News from AllianceQ: April 2014
Christian Theological Seminary President Speaks Against Anti-Equal Marriage Amendment, Upholds Diversity
Matthew Myer Boulton, President and Professor of Theology at Christian Theological Seminary, sent us this note and a copy of the testimony he recently gave at the Indiana State House speaking against HJR-3, a proposed amendment that would permanently alter the Indiana Constitution to define marriage as only between one man and one woman.
” … Many Christians, even those who disagree on the underlying human sexuality issues, oppose HJR-3 because their Christian faith calls them to be open, hospitable, fair, and loving toward their neighbors. And the role of the State, we respectfully suggest, is not to take sides in this theological debate, much less enshrine one side or the other in the Indiana state constitution. Rather, the State’s role is to respect the religious diversity of our community on this question, and to allow freedom of religion – faith’s freedom – to flourish in Indiana by setting aside HJR-3 once and for all …. “
Yesterday morning at the Indiana Statehouse, it was my honor to represent CTS in publically articulating the seminary’s public stance – unanimously and formally approved by both our trustees and our faculty – against HJR-3 (formerly HJR-6). Seven witnesses spoke against the proposed amendment during the hearings, including officials from Indiana University, Cummins Engine, Eli Lilly, and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. The fact that CTS was also represented in that small group is a clear testament to the Board’s and Faculty’s leadership on this crucial issue in our life together as Hoosiers.
My testimony is below. Thank you again for standing together as witnesses to God’s love and justice.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee:
My name is Rev. Dr. Matthew Myer Boulton, President and Professor of Theology at Christian Theological Seminary here in Indianapolis. …
It is my privilege and honor to speak on behalf not only of myself but of the CTS Board of Trustees, the CTS Faculty, and the CTS Administration, for we stand united against HJR-3.
This proposed amendment would certainly hinder efforts, by CTS and many others, to recruit and retain the best and brightest students, faculty, and staff to learn and eventually lead and make their lives in Indiana. But CTS opposes HJR-3 primarily for reasons related to our historic mission and core Christian values. For decades, CTS has stood for the inclusivity, hospitality, and justice-for-all so central to the ministry of Jesus Christ. Since our founding more than 150 years ago, we have endeavored to live out these values in response to the evolving issues of the day.
In 1855, CTS was originally founded – as North Western Christian University – by the abolitionist wing of the movement that would later become known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In the decades since, the school has continued to live out a commitment to justice and inclusion that we find clearly portrayed in Christian scripture.
As the Gospels attest, Jesus of Nazareth constantly sought out the marginalized, the disinherited, the disenfranchised, the left out and the left behind. One of the defining characteristics of his ministry was that he welcomed those whom others excluded – and indeed, he underwent significant criticism from the religious and civil authorities of his day for doing so. Asked to sum up the path his disciples should take, Jesus said this: ‘Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.’ In our view, including discrimination in our state constitution fundamentally contradicts the love of neighbor.
HJR-3 is not just bad public policy. It sends a message that stands at odds with values we at Christian Theological Seminary have cherished for decades. For us, this is therefore both an ethical and a spiritual issue; it is an issue of the integrity of our Christian faith; and the question is whether we will stand up for the inclusion, hospitality, and justice at the heart of the Christian Gospel. Accordingly, the CTS Board of Trustees, Faculty, and Administration stand united in opposition to HJR-3.
Now, my position as president of CTS puts me in relationship with a dazzling variety of Indiana religions and denominations and congregations and theological points of view. Indeed, questions of human sexuality are matters of passionate debate within Christian circles; we have a good dose of that diversity at CTS.
You’ll hear later today from the other side that civil unions would threaten the “traditional view of marriage” allegedly demanded by Christian faith, and so on. I respect that perspective, even as I disagree with it. But here’s the point I want to underline: despite what those on the other side may say, there is no one Christian view of HJR-3. Many Christians, even those who disagree on the underlying human sexuality issues, oppose HJR-3 because their Christian faith calls them to be open, hospitable, fair, and loving toward their neighbors. And the role of the State, we respectfully suggest, is not to take sides in this theological debate, much less enshrine one side or the other in the Indiana state constitution. Rather, the State’s role is to respect the religious diversity of our community on this question, and to allow freedom of religion – faith’s freedom – to flourish in Indiana by setting aside HJR-3 once and for all.
Thank you for your service and leadership, and for the opportunity to outline Christian Theological Seminary’s position on this question.