I have been wrestling with the news of Dr. Adam Ackley’s change in gender identity since it first broke Thursday night. My initial response was rough. How could a university founded on Christian ideals turn away their face from the higher calling that has been placed on us all to love one another?
My conundrum is, what kind of example would it set to seek the relief of this professor’s duties? The duties that both this university and the Lord have called Ackley to serve for the past 15 years?
If gender identity is no longer considered a mental illness, should Christians then consider it a spiritual illness? If an individual has accepted the identity of the other gender, then whether they choose to be celibate or marry and engage in sexual relations with an individual of the gender they once previously identified with, then, is there a sin committed? Who are we to deem another individual’s sin any worse than our own?
What would it look like to address the situation in love or as Jesus would? Is relieving the professor of the position setting them free? Or is it simply sending them to be free elsewhere? What does this say to students who struggle with similar situations?
This is a tough situation, for everyone involved. Whether you’re administration, Mr. Ackley, a fellow faculty member, a staff member, an undergrad, a female, a male, homosexual, straight, or transgender – we are all being confronted with this.
This is uncharted territory. This has been placed before us all for a reason. This is only a small piece of a much larger puzzle that has yet to be resolved within the university and the Church.
Homosexuality and questions of gender identity are fixed. It is not a choice. It is not something that one can confess and then move on from. There are sons and daughters of God that are born with homosexual and gender identity traits. Every human being on the face of this Earth has been saved by the grace of God who loves us unconditionally, and only wants for us to do the same. But what would that actually look like in this situation?
Throughout scripture we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. And throughout scripture we are called to love thy neighbor as thyself. We are not called to love our neighbor only in certain circumstances, or when it suits us best.
I would hope that whatever course of action is taken that it would reflect Christ’s unconditional love. Would relieving Dr. Ackley of his position at APU be a demonstration of that unconditional love?