USA (MNN) — InterVarsity Christian Fellowship recently reiterated its stance regarding human sexuality after years-long study into Biblical teachings on the issue.
As a result, InterVarsity has asked staff members who don’t agree with the ministry’s stance on the topic, which includes the matters of divorce, pornography, sexual preferences and more, to come forward and begin their transition out of InterVarsity. The ministry’s move has since sparked backlash.
Yet, a big reason why InterVarsity took the time to dig into what the Bible says on human sexuality is because the consensus of the culture has changed regarding the issue. InterVarsity’s Vice President and Director of Campus Engagement Greg Jao explains:
“We’re working with college students who are intimately affected by these issues, and we want to make sure we and our staff are providing a consistent, coherent message that Jesus’s invitation to follow Him may be painful and difficult, but ultimately results in life.”
In fact, prior to the request for staffers in disagreement to come forward, InterVarsity had invited its staff to study the Bible, sift through various resources, and even go through a nine-part curricula during an 18-month process for the staffers to discover if they were indeed in agreement with InterVarsity’s stance or not.
However, InterVarsity doesn’t see disagreement as an end-all, but rather an invitation to join in conversation and to explore Scripture regarding God’s Word together.
To Agree or Disagree
Still, many people have begun asking, ‘Why not agree to disagree?’
“[For] InterVarsity’s official representatives or the pastors of a church and their elders, it makes sense for them to have a consistent, clear message that they agree and believe in,” Jao says.
“Otherwise what you have is, if you’re at a church, one pastor teaching one thing and another pastor on the side saying, ‘Well, we don’t actually think that’s true.’ And I think that actually confuses the conversation far more than it clarifies it.”
And that’s what it comes down to. InterVarsity will struggle to lead its students according to the Biblical standards, the same ones it found in the Scriptures after years spent searching the Bible, if leaders are teaching their own personal convictions instead. After all, a house divided will fall.
InterVarsity’s call for those who are now in disagreement, after the 18-month process of searching Scriptures together as a staff, isn’t to condemn people or cut them off. It’s to have a staff that’s in agreement and can work together, not against each other, on campuses and reaching out to students.
Jao shares, “As I’ve talked to people, some people who’ve already left, what they’ve said is, ‘I would love to think… I’ll just submit to a policy I disagree with and submit to a theology I disagree with.’ But they said, ‘There are integrity issues for me. I can’t teach what I actually don’t believe to students. I can’t disciple somebody into a direction which I disagree with…’”
InterVarsity doesn’t only care about its students, but also its staffers. That’s the other reason why the ministry has asked people in disagreement with InterVarsity’s stance on human sexuality to come forward, so as to not put these people in a conflicted position, expecting them to teach something they don’t believe.
“I think particularly for students and for members of the Church, it’s important to do two things. One of the things that is critical to do is recognize this is a pastorally painful set of questions the Church is facing today,” Jao explains on the topic of human sexuality.
“I walk into these conversations with, I hope, a great deal of humility, appropriate penitence for the ways the Church has not loved people who identify as gay, and a desire to listen well to their stories, to their pain, and to their experiences.”
In the end, God’s Word may be hard news, but it is good, life-giving news that needs to be shared with all. Sometimes love is hard. But it’s worth loving in the truth of the Scripture rather than the truth that culture, as intriguing as it is, has crafted.
Join in Prayer
So please, pray for InterVarsity in this time of transition. Pray for its members who both agree and disagree with the ministry’s stance as well as for the LGBTQI community and all others who may be dealing with sexual brokenness, for their protection, and for them to find fullness of life in Christ.
Also, pray for InterVarsity as it seeks to serve through Biblical truths and as the ministry explains its stance on human sexuality to all who ask. Finally, pray for this entire conversation about human sexuality to push all of us deeper into Scripture and compassion.
To learn more on InterVarsity’s stance on human sexuality, click here!