The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Questions arise within InterVarsity chapters around same-sex-marriage

5 min read
By REBECCAS MELSON There is a wind of change that is blowing through our country and through the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as well. As Americans strive to make sense of a changing political term, questions of race, gender and religion have come to the surface.

UMW Intervarsity


There is a wind of change that is blowing through our country and through the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as well. As Americans strive to make sense of a changing political term, questions of race, gender and religion have come to the surface.

Within the InterVarsity Christian fellowship, an organization that is made up of 1,011 chapters on 667 campuses nationwide, there is an unsettled controversy over what some are calling the #InterVarsity Purge. The purge is based on the organization’s stance on same-sex- marriage, and how it affects the employees of their corporate office in New York.

InterVarsity strongly holds the stance of ‘traditional’ marriage, which it defines as an institution between a man and a woman. They believe that their staff should have a unanimous acceptance of the teachings of the Bible, therefore supporting another model is not acceptable.  Within the organization’s handbook, Theological Summary of Human Sexuality, the basis of these principles is stated.

“In the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh (Matthew 19: 4-6).”

Greg Jao, InterVarsity vice president and director of campus engagement, believes in the organization’s procedures. He says, “When representatives of religious groups do not believe or behave in ways that the scriptures teach, that is objectionable and hypocrisy.”

However, there is still concern over the InterVarsity’s regulation to uphold the Biblical teachings and view on marriage, and the release of employees that are accepting of the same-sex- marriage stance.

“These procedures do not apply to student groups, it is focused on employee standards,” Jao said. “Marriage equality is not the issue. Over the past four years, we have been reiterating our historical position of human sexuality. It covers relationships, porn and sexual assault.”

The organization works to address the outdated practices of oppression, while striving to embrace diversities. However, it is hard for some members and leaders to accept that they could lose employment over their personal beliefs.

InterVarsity has created a nine-part curriculum that spans over an 18-month time. After the curriculum is finished, Jao says, “all staff will be able to say if this is [what] they believe, by understanding the beliefs and expectations of religious origin that we represent.”

If the staff disagrees, then they have the chance to self-identify, and begin a process of communication to other staff members that may result in an involuntary release of their positions.

Debra Lee, journalist and author of “Saving Jesus, How People of Color, Woman, and Queer Christians are Reclaiming Evangelicalism,” has provided a modern outlook on the evolving theology of Evangelicalism.  

“The dominant theology, crafted by white men, said women were inferior and excluded [them] from Christian theology, the values of people of color, all while denying the existence of white privilege and racial inequality,” Lee said. “InterVarsity sermons and Bible studies ignored traditions such as black theology and liberation theology, both of which had sprung out of the belief that the gospel calls Christians to dismantle oppressive social structures.”

Lee witnessed firsthand the trials of the LGBTQ+ community within the Evangelical society, as well as the groups disconnect from other races. As an Asian-American, her experience in the Evangelical church was more limited than the theology teaches.

Though InterVarsity will continue to follow the marital principals within the Bible, they are strongly reaching out to the LGBTQ+ community, in their own way.  

“Inter-Varsity welcomes LGBTQ into our fellowship and [we] employ staff that relate, but who embrace our theology. LBGT students are always welcome in our community,” Jao said, “and many identifying individuals have said that ‘this is a safe place for us, because you have always been clear about your beliefs. We have been welcomed, cared for, and safe here.’”

InterVarsity has been working to transform their affiliations with diversity, endorsing the Black Lives Matter movement and currently containing 49 percent non-white members. The need to embrace all people is in line with Biblical teachings, and that awareness is asserted within their Theological Summary handbook.

The handbook states, “Regrettably, many Christians have not loved same-sex- attracted people as we ought. Too often, we have responded with exclusion and caused them shame or remained silent when

hatred has been expressed toward them. We humbly own our past failures and offer genuine love.”    Many millennials within universities are being turned off by this seemingly lack of acceptance for the LBGTQ+ community within religious organizations, as they are striving to find a safe place to express their spiritual needs and identity.  

Jesse Slate, sophomore and anthropology major, understands the need for a spiritual community. He identifies with the LGBTQ+ community, and has found a spiritual acceptance within the Anglican Episcopalian Church on the UMW campus.

“I need to know, how do I fit into this group, and what can I do to help humanity?” Slate said. The allegorical interpretation of the Bible allows LGBTQ+ individuals to exercise their spiritual needs and find community without having to question their sexuality.

