Grand Canyon University statement on same-sex marriage employee benefits

November 24, 2015 / by / 32 Comments

As part of its annual review process of HR policies, Grand Canyon University has made changes to the benefits offered to partners of lawfully married same-sex couples. The University issued the following statement outlining the reasons behind that decision:

Since its inception in 1949, Grand Canyon University has been founded upon strong Christian principles and a commitment to the full inspiration of Scripture as the infallible, true and authoritative Word of God. Those Christian values and tenets exist throughout the University, including its stated mission to prepare learners to become global citizens, critical thinkers, effective communicators and responsible leaders by providing an academically challenging, values-based curriculum from the context of its Christian heritage.

As such, GCU’s sincerely held religious belief is that the Bible is clear about marriage being a sacred union between a man and a woman, which will continue to be espoused throughout the University’s curriculum and classrooms. This belief is not negotiable from a biblical perspective because Scripture grounds the institution of marriage in the created order (Genesis 2:18-25), which was established by God, and describes marriage as a reflection of the union between Jesus Christ and his Church (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Our federal and state governments, however, have recently changed their long-held definition of marriage and now recognize same-sex marriage as lawful. As a result, notwithstanding GCU’s sincerely held religious beliefs regarding marriage, we have recently been confronted with the issue of whether GCU will extend benefits to lawfully married same-sex couples. For the reasons articulated in this statement, in this specific instance, GCU is making a conscious choice to maintain its religious beliefs, while respecting and honoring its neighbors, as well as the system of government and laws that exist today, by extending employee benefits to spouses of lawfully married same-sex couples. To be clear, though, the University’s decision in this instance, and the recent changes, or any future changes, in the government’s definition of marriage, do not, and will not, change GCU’s sincerely held religious belief that marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman.

The University’s decision to extend benefits has been made freely and without compulsion by the state. The University has voluntarily chosen to extend benefits as a way of demonstrating grace and compassion toward individuals and families that are affected by our decision. This decision should be interpreted as an act of good faith toward employees and their families whom the University does not view as pawns in the current cultural conflict. Rather, they are human beings who are loved by their Creator and worthy of the same value and dignity that we extend to others regardless of their personal values and convictions.

Some may judge GCU harshly for its decision to remain firmly rooted in traditional Christian convictions and steadfast in its commitment to the biblical view of marriage. Others may chastise the University for extending benefits to same-sex spouses because the decision can be misperceived as an implicit endorsement of non-Christian views. Both responses would fail to comprehend GCU’s position adequately. The decision to remain consistently Christian and profoundly biblical remains a legitimate, constitutionally-protected position. This position is neither intrinsically harsh nor unloving, no matter how unpopular it has become in some circles. Furthermore, the decision is accompanied by an explicit endorsement of traditional, biblical views which should jettison all concerns about potential misunderstanding (Romans 14:1-23).

Regardless of criticism, GCU will remain steadfast in its commitment to follow the example of Jesus who consistently showed kindness and compassion to all, regardless of worldview or lifestyle, while speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). At some points Christ infuriated religious leaders and at other points He drew the wrath of secular authorities, yet He continued to minister to all without fail. If providing benefits to all who are legally married enables the University to continue ministering to its employees and their families within an increasingly complex cultural context, then we will gladly provide benefits. We hope that in doing so we will be permitted to withdraw from fruitless culture wars that tend to yield more heat than light and more hostility than genuine cultural engagement.

There are a variety of social issues, including same-sex marriage, that have generated a great deal of debate throughout our society and even within the Christian community. Rather than letting it divide us, it is our hope — as a Christian university — that we might welcome and encourage open discussion and thoughtful, respectful dialogue. At GCU, our beliefs are openly expressed and reflected in the curriculum we teach. Yet, when an opposing view is presented, we recognize that critical thought, open dialogue and a fair presentation of all major views is vital to higher education. As a missional institution, GCU invites students from all walks of life to seek truth and to find their purpose within a context marked by Christian charity and compassion. We welcome all who genuinely seek truth to join the conversation, but the University does not require students to personally embrace the Christian worldview. As a matter of loving others as we love ourselves, GCU intentionally cultivates an environment characterized by respect and sensitivity in all matters, but especially in matters of faith and conscience.

In all respects the University is committed to fostering a loving environment of respect, tolerance, and acceptance of all persons but it does not and indeed cannot affirm all perspectives on these matters. Yet this commitment must not become a “one-way street” in which Christians are expected to tolerate and respect non-Christian views while Christian views are met with intolerance and disregard. In order to maintain the peace, all members of this increasingly pluralistic society must adhere to the principles summarized in the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). It is only through these understandings that people become better educated and more respectful of different viewpoints, and that we work to find solutions rather than dwell on problems.

