Is there Grace for Gay People? Apparently Not…

Grace UniversityA young college student from Grace University will not be given her degree this year, even though she earned it.

Four years ago, Danielle Powell was accepted into Grace University in Omaha. Due to her academic excellence and position on the university volleyball team, she was granted scholarships to cover her tuition. During her time at Grace University, she completed her classes, interacted with other students, and even started a homeless outreach in Omaha’s downtown area.

But she won’t be graduating this year.

Why not?

During her final semester at Grace University, it was discovered that she was gay and was living in a same-sex relationship with another woman.

Did Grace University respond with grace?

…What do you think?

Despite her academic excellence, her involvement in the community, and her role on the Volleyball team, Danielle Powell was expelled from Grace University. The university officials told her, “It would be impossible for the faculty of Grace University to affirm your Christian character, a requirement for degree conferral.”

Danielle PowellBut it didn’t stop there. Not only did they expel Danielle, refusing to allow he to finish her degree, they are also billing her for the final semester of tuition at Grace University–the semester which she was not allowed to complete.

And we wonder why Christians are often viewed as hateful, unforgiving, mean-spirited, hypocritical, and rude.

I don’t care what your stance is on homosexual marriage, gay rights, or whether or not same-sex relationships are sinful, everybody should be able to agree that what “Grace” University is doing is certainly NOT gracious.

I reject this sort of behavior by Christians. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Christ.

If you want to call on Grace University to confer a degree upon Danielle, I encourage you to go sign a petition at Nobody is asking them to agree with her lifestyle. All that is being asked is that they live up to their name, and show a little grace.

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  1. Paul Winter says

    Do they stop people who are obese from graduating too? After all the bible speaks a lot about gluttony. Or if they are envious, or gossip, or greedy, or…the list goes on. If Grace University were being consistent in their approach, would anyone be able to graduate? It seems that we as Christians like to pick on a few sins while ignoring others, particularly if they are not our sins.

    • Kirk says

      I’ve often made this argument. Not only are they hypocrites, they are also thieves by demanding the tuition for the final semester and all of the scholarships back.

    • says

      Great points! So many other sins are mentioned so much more often in Scripture, which the school is undoubtedly not holding the other students (or the faculty) liable for.

  2. WARD KELLY says

    My question would be… do they have some sort of signing statement as a prerequisite to acceptence into the university? If so, and she falsified her sexual status I would say they would have grounds for dismissal. If not, what were the steps they took after this information came to light? Did they reach out to her for counciling? Or did they just expell her with no hearing? These are questions I would like to know before casting judgement on either the young lady, or the university leadership.

    • Sean Stewart says

      What if she declined to fill out the sexual orientation question? I don’t think that she would have falsified it, but who outside of the situation really knows. Besides, she wasn’t expelled for falsifying her application. She was expelled because she didn’t line up with the school’s idea of what a real Christian is. Did the school expel every student who was in a sexual relationship outside of marriage? We would be fooling ourselves to say that no one else was in a sexual relationship outside of marriage. It basically boils down to she got caught and nobody else did.

      • WARD KELLY says

        Sean, the reason given above, and I’m not sure that is the entire statement from the university, says: “It would be impossible for the faculty of Grace University to affirm your Christian character, a requirement for degree conferral.” “Christian character” can encompass falisified affirmation of oaths if that is even relevant in this case. Do we know if there were students caught in extra-marital situations? Do we know that they were ignored if found? Do we know that they were not counciled? My point is that we are asked to cast judgement on the university based on limited data. Are we as Christians not called upon to find all the truth before casting judgement?

        • WARD KELLY says

          Ok I went to the university website and this is what I found:

          Our Beliefs
          As a Christ-centered educational institution, Grace University consciously recognizes and submits itself to the Scriptures. The University does not require students to agree with all the nuances of its Doctrinal Statement, but we do ask them to subscribe to certain Biblical tenets of faith. Grace identifies these seven primary doctrines as the following:

          The Trinity
          The Full Deity and Humanity of Jesus Christ
          The Spiritual Lostness of the Human Race
          The Substitutionary Atonement and the Bodily Resurrection of Christ
          Salvation by Faith Alone
          The Physical and Visible Return of Christ
          The Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture

          Faculty will teach with the full Doctrinal Statement in mind; but we welcome warm dialogue with students of varying backgrounds who subscribe to the above positional statements.

