The board of Calvin University, a college in Michigan owned by the Christian Reformed Church, said last week that faculty members could dissent from a clause in a confession of faith that regards sex outside of heterosexual marriage as sinful, the Religion News Service reported.
The vote permits those faculty members to remain in their positions.
Normally, faculty members hired by Calvin must sign a document saying their beliefs align with a set of historical Christian creeds and confessions. The Faculty Handbook says they must “teach, speak, and write in harmony with the confessions.”
But many professors no longer hold that sex outside of heterosexual marriage is sinful. “It’s a matter of integrity,” said Kristin Kobes Du Mez, a professor of history at Calvin who was among the initial group of faculty members who requested permission to dissent from the Christian Reform Church’s stance on sex. “It seemed necessary to register my dissent so that I could have clarity in terms of whether it was a space where I could continue to work, or whether I no longer fit within the mission of the community.”
Calvin did not identify the professors who requested the right to dissent or say how many of them there were.
The university does not allow students to engage in premarital sex and defines marriage as between a man and a woman. A spokesman for Calvin said those rules will not change.