It would be a tragedy if Christian organizations were forced to stop being salt and light in the world because of issues that divide us (Matthew 5:13-16). When GCU welcomes high school students onto campus to receive free tutoring from our students, we don’t first ask if they are Christians. When we go out into the community alongside Habitat for Humanity and volunteer our time and resources to renovate people’s homes, we don’t inquire about homeowners’ sexual orientation. When we reach out to the many refugees in our community to help them learn English and get acclimated to life in America, we don’t care about their ethnic origin or faith background. We are involved because that is who we are as a Christian university.

Students routinely tell us they are attracted to GCU because of its 1) Affordability, 2) Community atmosphere on campus, 3) Quality education taught from a Christian worldview perspective, and 4) The chance to live out their Christian mission in real and meaningful ways through outreach efforts in the community. The latter cannot be understated. GCU remains firmly committed to its Christian values, and the principle of loving our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Of that we will not be deterred.

Regardless of our position in this particular instance, we want to be clear in our support for our constitutionally-protected right to religious freedom, which protects not only the right to hold particular beliefs, but also the right to freely exercise those beliefs. This protection guarantees the free exercise of religion both when the teachings of the religion are popular and when they are unpopular. GCU believes that religious liberty is an essential mark of any free state and aligns with the theological principle that God alone is Lord of the conscience. Although religious freedom is under siege in our day, liberty of belief and the free exercise of religion were purchased at a high price by our forebears and should never be restricted or revoked without carefully calculating the cost. Those who are willing to encroach upon others’ liberties today in order to advance their ideologies may find their own freedom limited in days to come as the culture continues to change and political power shifts. In this moment, GCU enjoys the freedom necessary to operate in accord with its deeply held religious convictions. It is our sincere hope that this freedom remains intact for Christians and non-Christians alike.

GCU strives to present and practice the Christian faith in ways that are winsome and persuasive, but we renounce all forms of coercion in matters of faith and conscience. Loving others as we love ourselves requires the cultivation of respectful dialogue and charity in all matters, but especially in spiritual and moral matters. We simply ask that others extend similar consideration to GCU in order to facilitate continued partnership with the government and its citizens. The University is committed to serving the community and contributing to the public good in coordination with civil authorities (Romans 13:1-7). We believe this commitment provides a strong basis for cooperation and common ground for all who genuinely seek to further the common good. In summary, as much as possible, so far as it depends on us, we will strive to live peaceably with all (Romans 12:18) in hopes that we may continue to share the love of Christ with those who embrace the Christian worldview as well as those who do not.

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32 Responses
  1. Lope for Life

    Regarding GCU’s statement on same-sex marriage employee benefits: Well stated. Religion is what divides His kingdom. Relationship will grow it.

    Nov.13.2015 at 8:43 am
  2. Grace from Jesus

    Thank you for the time taken to extrapolate the University position on SSM and the benefits change. I was angry at first, but after reading GCU’s position, I am very encouraged by the level of GRACE and understanding expressed. This position is a good example for the Christian community to follow!

    Nov.13.2015 at 9:16 am
  3. Grace from Jesus

    Thank you for this thorough explanation! Much GRACE expressed here…a good example to the Christian community.

    Nov.13.2015 at 9:25 am
  4. Russell McConnell, Phd

    I wish it were true that this compromise would settle this issue. Instead, GCU will now open the door to many LGBT controversies, regarding teachers, regarding curriculum, regarding athletics, housing, advocacy agendas in campus organizations and all aspects of Grand Canyon University. GCU is merely delaying the inevitable degradation of GCU’s Christian values and traditions. I realize this move is about the survival of the university. We shouldn’t fool ourselves. The forces are evil are both patient and persistent in their mission against God. The most liberal and secular bastions of academia began as Christian schools. This decision is the first white flag of pragmatism that signals our ultimate capitulation to secular power.

    Nov.13.2015 at 9:42 am
  5. Lindsey

    So proud to be a GCU Alumna. This just reiterates to me that GCU was the right place to be. If we truly want our heart’s to look more like Jesus’, we must do our best to exude love to all. And all means all.

