Reflections on CCCU Conference

I recently returned from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) conference in Atlanta. I was only there for a day, squeezing it in between a visit to Asbury College (Faith & Culture Lectures) and getting back to Regent to interview prospective doctoral students for the psychology program. I went to the morning plenary session by Francis Collins, a Christian and a geneticist who led the Human Genome Project and is director of the National Institutes of Health. The session was opened by a devotional by Lauren Winner, author or Real Sex and Girl Meets God, among other books, and she spoke about “inhabiting time” rather than “spending time” (or other business-related images, such as “wasting” or “saving” time). This was a good fit with the Christian season of Lent.

Collins spoke on the relationship between science and faith in a talk titled, “Finding God’s Truth in Both of God’s Books,” by which he was referring to Nature and Scripture. A take-away line: “Science is a proper form of worship.” This reflects his understanding of Matthew 22:36-37 in which Christians are told to love God with their heart, soul, and mind. He then used his work in genetics and, in particular, in the discussion of human origins, as a kind of case study of the relationship between science and Christianity.

Later that afternoon I gave a talk titled “Navigating Sexual Identity Issues on Christian College Campuses.” The talk drew on a recent study of 104 Christian sexual minorities on three CCCU campuses. I discussed some of the findings from that study, particularly milestone events in sexual identity development and campus climate, in light of a broader discussion of sexual identity, how it develops and synthesizes over time, as well as the two primary challenges for people at this age: identity and community. The gay community offers Christian sexual minorities both a sense of identity and community, and I argued that the church and the CCCU institutions are having difficulty addressing these two central concerns.

If the interest in the session is any indication (the session was filled to capacity), there is a genuine desire among CCCU-affiliated institutions to find ways to address sexual identity issues on their campuses in a way that is helpful to their students and faithful to their Christian commitments.