Students organized a ‘Solidarity Rally’ yesterday evening in response to controversial comments made by Deep Faith Chapel speaker Marvin Daniels, comments many described as both “misogynistic” and “transphobic.” The response came after Daniels delivered a message for morning chapel on 2 Corinthians 5, where he discussed topics related to Christian living, the Gospel, anger, lying, sexual ethics, and identity. Later that day President Michael Hammond sent a notice to the student body announcing that Daniels would not speak at chapel later that evening, as previously scheduled.
Daniels was Gordon College’s featured speaker for Deep Faith Week, an annual event the school advertises as its “spiritual emphasis week.” As communicated in an email from the Chapel Office, during this week, “we will ask God to examine our hearts and transform our minds with the hope that our love for God and one another would be revived.” Four messages delivered by Daniels were scheduled to take place over Monday to Wednesday.
Daniels is the Executive Director and CEO of The Hope Center in Kansas City, Missouri, where he has been working for over 7 years. Before that he worked for Kids Across America, Compassion International USA Division, and was a Youth Pastor at Merrill Ave. Baptist Church.
His message began with the question, “how do we know that we can have hope?” Daniels preceded to detail how the week would be broken up. Monday morning he designated to discuss how “living beyond the norm takes something happening in the inner life.” The other three sermons would be focused on the reliability of Jesus, the “offensiveness of grace,” and the importance of living in “oneness” with other believers in community.
Throughout the message Daniels discussed the content of 2 Corinthians 5: 15-21, speaking often on the concept of the “great exchange.” At one point during the sermon, he called up six students to the stage who each were directed to wear signs over their chest with the words “right with God” written on the front. These students he used to represent various struggles Christians face. Though he only referred to five problems, Daniels spoke on “anger”, “lying”, “identity”, “sexual behavior”, and “hurt”. In talking about each subject, Daniels would often speak in the first person , referencing Scripture to paint of picture of how Jesus might have addressed a believer struggling with any one of these five issues.
The controversial remarks came from his discussion on identity and sexual behavior. On identity, Daniels said from Jesus’ perspective,
“…if you hang with me, I can tell you who you are. I’ve designed you, I fashioned you as
my masterpiece. I’m perfect in all that I do….You don’t need to live in confusion, because if I design you to be male and I designed to be female in my perfection, I’ve done that. So what can you add to perfect?”
Shortly thereafter, Daniels talked about sexual behavior. “It’s amazing to see that even in the church,” he said, “my Christian brothers [are] out there treating young ladies like they’re urinals and I am concerned about that.”
“I’m concerned about my Christian sisters who dress like they desserts on a menu and then they get upset when a brother want to place an order. I am concerned about that. There are some things that we got to deal with in our own sexual behaviors.”
Daniels described this as “a culture in chaos.” They “are trying to redefine sexuality for us,” he stated,
“Always crossing lines left and right. What was appropriate before is no longer appropriate. We got individuals that say, “I feel like I’m a female,” and they get a chance to participate in female activities. Back in the day I wish that would work. I would have been saying “I feel like a female,” so I can get into girls locker room. Come on now. Our sexual behaviors are being corrupted and co-opted. We got individuals commingling what God has said, with what the culture has said, and we become enculturated. So much so that our brothers and our sisters together aren’t treating our ladies like the daughters of the King.”
Daniels comments immediately drew the concern of many students. A few hours after chapel, the anonymously run Instagram account “gordon.gossip.girl” posted on their story encouraging students to join in a walk-out protest later that evening over his remarks. The story explained that “We want to show Gordon that they cannot continue inviting someone who will spread more hate than love.” On the story afterward, the account claims “the words Daniels chose to make his point were hateful to both women and the trans community and as well as many others on Gordon’s campus.” Students, it says, “should feel welcome and encouraged, especially on a day Gordon has devoted to love. We will be peaceful, but impactful with our actions.”
News of the walk-out was shared across social media, but plans changed after President Hammond emailed the student body. “Our scheduled speaker, Marvin Daniels,” he said, “will not be speaking this evening, and I will be taking this opportunity to personally address some concerns within our campus community following this morning’s opening session.”
Shortly thereafter, the student group ALANA posted news of a ‘Solidarity Rally’ to be held after chapel. “Come and stand in solidarity with the women and LGBTQ+ community that were traumatized by the degrading statements made in Chapel this morning,” the post reads.
President Hammond spoke in place of Daniels for evening Chapel and addressed the student body on the controversial words said earlier that morning. Before he began, Hammond requested for the service to be a “closed door” meeting and for student press to not cover the event. Out of respect for Hammond’s intent, at this time, the Gordon Review will respect this request.
This is an evolving story. Stay tuned for more coverage and analysis from GR staff.
Categories: Student Life