    Nov.13.2015 at 10:10 am
  6. Well done GCU

    I was worried when I first heard about this; and understandably. But, after reading through your explanation on your motivations, I am proud to be connected to this school. This truly shows the Love of Christ and Grace of God to the world. It is sometimes hard to draw a line between holding your convictions and faith beliefs, while also showing love to others. Jesus had this issue when dealing with the tax-collectors and sinners in a time where the religious leaders believed eating with such people made you unclean (Matthew 9:10-13). Jesus pushed the boundaries away and knocked down the dividing walls of hostility (Ephesians 2:14). He showed love to all. GCU, you are showing love to those who you may not agree with their lifestyle and choices, but still value them as human beings who reflect the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Well done GCU. Keep strong in your faithful convictions and in showing love to your employees and the communities in which you serve.

    Nov.13.2015 at 11:10 am
  7. Jackie Pelegrin

    Thank you for providing a thorough statement on the position GCU has towards this sensitive matter. As I read this position statement, the one thing I kept thinking about that is woven throughout is love. The true and genuine love we exhibit towards one another, no matter who the person is and where they come from, clearly demonstrates the unconditional love Jesus has towards all of us. We definitely need to continue to be the salt and light in all of the dark places.

    Nov.13.2015 at 11:12 am
  8. Dr. Kendra Stewart

    His GRACE is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)…and we are all covered by it…Thank God for that:) I am proud of GCU for this. There is a balance within these profound words and actions. We must remember that there is no waver in love. There is no waver in the word of God as well. Yet, we can always find a balance between the two. GOD is love. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love (1 John 4:8). Well done GCU. #LopeLove

    Nov.13.2015 at 11:49 am
  9. Brenton Franks

    Tragic Decision. It appears that GCU has made the easy decision and hidden behind the stance of “loving the sinner” and abiding by a legal precedent that is counter Scriptural. It also depicts that this Christian University is running in fear that they will be engulfed in legal challenges and may fear loss of Federal Student loans. It saddens me that a Christian University won’t hold to a Biblical standard on this critical issue of our time.

    Nov.13.2015 at 12:44 pm
  10. Luke

    “People don’t care how much you know, till they know how much you care.”

    Nov.13.2015 at 1:27 pm
  11. Rosalinda J.Amargo

    It is written “love inspite of.” Thank you, GCU.

    Nov.13.2015 at 3:41 pm
  12. Eric

    Doing away with the didactic and encouraging more of the dialecticle. I’m sure the humanist and socio-psychologists would be proud of what is taking place here at GCU. It is unfortunate that this has taken place. Agape, Phileo, Storgae, Aeros
    Agape is Gods love. Phileo is friendship/brotherly love. Storgae is protective love, parental love. Aeros is romantic love. Marriage is the only one that pulls these 4 together. If you take agape love out of this, then aeros/romantic love is gone. So, what does this mean? It means marriage is sacred and honored by God, something He designed for a man and woman only.
    Ravi Zacharias answer when confronted with a question on homosexuality.
    GCU could learn a lot from this statement.

    Nov.13.2015 at 9:25 pm
  13. Sue mackey

    Thank you for your words of enlightenment. Our church is in the process of reviewing our by laws and your understanding and verbiage will help us .

    Nov.14.2015 at 11:53 am
  14. Douglas Gwinn

    At this point on 11/14/2015, I find two out of eleven comments here that are in opposition to the GCU statement about same-sex marriage. These two are both well said. It grieves me when Christian colleges capitulate to the sinful secular society’s value’s. It’s really hypocritical and dishonest for GCU to claim to support traditional marriage and yet cave in to the demands of the LGBT agenda. You cannot be a Christian in words only, you have to follow and obey Jesus Christ, follow and obey His Holy Word which clearly states that homosexuality is sin and needs to be disciplined, and kept away from a Christian community such as GCU. Many Christian colleges are doing this same thing, giving lip-service to God’s plan for one-man-one-woman marriage while at the same time entertaining gays and lesbians. Usually it starts with an alleged desire to “listen” to their concerns. But what ends up happening in reality, is that if you give LGBT people an inch, they take several miles. Better to not allow them on campus.

    Nov.14.2015 at 4:10 pm
  15. Jaimee Keith

    You are not loving others and being salt and light when you don’t stand up for what is right. Jesus loved sinners but never compromised the word of God! This is the beginning of the end of GCU as a Christian College. I will be sending my children to another Christian University that has biblical standards. Thankfully we don’t live close anymore because that would be a bummer to send our kids somewhere else when we lived so close.

    Nov.14.2015 at 6:26 pm
  16. Phillip

    I’m certainly glad men like Daniel, the three Hebrew young men, the disciples, and scores of martyrs down through the ages didn’t bow to the demands of government and fearfulness.

