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Azusa Pacific University now allows students to be in gay relationships

Over the weekend, I read the news about Azusa Pacific University—an “evangelical” school in California that is removing its ban on homosexual relationships among students. The campus newspaper reports:

Effective this fall 2018 semester, Azusa Pacific removed language from its student standard of conduct agreement that prohibited public LGBTQ+ relationships for students on campus. As an evangelical institution, APU still adheres to the Biblical principles of human sexuality—the belief that “sexual union is intended by God to take place only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman” and it remains a cornerstone of the university’s foundation.

The paper claims that the ban on homosexual relationships has been removed even as the school still maintains “biblical principles of human sexuality.” If that seems confusing, that’s because it is. An APU alumnus attempts to explain the change:

“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[sic] 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.”

Notice how the school is now parsing things up. The school’s standards of conduct now simply ban “sexual intimacy outside the context of marriage,” where marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman (10.1 Inappropriate Sexual Behavior). As long as students avoid “sexual intimacy” outside marriage, they are free to pursue whatever romantic relationships they please—gay, straight, or otherwise. In other words, homosexual romance is permitted so long as no “sexual intimacy” is involved.

Despite the school’s claim otherwise, there are major problems with this policy, and it’s stunning that the administration doesn’t see them. First, the school reduces sexual sin to “sexual intimacy” outside marriage without defining what “sexual intimacy” consists of. Obviously intercourse would be prohibited, but what about kissing? Holding hands? What exactly is being prohibited here for those in homosexual relationships?

And that raises a second problem. In an attempt at “equity,” the statement fails to reflect biblical distinctions between homosexual relationships and heterosexual ones. It seems that the statement is open to couples expressing public displays of affection—holding hands, hugging, etc. On its own terms, it would also allow gay couples to hold hands, hug, etc. along with a range of other public and private displays of affection. Anyone who thinks this is a Christian approach to relationships doesn’t understand Christianity.

Which brings us to problem number three. The Lord Jesus himself teaches us that it is not merely immoral sexual behavior that is sinful but also immoral sexual desires:

Matt. 5:27-30 27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Jesus says that it is sin to look at a married woman in order to desire her sexually. And there is literally hell to pay if immoral desires are not kept in check. Sexual holiness, therefore, is not merely a matter of deeds committed but of desires felt. Yet Azusa is saying that it is okay for romantic homosexual relationships to happen on campus so long as there is no sex. Do they not see how this contradicts what Jesus teaches us about sexual holiness as a matter of the heart?

The fundamental problem here is that Azusa has adopted a policy that fails to make a moral distinction between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Even when abstinent, they are not morally equivalent. A heterosexual relationship can and may have the covenant of marriage as its aim and goal. A homosexual relationship can never have marriage as its aim and goal. That means that a homosexual relationship can never be holy or pleasing to God. By definition, it is sinful (Rom. 1:26-27).

One more item is problematic. The school’s standards of conduct prohibit students from cohabitating with the opposite sex (9.0 Cohabitation). Yet students of the same-sex are still permitted to cohabitate—presumably including those that are in homosexual romantic relationships. Does Azusa believe that it is good for same-sex attracted students to be cohabitating while experiencing sexual desires for one another? What an unwise and confusing and destructive message the school is sending.

The problems in this new policy are legion, but on the whole this cannot be squared with a faithful Christian sexual morality. In the name of “equity” it abandons historic Christian teaching about homosexuality. It’s a capitulation to error that is neither faithful to Christ nor good for students. This policy contradicts Azusa’s claim to be a Christian institution. I hope and pray that they see this, and soon.

A speech delivered at the dedication of the “Silent Sam” monument

Today’s New York Times has an op-ed from Blain Roberts and Ethan Kytle titled “The ‘Silent Sam’ Confederate Monument at U.N.C. Was Toppled. What Happens Next?” I was very interested to read this in light of their article in The Atlantic three years ago concerning confederate memorials. In the earlier article, they favored leaving the memorials in place with placards explaining their origins in white supremacy. They made the case that leaving them standing with historical context would encourage Americans to come to terms with their troubled racial past. Continue Reading →

NBC News article accuses Billy Graham of leaving a “painful legacy for LGBTQ people.”

NBC News has an article chronicling Billy Graham’s “painful legacy” for LGBT people. Here’s the lede:

Evangelicals across the country are mourning the death of Billy Graham, an influential preacher who died in his home in Montreat, North Carolina, on Wednesday. But while some are celebrating his legacy, others are grappling with the lasting damage his actions have done to their communities.