          Members of the Board of Trustees, Administration, and Faculty are required to annually affirm, in good conscience, the Institutional Doctrinal Statement in writing.

          I also read the doctrinal statement in which it expressly states is for the board and facilty, not students. Based on the above statement stating that students only adhere to the above tenants it would appear that they were wrong in dismissing her. My continued question would be what if any counciling was done? And what sin is egregious enough to warrent dismissal from a “Christian” university? Murder? Theft? Plagarism? Cheating? Where does a “Christian” university draw the line on sin or ethical violations?

          • Altair says

            Why would she need counseling for being gay? Do obese students have to go to counseling to talk about their obsession with butter?

          • WARD KELLY says

            Gluttony as well as sexual sins may require counciling to help one escape the bonds of sin.

        • Sean Stewart says

          I agree that we should find all the truth we can. i also stand by my question as to what other students were expelled for their questionable character? Was Danielle the only one? It appears as though she was. I can’t believe that every other student was of good moral character on all counts. Hence my statement that she got caught and nobody else did. Also what is the definition of “Christian character”? I agree with your statement below; that there is nothing in the tenets they list seem to be contradicted by Danielle.

          As Jeremy is asking in the post: Where is grace?

          • WARD KELLY says

            Was she? Or was she the only gay student which caused media attention? I don’t dispute that there were probably many students who violated some form of good moral character, but without being privledged to all the discussions behind the scenes it is difficult to ascertain which side may have behaved in a manner unbefitting of God, and of God’s grace. Was her behavior discovered and she was imediately dismissed with no hearing or discovery ie reactionary? Or was her behavior discovered weeks, months, or years before and through council and grace they attempted to bring her into line with what the university would deem as good moral behavior? I don’t know that will will ever know. My point is not to judge the university without all the information. This girl may have been wronged, or maybe she was the party in the wrong.

    • Sean Stewart says

      I did check out the website and application form. There is nothing that explicitly says that a person’s sexual orientation disqualifies them from attending the school. They do expect that their undergrad students “regarding certain social and cultural preferences (included but not limited to)…” refrain from doing (homosexuality is not included, but I guess is part of the not limited to). If you “omit pertinent information (you) may be subject to denial or dismissal from the University”. However, “Qualified students who are personally committed to Jesus Christ are admitted without regard to race, color, gender, age, disability, national or ethnic origin.” So, it comes down to an issue of semantics. Who are qualified students, and what is considered by gender?

      • Jennifer says

        There is nothing in the social and cultural preferences on the site which suggests any kind of sexual sin. Only drugs/alcohol. In that case, the “including but not limited to…” should not apply here as the listed infractions are totally unrelated to the reason for dismissal.

        I think it is a fair question to ask if the school has dissmissed or would dismiss students for engaging in heterosexual sin(?).

    • WARD KELLY says

      Here is a link to another story which brings more facts to the table. First this blurb: “Powell’s scholarship and expelled her because she was public about a same-sex relationship. ” And this “She also notes she was kicked out even after undergoing months of counseling, spiritual training and mentoring insisted upon by the school following her initial suspension.”.

      The school responded “School officials declined to discuss specifics of Powell’s case, citing federal student privacy laws…”.

      Here is an explanation of moral conduct:

      “Grace University’s code of conduct for its students is strict: No kissing, no prolonged hugs and certainly no premarital sex. The school even monitors students’ television habits, forbidding HBO, MTV, Comedy Central and several other channels “because of the values they promote.” The rules are laid out in a student handbook and signed by students every year.”

      Another passage:

      “As required by the university after her suspension, Powell said she promised not to engage in sex and completed months of church attendance and meetings with Christian mentors, spiritual advisers and other groups. She was then readmitted, only to receive a letter days later from the university’s vice president, Michael James, revoking her admittance.
      James wrote that her re-admittance had been based on professions she made to various faculty and staff that she would change her behavior, but that “the prevailing opinion is that those professions appear to have been insincere, at best, if not deceitful.”
      “I was livid,” Powell said. “I had done everything they asked me to do. I drove over to my mentors’ house and just bawled my eyes out.”
      Powell legally married another woman in neighboring Iowa in December..”
      Was she repentent of her behavior?

