Lesbian Sues Seminary That Refused to Compromise Biblical Values on Gay Marriage


Every liberal needs to be told something: Whether you like it or not, there’s plenty
of evidence that the God of the Bible does not sanction same-sex relationships. You may not interpret the Good Book that way. Perhaps you’ve got reasonable theological
reasons for it. Perhaps you just want to go with the cultural
flow. Whatever your reason, know there are as many
good arguments on the other side. I won’t go into it here because I could
write a thesis on it. The point is this: There’s a reasonable
argument that Christianity is incompatible with same-sex relationships and attendant
issues like gay marriage. At one of America’s premier theological
seminaries, that’s led to a landmark series of lawsuits that could have a chilling effect
on the ability of Christian educational institutions to hold to their interpretation of the Bible. According to Christianity Today, a second
student has joined a lawsuit against Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California,
asking for more than $1 million in damages for being expelled for having married someone
of the same sex. In November, former Fuller student Joanna
Maxon sued the school for her dismissal in 2018. The school noticed that Maxon was married
to a woman because the spouse was listed on her tax returns. On Tuesday, Nathan Brittsan — a pastor with
American Baptist Churches USA — joined the suit over his 2017 expulsion before he started
his first quarter. He said the school found out about his marriage
when he attempted to change his last name. “Brittsan had not told the school why he
wanted to change his last name in the request, but administrators knew he was part of an
LGBT-affirming church,” Christianity Today reported. Brittsan also claimed in his suit that he
discussed the marriage with a dean and an administrator. “Nathan was not informed that this discussion
was actually part of an initial inquiry or investigation by Fuller into Nathan’s perceived
Community Standards violation,” the suit alleges. Fuller’s code of conduct holds that marriage
is a “covenant union between one man and one woman” and finds “homosexual forms
of explicit sexual conduct to be inconsistent with the teaching of Scripture.” “The seminary does lawfully discriminate
on the basis of sexual conduct that violates its biblically based Community Standard Statement
on Sexual Standards,” the university’s policy states. “It’s a very important case at this time
in our nation’s history,” Paul Southwick, Maxon and Brittsan’s attorney, said. “This case could set an important legal
precedent that if an educational institution receives federal funding, even if it’s religiously
affiliated, even if it’s a seminary, that it’s required to comply with Title IX prohibitions
on sex discrimination as applied to LGBT individuals.” Widely considered one of the top seminaries
in the country, Fuller is being represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty,
best known for defending Hobby Lobby in the landmark Supreme Court case Burwell v. Hobby
Lobby, which ended in a victory for the faith-based retailer. “The claims here are dangerous for faith-based
institutions,” Becket Fund attorney Daniel Blomberg said. “If the court was to accept them, then they
would be harmful to religious groups of all backgrounds and particularly minority religious
groups that have beliefs that the majority and the surrounding communities might find
unpopular … We think that’s unlikely that courts would accept these kinds of arguments
because they’re weak claims. But they’re dangerous.” This is, according to Southwick, the first
such lawsuit against a Christian institution for expelling a student for a same-sex marriage
since Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 Supreme Court case in which the court ruled states
which would not recognize or perform same-sex marriages were acting unconstitutionally. When Obergefell was decided, there were fears
that the decision would be used to erode religious freedom. We were told those fears were overblown. Now we have an esteemed seminary staring down
a chilling lawsuit because it held to its interpretation of the Bible. If this feint succeeds, it’s nothing short
of using federal law as a blunt force instrument to abrogate the First Amendment rights of
Christians. The fears we had in 2015, if anything, may
have been understated.

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