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Religious Freedom and Human Sexuality

August 24, 2025

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriages is just one more example of what happens when the laws of the land conflict with the Christian conscience.  While there are sincere Christians who feel this decision does not conflict with their convictions, this does not represent the sentiments of the largest percentage of the Christian community.  There are millions of Christians and thousands upon thousands of churches, denominations, and mission organizations that do not find this new legislation to be acceptable with their biblical understanding of human sexuality and marriage.  What if pastors and churches refuse to perform same-sex marriages?  Are they breaking the law?  Is their religious freedom at risk?

There are also hundreds of Christian colleges, universities that take issue with the legalization of same-sex marriages, particularly those institutions that are involved with organizations like the Association for Biblical Higher Education and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.  What if academic institutions refuse to employ same-sex couples?  Will there be negative consequences?  Will their religious convictions jeopardize their tax-exempt status, accreditation, or student financial aid?  As religious convictions are met with new legal challenges, what is at stake for Christian colleges and universities?

What is at stake for Christian colleges and universities is their freedom to practice the convictions that they hold, living in a way they are called to live.  One of the chief values of religious freedom in our pluralistic society is that it serves as a check of the government's power to define the contours of protected religious freedom.  If government is permitted to differentiate between what religious convictions are important or not, we end up with a state-established religion.  This results in the loss of religious freedom.

If Christian higher education institutions maintain that certain standards of sexual conduct are an essential part of their expression of religious identity, should government take institutions at their word?  If it comes down to the freedom of individuals versus the freedom of religious groups, will the courts respect the freedom of religious organizations and institutions?  These are key questions facing the Christian higher education community, and depending on how they are answered, the implications for colleges and universities could be very costly in more ways than one.

Larry J. McKinney
Higher Education Consultant

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