      • Altair says

        If they think they can stop students from kissing, hugging, and having premarital sex, they are delusional. Monitoring what you watch on tv? This place sounds like a prison camp.

        A university is supposed to be a place of critical thinking, if they tell you what to think, you aren’t receiving an education, you are being indoctrinated.

        At the same time, why would this woman attend this “university” in the first place if she didn’t agree with them?

        Either way, the “university” looks really bad from this, and they have held the woman’s transcripts hostage and have robbed her of a degree.

  3. Sam says

    If I understand correctly, Danielle understood that she risked probable expulsion if her situation was discovered by Liberty. What she did not count on was being billed the $6,000. Also, if I understand correctly, transcripts of work will not be provided if there is an outstanding balance due the university. Taking Danielle to civil court to get a civil (and probably uncollectable) judgment is probably not the goal here, but rather allows the college to withhold her transcripts based on their internal policies.

    Liberty is ultra conservative, as are many of their financial supporters and constituents. Since the story has been broadcast to the world, what ultra conservative would want to send their child to Liberty or donate money to Liberty? They want to isolate themselves and their children from LGBTs and pretend that there are none at Liberty. Several Liberty graduates have come “out” recently, stories which have been widely disseminated and which have “Liberty University” attached. Most likely Liberty is feeling the heat from its supporters and has chosen to make an example of Danielle to placate those people.

      • Sam says

        The comment should read Grace. I have LGBT acquaintances who
        are recent alumni of both institutions. I believe Grace is the one that this
        story addresses, and the one my comment addresses. I’m wondering if
        what my acquaintance told me about Grace is correct – That the $6K bill
        is really designed to keep Danielle from getting her transcripts and
        that Grace’s entire response to the situation is intended to mollify
        Grace’s very conservative base. I’m assuming that may be unverifiable

        My acquaintance who is an alumni of Liberty gives me the impression that they are not quite as uptight on the LGBT issue as is Grace.

        I live near another Christian college that has LGBT students, many of whom are not out to the college. The students there also are required to sign a “morals” agreement.

        There is a problem when daddy says “I’ll pay for your college if you go to the Christian college. If you want to go to the state university, you pay.” What if daddy doesn’t know you’re gay? There is the little problem about that piece of paper the college will make you sign. Of course, most of the students will tell you that the college pretends not to know what the boys and their girlfriends do when they climb over the wall behind the college after dark. Maybe its possible to keep a low profile and the college won’t notice, or will pretend they don’t notice.

        • says

          Hmmm. Strange. I am making some minor changes to my blog every now and then…. Google has been treating it badly, and have suggested some changes to the site so that they show it more often in search results, but sometimes their changes mess things up. I appreciate you letting me know when it breaks.

  4. says

    Grace leadership’s and Board’s decision is an unChristlike dis-grace.

    It’s why traditional Christianity and it’s “busineses”, like Grace, are flushing themselves down the toilet in the eyes of those Jesus commands His R-E-A-L Followers to love!

    But… What else is new over the last many years, eh?

      • says

        And the rhetoric is gonna be mighty loud, Jeremy, and dig a bigger moat all around the traditional church and its businesses!

        Oh my! Aren’t we glad Holy Spirit isn’t asleep!

  5. says

    You know, I disagree with this treatment as well, however, many universities (especially in Social Work curriculum) are refusing to graduate believers who reject adopting homosexual behavior and/or choosing to not counsel them (as a matter of competence).

  6. Tom9382 says

    Did she claim to be a follower and disciple of Christ? If she did not, then they should have let her do whatever she wishes as long as it was not illegal, as it is not their business. Since she did not follow university rules that she signed up for, this should really be of no surprise. If she claims to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and continues to openly sin, then as scripture says she should be not be associated with by other Christians. And the same should go for anyone who says they are saved if they are sinning and letting everyone know it, which includes all sexual immorality, including having sex before a couple is married, drunkards, slanderers, gossips, thieves, swindlers, idolators, adulterers, and men who have sex with other men, etc… So ultimately, many Jesus followers accept certain sin of all types because they care more about what the world thinks, than what God thinks. The reason is to do so out of love, so that they may still be saved. If they truly love Christ then they will obey his teachings. Jesus followers are supposed to , in love , judge others who claim to be Jesus followers who are sinning. They are not to judge and condemn the lost world.

