InterVarsity says TIME story is inaccurate

Elizabeth Dias has written a story for TIME magazine saying that InterVarsity plans to dismiss all staff members who fall short of the InterVarsity’s views on marriage and sexuality. InterVarsity has responded with a series of tweets disputing her article. There are eight tweets, and I encourage you to read them all. But it is the first and fourth tweets that I don’t know how to reconcile.

If anyone knows how these two statements go together, I’m all ears. I have read InterVarsity’s statement on marriage and sexuality. For the most part, it represents what Christians have always believed. It boils down to this:

“Scripture is very clear that God’s intention for sexual expression is to be between a husband and wife in marriage. Every other sexual practice is outside of God’s plan and therefore is a distortion of God’s loving design for humanity” (p. 11).

How can one simultaneously hold sex outside of marriage to be sin while supporting a definition of “civil marriage” that denies this? Do they allow staffers to support same-sex “civil marriage” or not?

Perhaps InterVarsity is making a distinction between Christian marriage and “civil marriage.” But I don’t know how such a distinction can be supported by their own theological statement, which says this about marriage:

“It is a public declaration, a societal institution, and an ordinance of God, where public vows are made before a community” (p. 9).

InterVarsity’s theological statement doesn’t seem to allow one to hold one view on Christian marriage and another view of “civil marriage.” They are joined together.

So again, I am not sure how to reconcile statement number one with statement number four above.

Having said that, it would be entirely good and necessary for a Christian organization to hold its staff members to Christian views on marriage and sexuality. You can’t have staffers telling college students that it is okay to have sexual relationships outside of marriage. Any staffer who communicates such a message to a student would be leading that student away from Jesus and not to Jesus. That is the opposite of discipleship. It is the antithesis of love. And it will lead students away to judgment.

So I am grateful for the initial report that InterVarsity is holding the line on this. I hope it is accurate. Failure to hold the line on sexuality and marriage means failure to be Christian. Fidelity to biblical teaching and the 2,000-year old consensus of the Christian church is absolutely essential.

UPDATE: InterVarsity has posted their full response to the TIME article on Facebook. The full text is below:

You may have seen this evening’s article in TIME about InterVarsity.

We’re disappointed that Elizabeth Dias’ headline and article wrongly stated that InterVarsity is firing employees for supporting gay marriage. That is not the case. In fact, InterVarsity doesn’t have a policy regarding employee views on civil marriage.

We know that LGBTQI people have experienced great pain, including much caused by Christians. We also know that we ourselves each need Jesus’ grace daily. So we attempt to walk humbly in this conversation.

We do continue to hold to an orthodox view of human sexuality and Christian marriage, as you can read in our Theology of Human Sexuality Document at the bottom of the article.

That said, we believe Christlikeness, for our part, includes both embracing Scripture’s teachings on human sexuality—uncomfortable and difficult as they may be—as well as upholding the dignity of all people, because we are all made in God’s image.

Some will argue this cannot be done. We believe that we must if we want to be faithful followers of Jesus.

Within InterVarsity and elsewhere in the Church, there are LGBTQI people who agree with this theology, at great personal cost. We are learning together to follow Jesus.

6 Responses to InterVarsity says TIME story is inaccurate

  1. Nate Schlomann October 6, 2016 at 11:09 pm #

    “Perhaps they are making a distinction between Christian marriage and “civil marriage.””

    Yes, I think that’s it. It’s not going to work. They should have just owned their Evangelical identity. I read the Time article and thought much MORE of IVP than I had. Now, not so much. Hope they stand strong, because they aren’t going to appease the LGBTQTISZEO, etc etc crowd with that logic.

  2. Gunner October 6, 2016 at 11:23 pm #

    They might be meaning “civil unions” rather than “civil marriage,” but of course that can’t be established from the tweet alone.

  3. buddyglass October 7, 2016 at 8:51 am #

    How to reconcile:

    We require our staff to hold to the belief that only a man and a woman may enter into true marriage, i.e. a covenant union that is legitimate in the eyes of God.

    We do not require our staff to take a position on whether the government may recognize arrangements as “marriages” that are not, in fact, seen as legitimate in the eyes of God.

    • Teresa Irizarry October 8, 2016 at 12:32 am #

      Buddyglass’s response is very consistent with Abraham Kuyper’s conclusion in his essay against “The Blurring of the Boundaries”, that the only way to be Christian in a flagrantly non-Christian culture is to separate–e.g. to require Christians to have Christian marriages but to recognize that the state governs others also, and in fact consists of pagans in part or in whole, and may legitimately in their sphere recognize or permit things a Christian cannot participate in. It is also the same strategy the Pope laid out in “Amoris Laetitia”–of course he called it Catholic marraige vs civil marraige, and he pointed out some kinds of civil marraige could grow into Catholic marraige but not others.

  4. James Bradshaw October 8, 2016 at 10:43 am #

    Are you saying that Christians have a moral oigation to not facilitate or participate in or even acknowledge a civil marriage or divorce that is against the strict mandates of Scripture? I’m sure you realize that isn’t going to work.

    The position of IVCF as it stands seems acceptable.


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