As our culture gets more and more hostile toward Christianity, we should come to expect attacks on Christian institutions like Azusa Pacific University.
To summarize the last few months, in September, the Student Life department of APU changed its student policy. It removed a ban on same-sex romance and relationships (not just sexual activity, which it has held for a while, based on its foundational statements regarding human sexuality). Then, in the beginning of October, the Board of Trustees reinstated the ban on same-sex romance and relationships. They claim the board never approved the change in policy, which is in line with its ban on any sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and woman.
Then, early in December, two of APU’s board members resigned from the board. Some sources cited the board members belief that APU is, in practice, out of line with their beliefs. I have heard similar charges about departments such as undergraduate theology — that they teach extremely liberal theology — so I can assume there is some truth to these claims.
As I’ve mentioned before, I am a long-time employee and seminary graduate of APU, and I care deeply about the future of this institution. I don’t view the board members’ resignations as a crushing blow to the stability of the university, but perhaps a necessary catalyst to make APU reevaluate how it wishes to be faithful to its mission. It’s a Christian University, with a partially-Christian student body. They view their work in the lives of their students as missionarial to its non-Christian students and disciple-building to its Christian students. This is a difficult thing to balance, and its understandable that changes will be made from time to time.
What is not understandable is why APU works with activists like Erin Green, and her activist group, Brave Commons. Erin is a former APU student that has been working with APU and other Christian universities to address, what she calls “systems of oppression” at these universities. What she means by “systems of oppression” is that Christian universities teach students traditional Christian sexual ethics; that homosexuality and transgenderism are not God’s design for human sexuality and are sinful. At the least, she sees these teachings as harmful to LGBTQ students. At worst, she views Christian universities as institutions of hate that continue to marginalize an oppressed people that must be torn down or dismantled.
Notice her gloating at the resignation of two APU board members. You can sense the delight in her role (whatever that was) in tearing apart the university’s foremost decision-makers:
Big win for Queer students at @azusapacific. @BraveCommons is dismantling oppressive systems at Xian universities piece by piece. Click on this post to continue helping the LGBTQ+ students at Azusa Pacific U. #FaithfullyLGBT https://t.co/1hZUvcziIY
— Erin Green (@__runningerins) December 7, 2018
To be clear, activists like this do not want institutions like APU to remain the same institution. They might speak about things like “student safety”, “tolerance”, or “justice” for the “marginalized”, but these are diversions. They may ask for a small change in student policy or to allow their group to have official status on-campus, but they have much larger aspirations.
Mark Erin Green’s words; they are working to dismantle schools like Azusa Pacific University.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
The activists want Christian universities to be fundamentally changed; overhauled. If schools like APU are vehicles of oppression, it only makes sense that they should be torn to pieces. We must see these activists for what they are; individuals and groups with no interest in improving a university’s academic and spiritual community. Rather, they exist to tear down traditional institutions so as to make homosexuality and transgenderism morally acceptable in every environment and community imaginable.
If you think I am mischaracterizing these activists, I wonder how they would act if they were granted the power to set policy at a Christian university.
Would they allow a university, like APU, to continue to have a statement on Human Sexuality that reads “the full behavioral expression of sexuality is to take place within the context of a marriage covenant between a man and a woman”? Of course not, they would ask APU to affirm homosexuality and transgenderism in every way possible.
Would they allow a professor to teach that homosexual and transgender acts are a sin? Of course not, they believe this is oppressive to LGBTQ students at APU and everywhere.
Would they punish a professor for refusing to use preferred pronouns, like Peter Vlaming, a Virginia high school teacher who lost his job for not using a student’s preferred pronouns? Of course they would! They believe that addressing someone by a non-preferred pronoun is to denounce their identity, which further marginalizes them.
Would they allow APU staff to counsel a student out of homosexuality or transgenderism? Of course not, LGBTQ activists fight to affirm homosexuality and transgenderism as positive lifestyles. There can be no shaming a student’s sexuality, period!
Would they allow the Nursing department to teach that transgender transitioning therapies (like hormones and surgeries) are immoral? Of course not! They believe that mutilating perfectly healthy genitals is a way to embrace a student’s identity; even if they end up less happy and more depressed.
Likewise, would they allow the Psychology department to teach psych students that it is unhealthy for a young boy to dance in drag at a strip club, or a young trans girl to want a prosthetic male genital? Of course not! They think its perfectly normal sexual expression of a young boy or girl to want the clothes and body parts of the opposite sex!
The mission of the LGBTQ activists is not simply to force people (and institutions) to become uncritical of their bedroom activities. As the above examples demonstrate, LGBTQ stuff now reaches into every facet of life. To resist conforming in any area is to perpetuate oppression, and to hate LGBTQ people. Therefore, APU cannot simply let a same-sex couple hold hands on campus. Activists will not stop until every area conforms.
An Unholy Alliance
Make no mistake, there is no “common ground” between APU and activists like Erin Green and Brave Commons. These activists have a narrow but hostile focus. You can see why cooperation between the two sides is not a progress toward a mutual settlement, but a one-sided terrorist campaign. Look at Brave Commons’s list of demands for APU in response to the reinstatement of the ban on same-sex relationships. Among the demands, they list the following admonishment:
(I) view your (APU’s) refusal to acknowledge the Brave Common’s document and petition with over 5,000 signatures, in addition to your blatant refusal to apologize for your part in exploiting LGBTQ+ students on your campus, as nothing but a refusal to act in a Christ-like manner
Now these activists are rebuking APU for not acting in a Christ-like manner!! Because they did not respond to their letter!!
These people have no credibility whatsoever; demanding action and whining like children.
If you are like me, and have any interest in the success of Azusa Pacific University remaining faithful to its core beliefs and do not want to see this university lose its heritage, you can join me in emailing the board of trustees and the president ([email protected] and [email protected] and [email protected]) your support for upholding Biblical values and not caving to activists. Here are some things you can say to show your support:
- Let them know you are praying that God grants them wisdom and guidance for their role in the university’s future
- Ask them not to make changes based on societal or activists pressure. Rather, any changes should be a result of the Board of Trustees and leaders of the APU community attempting to align with the mission of the university
- Ask them to sever ties with any activist whom display a likeliness to destroy the foundation of Azusa Pacific University
- Ask them to be clear and communicative about the direction of Azusa Pacific University and their biblical interpretations and moral expectations.
- Praise their continual efforts to uphold the heritage of Azusa Pacific University
I pray that alumni, students, staff, faculty, and administration will courageously stand up against the shifting tides of a post-Christian culture. Christian universities can be a powerful force to training students to live faithfully in a faithless culture.