If you want to get out of a hole, stop digging.

smu-logo2My financial support of SMU ended officially several years ago when the powers-that-be decided that University policy would be to extend employee health benefits to the domestic partners of homosexual employees.  I corresponded several times with the University President to find out why they thought that was good idea, particularly when the denomination from which the University takes its name still rejects the idea that homosexuality should be normalized.  Instead (at least at the time of this writing), they recognize that it is counter to Biblical teaching.

The initial response I got was that it was a “competitive employment issue,” as a number of major employers in the Dallas area offered similar benefits.  I suggested to the President that, using that reasoning, it would be logical and infinitely fair to extend employee health benefits to the domestic partners of unmarried heterosexual employees.  That would result in the University being a really “competitive” employer.  Their response was that they considered that to be “an undermining of the institution of marriage.”

Now don’t misunderstand me, I was not advocating the extension of benefits to domestic partners of unmarried employees, irrespective of their sexual preferences, but rather pointing out the startling inconsistency in their logic.  If “being competitive” was important, why hold back by limiting themselves to being only attractive to prospective homosexual employees?  Are there not single but cohabitating heterosexual persons that would make good employees?  I suspect that the current policy is really more of an endorsement (or MAYBE even advocacy) of the homosexual lifestyle, than it was a needs-based initiative, that need being to attract people to employment by the University.

So, more recently, as I was thumbing through the University’s most recent alumni magazine, a particular article caught my attention.  It provided reinforcement beyond my original reasons for why SMU does not receive my financial support.  Here is the text of the article:

Series Highlights Impact of Charles Darwin

When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, he changed the course of science with the turn of a page.  Throughout 2009, SMU schools and departments will celebrate the 150th anniversary of this book and the 200th birthday of the author through a series of lectures, exhibits and presentations, “Darwin’s Evolving Legacy:  Celebrating Ideas That Shape Our World.”  (emphasis mine) Confirmed events include:

A Meadows School of the Arts theatrical reading from “Inherit the Wind,” the iconic play about the “Scopes Monkey Trial”  Feb. 12.

A speech by National Medal of Science winner Francisco Ayala, author of Darwin’s Gift to Science and Religion, Feb. 20.

A panel discussion on the Pennsylvania case barring a public school district from teaching “intelligent design,” Sept. 24

Other speakers will address Darwin’s impact from the perspectives of biology, ecology, philosophy, anthropology and theology.

In addition, from Sept. 8 through Dec. 9, DeGolyer Library will exhibit every edition of On The Origins of Species published during Darwin’s lifetime, with reactions from the popular press and scientific community.

So as to be fair, I admit that I am grateful for the education I received from SMU.  My degree from what is now known as the Cox School of Business is something I am proud of and it is respected in the marketplace.  I will also be the first to acknowledge that the free exchange of ideas is a long standing tradition in the university setting, and I applaud the continuation of those exchanges.  And I will also concede that not all ideas presented need to conform to mine. 

Also, the trustees or board of governors (or whatever they call themselves) have the power to effect any kind of employee benefit program they want to, so long as it does not run afoul of state or federal statues.  And, I guess that about all I can hope for is that they follow their consciences.  That said, for as long as their policies and academic pursuits continue along the lines described above, they can do all of that without my financial assistance.   

You see, that is how I follow MY conscience.

Note:  If on the off chance anyone from SMU reads this, I’ll even offer to SAVE you some money by suggesting that you not mail fund raising materials to me, or spend any time or money on phone solicitation.  Unless of course you call or write to say that you are repenting from the matters described above (and probably some others that I am not even unaware of.)

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12 Responses to If you want to get out of a hole, stop digging.

  1. medinaumc says:

    Amen, Amen, Amen. You serve the Church of Jesus Christ well with your conclusions. A voice crying out in the wilderness… make straight the path of the Lord.

    BTW… I think you would’ve come out better if you had gone to Texas Tech.

  2. Chuck says:

    Why Bill, for the life of me I can’t figure out why you would say that! 🙂

  3. jesurgislac says:

    Instead (at least at the time of this writing), they recognize that it is counter to Biblical teaching.