InterVarsity has chosen not to observe the homosexual theology of the Bible as allegorical. Jao said, “People seem very surprised that I’ve taken this position.  It is hard to agree to disagree, but in the end, we can’t with integrity say that this is what we believe.”

The #InterVarsityPurge is not the only pressure that has been on the organization. In October of 2016, Florida students of Rollins University that were affiliated with InterVarsity, held a Bible study within their dorms. The students were asked to abandon the Bible study because the club was no longer welcome on the campus. The university’s inclusion policy states that InterVarsity can’t require group leaders to be Christians.  

The University of Michigan also kicked InterVarsity off their campus in 2013, for the proclaimed faith requirement of their group’s leaders. Lee demonstrated in her book, that oppressive White Theology of Evangelical needs to continue to evolve. However, the issue is complicated as the Christian group that was kicked off the Michigan campus was the Asian unit.

After InterVarsity was kicked off the Michigan campus, Jao said, “The sad place that we’ve arrived at is that certain campuses in pursuit of tolerance and diversity – are now saying they will use those standards to discriminate and marginalize viewpoints they disagree with.”

Many students are beginning to question whether their rights are being infringed upon, and whether they can coexist with the diversity of religious beliefs and human sexuality.


4 thoughts on “Questions arise within InterVarsity chapters around same-sex-marriage

  1. The InterVarsity Christian fellowship cannot simultaneously say to LGBT students that “LBGT students are always welcome in our community,” and that we will be welcomed, cared for, and safe in your organization while at the same time they are firing individuals who support marriage equality. If you are discriminating against LGBT staff members you cannot claim to love and accept LGBT students. If your organization stands by the belief that same sex marriage and relations are a sin, you do not love us and you are not a safe or welcoming environment for LGBT students.

    UMW needs to follow the lead of the Universities listed above and kick out the UMW InterVarsity club. This new policy toward LGBT staff proves they are a discriminatory organization that has no place at our diverse and inclusive school.

  2. The article conveniently forgot to mention how Biblical Christianity teaches sodomy as a sin that is contrary to how God made humans “in His image and likeness”….and sodomy is a wheat and tares thing – the Biblical churches oppose sodomy whereas worldly churches approve it – it’s now easier to tell the wheat churches/individuals from the tare churches/individuals. Plus, all the animal kingdom can only procreate by opposite sex partners (the homosexual ones – if any have ever existed – would be extinct after only one generation because they cannot reproduce to the next generation – it is unnatural in God’s design of things….and the so-called scientific evidence being sprouted today that homosexuality exists in the animal kingdom only happens when NO females are present and no bodily penetration happens….unlike human sodomy). God loves the sinner but hates the sin….which is why homosexual marriage is neither “equal”, a “right”, nor “love is love” – to the contrary, it is dangerous and destructive to individuals, families (particularly children) and society as a whole.

