Christian university reinstates ban on same-sex relationships, a week after removing it

An evangelical college in Southern California has reinstated its policy banning same-sex relationships, barely a week after removing language from its student-conduct policy that prohibited them.

Prior to the fall 2018 semester, the Azusa Pacific University (APU) policy regarding human sexuality on campus included a specific bullet stating that “homosexual acts” were forbidden. But when students returned to campus for the new school year and noticed that the statement had since been removed, it felt like a victory for the LGBTQ+ community.

According to the school’s student-run newspaper, Zu Media, the underground community of LGBTQ+ students had discussions with school administrators about the wording that marginalized same-sex couples on campus. They pointed out that same-sex romantic relationships were being defined by sexual acts while also asserting that it was possible for those same-sex romantic relationships to abide by the university’s rules. Therefore same-sex couples could follow the same rules as heterosexual couples and didn’t need to be singled out as a community.

Bill Fiala, PhD, associate dean of students, old Zu Media that this argument played a role in the way that the wording in the handbook was changed, as it focused on equity of all students.

“The changes that occurred to the handbooks around sexual behavior creates one standard for all undergraduate students, as opposed to differential standards for different groups,” Fiala said. “The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn’t. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality.”

Fiala also mentioned that APU had intentions to take it one step further by creating a pilot program for LGBTQ+ students to be a part of and even having weekly meetings with the previously existing underground support group called Haven.

“We have been intentional about the program and want it to be considered a program that comes out of student life and out of the university,” Fiala continued. “We created this in support of the LGBTQ+ students at APU.”

However, it seems that this support for LGBTQ+ students was quickly halted by a statement covertly released by APU on Friday.

In the news release addressing the APU community, the board of trustees reaffirmed their commitment to the school’s “Christ-centered mission” and even addressed reports about changes to the handbook.

“Last week, reports circulated about a change to the undergraduate student standards of conduct,” the statement read. “That action concerning romanticized relationships was never approved by the board and the original wording has been reinstated.”

The statement additionally outlined the Christian values that APU strives to uphold, including “God’s perfect will and design for humankind with the biblical understanding of the marriage covenant as between one man and one woman.”

APU did not immediately reply to Yahoo Lifestyle’s request to clarify the statement. However, people online have drawn the conclusion that this statement retracts the university’s earlier expression of acceptance.

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