Karen Swallow Prior’s Undermining of Biblical Sexuality
Dr. Karen Swallow Prior is a professor of English at Liberty University. Until recently, she also served as a research fellow at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Prior portrays her view on homosexuality as finding a middle road between the traditional Christian teaching on homosexuality and the progressive view which claims homosexuality is not sinful. In her mind, this alleged moderation has made her a “target for extremists on both sides”.
Unfortunately, Prior’s newly released anthology, Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues, which she co-authored with Joshua D. Chatraw, is the latest example of why institutional faith and/or conduct statements are not standing up to the new unorthodox and academic consensus.
All the contributors to Cultural Engagement, including homosexual activist Matthew Vines, are described as a “confessing” Christian. (15) However, Vines writes, in a chapter titled “Rethinking Same-Sex Relationships,” that when the Apostle Paul called homosexual relationships unnatural, he was writing in the context of the patriarchal cultural norms of the day. Because men and women are equal in Christ, patriarchy has no place in the Church, which means that the patriarchal Greco-Roman arguments against homosexual relationships do “not provide a sound basis for rejecting all same-sex relationships today.” (88-89)
Throughout his chapter in Prior’s book, Vines insists that there is nothing un-Biblical about “the type of same-sex relationship I hoped to have one day – a committed, monogamous relationship that formed the basis of a family and a home” (87). Vines is also the author of God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships and the founding executive director of the Reformation Project, “a non-profit organization that works to advance LGBTQ inclusion in the church” (89).
Vine’s teaching, in Prior’s book, directly contradicts the Student Honor Code of Liberty University which specifically states, “Sexual relations outside of a biblically-ordained marriage between a natural-born man and a natural-born woman are not permissible at Liberty University.”
This, unfortunately, did not keep the university from allowing Prior to conduct public book signings on campus. Dr. Prior has given her blessing to, and disseminated, an idea to students, that is in conflict with orthodox teaching and the university’s Honor Code.
Though Cultural Engagement also includes a more conservative article on homosexuality by Rosaria Butterfield (79-81), Prior says in the
introduction that she is “not implying” that either article is “equally true or valid.” (16)
Karen Swallow Prior’s own history shows, at the very least, a soft-peddling of homosexuality. Prior endorsed Revoice, which leaves room for homosexual lifestyles to be practiced, as long as it falls under the banner of friendship and not physical sodomy. She wrote for Christianity Today in support of the “It Gets Better Project,” insisting that any movement which sought to reduce teen suicide, even by affirming LGBTQ identity, was a movement worth supporting. In the same piece she condemned the church for not being “thrilled” with the project, and affirmed the idea that homosexual orientation is fixed. Prior also attended the Level Ground film festival, which was organized by LGBTQ activists and advertised as “the world’s first film festival connecting lesbian, gay and transgender sexuality with faith and evangelical Christianity.”
In a photo from the event, Prior is shown to the left of Brandon Ambrosino, a homosexual activist, Left-wing columnist in favor of impeaching president Trump, and author of the recent hit piece on Liberty University’s president Jerry Falwell Jr. Ambrosino is a former student of Prior’s.
Karen Swallow Prior serves as the latest example of someone who claims to be orthodox, works at an orthodox institution, but in actuality is undermining biblical orthodox teaching on a fundamental issue: gender and sexuality. The question is, how many other Karen Swallow Priors are out there, doing the same thing without the prominent public platform?
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