  3. Homosexual marriage is the tail of the 60’s sexual revolution of free love which dismissed marriage as prohibitive to freedom to have sex with anybody and anyone at anytime – then along came the pill and legal abortion which took away the consequences. What has replaced traditional marriage – between one man and one woman for life – are the fake substitutes and token “marriages” based on convenience and self-gratification. The great damage is plain to see in a myriad of ways, especially with children (….the innocent, unborn children who are aborted get the worst treatment of all – they die). The history of the institution of marriage is quite clear: it was designed to unite a male and a female. I’m waiting to see how the definition and function of marriage has supposedly “changed” even though promiscuity and decadency has become acceptable and poisoned nearly every facet of society. Our children are now living in this environment with an aggressively targeted campaign in schools designed to groom them into as extreme perverse sexualisation as possible from a very young age with no awareness of true marriage or it’s benefits. This means that when they become adults, they will have no desire to marry or even be aware of what true marriage means. Marriage is therefore constantly being undermined leading to frivolous commitments, lack of role-model marriages in media, music or the entertainment industry (which is why most celebrities back SSM because their own multiple marriages have all failed and they can get more money out of backing the latest trend) and higher levels of divorce (mainly due to the “no-fault” divorce laws that also contributed to the trashing of marriage over the past few decades). Same sex marriage only now seems plausible because the true purpose of marriage has eroded so much that it doesn’t matter what you do, you can redefine any sex act to b called marriage to try and make it “acceptable”. But in the history of mankind, homosexual marriage has never been deemed acceptable for one simple reason – it can’t do marriage because it is “sex-based” instead of “family-based”. All this pulling down of marriage makes marriage look worthless, when in fact, it is not the institution of marriage that is at fault, but rather the way it is being used – people who divorce are simply not honouring their marriage vows. Plus, technology has advanced to manipulate procreation….thus, homosexual “marriage” now seems viable only because the awareness of a strong family-based marriage bond as a building block of society is almost lost completely – we are seeing the final nail in the coffin for meaningful marriage. If we make this final step of decadent marriage redefinition, then marriage becomes a total worthless concept. It will be weeded out of our society. Homosexual marriage is against biology and the biological design of the human body and is unable to perform the purpose of marriage. Homosexuality is based solely on desire. Born gay myths are simply myths to incite emotive propaganda slogans. As the gay agenda says it is looking for equality and it is using ‘marriage’ as its vehicle which will be discarded as they move onto other fights. The word ‘equal love’ is used to neturalize the negative aspect of the homosexual lifestyle which historically has been excessively permissive. hence, there is no “marriage equality” when they leave out ALL the various marriage “options” (such as polygamy, marry yourself, two brothers or two sisters marrying each other, necrophilia, child brides or, as Chris Sevier in the USA is trying to do, marrying your laptop, etc). Seeing as there is no legal, historical or rational basis to call marriage a human right or to redefine it to include same sex people, it leads us to the question of what are the other agendas in play here with the SSM issue?….It is certainly the formal severing of marriage from parenthood (a population control measure?) and the rights of children are ignored to serve the selfish desires of the SSM parents (another stolen generation?)…..children are solely luxury accessories to the homosexual’s choice of lifestyle. Btw, we keep hearing that heterosexuality is supposedly a “gender construct” and should therefore be dumped along with all other gender distinctions, yet we also keep hearing about LGBTIQAP+ (the “+” is for HIV+ positive people) which, of course, means that LGBTIQAP+ people are guilty of using “gender constructs” themselves. Also, in a bid to try and say that homosexuality is natural, the same sex marriage advocates come up with new scientific research of “homosexual” activity within the animal kingdom….hmmm….obviously, if this were true, then the so-called “homosexual” animals would be extinct – that’s right, they would have died off long ago because they cannot have any offspring. The so-called scientific research cannot ever determine if any supposed “homosexual” activity (a subjective observation in itself) is driven by homosexual urges or not – in other words, the research can only determine the “how” but can never determine the “why”.. This is the core difference between science (the “how”) and religion (the “why”) and both are vital to a happily functioning society. Needless to say, the same sex marriage push claims to have scientific support and yet disposes of the religious views at the same time – this will inevitably create a massive instability in society. Of course, the “gender fluidity” theory (ie. the mythical idea that “we are any gender we feel like being at the time”) is the broader ideology that intrinsically accompanies SSM – the two are inseparable. It is not marriage in itself that they crave, it is the ultimate symbol of acceptance for homosexuality, and its refusal can be held liable for all kinds of harms, not even thought of ten years ago. Their tactic is to rubbish marriage so much that it doesn’t seem to matter if same sex people or any other form of relationships can be called “marriage” instead of praising marriage up as a wonderful institution that has served all civilisations well and is a bedrock for social stability, decency and prosperity.

