Updated on July 14, 2015
Page 15 of the new student handbook of Cedarville University tells students to obey “the laws of the land.” However, there’s at least one law the Ohio evangelical college doesn’t support: the recent Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. The school’s “Commitment to Purity,” printed on page 12 of the handbook, begins, “We believe that God’s design at creation for sexual desire and orientation is within the bounds of a marriage union between a man and a woman.” Cedarville prohibits students from engaging in not only same-sex dating, but also “public advocacy for the position that sex outside of a biblically defined marriage is morally acceptable.”
The forceful tone of this handbook reflects a growing sense among evangelicals that they are being persecuted for their beliefs. Cedarville’s unequivocal rejection of gay marriage is consistent with the “human sexuality statements” for dozens of the 121 members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the nation’s premier organization of accredited evangelical higher-education institutions.
Lots of Christian-affiliated colleges have either declined to take a political stance on gay marriage or adopted more-inclusive policies to keep up with the shifting legal landscape and evolving social trends. While a few evangelical colleges have changed their same-sex policies—for example, Hope College in Michigan will now offer benefits to gay married couples—most theologically conservative Christian colleges are quietly resisting efforts to admit openly gay students. Cedarville is part of a subset of schools that are actively involved in efforts to retain traditional policies against homosexuality.