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Friday, October 7, 2016

InterVarsity just strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel.

Outside the Supreme Court, two men hug in celebration of the 2015 case legalizing same-sex marriage. Image source.
I'm shocked and saddened by the news that InterVarsity will be firing all staff who affirm same-sex marriage. I was in InterVarsity in college, and held several leadership roles related to evangelism. It was a huge part of my life back in my good-evangelical on-fire-for-God days. I can't believe they're doing this.

I see this all the time from conservative Christians and conservative Christian organizations: they state their opposition to LGBT rights and claim that they're following the bible and that anyone who disagrees with them is automatically wrong (because, the bible). They characterize LGBT and ally Christians as fake Christians who have abandoned God's word, who don't care about right and wrong, who don't care about the bible or God or sin. They pretend there is no such thing as a biblical argument in support of same-sex marriage. (Seriously, go read Matthew Vines's book. I understand if you disagree with him, but you can't pretend there's no biblical argument for same-sex marriage.)

It's triggering as hell when they use language like "the clear teaching of Scripture," because what that really means is "we already know God is on our side, so there's no point in listening to anything you actually have to say, we already know you're wrong and a fake Christian."

Conservative Christians do this all the time. But I never expected InterVarsity would do it.

I thought IV wasn't like that. Normally they don't get involved in "culture war" stuff, instead focusing on "love for God, God's word, and God's people of every ethnicity and culture." Yes, they're evangelical and they believe all the required evangelical beliefs, but not in a "focusing on the bible's rules about sex more than anything else" way like you see in the more conservative organizations. I totally felt comfortable with my "hate the sin, love the sinner" views when I was in IV, and we didn't treat LGBT people right. So yes, of course there are IV members whose beliefs and actions are very hateful toward LGBT people (even though they claim they're doing it out of love). Every Christian organization has that problem. But I didn't expect the national leadership would actually make a policy mandating that those nasty beliefs are OFFICIALLY what IV believes. Surely they recognize that among Christians, there are different views on this, right?

InterVarsity taught me about culture. There was training specifically about what to do when you encounter cultural differences, how you should be patient and accepting rather than immediately decide that other people are doing it wrong and they need you to correct them. I didn't know anything about that before.

InterVarsity taught me about race. I grew up in an all-white church and nobody ever talked about race. I didn't know it mattered. But racial reconciliation is one of the core beliefs that InterVarsity has. And there are InterVarsity chapters specifically for black students, or specifically for Asian American students, or specificially for international students. That matters.

InterVarsity taught me the four worlds gospel presentation. Before this, I thought the only correct way to "share the gospel" was by drawing the bridge diagram. But one day IV had an evangelism training where we learned the four worlds. Because there is no one "right way" to communicate the message of Christianity- different approaches work better for different cultures.

Yes, there are so many beliefs that were taught in my IV chapter that I now very much disagree with. (And going to any kind of evangelical church or Christian group is awful for my mental health now.) But they taught me about race and culture in a way that was completely new to me. I never would have thought there was any relation between Christianity and race or culture. My white church never said a word about it. (IV doesn't go far enough, but it was a really good start for me.)

In college, my best friends were people I met in InterVarsity. And it hurts to know that now, IV has an official policy that says I'm not welcome. Sure, nobody would ever actually stop me from attending an event; I know they would be all nice and welcoming- but that's all an act. (And I used to be really into evangelism- I know all about acting nice while believing the other person is horribly wrong and needs to be fixed.) When it comes down to it, IV's stance is "we already know you're wrong. We already know you don't believe the bible."

They say they want students to grow in "love for God's word." But this decision directly contradicts that. They're saying they're not okay with people studying the bible and following wherever it leads. They're not okay with biblical arguments in support of same-sex marriage. This isn't about "love for God's word"- it's love for one particular interpretation of the bible. Specifically, it's an interpretation that TONS of Christians now disagree with. InterVarsity believes those Christians are all automatically wrong. Those Christians aren't really following the bible. And yet IV has the gall to tweet, "we attempt to walk humbly in this conversation." "Humbly"? OH COME ON. Is there any part of "our interpretation is the obvious right one and anyone who disagrees can't work for us" that sounds "humble"?

They shut the kingdom of heaven in LGBT people's faces. Jesus had a few things to say about that.

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