Dear InterVarsity Christian Fellowship,
I am a former staff person with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and I resigned because of the recent policy change. I think it is important to say InterVarsity’s full name, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, because it should hurt a little to say Christian Fellowship when such a policy is enacted.
— INTERVARSITY USA (@INTERVARSITYusa) October 7, 2016
You said, “InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is not ‘firing’ anyone, this is bad journalism on Time’s part.”
This is a painful one to read. When you are asked to come forward if you disagree with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s interpretation of Scripture and this begins a process of termination, what do you call that?
You said, “InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is not changing anything, this has always been our position.”
Again, while this is a true statement, it fails to be clear that this IS in fact a new policy.
“InterVarsity Christian Fellowship has made this decision because colleges and universities, as well as students and staff, are asking us to provide a more clear position.”
If providing a more clear position harms Christian fellowship, is it a good thing to do so?
As a multi-denominational organization, why create such a rigid policy around such a complicated and deeply personal topic, one that pits families and friends against one another and one that church denominations remain divided over.
There are certainly other ways that the concerns of interested parties could have been satisfied that would not have meant asking your loyal and engaged staff to leave.
Finally, I feel I would be remiss if I did not mention two things.
First, during the period of dialogue and discussion, it was quickly apparent to me that InterVarsity Christian Fellowship only engaged people of the LGBT community who interpret scripture in the same way that they do, meaning that all people who identify as LGBT are called to mandatory celibacy.
This did not lead to a robust discussion. It was in fact exclusionary and felt contrived so that staff would all come to believe the same things, which is does not work. The process and outcomes were also muddled and not as clear as some are saying. I know for a fact that the leadership of the organization was even disappointed with how the process was done.
I interacted with my colleagues about the topic of homosexuality, I was shocked to learn how few of them had ever considered another perspective before! Few of my colleagues had ever personally known someone who was LGBTQ, let alone personally walked with them in relationship.
This was also true of the leadership of InterVarsity that I interacted with, some of whom were at the top of the organization. How can you make policy when you have never personally known someone and walked with them in their journey as a Christian who identifies as LGBTQ?
It is the only litmus test for policy and it is truly a game changer.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and many Evangelicals are suffering because they have made an idol of their own interpretation of scripture. InterVarsity Christian Fellowship does manuscript study, which changes the nature of the conversation in important ways.
While I love manuscript study, I have seen the ways that InterVarsity has made it an idol, and it has caused them to become closed off to other forms of study and biblical interpretation which come to different or more open and loving conclusions on this complicated subject.
This matters because we are now seeing the ways that they have hurt many staff who desired to stay within the Fellowship, some of whom are LGBTQ and others who have family members and close friends that cause them to read and interpret scripture in ways that an inductive manuscript method falls short.
They have placed their interpretation of scripture ahead of relationships with their own people within the Fellowship. The bible has a lot more to say about idolatry than it does about homosexuality.
Right now they are engaged in damage control, but I hope that in time, InterVarsity’s leadership realizes that this could all have been avoided if they would have put Christian Fellowship ahead of InterVarsity.