    Certainly it is against the laws of Leviticus for male observant Jews to have sex together.

    But it would be counter to the teaching of the gospels to deny same-sex domestic partners, who are legally denied marriage in the state of Texas, the same employment benefits as a legally-married mixed-sex couple.

    It depends, I suppose, whether you value the 613 commandments laid down for observant Jews above the less detailed and yet more stringent commandments of Jesus Christ.

  4. Chuck says:

    jesurgislac:

    You claim to be an atheist, but you cite scripture in such a way as to imply it has authority. In case you are wondering, I do see the irony. However, since you seem to be quite familiar with scripture, here’s an opportunity to educate my readers. I am certain that we would love to know which if any verses in the New Testament would have even the appearance of affirming or condoning homosexuality, or for that matter, treating it as anything other than immoral.

    I find your application of Jesus’ teachings (cited at your blog post related to California’s Proposition 8), to the obligation for a BUSINESS or INSTITUTION to extend the types of employee benefits constructed for married employees and their families, to the domestic partners of unmarried employees, to be a bit of a reach.

  5. jesurgislac says:

    You claim to be an atheist, but you cite scripture in such a way as to imply it has authority.

    I am an atheist. I’m just a very well-read atheist. (Also, I was brought up a Christian, and in my family, that meant being a very well-read Christian.) You claim to be a Christian, which means you are supposed to accept the authority of the Scriptures. Can you cite where in the gospels you find Jesus Christ condemning homosexuality, or affirming that he wanted his followers to treat homosexuality as immoral?

    I find your application of Jesus’ teachings (cited at your blog post related to California’s Proposition 8), to the obligation for a BUSINESS or INSTITUTION to extend the types of employee benefits constructed for married employees and their families, to the domestic partners of unmarried employees, to be a bit of a reach

    How so? You are arguing in your original post that a business or an institution ought to apply the laws of Leviticus to the provision of employee benefits: why do you feel that a business/institution ought NOT to apply the teachings of Jesus Christ to the provision of employee benefits?

  6. Chuck says:

    Jesus says in Matt. 5: 17 that he had not come to abolish the law or the prophets. I understand that to mean that he did not revoke any part of the Mosaic law, including those laws specifically spelled out in Leviticus that speak to homosexuality. However, he also came to fulfill the law, meaning he would take on the eternal punishment for the failure to keep those laws, at least for those who are called to a saving regeneration.

    As for followers of Christ who treat homosexuality as immoral, I would offer the apostle Paul as one who received instruction directly from the risen Christ, at the time of his conversion. I would also add the counsel of the Holy Spirit who I trust guided Paul’s written instructions to the various first century churches.

    As for your contention that I argue for application of Levitical laws in the provision of employee benefits, I would ask you to provide specific evidence of that.

  7. jesurgislac says:

    As for your contention that I argue for application of Levitical laws in the provision of employee benefits, I would ask you to provide specific evidence of that.

    I gathered from your post that you objected to this university providing the same benefits to same-sex partners (who are, in Texas, not allowed to legally marry) as they do to mixed-sex married couples, and your objection certainly appeared to be based on “Biblical teachings” against homosexuality.

    As the only specific “teaching” in the Bible to homosexuality is in Leviticus (and there, specifically applied only to men, but most Christians who believe the Levite law should apply seem to argue that it ought to apply to both genders), you certainly appeared to be arguing that you believe the law of Leviticus ought to apply to employee benefits, and to absolutely override the teachings of Jesus Christ.

  8. jesurgislac says:

    As for followers of Christ who treat homosexuality as immoral, I would offer the apostle Paul as one who received instruction directly from the risen Christ, at the time of his conversion.

    Oh yes: so what Paul said overrides what Jesus said?

  9. Chuck says:

    jesurgislac:

    You are tiring me.

