The prominent Christian institution Azusa Pacific University (APU) has once again lifted the ban on allowing public same-sex relationships on campus after reversing its previous decision to lift the ban last year.
According to Christianity Today, the school altered the code of student conduct last week to allow "romanticized" same-sex on campus last week. APU provost Mark Stanton said that while the code has been changed, the school's values as a Christian university have not changed.
"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," said Stanton. "Our values are unchanged, and the APU community remains unequivocally biblical in our Christian evangelical identity."
The code of conduct did not expressly discriminate against LGBTQ individuals and endorsed a hardline stance on general biblical morality by prohibiting premarital sex and other sexual improprieties. Despite that, the LGBT student group Brave Commons worked in concert with the student government to have the ban reversed. Both groups demanded more clarity regarding the types of punishments such individuals would face.
In a statement last Friday, Brave Commons said that LGBTQ individuals will be treated more equally as a result of the ban. "The ban removal offers equal treatment of LGBTQ+ students in relationships as their heterosexual peers," said the group.
The revised version of the APU student handbook on sexuality now no longer mentions LGBT individuals, saying students will be disciplined "with discretion, sensitivity, discernment, grace, and truth." FULL TEXT:
We value sexual stewardship. As an evangelical community of disciples and scholars who embrace the historic orthodox Christian understanding of Holy Scripture, Azusa Pacific University holds that sexuality is a gift from God. Therefore, we seek to cultivate a community in which sexuality is embraced as God-given and good, and where biblical standards of sexual behavior are upheld.
The APU community is committed to treating everyone with respect and Christ-like compassion. We are committed to applying uniform standards to all students in a nondiscriminatory fashion.
We believe that students are best supported if they are able to share their questions and concerns with trusted others and understand that concerns about sexuality may be difficult to disclose. In all such personal issues, we commit to discipling our students with discretion, sensitivity, discernment, grace, and truth so that as they steward their sexuality and expressions of intimacy, students make decisions based on historical biblical values.
We affirm a biblical foundation for sexual relationships in full accord with the APU’s Human Sexuality statement. We believe God designed the covenant of marriage and that individuals remain celibate outside of that marriage covenant.
In November 2018, APU lifted the ban on same-sex relationships only to reverse the decision soon afterward upon several board members criticizing the school for losing its orthodox principles. Some evangelical supporters of the school fear it has lost its Christian identity.
"The fundamental problem here is that Azusa’s student handbook fails to make a moral distinction between homosexual and heterosexual relationships," wrote Denny Burk, president of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. "Even when abstinent, they are not morally equivalent."