    • says

      yeah, I wish I knew more of the details…. I know so little, so although I came down on the university here, if she went to the University as a lesbian, and knew that they had a stance against her sexual orientation, it probably should not have been a surprise to her when they refused to graduate her.

  7. Jupiter says

    We are to flee sexual immorality. She is also a fornicator or did you all miss that! Her Christian character cannot be affirmed she knew the rules and has broken them. What kind of reference would she be given ? Who would. Employ her ? Have we heard any declarations of repentance ? The list goes on ………

    • says

      Jesus was a friend of tax collectors and sinners. In our day, I am certain he would be friends with “fornicators” as you call them. So any church or groups that shuns them is shunning the friends of Jesus.

  8. Not_in_Denial says

    Poor Jeremy, you failed Logic in college didn’t you? Jesus was a friend to sinners because He was and is the way to eternal life. Do you think He affirmed their sin? If you do then you seriously need to educate yourself. Christ came to save sinners, save sinners, not chum around with them and affirm their unrepentant gross immorality and sinfulness. If this school’s policy was followed, then this woman ignored it and proceeded to live an immoral life, expecting that hers was a special case. It should have been no surprise.

    • says

      Actually, no. I Aced all my Logic, Debate, and Argumentation classes. You may want to read a few of the other blog posts on this website before leaving such negative and judgmental comments. I do not say anywhere that Jesus excuses, accepts, or condones sin.

      • Not_in_Denial says

        Perhaps a bit strong, so I apologize for that, but I’m kind of confused at your soft position toward this. As time goes on there is greater and greater pressure to just view this immoral behavior which Paul specifically speaks of, as just a plain old sin, akin to stubbing your toe and shouting some expletives. Not only is it fornication, but it perverts the design of God for man, and the LGBTs and their advocates are doing their best to advance acceptance of this perversion, up to and including the distortion of what a family is supposed to be, by God’s design.
        As to Jesus being ‘friends’, I still say that the impression that one of your comments gives to me is what so many seem to say nowadays about Jesus, that he was essentially just one of their buddies, watching them in their sin as they risk dying in it and being condemned to eternity in hell. He expected them to accept Him, and the Apostles expected sinners to accept Him and be saved. Isn’t the salvation of sinners the point? I seem to recall that He instructed them to go spread the Gospel and if a town rejected them to leave and knock the dust off their feet, not take the tack of hanging out with them in the local pub and swapping stories. It just seems to me that looking at this in a less than very serious light trivializes the seriousness of what’s going on as the world slips deeper into depravity.
        I read quite a bit here on your blog site and what you had to say about this subject surprises me in light of that and seems to be in contrast to what I would expect given your background.
        Oh, and I definitely am not talking about ‘shunning’ anybody, but for a known unrepentant sinner to exhibit said sin in the presence of believers and especially children might be cause for shunning, at least in that moment. For example, I know of a married couple who separated and they attended church with their boyfriend and girlfriend. They were told they were welcome at church, but not in that particular scenario, either they came with their spouse or alone and show the respect due to God in that house devoted to his worship. Wrong…No I don’t think so. The same thing applies to homosexuals who ‘act out’ or expect to attend with their ‘partners’, or heterosexuals who do the same thing. Acceptance of this in that circumstance means the deacons/elders are not doing their jobs and their pastor has no idea of his role either.
        Do you disagree?

        • Ward Kelly says

          Do you run around pointing out all sexual sin amongst the straight crowd? Sin is sin…all sin not covered by the blood leads to death. I believe that as the bible teaches, we are to be in the world, but not of it. I have had both gay, and straight Christian freinds who struggled with their sin. No difference. Love them both, confront them both.

          • Not_in_Denial says

            Sorry Ward I don’t run around anywhere pointing at anyone. And although I shouldn’t have to say it, I agree that sin is sin OK? And the blood of our Saviour is the cure. And I don’t believe that anything I said should have elicited such a kneejerk reaction from you. Also, I don’t live in a vacuum, I have had friends and associates of all stripes, and fall in the category myself of Paul’s statement ‘and such were some of you’, in condemning sin. I don’t think we disagree, but you evidently think we do for some reason.
            Have a nice Friday.

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