The Christianity Today report includes the text of the original rules and the now discarded revision.
The original rules were summarized by CT thus:
““homosexual acts” (among others) are “expressly forbidden” by Scripture; “heterosexuality is God’s design for sexually intimate relationships”; and “humans were created as gendered beings” in order to be fruitful and multiply.” The original policy concluded that:
“Azusa Pacific University pledges to guide the university community toward understanding and embracing their God-given sexuality as reflected in this statement. Any deviation from a biblical standard of sexual behavior is sin and therefore is an opportunity for repentance, grace, and redemption, so that as a community we might honor one another and glorify God.”
The revised rule replaced “sin” with this reformulation:
“Any deviation from the biblical standard is an opportunity for repentance, grace, and redemption, so that as a community we might honor one another and glorify God.”
APU’s September 18 blog post stated:
“This change is a result of much dialogue between students and administration. For years, LGBTQ+ students at APU have run an underground support group called Haven. However, because they weren’t endorsed by APU as an official club, they couldn’t gather on campus or advertise their meetings.
The group met in apartments around APU because members only knew about Haven by word-of-mouth. Members of Haven were motivated to have their voices heard after an APU faculty member was the target of a hate crime on campus, where LGBTQ+ slurs were used against him.
Last year, with help from LGBTQ+ organization Brave Commons, Haven members started discussing this topic with administration. Erin Green, co-executive director of Brave Commons and recent APU alumni, coordinated much of these conversations.
“We thought it was unfair to single out queer folks in same-sex romantic relationships while it is impossible to enforce or monitor [whether other students are remaining abstinent],” Green said. “Queer students are just as able to have romanticized relationships that abide by APU’s rules. The code used falsely assumed that same-sex romances always involved sexual behavior. This stigmatization causes harm to our community, especially those serious about their Christian faith.”
The students spoke, and the administrative board listened. Associate Dean of Students Bill Fiala, Ph.D., said that as the board evaluated their code of conduct, they wanted to be attentive to equity.
“The changes that occured to the handbooks around sexual behavior creates one standard for all undergraduate students, as opposed to differential standards for different groups,” Fiala said. “The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn’t. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality.”
“We remain unequivocally biblical and orthodox in our evangelical Christian identity. The Bible serves as our anchor.
We stand firm in our convictions, never willing to capitulate to outside pressures, be they legal, political, or social. . . .
Last week, reports circulated about a change to the undergraduate student standards of conduct. That action concerning romanticized relationships was never approved by the board and the original wording has been reinstated.
We see every student as a gift from God, infinitely valuable and worthy in the eyes of our Creator and as members of our campus community. We believe our university is the best place for earnest and guided conversation to unfold with all students about every facet of life, including faith and sexuality. We embrace all students who seek a rigorous Christian higher education and voluntarily join us in mission.
We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waiver in our Christ-centered mission. We will examine how we live up to these high ideals and enact measures that prevent us from swaying from that sure footing.”
The Daily News noted that advocates of the change feel betrayed by campus officials:
“For Erin Green, who graduated from APU in May and is now co-executive director for Brave Commons, a national organization that looks to support LGBTQ students specifically at Christian universities, the reversal is a disappointment. Green, who participated in the discussions last year with university administrators that led to the policy’s removal, went so far as to describe it as a betrayal because the administrators were the ones who reached out to her and other students.
“We poured our hearts out, were vulnerable and relived our trauma telling our stories, telling stories of previous students who were damaged or hurt in some way by the institution, which had action taken against them for being gay or being in a same-sex relationship,” Green said.
“They looked us in the eye and said this policy is harmful, it’s discriminatory, it’s stigmatizing and we’re going to get rid of it,” she said. “And we trusted them.”
APU board member Albert Tate insisted that
LGBTQ students will not be forced back underground and that they will be able to continue having conversations with one another on campus.
“How we structure, support and come alongside that group is secondary to the goal of the group, the goal of gathering together and having all students know they’ve been seen, heard and loved by us,” Tate said. . . .
Tate said he hopes they will continue to meet with university support staff, administrators and board members to craft a policy that is both consistent with the university’s core values and removes language that makes LGBTQ students feel persecuted.
“For anybody on our campus to feel persecuted in any way, shape, form or fashion obviously is not what we want,” Tate said.
In the meantime, Green said students will go back to feeling just that — persecuted.
“They said we could put our trust in them, and we did that,” Green said. “And this is how they treat us, an already marginalized community — push us back down into the fringes.”