    Even if homosexual marriage becomes legal in Australia, it will just be a “label” that the government gives them by issuing them a “Marriage Certificate” and nothing more – it will never be considered legitimate because it is different to heterosexual marriage in every way possible (homosexual marriage uses the word “homosexual” to describe it and is sex-oriented whereas heterosexual marriage is just “marriage” and is family-oriented)…..and the way that the homosexual lobbyists have forced the whole thing onto the public using tactics like “overwhelm the opposition” on social media, name/shame/boycott opponents in public, emotional manipulation with homosexuals in movies, music, sitcoms, studies, media, schools, universities, sporting activities and even “church” to make it look normal and pretend that it is scientifically/historically/politically/economically advantageous to humankind (when the opposite is true) will never make homosexuality acceptable. They put forward children as “human shields” to avoid criticism (after all, who will argue politics with a child?) by getting children to parrot their propaganda slogans and tug at our heartstrings, but in fact, the children are just naive pawns in their emotive game – the activists themselves are adopting the petulant childlike attitude: “I want…I want…you’re mean…give it to me”. We are not being fooled by all this…..hence, opponents to homosexual marriage will simply add the word “real” in front of heterosexual marriages and the word “fake” in front of homosexual marriages – that’s what I will do. Then we will see the homosexual lobbyists start all over again to stop people from calling their marriages “fake” and use government resources and public offices to force opponents to obey them or get punished. So their propaganda slogan: “It only affects gay people and so no one else needs to worry about it” is a farce (along with all their other emotive propaganda slogans like “equality”, “human/civil right”, “love is love”, “discrimination”, etc). Other changes to us all will be words redefined (like he/she/mum/dad/boy/girl) to be gender neutral or gender “fluid”, our children being groomed into homosexual behaviour, increased costs on fixing health problems with the homosexual lifestyle and the thought police on patrol all the time to “catch out” supposed homophobes (….watch out, you will be relentlessly chased down). There is no “live and let live” with homosexual marriage advocates….so in the end, homosexual marriage will be a small step (and a worthless one at that) in the never-ending quest of trying to make homosexuality acceptable. The millennia-old institution of heterosexual marriage (based on parent-hood) has been and will always be different to homosexual marriage no matter how much the homosexual advocates try to “will it into existence”……..They also want parliament to vote on their supposedly private relationships – so if they don’t want it to be anyone else’s business and they don’t want the majority to vote on the “rights” of a minority, then they shouldn’t ask government to make it public business and call their relationships “marriage”. They are taking a word that is a heterosexual word since time-immemorial and trying to change it into something completely different that affects every person in the country (because redefining marriage means that everyone who uses the word marriage will be saying something different to what they meant before – that’s what happens when you change word definitions) and then they wonder why people are getting into a tiz??….plus, they have now made it an even bigger issue by dragging the debate out for years (maybe indefinitely as “issue fatigue” sets in) and at the same time infuriating unassuming voters to now make a stand against SSM because the election promise of a plebiscite has been denied them. Talk about waking a sleeping giant!

    The only reason that marriage is now being redefined to include same sex relationships is not to enhance marriage or make it more desirable, but rather to make homosexuality seem “acceptable” by turning marriage into a ”sex/lust-based” instead of a “family-based” institution. It’s role in society would be completely changed into something self-gratifying instead of a social structure for the good of all citizens. All those past civilisations supposedly got it wrong because we are the “enlightened, smart, progressive” ones?….hmmm….not likely! The LGBTIQAP+ folks want the marriage “label” (ie. the celebration, the recognition, the acceptability) BUT not the intrinsic values & responsibilities that are inherent in marriage. The irony is that the very reason that marriage has become so desirable in the first place (based on the commitment between a man and a woman primarily, but not always, to raise children as a family unit), is destroyed if it’s definition is changed… other words, the people pushing for same sex marriage destroy what they want by getting what they want. Just because homosexuality exists doesn’t mean that it should automatically be called “legal marriage”. If they (less than 2% of the population) want to choose a lifestyle that is damaging to themselves, then don’t redefine the word “marriage” that the rest of us (98% of the population) use to describe our relationships – and saying it is “equal” or a “right” to be married doesn’t stick because they already have the equal right to marry under the current Marriage Act, but they choose not to because they don’t like the definition of marriage outlined in the Act – hence, they seek to redefine it…..instead you make out that just because homosexuality exists then somehow we should all be forced to believe that it is normal, natural, acceptable and beneficial to society. In all the history of humankind, this has not been the case (nor is it the case in the animal kingdom otherwise the homosexual species would have become extinct long ago because they cannot reproduce past one generation), and it never will be the case in the future of mankind. Your slight on males is also a part of the “Anti-male Identification” programs being thrust on our children in schools. Join this social engineering stunt with the Australian “unSafe Schools” and “Building Better (Worse) Relationships” also polluting the minds of our young people in schools, exposes the devious, left-wing elitist agenda that is trying to destroy our society.

  4. Neil,

    Are you this South Australian pastor from Sanctuary Christian Ministries?

    Do you have nothing better to do than troll the Internet looking for articles from Universities across the globe? Do you think anyone wants to actually read that horrendous hate speech you seem to think is a sermon?
    You are a sad little man. You and your hateful, backwards views aren’t welcome at UMW or in our Newspaper.

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