    As for your first comment posted at 9:46 last night, I would again challenge you to cite examples in my original post where I am “arguing” (to use your term), for the application of Levitical law to homosexuality. The matter is dealt with twice very specifically in Leviticus 18: 22 and 20: 13. Words matter here. The words of scriture matter, the words of my original post matter, the words of your allegations matter, and the words of your subsequent response to THIS comment matter. So, I encourage you to craft your answer carefully. Where do I argue for the application of Levitical law in my original post, a charge you very specifically leveled at me?

    As for your contention that the matter of homosexuality is only specifically taught in Leviticus, I would encourage you to take some time with a good cross referenced study Bible with concordance, and see if your efforts prove otherwise. There is clear contextual instruction in the New Testament about this subject. And, while you are about that task, you can kill two birds with one stone. So far you have failed, in spite of three subequent comments, to respond to my original challenge to you, to cite examples from scripture that come even close to affirming the homosexual act or lifestyle, or to deal with it in any way other than teaching that it is immoral.

    Now, on to your comment/question posted at 9:47 last night. I realize that since you claim to be an atheist this answer may not be very satisfying to you, but for those who hold to an historic, orthodox Chritianity, the 66 individual books contained in the Bible are all considered to be inspired by God and all have the full authority of scripture. Since I am one of those who hold to that point of view, I do not accept your presupposition that Paul refutes or “overrides” (as you say), anything that Jesus said. Since you apparently do think Paul “overrides”, and feel that the appropriate default position for life and practice is to accept Jesus’ teachings (man, I just can’t get over the irony of an atheist implying that), I would love to see which specific teachings of Paul are in the position of “overriding” Jesus. If you choose to answer, I ask that you please not provide generalities. If your intent to change my mind, you will need to do so with well researched contextual passages, not proof-texting.

    You are welcome to continue to comment here, but I would appreciate less hip-shooting and a lot fewer unsupported generalities, particularly when they are framed in an accusatory light. You make some serious allegations and so far have done a poor job of backing them up. And through all of this, you have entirely missed the point of my original post. I don’t support SMU because our belief and value systems have taken different roads, and those road are on a trajectory of divergence not convergence. Since you seem to have an appreciation for at least one of their policy decisions, perhaps you can make up the fund raising deficit created by my stopping financial support. I am sure they would appreciate it.

  10. jesurgislac says:

    The matter is dealt with twice very specifically in Leviticus 18: 22 and 20: 13. Words matter here.

    Yes, I agree. Very specifically, in the original book va-Yikra, it’s stated that a man who has sex with another man has made himself ritually impure as a Jew – has failed to keep the land of Israel sacred according to Mosaic law.

    But so has someone who eats bacon or shellfish (ritually impure food). (See also: the Abominable Shellfish.)

    A direct translation from the original Hebrew, by a scholarly friend who thinks that both words and context matter:

    What it says in Hebrew, in a fairly literal and ugly annotated translation,
    followed by a more idomatic translation.

    va-Yikra 18:22
    And to (a) male you (2nd person masc sing) will not lie down (euphemistic) from (comparative use) the lying-down (euph.)-of-(a)-woman! (An) improper mixing, it is!

    Don’t **** a male like you’d **** a woman. It’s not usual (tm Homer Simpson).

    The critical word here (toe-ay-vah) is a ritual word, also used to describe ritually unclean food (Deut 14:3), worshippers of idols (Isa 14:24), marrying an idol worshipper (Mal 2:11), sacrifices offered by a wicked person (Prov 21:27), and various other acts not acceptable in the ritual sphere. This has to do with ritual cleanliness/purity (which has nothing to do with washing) – it is the proper state for someone just about to offer a sacrifice. So if someone starts throwing these verses around, perhaps they should be asked when they last gave a wave-offering.

    va-Yikra 20:13
    And (a) man who he shall lie down (euphemistic) to (a) male from (comparative use) the lying-down (euph.) -of-(a)-woman (an) improper mixing they did the two of them, they will surely die their blood(s) (is) in/with/by them.

    A man who’ll **** a male like he would **** a woman – kill them, they’ve both made themselves impure and they deserve it.

