California’s Azusa Pacific University declared this week it would allow LGBT relationships on campus for the second time this school year.
The Christian liberal arts university’s policy first made headlines in August 2018 when officials removed a section from the student conduct rules that prohibited LGBT relationships. The revised policy allowed same-sex romances and displays of affection such as hand-holding but kept the requirement that students remain celibate outside of a marriage between one man and one woman.
The move drew criticism from university donors and prominent Christian leaders. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD board member, called it a “complete reversal and repudiation of the historic Christian understanding of what romance is to be as defined by Scripture.”
Within weeks, the Azusa Pacific Board of Trustees reinstated the old policy, saying that it never voted to remove it in the first place.
Student protests ensued, and LGBT advocacy groups urged campus officials to reconsider, saying the policy unfairly stigmatized LGBT people.
After months of heated debate, the board directed university officials last week to allow same-sex relationships once again. The university’s leadership justified the change by maintaining that Azusa Pacific is an open-enrollment institution with no requirement that students be Christian.
That seems at odds with the college’s stated goal of developing “disciples and scholars prepared to impact the world for Christ”—and its statement of faith, which contains a thorough and Biblically orthodox description of marriage as the union between one man and one woman, with sexual expression limited to that covenant relationship.
“Our values are unchanged, and the APU community remains unequivocally Biblical in our Christian evangelical identity,” Azusa Pacific Provost Mark Stanton said in a statement. —L.E.