Over the course of Graham’s 99 years of life, he reached millions of Christians around the world and had an outsized impact on the national political landscape. For many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people, however, Graham was a crusader against them, one whose efforts shaped the religious right into an anti-LGBTQ political force.

I guess coverage like this shouldn’t be surprising anymore. Increasingly in popular media, moral virtue always boils down to a person’s embrace (or not) of homosexual immorality and transgenderism. Those who embrace them are the good guys, and those who do not are the bad guys. Even Billy Graham—who only died on Wednesday—will not be spared from this censure. He was on the wrong side homosexuality, therefore, he was a bad guy. At least, that is how the moral calculus goes in articles like the one above. Continue Reading →

94% of women in entertainment industry experience sexual harassment/assault

USA Today has published a stunning report about sexual misconduct in the entertainment industry. Here’s the lede:

USA TODAY surveyed 843 women who work in the entertainment industry in a variety of roles (producers, actors, writers, directors, editors and others) and asked them about their experiences with sexual misconduct.

The results are sobering: Nearly all of the women who responded to the survey (94%) say they have experienced some form of harassment or assault, often by an older individual in a position of power over the accuser.

Worse, more than one-fifth of respondents (21%) say they have been forced to do something sexual at least once.

Only one in four women reported these experiences to anyone because of fear of personal or professional backlash or retaliation. This reporting rate holds true for all forms of misconduct addressed in the survey, including being forced to do something sexual.

Of those who did report their experiences, most say reporting did not help them; only 28% say their workplace situation improved after reporting.

I knew that the situation in Hollywood was bad, but even I was stunned by the number 94%. I just don’t know how this situation has been tolerable for as long as it has been. I suppose the toxic culture is one that individuals accommodate themselves to in order to succeed in the entertainment industry, but at what cost? If these figures are correct, it certainly does explain the #MeToo passion on display at the recent Golden Globe award ceremony. These women are running a gauntlet that almost no one escapes from unscathed.

Read the rest of the story here.

Top Ten Posts of 2017

I want to thank all of you who have read and interacted with this site over the last year. I am grateful for every one of you. For those of you who are interested, I give you the top 10 blog posts from 2017. This blog is a combination of content creation and content curation, which means that I sometimes write original material and that at other times I pass on to you items that I find interesting from elsewhere on the interwebs. Both kinds of posts appear on this list, but the vast majority are original pieces. This year’s list includes a lot of material dealing with gender and sexuality. Continue Reading →

Steve Scalise returns to the House of Representatives for the first time since being gunned down

On June 14, Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was gunned downed during a practice for a charity baseball game. Scalise’s security detail was able to take down the shooter and thereby to save the lives of many other congressmen.

Scalise nearly died as a result of his wounds, and his life hung in the balance through many subsequent surgeries. Today he returned to the House of Representatives for the first time since the shooting. He delivered an emotional speech that is worth your time to watch from start to finish. See above.

Best Pictures of the 2017 Solar Eclipse

We did not witness totality where I live, but we did get 96% of a total eclipse of the sun. It was fantastic, even if not total.

Because I missed totality, I’m soaking-up footage of those who captured it on video or in photos. I am going to post those images here, updating as I come across the really good ones. I’m starting with a stunning compilation from The Washington Post (see above). I will update with more pics and videos below. Continue Reading →

Study suggests link between football violence and degenerative brain disease

There is a new study suggesting a link between football violence and degenerative brain disease. Here is the description from The New York Times.

Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. A broad survey of her findings was published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. — and 110 of those were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

C.T.E. causes myriad symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. The problems can arise years after the blows to the head have stopped…

The set of players posthumously tested by Dr. McKee is far from a random sample of N.F.L. retirees. “There’s a tremendous selection bias,” she has cautioned, noting that many families have donated brains specifically because the former player showed symptoms of C.T.E.

But 110 positives remain significant scientific evidence of an N.F.L. player’s risk of developing C.T.E., which can be diagnosed only after death. About 1,300 former players have died since the B.U. group began examining brains. So even if every one of the other 1,200 players would have tested negative — which even the heartiest skeptics would agree could not possibly be the case — the minimum C.T.E. prevalence would be close to 9 percent, vastly higher than in the general population.

The N.F.L.’s top health and safety official has acknowledged a link between football and C.T.E., and the league has begun to steer children away from playing the sport in its regular form, encouraging safer tackling methods and promoting flag football.

Read the rest here.

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