Another plaintiff in the suit, Jake Picker, takes issue with Baylor’s refusal to acknowledge Gamma Alpha Upsilon as an official organization. Picker holds a leadership position in the support group, and the lawsuit claims that by refusing to grant it a charter, Baylor is “cutting off an important source of representation and restricting the ability of LGBTQ+ students to support one another.”
Notably, both Picker and Penales also critique Baylor’s position on marriage and sexuality, which the university reaffirmed in its recent resolution. Baylor’s “Statement on Human Sexuality” says: “Christian churches across the ages and around the world have affirmed purity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman as the biblical norm. Temptations to deviate from this norm include both heterosexual sex outside of marriage and homosexual behavior.” The statement adds, “It is thus expected that Baylor students will not participate in advocacy groups which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.”
Baylor’s resolution appears to come at least in part as a response to years of students petitioning for Gamma Alpha Upsilon to be an official group. While the university does not mention the lawsuit in the guide explaining its decision, the guide does refer to “reports of bullying and harassment of these students on our campus” and observes that “federal and state guidance on LGBTQ+ rights continues to evolve; however, we must do what we believe is right for our students and provide them the best opportunity for success at Baylor.”
Resolution Draws Praise and Criticism
Gamma Alpha Upsilon External Chair Alex Gonzales told the Herald-Tribune that Baylor’s decision to allow a chartered group for LGTBQ students has the “potential to be huge.” BU Bears for All, a group that exists to support Baylor’s LGBTQ community, published a statement saying, “We appreciate that University and Board of Regents have acknowledged that all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, are made in the image of God and entitled to equal dignity and respect, including on Baylor’s campus.”
The group called the resolution the “first step on a long road” to recognizing an official campus LGBTQ support group. However, BU Bears for All also commented on the Board of Regents’ “view of Scripture,” saying, “We note that the Baptist tradition has long affirmed that no one person is a high priest, that there is no one definitive interpretation of Scripture, and that God enables each individual interprets [sic] Scripture through the lens of the life of Christ. We encourage the Board of Regents to embrace these longstanding, fundamental freedoms of the Baptist faith.”
Despite Baylor’s affirmation of a traditional position on sexuality, the university’s resolution has met biting backlash from some. The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher wrote, “Well, Baylor University did what it was always going to do, and caved.” He believes that Baylor’s explanation of its decision was a way of lying about its “capitulation to the culture.”
Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, agreed with Dreher on Monday’s episode of Mohler’s podcast, “The Briefing.” Baylor’s decision is “a big deal,” said Mohler, who sees it as “just another way of getting to surrender to the moral revolution without admitting that that’s what you’re doing.” Tweeting about the news, the seminary president said, “The great surrender continues.”
Another pastor voiced his concern about Baylor’s resolution, saying, “I am extremely skeptical of solutions like this one from Baylor that think the answer is affinity groups based on sexual orientation. Seems to me like a halfway house to affirmation.”
Mohler’s view was met with criticism by some of his fellow church leaders, however, including Dwight McKissic, senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.
Baylor affirmed a biblical view of sexuality without compromise in this statement. SBTS accommodated you as president affirming the Lost Cause Theory & permitted Paul Pressler to declare “the wrong side won the civil war,” without any public reprimand. Jesus showed compassion.
— Dwight McKissic (@pastordmack) May 16, 2021
Another called Mohler’s accusation “preposterous” in light of Baylor’s “Statement on Human Sexuality.”
Was @albertmohler aware that all chartered students orgs at @Baylor are required to operate under the policies and affirmations set forth in Baylor’s statement on human sexuality before he made the preposterous accusation that they were capitulating to the secular culture?
— David Bumgardner (@david_bumg) May 17, 2021
User Grant Hartley wanted to know what Mohler thought LGBTQ-identifying Christians should do in the absence of a supportive Christian community. “How do you expect sexual and gender minorities to survive or thrive in a conservative Christian context without having a place to meet each other?” he asked. “Is not the establishment of such a group an expression of care and love for people like me? Do you just want us all gone, Dr. Mohler?”
Hartley continued, “I have already given up sex and marriage. Do you expect people like me to give up being able to speak about our experiences and meet with others like us too? What you are advocating for is deadly.”
Hartley’s questions are important ones for ministries and churches to consider. In a recent interview with ChurchLeaders, “Born Again This Way” author Rachel Gilson shared that community has been an essential part of being able to resist acting on her same-sex attractions. “I think the number one thing that helped me,” she said, “was that I had a community of people who loved me and loved Jesus.”