy of the joint statement.
"The commission has asked the college to submit a report for consideration at the commission's September 2015 meeting describing the process and its outcomes, to ensure that the College's policies and processes are non-discriminatory and that it ensures its ability to foster an atmosphere that respects and supports people of diverse characteristics and backgrounds," reads the statement from last year.
Brittingham explained to CP that Gordon is not under investigation for its policy and the institution is not on trial for maintaining its position on human sexuality.
"Gordon College is accredited through NEASC's Commission on Institutions of Higher Education and has been so continuously since 1961. The commission has enjoyed a positive relationship with Gordon College," said Brittingham.
"As indicated by the joint statement, the commission has asked Gordon College to submit a report for consideration at the commission's September meeting describing the college's discernment process and its outcomes."