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Wheaton’s “Celibate Gay” Counselor Resigns

  • Daniel James Devine Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • Updated Jul 21, 2015

Julie Rodgers, a counselor at the evangelical Wheaton College who described herself as a celibate gay Christian, resigned her position at the Christian school located near Chicago on Monday. In a post on her personal blog, Rodgers said her views on same-sex relationships have changed.

“It seems like a good time to share some of the ways my thinking on how to best love and support sexual minorities has evolved through the years,” Rodgers wrote. “Though I’ve been slow to admit it to myself, I’ve quietly supported same-sex relationships for a while now.”

During the 2014-15 academic year, Rodgers served in the Chaplain’s Office at Wheaton as a ministry associate for spiritual care. She counseled students involved in Refuge, a community group for Wheaton students experiencing same-sex attraction. In December, WORLD featured Rodgers in a profile examining her view that a Christian may embrace a same-sex orientation while remaining celibate, in what she called “an expression of diversity, a unique way of experiencing art and beauty and community.”

In a brief statement posted to its website, Wheaton said Rodgers had “finished her time on campus in May,” and that on Monday, “Julie notified the college that she is resigning her position, effective immediately, and will not be returning in August.”

Wheaton spokeswoman LaTonya Taylor said the college did not have further comment on the resignation at this time.

According to its Community Covenant, Wheaton holds to an orthodox biblical view that all forms of “sexual immorality” are sinful, including extramarital sex, adultery, and “homosexual behavior.”

Last year, Ita Fischer, a former lesbian and former staff member at Wheaton, criticized the college’s decision to hire Rodgers as a counselor as “an institution saying, ‘We don’t believe God can transform you.’”

Wheaton College President Philip Graham Ryken told WORLD at the time: “The clear effect of Julie’s ministry has been to draw students in the direction of biblical faithfulness, including areas of sexuality.” He added that Wheaton did not have a position regarding the language same-sex attracted individuals should use to describe their experience, as long as such Christians “do not advocate homosexual practice or find their identity in their sexuality.”

Rodgers had described her own experience of “being gay” as feeling toward certain women “the ‘it’ factor: that sense of chemistry that longs to share life with them,” while feeling like “bros” with most men.  

“As God has redeemed and transformed me, He’s tapped into those gay parts of me that now overflow into compassion for marginalized people and empathy for social outcasts,” she said.

In her post on Monday, Rodgers described her changing views: “While I struggle to understand how to apply Scripture to the marriage debate today … I’ve become increasingly troubled by the unintended consequences of messages that insist all LGBT people commit to lifelong celibacy. No matter how graciously it’s framed, that message tends to contribute to feelings of shame and alienation for gay Christians.”

She wrote that when young people have asked her about homosexuality, “I’ve just told them to follow Jesus—to seek to honor Him with their sexuality and love others well. For some, I imagine they will feel led to commit to lifelong celibacy. For others, I think it will mean laying their lives down for spouses and staying true to that promise to the end.”

Rodgers added, “If it turns out that I’m wrong, I trust God will be faithful to catch me.”

“Rodgers’ intentions are good, but she is confused and leading others away from the truth,” said Eric Teetsel, the director of the Manhattan Declaration, a statement supporting traditional marriage, on his blog. “Hiring Rodgers and giving her access to students as a voice of wisdom and authority was an error for which Wheaton owes students, parents, and the entire alumni community an apology.”

Rodgers, who once said her chance of entering a heterosexual marriage was “about as likely as becoming Santa’s chief elf,” noted on Monday she is not dating anyone: “I’m as single as ever and have remained celibate throughout my twenties.”

Courtesy: WORLD News Service

Publication date: July 21, 2015