    The same word is here, and this time there is a death penalty – this isn’t singling out intercourse between men, though, it’s in a whole big list of ritual no-nos that get death: sacrificing children, following other gods, cursing your parents, committing adultery, committing incest (defined as a man and his father’s wife or his daughter-in-law – not actual blood relatives by our ideas – a man who sleeps with his sister, half-sister, his aunt, his uncle’s wife, his sister-in-law or any woman having her period has committed a similar but apparently lesser sin, and the guilty parties are thrown out of the community), a man marrying a woman and her mother, and having sex with an animal -this last requirement is the only one of the list addressed to both men and women. And the reason for keeping these laws? To keep the land of Israel ritually clean, i.e., in a fit state to offer sacrifices in. these laws have nothing to do with sexuality, and everything to do with a particular form of religious practice.

    Where do I argue for the application of Levitical law in my original post, a charge you very specifically leveled at me?

    Are you or are you not arguing that homosexuality is against “Biblical teaching”? That is, the law of Leviticus, since that is the only book in the Bible which explicitly condemns male homosexuality.

    I invite you to cite me the verses in the gospels in which Jesus condemns homosexuality and specifically instructs his followers to police each other’s sex lives.

    In the post on my blog which I linked to, with regard to a Christian institution’s obligation as a Christian insitution to offer employee benefits to same-sex couples who are banned from marriage, I cited very clear textual instruction by Jesus to put helping others first – well ahead of condemning other people as sinners. Indeed, throughout the gospels, Jesus makes clear he doesn’t think much of people who set themselves up as superior to others, who condemn others as sinners and therefore provide no help. What, then, should a Christian institution do?

  11. Chuck says:

    jesurgislac:

    You have completed your work here. Your apparent modus operandi is to refuse to answer direct questions or challenges to the assertions and allegations that you make. I am left to assume the reason for that is,…you have no answers.

    It is, or should be abundantly clear from my original post that I think homosexual acts and the homosexual lifestyle are inconsistent with Biblical teaching. To the extent it was NOT clear in the original post, I will remove all doubt here. Now, as to your incessant insistance that I argue for the application of Levitical law to the subject of employee benefits, I do not accept your premise that Leviticus is the only book in the Bible that contains clear teaching on the subject of homosexuality. And in the teaching found elsewhere, I find that NONE of it condones or affirms these acts or the lifestyle and in fact clearly teach that they are immoral. Perhaps this reality is the reason why you consistently avoid answering my request for you to provide any evidence for scripture treating homosexuality in anyway other than unfavorably. For you to allege that I argue to apply a single proof text of the condemnation of homosexuality from Leviticus is both inaccurate and intellectually dishonest. If fact for you to be able to correctly assert that I make that arguement, would require that you be able to find in my original post a recommendation that the same-sex oriented employees of SMU be put to death for their lifestyle.

    I will agree with you that Jesus does not speak specifically to homosexuality. However, I do not place any greater emphasis on specific quotations attributed to Jesus than I do the the teaching of Paul, or James, or Peter or the gospel writers. As I have noted elsewhere, I believe the entire canon of scripture is God breathed, and the teaching found elsewhere in the Bible, taken in the context of the whole counsel of scripture is equivalent in force to the words assigned, by the Gospel writers, to Jesus.

    Thank you for your comments. As we part, I encourage you to consider a more deliberate and respectful participation in comment threads elsewhere. You were a guest here, and whether you like it or not, you will abide by my rules of engagement. A part of those rules includes answering questions posed by me, particularly when a comment levels some allegation, or makes an assertion that lacks any factual basis.

    Best regards.

  12. jesurgislac says:

    I do not accept your presupposition that Paul refutes or “overrides” (as you say), anything that Jesus said.

    You appear to believe that a handful of negative comments in Paul’s letters that may be read as condemnations of homosexuality override Jesus’s teachings – pervasive and specific throughout the gospels – that it’s more important to carry out corporeal works of mercy (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, etc) than to publicly condemn sinners. I cited specific verses to this effect in the blog post which I linked to: you are welcome to come debate with me there.

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