Christians Spar in Harvard Yard

Does it matter that the campus chaplain is gay? Some conservatives say it does, and he should resign.

Amid all of Harvard's colorful and controversial characters, the Rev. Peter John Gomes seems an unlikely target for moral rebuke. Since 1974 he has served as minister of the university's Memorial Church and Plummer Professor of Christian Morals. Although worship attendance has been voluntary at Harvard for a century, collegians crowd the sanctuary each Sunday to savor his eloquent, engaging and scholarly sermons, which are typically more concerned with spiritual growth than with social activism.

But now Gomes finds himself in the middle of a very public furor over the most private aspects of his life. He placed himself squarely in...