Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Gay Christian Network Speaks Out Against the InterVarsity USA's Anti-Gay Purge

(Originally written on 10/13/16): I've got one more post in me this week about InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA's purge of staff for having private gay-affirming beliefs. No more this week after this. (I promise!!)

The Gay Christian Network is currently offline while they go through much needed forums upgrades. But that didn't stop Justin Lee and the GCN from issuing a statement condemning IVCF's anti-gay purge.

You can read it here:
The Gay Christian Network has a 15-year history of collaborating with LGBT and Christian communities across areas of theological disagreement. We are not in the habit of telling other Christian organizations how to run their own business, but in this case, we feel compelled to speak out against the wrong and hurtful actions of our friends at InterVarsity. 

InterVarsity’s announcement that all staff must resign if they do not privately agree with its specific theological view on marriage is absolutely unprecedented for an interdenominational organization that has previously prided itself on uniting Christians with widely divergent views on other doctrinal matters. This decision sends a clear message to LGBT students that they are not wanted in InterVarsity—and many will surmise that they are not wanted in the church, either. 

InterVarsity has argued that this large-scale firing should not be seen as anti-LGBT because some LGBT Christians don’t support same-sex marriage themselves. We do not see it that way. Our own membership does, indeed, include LGBT Christians who share InterVarsity’s theological view, but as LGBT Christians, we know firsthand that people like us desperately need the freedom to wrestle with difficult biblical texts on marriage and sexuality without being afraid that such wrestling could cost us our Christian fellowship or even our jobs. InterVarsity already has a poor track record of supporting LGBT students—even those who share its theology of marriage—and this makes matters far worse. 

Current InterVarsity staff members tell us they are confused and afraid. Many have been loyally serving their campuses their entire adult lives, never having publicly disagreed with the organization’s stance, but they are now being told that if they privately have any doubts about this one specific belief, they must resign. Staff members fear that to even question this new policy will instantly out them as dissidents, costing them their livelihood. 

While we sympathize with the need for religious organizations to be able to take theological positions, we do not believe witch hunts based on privately held personal beliefs are the right way to handle a sensitive issue where many Christians are evolving and where those most affected are a minority community with a history of feeling unwanted in the church. 

We call upon InterVarsity to rescind this damaging policy. In addition, as a global organization of LGBT Christians across theological divides, we ask for an opportunity to privately meet with InterVarsity decision-makers on an ongoing basis, and, working together, to improve InterVarsity’s support for LGBT students and staff while respecting the organization’s ability to take its own positions on matters of theological dispute.
Frankly, I'm not sure that IVCF values GCN's thoughts on this matter. I mean, that was the point of their anti-gay purge. To get rid of the gay-affirming perspective, right?

Updated on 10/18/16: GCN founder Justin Lee posted a 20-minute video response to IVCF's anti-gay purge earlier today.

In it, Lee calls out IVCF for being deceptive with their initial response to the TIME Magazine article that broke this article. He reveals that IVCF's hostile response to him as a young adult during his coming out process led to him becoming suicidal. And he wrote why it is wrong that IVCF began this anti-gay purge.

You can watch that video here.

Personally, I think people like Justin Lee and other gay Christians need to stop expecting anything remotely like support or affirmation from groups like InterVarsity Christian Fellowship USA and actively seek out and support other faith groups and churches.

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