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Conviction and Courage in Leadership

Last week my local paper, The Jackson Sun, broke a story about Union University (our local Baptist school) rescinding admission to a nursing student because of his sexual orientation. It is unfortunate that this decision was made in light of new information recently discovered by the university after the student had already made major life adjustments in preparation to attend there. I know nothing about this event (other than what is reported in the story) that could explain how one or both parties misunderstood each other until now, and whatever the cause of that may be, I understand how difficult it must be for that student to be forced to change direction so suddenly.

Nevertheless, with all that said, I fully affirm the university's decision here. I don't see how Union University could have acted any differently with any amount of integrity. Its identity as a Baptist university committed to historic Christian doctrine and ethical teachings is clear and well-known. Its president, Dr. Samuel W. "Dub" Oliver, and three other members of the school's faculty/administration were inaugural signatories of the Nashville Statement on human sexuality. If it did not uphold Christian ethical standards for sexual practice within its community, it could no longer claim, with any integrity, the historic identity it has cultivated or the mission that it pursues.

In the current cultural-political climate, decisions such as this one require courage. Union has faced, and will continue to face, criticism from the unbelieving world, and even from former members of the Union community who have now embraced the sexual revolution. But faithful leadership requires a willingness to endure criticism and opposition for the sake of what is right. Our mission in this world is not to be popular. It is to be faithful to Christ. May many other leaders in the broad Southern Baptist family be inspired by the example of Union's president and administrative leadership to place far less value on getting the world's approval and far more value on being obedient to our Lord.

"Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God." -- John 12:42-43

When all is said and done, life is about choosing one pathway or the other: the pathway to man's approval or to God's. Decide what you value most, make your choice, and let the consequences be what they will.

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