With much prayer, thought, and introspection, the Gordon Review staff has thoroughly discussed the comments made by Marvin Daniels yesterday at morning Chapel. Our conclusion:
Daniels comments were inappropriate and hurt many of our fellow students. Though some things he said were mischaracterized, such as his reference to men using women as urinals (which he noted in lament), his comments on women at worst constituted victim blaming (“they dress like desserts on a menu and then get upset when a brother wants to place an order”) and at best were a badly worded perspective on Christian modesty. His reference to identity and female locker rooms also seemed to play into irresponsible stereotypes that infer trans-identifying individuals are sexual predators. For these remarks, it is right Daniels was held accountable by those in leadership. While this accountability is necessary, it is important to point out however, that in all the outrage it is dangerous to err on the side of cancel-culture. During Deep Faith week, Daniels set out to communicate the Gospel (as shown by his otherwise solid remarks throughout the sermon), and while we do not believe he intended for his words to be received as they were, it is nonetheless our responsibility to hold a sense of accountability for what did happen hand-in-hand with grace. He is not defined by this single event and should be given the opportunity to address the student body (in the most appropriate manner possible). Daniels’ heart for the Gospel is evident by his lifelong record of engaging in ministry with low-income and impoverished neighborhoods. While this by no means is an excuse to ignore what was said, it does mean that our response should be more balanced and reconciliatory. Unfortunately, it appears much of the damage has already been done.
On behalf of all the GR staff, we acknowledge the hurt and the strong emotional responses felt by many members of our community. Many of us were at the rally held later that evening and listened intently. We realize that to no insignificant degree, the outrage and emotions expressed yesterday were not just a response to a single chapel sermon, but was a visceral expression of the pain many have experienced because of Christian responses to sexual assault, sexuality, and gender. We recognize that many churches are broken and inept in this regard. Broken people break people, and while this is certainly no excuse for such behavior, it is an eye-opening realization how the Gospel is needed now in this moment more than ever. We need the Gospel to restore, redeem, and revive human relationships both inside and outside the church. We need the Gospel for healing, for comfort, and for discernment in how to deal with these often difficult subjects. With this realization, our team desires to be open, to listen to the experiences and pain of our peers, and to engage in fruitful conversation. Whether this be through our day-to-day interactions, our articles, our journalism, or our initiatives, it is important that in this time we love others, seek to glorify God, and stay faithful to the truth.
So what is the path forward?
The Gordon community needs to deeply engage in robust, kind, and compassionate conversations about the issues facing the student body. It is apparent such discourse has been needed long before Monday’s event occurred. Topics of sexuality and gender are rarely discussed in public spaces outside student social media, which has resulted in a growing discontentment from people on all sides of the issue. Many students are frustrated their stories are not being heard, while others believe the lack of these conversations is part of a greater failure on behalf of both faculty and the school administration to articulate an honest stance on sexual ethics. Both groups must come together in earnest dialogue, not to dominate, but for the goal of mutual understanding.
We at the Gordon Review believe that a Christ-centered vision of identity, sexuality, and gender is fundamental for not only discussing the truth of ideas, but also for how we love, value, and care for those who are hurting and struggling with these issues. It is not our intention to “win” an argument, as if that is what was at stake. These topics matter to us for a reason. Our belief in the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman, the purpose of sex, and the essential nature of gender is rooted in a vision of what we believe to be right, true, and beautiful. This conviction is coupled by a profound recognition that sin has distorted these things, resulting in deep forms of brokenness and pain. Many of these issues are things the church must grapple with, in both its conduct towards LGBTQ+ identifying individuals and how it responds to the broader culture at-large. But it is not a task to take lightly. This matters because we care for our brothers and sisters in Christ. This matters because glorifying God with our identity is no simple concern, but profoundly impacts how we respond to and perceive the Gospel.
There are too many issues, questions, and arguments to consider for the purpose of this statement. This is only the beginning to a broader conversation we must be having as a community.
To our progressive classmates, we look forward to listening, conversing, and engaging in respectful dialogue.
To our conservative classmates, we encourage you to not fear this endeavor in your pursuit of the truth. Engage with love, respect, and a heart resolute to display Christ through every interaction.
We urge the College administration to lead the student-body through these important conversations. Part of this involves answering the question: where do you stand? For mature dialogue to occur, the college does not need to assume all will agree with its convictions. It simply needs to lead the way forward with clarity as to its goals, steadiness in its beliefs, and an unconditional love for its students. We encourage you to stand for the truth.
2/18/22: This statement has been amended to clarify our critique of Daniels message. We do not believe his initial comments on identity and gender were inappropriate, only his suggestive reference on women’s locker rooms. Editorially, we believe in the “essential nature of gender” as designed by God.