Thursday, January 12, 2006

What Use is Theology?

What use is theology? Doesn't a religously based organization--a church, a school, a publishing house--have the right to make lifestyle demands on its employees? Does your church have the right to deny employment to an unmarried man living with his girlfriend (as our church did several years ago)? Comments on this one are encouraged, and may be the basis for a future blog entry.

Theology Prof Balks at 'Enforcing Sexual Morality' on Faculty
By Jim Brown
January 12, 2006

(AgapePress) - A theology professor at a Roman Catholic university in St. Paul, Minnesota, is condemning the school's stance against a lesbian couple that teaches at the school.

Last year -- after a few students complained -- the University of St. Thomas told a lesbian conductor that she could not take her partner along on a student choir tour to France. Now two lesbian professors at the school who live together as an unmarried couple have dropped out of a trip with students to Australia because the university said they would have to book separate rooms. Neither of the women is Catholic.

St. Thomas theology professor Dr. David Penchansky says he has no problem with the lesbian professors rooming together -- and the university shouldn't either, he says. "I thought it was absolutely the wrong issue to press,"

Penchansky states. "I thought it was absolutely the wrong way for our university to be expressing its Catholic identity."

The educator contends the university might as well penalize a faculty member for not showing enough compassion to the poor. "I was so very upset and disappointed [by the school's action against the two professors]," he continues. "It's just simply not our business as a university to enforce these kinds of things."

While Penchansky acknowledges the Roman Catholic Church officially teaches that homosexual behavior is sinful, he says the school must also "maintain its credibility as an academic institution."

"And there's always a balancing act between those two," the professor says. "But the idea that we're going to express ourselves as a Christian institution by enforcing sexual morality on our faculty -- it's just the wrong way to go. It's the wrong strategy. It's, frankly, none of our business."

Penchansky is the author of two books: What Rough Beast? Images of God in the Hebrew Bible and The Betrayal of God: Ideological Conflict in Job.

Jim Brown, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.


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