Baylor: homosexuality no longer in conduct policy

WACO, Texas (BP) -- Baylor University has deleted an affirmation of heterosexual marriage from its policy on sexual conduct as well as a specific prohibition of "homosexual acts."

A university spokeswoman told Baptist Press the revised policy will be interpreted in a manner consistent with the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, including the 1998 amendment defining marriage as "the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime."

Baylor is the world's largest Baptist university and cooperates with the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The BGCT elects 25 percent of the university's board of regents and planned to send Baylor $353,125 this year, according to the convention's 2015 Missions and Ministries Budget.

"A review of the sexual conduct policy had been contemplated over the last couple of years," Lori Fogleman, Baylor assistant vice president for media communications, told BP in an email. "These changes were made because we didn't believe the language [of the previous policy] reflected Baylor's caring community. We are pleased with the recent changes to the policy language and that it states more plainly the expectations of the university."

The new policy, Fogleman said, aims to "ensure that the university has the necessary policies and processes in place to comply with the many legal and ethical mandates to which universities are subject as institutions."

The new "sexual conduct policy" states, "Baylor will be guided by the biblical understanding that human sexuality is a gift from God and that physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity. Thus, it is expected that Baylor students, faculty and staff will engage in behaviors consistent with this understanding of human sexuality."

Previously, the "sexual misconduct policy" included a statement that "Baylor will be guided by the understanding that human sexuality is a gift from the creator God and that the purposes of this gift included (1) the procreation of human life and (2) the uniting and strengthening of the marital bond in self-giving love. These purposes are to be achieved through heterosexual relationships within marriage. Misuses of God's gift will be understood to include, but not be limited to, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault, incest, adultery, fornication and homosexual acts."

Fogleman did not respond to the question in BP's email, "Would a legally married same-sex couple be in violation of the newly adopted sexual conduct policy?"

Baylor's board of regents adopted the revised policy May 15.

BGCT associate executive director Steve Vernon told BP in email comments he has not been in contact with Baylor regarding the change and does not regard it as a cause for concern.

"The change is not a concern for me," Vernon said, "because of the phrase, 'Guided by the biblical understanding that human sexuality is a gift from God and that physical sexual intimacy is to be expressed in the context of marital fidelity.' Do we have to list all the aberrant sexual behaviors in every code of conduct for it to be clear? I think this broadened the application to the code of conduct so that it [is] not so narrowly defined as to allow behaviors not consistent with biblical teaching."

In 2013, Baylor's student senate adopted a resolution urging the university to replace the reference to "homosexual acts" in the sexual misconduct policy with "nonmarital consensual deviate sexual intercourse," according to the Waco Tribune. The resolution's sponsor said the change would eliminate the targeting of same-sex couples. The then-student body president vetoed the resolution.

David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service.
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