The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:20, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age?” I would ask the Gardner-Webb University (GWU) leadership these same questions in their decision to allow an openly gay, ordained Baptist minister to speak in their “Life of the Scholar” (LOTS) series.
Cody Sanders, a 2005 graduate of GWU, spoke about his most recent book, Queer Lessons for Churches on the Straight and Narrow: What All Christians can Learn from LGBTQ Lives. He also published the second edition of: Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth: A Resource for Congregations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. According to his website, Cody lives in Sacramento, Calif., with his partner Ben Curry, who is also a Baptist minister.
According to the Feb. 27 issue of The Shelby Star, “Dr. Ben Leslie, GWU provost and executive vice president, sent an open letter to members of the GWU community highlighting the event’s purpose, which he said was to understand a position on an increasingly common point of view within Protestantism. In his letter, he also said Sanders is a professing Christian and an alumnus of the university.
This young man is a son of GWU who has taken a different road, and the LOTS lecture is an opportunity to understand better the views that characterize his writings. Mr. Sanders’ views are not the views of the university or its leadership. But university leadership does believe that mature college students benefit from talking openly about the serious issues and challenges of the day.”
Where is the wisdom in allowing Mr. Sanders to speak at GWU? Is there wisdom just in the fact that he graduated from GWU in 2005 and has become a rising star and a published author in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community? Or was it his notoriety as a Baptist minister who is living an openly gay relationship with his Baptist minister lover? Who is next in the LOTS lecture series?
Will GWU allow other alumni who have openly violated scripture to present a lecture on his or her perspective?
According to scripture, homosexuality is not descriptive of who one is, but of the sin that individual practices.
The forgiveness of that practice is promised in 1 Corinthians 6:11 where the Apostle Paul said: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.”
Is it wise to give Mr. Sanders a forum for promoting his publications, his assumption being that if we would only read his books, we would be as enlightened as he is? Even one of his titles suggests that if, we Rightly Divide the Word of Truth, we could arrive at his distorted conclusion.
There is fear that GWU leadership may be guilty of 1 Timothy 3:7, “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Is it wise for the leadership of GWU to compromise their convictions for the sake of academic freedom and fairness; then take little thought in offending a holy God and North Carolina Baptists who have supported GWU?
Is there wisdom in believing that mature college students can actually benefit from the musings of an individual who has committed his life to distorting scripture, disobeying the Savior and denying the sinfulness of his own behavior?
The lack of wisdom assumes that mature college students, whether Christians or not, need to at least be given an opposing view of sexuality which will enable them to make their own choices.
What students need is to be challenged to live godly and holy lives, loving Jesus and loving sinners enough to call all sin what it is, whether homosexual or heterosexual.
I noticed on the GWU homepage this motto: “Learning and leadership for God and Humanity in a changing world.” Did Cody Sanders go down a different road in spite of his days at GWU or because of it?
Is there more to his life than just being a son of GWU? The apostle Paul said in Ephesians 5:17, “Do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – M. Doyle Holder is pastor of Philadelphia Baptist Church in Connelly Springs.)
Related: Frank Bonner, president of Gardner-Webb University, responded to this letter. Click here to read the response.