Azusa Pacific University (APU) has flipped on same-sex student relationships for the third time. Last September, I wrote here about how Azusa administrators removed language specifically banning same-sex relationships among students on campus, outlined in the official code of conduct. Just a couple of weeks later, the APU Board of Trustees reversed the policy decision, stating they are “never willing to capitulate to outside pressures, be they legal, political, or social.”
Interesting then, that the Christian university has reversed its decision yet again. On Tuesday, Christianity Today’s Morgan Lee reported that APU decided to again remove the language that specifically bans same-sex relationships. Only this time, it was reportedly the Board of Trustees who instructed the ban be lifted for the sake of “applying uniform standards to all students in a nondiscriminatory fashion.”
In an official statement obtained by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, APU Provost Mark Stanton explained, “APU is an open-enrollment institution, which does not require students to be Christian to attend, and the handbook conveys our commitment to treating everyone with Christ-like care and civility” and insisted that “Our values are unchanged and the APU community remains unequivocally biblical in our Christian evangelical identity.”
“The fundamental problem here is that Azusa’s student handbook fails to make a moral distinction between homosexual and heterosexual relationships. Even when abstinent, they are not morally equivalent,” wrote Denny Burk, professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and president of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. (Burke offers more observations on the APU hubbub here.)
All this begs the question of what happens if students are having open same-sex relationships on campus. You cannot enforce a policy that is not there. How is the school going to support and promote traditional biblical values if they allow open same-sex relationships on campus? It is nonsensical to say you promote a traditional view of Scripture but then flip-flop back and forth on a major moral issue affecting the Church right now. How exactly will APU maintain its evangelical witness when the board seems to be saying one thing and doing the opposite?
APU was chartered as a Free Methodist college and is now officially an evangelical non-denominational school. Back in September, the school trustees passionately pledged “to boldly uphold biblical values and not waiver in our Christ-centered mission” and insisted they would never cave to “legal, political, or social” pressure. But what about financial stress?
It’s telling that at the very bottom of Christianity Today’s story, Lee notes the school is operating under a $9.9 million deficit, and the credit agency Moody’s Investors Service ranks APU’s credit to near junk-bond status.
If APU thinks yielding to the LGBTQ machine will somehow preserve their financially-strained intuition, they are very wrong. As I wrote after APU’s original decision, the school need only look to institutions of higher education associated with the Mainline denominations—the Episcopal Church, for example— to find out where the slow capitulating trend leads: attendance decline and, quite possibly, closed doors.