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Finding God in the Story of Your Life

Losing My Religion

So, it’s kind of old news, but my alma mater, dear old Wheaton, fired professor Kent Graham because he got a divorce, and refused to trash talk his wife.

What’s interesting to me is how many people afffiliated with Wheaton seem to think this was the right decision.

 
I understand wanting to hold a community to Biblical values. What I don’t understand is how those values get selected. Of all the rules in the Bible, from not cooking meat with dairy to what to sacrifice for certain sins, how do you choose which ones you will follow and which ones you consider just not that important?
 
Yes, divorce is not good. It’s tragic. In Matthew 5:32, Jesus says that marital unfaithfulness is the only legitimate reason for a man to divorce his wife. And people divorced under other circumstances, should they remarry, are committing adultery (but it doesn’t say anything about whether they can teach or not).
 
Jesus says in Matthew 5:28 (just four verses before his teaching on divorce), “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Why doesn’t Wheaton hold its staff and student body to that “Biblical standard”? Well, probably because they want men to be able to attend and teach there, and if they required anyone who lusts to be tossed out, there would be no one left.
 
When I was a student at Wheaton, my theology professors warned against “proof-texting,” that is, taking verses out of context. So, what qualifies as taking a verse out of context? Is a verse in the paragraph prior considered “context”? When both verses are talking about adultery? Hmm.
 
I’ve never been a big donor to Wheaton, so they probably won’t miss my financial support. So they probably don’t care, but I am embarrassed to have the school’s name on my resume. They have chosen judgment over grace, they have done the very thing they told me not to when I was a student there, and they have demonstrated there’s another verse they’ve ignored: “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” (John 8:7).
 
If I weren’t so angry, I’d be really sad. Good luck, Dr. Graham. You deserve better. 

4 Comments

  1. Well said, Keri. I am also appalled at the whimsicality of the application of Biblical law. And while I understand that private institutions can do almost anything as long as they have codified it in their policies, I work in a state institution where this action would be called by its real name: discrimination. As well, I am deeply distressed that my alma mater would think that depriving a man of his livelihood (and academic jobs are not easy to come by in English; we have three hundred applications for the last job at my school) is what Jesus would ask of us. I seem to recall him upbrading those sanctimonious pharisees on more than one occasion.

    Laurel

  2. Sheesh, finally . . . able to login and leave a comment – WordPress must not like me. Like the new look though!

    Anyways, this is sad to hear about Wheaton. It was about the same where I went to college. So much done in the name of “values” that I just don’t get.

    But the real reason for my comment – curiosity. Just wondered if you were ever privileged to hear Madeleine L’Engle speak when you were at Wheaton? I love her work and the book I’m reading now mentions Wheaton a few times.

  3. Dianne,
    thanks for your persistence and I’m sorry if others are having trouble leaving comments. just click on the “responses so far” thing at the bottom and you should be able to do it!
    Yes, Madeleine spoke at a writing conference while I was at Wheaton, I had the privilege of meeting her, and still have my signed copy of Walking on Water.
    she is one of my favorite authors. I did one my senior thesis papers comparing her thought in A Swiftly Tilting Planet to the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. On my professor’s recommendation (he gave me an A++ on the paper) I sent her a copy of the paper and she wrote back to me, and also forwarded a copy of the paper to the Wade Collection at Wheaton. So, I have a paper in the Wade Collection (which also houses a lot of C.S. Lewis’ papers). We corresponded a few times as well. I think Madeleine would be sad about this action on Wheaton’s part as well.

  4. Wow. That’s about all I can think of to say. How awesome that must have been, to meet her and have her sign a book for you and then the whole thesis paper thing!

    For many years, she was my “famous person you’d most like to meet.” Obviously that’s not going to happen this side of heaven. I have to credit her writing for bringing about a thinking revolution in my heart that just made my relationship with God come alive. Right now I’m reading The Rock That is Higher and it doesn’t disappoint.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 (Maybe I’ll meet you someday though!)

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