    Nov.15.2015 at 9:47 am
  17. Darlene

    As a christian I must say, I am so disappointed in GCU. You have compromised the Word of God, and your testamony. We are to follow the laws of the land, until they go against the laws, and Word of God. It is one thing to open up to students who are gay. Another thing to employ gays, and cater to them under the guise of following the law. Both Harverd, and Yale began as christian collages. Now their whole goals are to educate the God right out of them. I pray that God guide you in ALL truth.

    Nov.15.2015 at 11:32 am
  18. Igor Shpudejko

    For the University to say that they still adhere to the Biblical view of marriage between a man and a woman in spite of their recent decision to recognize same-sex marriage by extending benefits to them is meaningless. You are judged by your deeds not by what you say. By their actions they have recognized same-sex marriage as equal to heterosexual marriage. This has nothing to do with grace but instead has to do with acknowledging something that goes against the core of biblical beliefs on human sexuality and God’s design for it. Accepting of a sinful situation may seem compassionate initially but it denies the ultimate tragedy that comes with disobeying God’s unique plan for men, women, and children.

    Nov.15.2015 at 11:59 am
  19. artbyruth

    God is love, this is true.But God is also HOLY. Jesus confronted sin and so should we. We must never accept sin. Hopefully, God will not allow GCU to fall as He did so many kingdoms that compromised…

    Nov.15.2015 at 9:53 pm
  20. Kristy S

    I appreciate your carefully, and prayerfully, crafted position and statement and continue to meditate on it. As a parent of a graduating Senior, my student is seriously considering GCU attendance as her school of choice and we continue to pray through this matter.

    But, I question, if you are to help affirm her Christian Worldview through her college years, how do you accomplish this when hiring those from an opposing worldviews? I was under the impression that the Supreme Court had upheld Christians Schools’ (and other Religious Organizations’) right to require affirmation of and adherence to a Statement of Faith and/or Code(s) of Conduct.

    I agree that God’s Grace and Compassion is always the best path when navigating difficult circumstances, but I am not confident where I come down on this one. I pray God will continue to guide and direct you as you walk through this opportunity.

    Nov.15.2015 at 11:21 pm
  21. Terry Winoker

    This makes me very happy. As a new student of GCU I have been frustrated and almost ready to quit. I did not want to be part of a school that would try to indoctrinate me or be anti-non-Christians. This is a good statement and very Christ-like.

    Nov.16.2015 at 9:03 am
  22. Rick De Prisco

    This extensive explanation is well crafted … and crafty. It pretends to maintain a stand on the Biblical definition of marriage while indicating by its actual stance that its words have been belied by its actions. “You will know them by their fruits.” GCU may have salved its own conscience by its clever rationalization, but those true to Christ will not be fooled. Appealing to sinners can never be accomplished by appeasing sin. Extending benefits to those in a perverted relationship is an unequivocal endorsement of the travesty of oxymoronic “gay marriage.” Like the scribes and Pharisees who began their fawning questioning of Christ with the introduction “Good Teacher” GCU has made a feint toward godliness, but it doesn’t fly. It is sad to have to write off GCU, but this is a weighty straw on a beleaguered camel’s back. You’re done.

    Nov.17.2015 at 10:21 pm
  23. CES

    I agree with this statement and the position of GCU to facilitate “care” through the manmade vehicle of health insurance / benefits. This decision, although provocative is a shining example of Christianity in action within the framework of an ever darkening society, IMHO. There are plenty of obese people on campus, but we don’t shun them because they are gluttons. There are plenty of smokers on campus, but we don’t shun them because they are self-destructive (and hurting others via their second hand smoke). There are plenty of divorced individuals on campus, but we do not stone them. There are plenty of (fill in the blank), but instead we continue (or should continue) to express His love through our actions because that is the mandate of the Gospel that points the sinner to salvation. Offering healthcare / benefits is not tantamount to the endorsement of LGBT lifestyle choices anymore than selling wine to someone (a known alcoholic or not) is an endorsement of debauchery. I firmly believe that this decision was made after thoughtful and prayerful consideration for those that were “already in the gate” and not an indication that GCU seeks to employ as teachers of our children LGBT individuals. The GCU statement on, “same-sex marriage benefits” may be read by many so I would suggest that they work into the statement, the “steps to the born-again” experience of salvation. In the end, those of us that have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, have invited Him into our hearts and confessed with our voices that Jesus is Lord MUST understand that “no labor of love is in vain.” The simple policy to allow for health insurance / benefits to those that are obese, LGBT, smokers, etc., is nothing short of that labor. It is NOT an endorsement of those lifestyle choices by any means.

    “If I speak in the languages of humans and angels but have no love, I have become a reverberating gong or a clashing cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can understand all secrets and every form of knowledge, and if I have absolute faith so as to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing. Even if I give away everything that I have and sacrifice myself, but have no love, I gain nothing.

