Monday, October 10, 2016

"The Courage of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship"

Rod Dreher, "The Courage of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship" (American Conservative, October 6, 2016):
We are so accustomed these days to one Christian church or ministry falling by the wayside when it comes to Christian orthodoxy on sexual matters. So it comes as a shock when one — especially a major one — takes a firm and uncompromising stand for orthodoxy. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has done just that. Excerpt:
One of the largest evangelical organizations on college campuses nationwide has told its 1,300 staff members they will be fired if they personally support gay marriage or otherwise disagree with its newly detailed positions on sexuality starting on Nov. 11.

InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA says that it will start a process for “involuntary terminations” for any staffer who comes forward to disagree with its positions on human sexuality, which holds that any sexual activity outside of a husband and wife is immoral.

Staffers are not being required to sign a document agreeing with the group’s position, and supervisors are not proactively asking employees to verbally affirm it. Instead, staffers are being asked to come forward voluntarily if they disagree with the theological position. When they inform their supervisor of their disagreement, a two-week period is triggered, concluding in their last day. InterVarsity has offered to cover outplacement service costs for one month after employment ends to help dismissed staff with their resumes and job search strategies.
InterVarsity has more than 1,000 chapters on 667 college campuses around the country. More than 41,000 students and faculty were actively involved in organization in the last school year, and donations topped $80 million last fiscal year. The group is focused on undergraduate outreach, but it also has specific programs for athletes, international students, nurses, sororities and fraternities, and others. InterVarsity also hosts the Urbana conference, one of the largest student missionary conferences in the world.
Read the whole thing.

Given how hostile colleges are, and how strongly young adults feel about this issue, taking this stand is likely to be very, very costly, but InterVarsity recognizes the stakes for the integrity of the Christian message. God bless InterVarsity for its impressive courage and steadfastness! ...

... Update:

A reader writes that InterVarsity has posted this on its Facebook page tonight:
You may have seen this evening’s article in TIME about InterVarsity.

We’re disappointed that Elizabeth Dias’ headline and article wrongly stated that InterVarsity is firing employees for supporting gay marriage. That is not the case....

... we believe Christlikeness, for our part, includes both embracing Scripture’s teachings on human sexuality—uncomfortable and difficult as they may be—as well as upholding the dignity of all people, because we are all made in God’s image.

... Within InterVarsity and elsewhere in the Church, there are LGBTQI people who agree with this theology, at great personal cost. We are learning together to follow Jesus.
Another reader, a lawyer and a liberal, writes:
This is a smart legal move on their part. Federal law makes it pretty much impossible to take a stance along the lines of, “This is what we believe, but out of compassion and pragmatism we’re willing to be flexible for a certain amount of time, with certain people, and/or in certain situations.” Either you have a blanket policy that applies to all people in all instances, or federal courts will rule that you don’t “really” have a principled position ....
I appreciate this comment for its honesty. I’ve talked to people in religious schools, both Catholic and Protestant, who are being advised by their lawyers to draw clear, bright doctrinal lines right now, and enforce them. If they don’t, the lawyers advise, they are going to have a hard time in court if they get sued.
[Hat tip to JM]




Sam James at FT:

This kind of event is breaking news to only two kinds of people: those who have no inkling whatsoever of historic Christian theology, and those who expect religious conviction always to yield to pop culture. Yet it is breaking news precisely because those two categories describe an increasing number of Americans, especially millennials. The former group often can’t understand why the folks at InterVarsity won’t get over their antiquarian hang-up; the latter group often thinks anti-discrimination law means they have to get over it.