Well, that didn't take long. Wheaton's Fall 2014 hire Julie Rodgers, a "gay celibate Christian," has resigned from her post amid her shifting viewpoint on same-sex relationships , as reported by Eric Teetsel, Executive Director of the Manhattan Declaration. Rodgers, who served as a ministry associate for spiritual care, wrote and spoke often of her commitment to honor God's prescription for sexuality and marriage by remaining celibate. Now Rodgers says her commitment "has evolved through the years."
On her personal blog, Rodgers explains:
Though I've been slow to admit it to myself, I've quietly supported same-sex relationships for a while now. When friends have chosen to lay their lives down for their partners, I've celebrated their commitment to one another and supported them as they've lost so many Christian friends they loved.
Rodgers' shift on same-sex relationships comes as a bit of a shock to the Christian community. As recent as may of this year, my colleague Jeffrey Walton listened as Rodgers expressed her orthodox convictions during a Q conference panel. "I believe that our bodies matter – that gender complementarity matters, that our bodies tell us important things about reality, about ourselves and how we should live," Rogers said to Q's hipster Evangelical audience. "I trust that the boundaries God put around sexual expression are for our flourishing."
Commentary on Rodger's shift emerged quickly in the blogosphere Monday night and early into Tuesday morning.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's Denny Burke noted on his blog that a sound Biblical basis is missing from Rodger's statement. "Rogers's explanation of her change of heart is long on personal experience and short on Bible." Burke continues, "If she has a reasoned biblical rationale for her views, she didn't share it. It shouldn't be lost on readers that other considerations seem to be driving her embrace of gay relationships, not God's word."
Teetsel, a Wheaton alumnus, commented on his Patheos blog that the college's decision to hire a counselor to mentor students with same-sex attraction should be applauded. However, such a hire should be approached with prayerful discernment. "Hiring Rodgers and giving her access to students as a voice of wisdom and authority was an error for which Wheaton owes students, parents and the entire alumni community an apology," writes Teetsel. "But, for now at least, that era is over, and for that we can be thankful."
A sad occurrence, to say the least. Rodgers was a vibrant, gracious voice for many young Christians struggling with same-sex attraction while seeking to faithfully follow Christ.
Faithful Christians should continue to pray for the Holy Spirit's intercession in Rodger's struggle with same-sex attraction and decision that undermines God's perfect plan for human relationships. After all, we ourselves need prayer and Divine intervention when we inevitably, at times, elevate our emotions and desires above Christ's commandments. "If it turns out that I'm wrong," writes Rodgers, "I trust God will be faithful to catch me."
This column was originally published at Juicy Ecumenism.