    Love is always patient;
    love is always kind;
    love is never envious
    or arrogant with pride.
    Nor is she conceited,
    and she is never rude;
    she never thinks just of herself
    or ever gets annoyed.
    She never is resentful;
    is never glad with sin;
    she’s always glad to side with truth,
    and pleased that truth will win.
    She bears up under everything;
    believes the best in all;
    there is no limit to her hope,
    and never will she fall.”

    1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (International Standard Version)

    Nov.18.2015 at 12:52 am
  24. Tedd Haas

    So sad. Why would I send my children to a place that says, “Do what God commands, unless the
    State says otherwise.”?
    Grand Canyon has stepped on the “Down Grade”.

    Nov.18.2015 at 5:29 am
  25. Casey

    As a graduate of GCU, I am ashamed at this anti-Scriptural stance that the university is now taking. Extending benefits to same-sex couples is nothing short of expressing legitimacy and support for a union that is an abomination in God’s eyes, and is not marriage. To acquiesce to a government that is driving our nation away from God’s standards is to be party to their sin. As a university, you cannot in good conscience say that you are holding to God’s standards if you fail to live that out in the policies of the school, in recognizing these unions. I sincerely urge you to reconsider. This is not a matter of loving the sinner but hating the sin. Compassion and Christ-likeness is to tell the sinner to flee from the destruction that awaits them in their sin, and to the saving grace of Christ. It is not compassion to give credence to an ungodly and illegitimate union.

    Nov.19.2015 at 10:18 am
  26. Derek

    Jesus loves people, unconditionally. It means that there is no condition that is beyond deserving of love. Because my Dad loves the ones He created, I do too. No condition is too strong that love can’t break.

    Nov.25.2015 at 10:50 am
  27. Erica

    I think GCU made a reasonable, equitable choice. For a private Christian university, they embrace the compassion necessary to exemplify Jesus’ message to “do onto others as you would have done onto you.” One cannot legislate or force one’s morality on others, anyway. Might as well state where you stand in order to uphold God’s word, but treat others with the respect you would want back.

    Dec.14.2015 at 4:10 pm
  28. Esther

    I am proud to be an alumni of GCU. You have made the decision to support your employees in an area that frankly is no one’s business. Making GCU an employer of choice was wise and evident of the belief in God’s children. We are on this earth with the privilege to live. Stop judging others and love God’s children, all of them. It can be that simple!

    Dec.15.2015 at 12:40 am
  29. KMKM

    Does GCU require its teaching faculty to sign a statement upon hiring that they will affirm “GCU’s sincerely held religious belief [is] that the Bible is clear about marriage being a sacred union between a man and a woman, which will continue to be espoused throughout the University’s curriculum and classrooms.”? If not, how will the college be able to maintain its strong stance on this issue?

    Jan.09.2016 at 12:42 am
  30. Bob Romantic

    KMKM: Faculty are required to sign a statement of expectations supporting the university’s Doctrinal Statement. In addition, the curriculum is created centrally by GCU, which professors must adhere to.

    Jan.11.2016 at 11:09 am
  31. CASEY2

    As a US NAVY vet from Viet nam era who is a Believer, it really makes me both sad and mad!

    Mad that schools like you don’t tell the feds that your Biblical founded beliefs are not for sale! They can keep their blood money subsidies, and it’s a terrible shame that your leadership didn’t see this coming years ago!

    Sad that this is how things have turned out and so quickly (it makes going to The Wall all the harder, how do I answer there why?!), that sinners have more value than saints in our Federal system, but then elections matter more than our Constitution because of linguine spined office holders in all branches of gov. where the good of the nation bows down to the good of the pocket book!

    If you can’t turn out God fearing solid Believers that will stand up for God’s way (and it did give me hope as I read several of the responses) as that’s what’s sorely needed, then you need to go!

    Jul.27.2016 at 5:33 pm
  32. Phyllis Henderson

    I am pleased with the love and thoughtfulness in your article. Any position taken will be controversial. I do not know what challenges lie ahead in the encroachment of the state for religiously motivated institutions and I wish you the same balance and equanimity expressed here. The story of Jesus and the Phoenician woman comes to mind: the disciples would have sent her away with her deranged daughter unhealed. Jesus confronted their exclusivism with his challenge to her and was stunned by her reply. Christian employers may similarly let the crumbs fall in the form of inclusive benefits, I believe, without taking our eyes off the Giver of all good things.

    Aug.21.2016 at 10:46 pm
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