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Matthew Wigmore, an openly gay student at Trinity Western University, is shown outside his dormitory in Langley, B.C., on Feb. 21, 2014. (RAFAL GERSZAK FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)
Matthew Wigmore, an openly gay student at Trinity Western University, is shown outside his dormitory in Langley, B.C., on Feb. 21, 2014. (RAFAL GERSZAK FOR THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Inside Trinity Western’s struggle between faith and equality Add to ...

“Issues of equality for women in church leadership, issues of gay marriage – these are all issues that the evangelical community as a whole is wrestling with,” Dr. Healey said. “That wrestling is happening here as well. Every individual faculty member and student doesn’t hold any particular position that is the same on all of those things.”

When Matthew Wigmore enrolled at TWU two years ago, he did not think much of the community covenant, dismissing it as a difference of opinion. A former Bible camp student, Mr. Wigmore still wanted to be part of an educational community that values faith – and is grateful to have found that at TWU, where he lives on campus. With support from his friends in theatre, whom he calls “his rock,” he stopped hiding his sexual orientation last fall.

And then the covenant bothered him.

“I realized I couldn’t take it so much as a difference of opinion, that, in fact, excluding people who don’t desire to marry the opposite gender, outside of ‘God’s intention,’ is frankly alienating, violating and far past the point of differed opinions,” he said.

His friend Mr. James, an American who recently left the university and returned to California for unrelated reasons, concedes TWU is considered liberal in comparison to U.S. Christian universities. But those lines in the covenant still cut deep.

“The university isn’t blatantly anti-gay, but when your moral standpoint is, ‘We find this unacceptable,’ then it’s kind of impossible for the students who are openly gay and don’t agree with your theology to blend in to the community,” he said.

“Instead of being scared of any type of criticism, TWU should learn to accept change when it is healthy, while still guarding [its] religious liberty. Trinity’s climate would not deteriorate in the slightest by opening itself, fully, to gay students.”

Mr. Wigmore said he hopes the controversy would prompt the university to rethink the covenant.

“When you whittle it down to the basis of sexual morality, then suddenly people who are of a different sexual orientation feel like they’re immoral and they’re on a different level than the rest of the students,” he said.

“There are some days that I feel like I’m less of a human being than the other Trinity students because I’m of a different orientation, and I don’t want to feel that way.”

With a report from James Bradshaw in Toronto

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