Open Letter from Erin Grimm to invested parties in Rinedahl lawsuit

Erin Grimm, Guest Writer

Dear Dr. Martin, Dr. Hartley, and Other invested Parties:

I was not going to write because I am disappointed by the recent lawsuit, and believe that it does not reflect Christian values to bring fellow Christians to court (1 Cor 6:1-11) and find it divisive and lacking in humility to start a press campaign around the topic during a season of distress, co-opting the student newspaper, and seeking your own financial gain for a noble cause. Furthermore, why sue the school that you supposedly like so much, claim that you want to work there as you solicit signatures and then tell the Seattle Times that you don’t want to work where you’re hated, even though SPU has still extended its invitation for you to teach there. Clearly, SPU is not homophobic but rather is principled in the application of its policies. The lawsuit itself talks about the school has scholarships that support LGBT students, encouraged the man to work there as he showed a picture of himself with his husband, and still invited him to teach even though he wouldn’t qualify for a faculty position. Furthermore, adjunct work is very different from being part of the hub of the university faculty. But the man did not even have a PhD when he applied to the tenure track position. The same verse that I reference above speak against both lawsuits (1 Cor 6:1-8) and sexual immorality and same-sex practices (1 Cor 6:9). So far so good for SPU. You are following your interpretation of Scripture.

However, it is not so simple. I personally joined a United Church of Christ church that is fully inclusive of every body, even though I am profoundly Wesleyan and will continue to donate every month. This is specifically because of the pain I have seen in my LGBTQ students as a gay-straight alliance teacher and as a woman who for a while questioned her own sexuality and gender identity before committing to a loving and heterosexual marriage with her soulmate, a man. I will continue to donate regardless of the outcome of whether you welcome LGBT professors or not. And I personally think conservatives still need to care about racial justice, which is my investment focus at SPU.

But let’s contextualize this. I still remember my gay therapist being worried when she found out I was Christain. She had gone to seminary and continually tried to date men, but was unable to sustain the practice of heterosexuality. Later in life, much later, she dated a woman and they became partners. They were the first couple to adopt a child in the United States (her name is Sharon and she lives in Queen Anne). Imagine this: she was denied access to her partner’s death bed as her partner lay dying of cancer. Sharon later sued the hospital for this indignity, and lost. This was before marriage equality. Her humiliation was complete. That story is why I write now. We need to be on the right side of history.

All of us are image bearers. The campus needs to breathe. Settle with the professor who was wrongfully misled, refine your hiring practices so they are more transparent and not misleading, and this in a way that is not in violation with the local, state or federal law, and will remove your human sexuality statement, which is demeaning, so that your students will know that all of them, each and every one, is loved unconditionally as you fulfill your higher calling creating an inclusive space, if not staff and faculty, at least for students.

I personally think that the most qualified teacher should get the position, regardless of sexual orientation, marriage status or gender identity. It is not an ordained position in the Free Methodist Church. However, I am not holding it against you if you disagree. But if you want to create an inclusive space for students, which I believe you do, then consider changing the human sexuality statement. Full disclosure: I am sharing this with the Falcon.

With love and appreciation for all that you are, in hopes that you can become still better for the sake of the students you care for so well, and in so many other ways,

Erin Grimm