On Friday night, the board of trustees for Azusa Pacific University (APU) emphatically rejected a recent change in the student code of conduct that allowed for romantic relationships between members of the same sex, short of an ambiguous standard of “sexual activity.” This compromise in the direction of LGBT activism would have damaged religious freedom at Christian colleges and universities, evangelical leaders warned.
“Today, as a board, we reaffirm our responsibility to steward the Christ-centered mission of Azusa Pacific University,” David Poole, chair of the board, wrote in an email to the APU community.
Poole announced the board’s commitment to five principles: remaining “unequivocally biblical and orthodox in our evangelical Christian identity”; “never willing to capitulate to outside pressures, be they legal, political, or social”; affirming “God’s perfect will and design for humankind with the biblical understanding of the marriage covenant as between one man and one woman” and abstinence outside of marriage; advocating “for holy living within the university in support of our Christian values”; and re-emphasizing the importance of “our clear mission to equip disciples and scholars to advance the work of God in the world.”
The board chair referenced media reports “about a change in the undergraduate student standards of conduct.” Importantly, that change — which would have allowed public “LGBTQ+” relationships on campus — “was never approved by the board and the original wording has been reinstated.”
The school’s commitment to marriage and romance between one man and one woman is by no means an attack on the dignity of people who are attracted to members of the same sex, Poole noted.
“We see every student as a gift from God, infinitely valuable and worthy in the eyes of our Creator and as members of our campus community,” he said. “We believe our university is the best place for earnest and guided conversation to unfold with all students about every facet of life, including faith and sexuality. We embrace all students who seek a rigorous Christian higher education and voluntarily join us in mission.”
Poole concluded with one more pledge to uphold APU’s evangelical values. “We pledge to boldly uphold biblical values and not waiver in our Christ-centered mission,” he wrote. “We will examine how we live up to these high ideals and enact measures that prevent us from swaying from that sure footing.”
An anonymous APU staff member — who had previously told PJ Media that the earlier change had been made without board approval — praised Poole’s statement, but warned that more challenges from LGBT activists lay ahead.
“The board’s statement sends a strong message that APU is not giving up the fight just yet. However, we would be naive to think such a move will go unchallenged,” the staffer warned. “APU’s commitment to biblical truth will be proved in how senior leaders respond to the waves of attack that are sure to come.”
”We’re not out of the woods yet, but the board’s statement shows we are on the right path,” he added.
Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS), praised the board for the statement, but warned that APU should avoid having too many non-Christian students, which would make the school reliant on tuition from non-Christians. Such a strategy might weaken Azusa Pacific’s ability to stand on Bible principles, Mohler warned.
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