Gordon College is a Christian community, distinguished from other Christian communities by its primary commitment to provide a liberal arts education. As a Christian community, it seeks to maintain itself by fostering those ideals and standards that are consistent with a Christian worldview. These ideals and standards are broadly moral; they would be characteristic of any community that was self-consciously Christian. This document is an attempt to specify those ideals and standards.
Given an atmosphere of free inquiry on a college campus, it is not surprising that the legitimacy of certain standards has traditionally been discussed, debated and argued. Nor is it surprising that such debate is more intense in these days when the orientation of our society is toward freedom and self-determination. Nonetheless, the demands of community life require some mutual understandings, and neither the difficulty of the task nor the imperfection of the end result should deter us from attempting to establish reasonable, viable expectations.
A Christian approach to life and conduct seeks to promote freedom without becoming antinomian and to promote responsibility without becoming legalistic. Historically, it has always been difficult to embrace at the same time both the need for rules and the role of individual freedom under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Nonetheless, this, we believe, is the biblical model, and so the course we have chosen.
This statement of life and conduct at Gordon College sets forth (1) those assumptions and principles which should guide the conduct of responsible Christians and (2) the specific rules and regulations which seem most likely to require explicit statement in a community such as Gordon.
Gordon College strives to maintain its identity as a Christian academic community of students, faculty and staff. The College expects that all members of the College community will:
Call themselves Christian by virtue of the grace of God and their personal commitment to Jesus Christ.
Recognize the Bible to be the Word of God and hence fully authoritative in matters of faith and conduct.
Have a sincere desire for that commitment to mature both in insight and behavior.
The community recognizes that biblical principles are foundational for corporate life and individual behavior. Those principles which seem most pertinent are the following:
Life within a Christian community must be lived to the glory of God, daily conforming ourselves to the image of Christ and recognizing the Lordship of Christ in every activity (Matthew 22:36–38, I Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:9, 10, 17).
Love for and accountability to God should motivate Christian conduct (Deuteronomy 6:5, II Corinthians 5:10).
Consistent with the example and command of Jesus Christ, love and justice must be the determinative factors in the relationships of Christians with others (John 15:12–17, I John 4:7–12).
Christians bear responsibility for service to others. They are responsible to serve their neighbors and be involved in the process of alleviating such pressing worldwide problems as poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy and racism (Matthew 7:12, 25:31–46, Galatians 5:14, 6:10).
The actions of Christians within a community are not solely a private matter. Accordingly, members of the Gordon community must hold their neighbors accountable for the implications of their conduct when it directly affects the welfare of community living (Matthew 18:15–17).
The community collectively and members individually are responsible for the effective stewardship of abilities, opportunities and institutional resources (Luke 19:11–27, I Corinthians 4:2).
Attaining common goals and ensuring orderly community life may necessitate the subordination of some individual prerogatives. Specifically, as servants of Christ we are called to practice forbearance. Christian freedom includes the option of not doing some things in order to contribute to the good of the larger community (I Corinthians 8:9–13, 9:19–23, 10:23–33).
Certain actions are expressly prohibited in Scripture and are, therefore, wrong. Christians are responsible to avoid those practices which are called sinful in Scripture. Similarly, Scripture commends some actions which are, therefore, right. There are other actions which are matters of individual conviction based on the given situation. In this latter area care must be exercised so as not to judge one another or to cause another to stumble or ourselves to fall (Matthew 7:1, Romans 14:1–23).
Christians are not asked to live the Christian life simply on the basis of their own moral character and strength. God has provided the authoritative Word of Holy Scripture, the guiding power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the counsel of the Church—the body of believers both past and present. Christians are expected to study and obey the Scriptures, to cultivate a heart attitude which allows for the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit and to give serious consideration to the counsel of the people of God (II Timothy 3:16, II Peter 1:19–21, I John 2:27, I Peter 5:1–6).
Important to an understanding of all behavioral standards is the obligation of Christians to separate themselves from worldliness (Romans 12:2, I John 2:15). Worldliness is a subtle issue involving uncritical conformity to the prevailing spirit of the age. One’s disposition concerning such matters as materialism, secularism, isolationism, security, success, injustice, hedonism and moral relativism must stand in perpetual review.
