Little more than a week after news broke that Azusa Pacific University lifted a ban on LGBT relationships on its campus, the university has reinstated the ban. A spokesperson for APU’s board of trustees said the board did not approve the change in language in the university’s code of conduct, which essentially brought about the original lift.
“Last week, reports circulated about a change in the undergraduate student standards of conduct,” a statement released on September 28 by the Board of Trustees reads. “That action concerning romanticized relationships was never approved by the board and the original wording has been reinstated.”
APU’s student news source, ZU Media, reports that the lift of the ban was approved by the university’s administrative board, but not the board of trustees. Speaking to ZU when the lift was announced, associate dean of students Bill Fiala indicated the intention behind the change of wording in the code of conduct was to set a consistent standard for everyone instead of “differential standards for different groups.”
In their statement, the board outlined five commitments the university holds:
We remain unequivocally biblical and orthodox in our evangelical Christian identity. The Bible serves as our anchor.
We stand firm in our convictions, never willing to capitulate to outside pressures, be they legal, political, or social.
We affirm God’s perfect will and design for humankind with the biblical understanding of the marriage covenant as between one man and one woman. Outside of marriage, He calls His people to abstinence.
We advocate for holy living within the university in support of our Christian values.
We declare that our clear mission to equip disciples and scholars to advance the work of God in the world is more necessary today than ever before.
The Conversation Is Not Over at Azusa Pacific University
Furthermore, the board communicated its belief that APU is “the best place for earnest and guided conversation to unfold with all students about every facet of life, including faith and sexuality.”
Indeed, student Nolan Croce, who identifies as a member of APU’s LGBT community, is also hopeful the recent events will bring about a constructive conversation. “It is my hope that the board of trustees’ decision will benefit the APU community in the long run because it is forcing people to have conversations that weren’t happening before,” Croce told ZU. “I also feel it is important to add that most of the LGBT students I’ve met on campus, including myself, desire to keep God first in all that we do. In fact, some of the most devoted and confident Christians I’ve met at APU have been members of the LGBT community. In this time of great divide, we need to remember that we are all one in Christ.”
That’s not to say that the LGBT community at APU is happy about the decision. The group, which had plans to move their informal “Haven” gathering on campus as a university-sponsored group after the ban was lifted, will continue to meet, but it is not clear what the future will hold for them. Whether they will eventually be allowed to meet on campus or not, the group is committed to providing a safe space for students who identify as LGBT.
On Monday, October 1, about 200 students gathered outside the university’s event center in support of LGBT students.
Speaking about the developments at APU on his “Briefing” podcast, Al Mohler said “It is also evident that Christian institutions…of higher education are now under pressure and in the future will be under continually increasing pressure to join the sexual and moral revolution—and particularly to concede ground on the LGBTQ+ issues that are now the leading edge of those revolutions.” Mohler says that while the discussion isn’t over, the statement from the board is “encouraging” and that the board of trustees “dared to do its job to actually protect the convictions and the mission of an historic Christian institution.”