We acknowledge that it is impossible to create a community whose behavioral norms will be totally acceptable to every Christian. Nonetheless, we believe it is imperative for us to specify certain behavioral patterns which must be sustained in order that the objectives of the College can be met. Therefore, it is assumed that individuals who have voluntarily joined the Christian academic community at Gordon College and are striving to exhibit the behavioral characteristics of a mature person will:
Understand that they have become a part of an evangelical Christian tradition which is to be respected and valued but which is continuously subject to review and evaluation. They also have freedom to offer constructive criticism of this tradition.
Explore the broad range of human opinion and ideas without necessarily engaging in the whole range of human behavior.
Strive to exemplify those positive elements of Christian behavior that are taught in Scripture (Romans 12:6–21, Galatians 5:22–23, Colossians 3:12–17, II Peter 1:5–9).
Be concerned about the welfare of other individuals within the community and of the community as a whole.
Assume responsibility for their own behavior as it reflects upon their Lord, their community and themselves, particularly in the area of personal freedom, where discretion, moderation and restraint must be practiced.
Continually assess themselves, their personal growth and their place within the Gordon community
In light of the above assumptions and biblical principles of Christian conduct, the specific expectations which follow are established for students, faculty and staff of Gordon College. It will be noted that these behavioral standards distinguish between practices governed by Scripture and practices governed by consent of the community for its common good. The latter, which are established to enhance the quality of community living, are not to be confused with specific God-given directives, which are required of all Christians.
The following behavioral expectations are binding on all members of the Gordon community.
Those words and actions which are expressly forbidden in Scripture, including but not limited to blasphemy, profanity, dishonesty, theft, drunkenness, sexual relations outside marriage, and homosexual practice, will not be tolerated in the lives of Gordon community members, either on or off campus.
Members of the Gordon community will strive to overcome “sins of the spirit,” notably pride, covetousness, jealousy, lust, immodesty, as all are destructive to the unity of the Body of Christ. Instead, each member of the Gordon community will enable and help others to nurture the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Recognizing the Christian obligation to submit to governing authorities (Romans 13:1, I Peter 2:13), individuals related to Gordon College are expected to uphold the laws of the local community, the Commonwealth and the nation, except on those rare occasions wherein obedience to civil authorities would require behavior in conflict with the teaching and principles of Scripture (Acts 5:29).
In addition to behavioral obligations set forth in Scripture, members of this community choose to impose upon themselves the following rules for behavior out of the conviction that they serve both the long-range interests of this institution and the immediate good of its individual members. Violations, therefore, must be regarded as serious breaches of integrity with this community to which each member has voluntarily chosen to associate.
The principle of resting one day in seven was instituted by God for the benefit of the creatures made in God’s image. Because Jesus declared Himself to be Lord of the Sabbath and because the Church celebrates His resurrection on Sunday, the College will avoid business as usual on Sunday, particularly in terms of scheduling events and the use of facilities during the Sunday morning worship hours, unless necessary.
Members of the Gordon community will not use tobacco products, e-cigarettes, e-hookas, or similar electronic vaping devices on campus, on adjacent properties or while attending College-related events or on College-related business. This standard is in keeping with the findings of medical authorities concerning the danger to one’s health in the use of tobacco products. Further, it recognizes that Christians are responsible to be stewards of their bodies and considerate of the rights of others.
Members of the Gordon community will neither possess nor use alcoholic beverages on campus, or on adjacent properties. Use of alcohol is prohibited while attending College-related events where students are present. While it is recognized that abstinence is not biblically mandated, members of this community are encouraged for reasons cited above to consider abstinence as a personal practice. This position reflects the College’s concern with the physical, social and personal effects of alcohol use (see II. B. 6, 7 above). At no time will the illegal use or abuse of alcohol be tolerated by members of the Gordon community.
Members of the Gordon community are not to use or possess drugs illegally. This includes the use of those drugs prohibited by law and the abuse of those drugs controlled by law. Gordon College does not allow marijuana possession or use for any reason, no matter how small the amount. Possession and/or use of medical marijuana (in any form) is also prohibited, even with a prescription.