Veritas Graduate Christian Fellowship is an interdenominational campus ministry affiliated with UC Berkeley, InterVarsity, and First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, and Veritas members participate in a wide variety of academic fields, churches, and other organizations in the area. The views of these affiliated groups do not necessarily reflect the views of Veritas or its members (see a particular response to InterVarsity, below). For more information please contact us, join our mailings lists, or come by any of our events or small groups and meet us in person!
A response to InterVarsity’s statement and policies on “A Theological Summary of Human Sexuality”
In the summer of 2016, InterVarsity released a statement on human sexuality along with a policy requiring staff to “believe and behave” in accordance with the theological position outlined in the statement. Among other things, this statement established an organizational stance for InterVarsity that same-sex sexual relationships are sinful and that Christian marriage is only possible between one man and one woman. The statement describes such a heterosexual marriage as the only context in which sex is not sinful. Any staff who could not agree to “believe and behave” in accordance with the statement were asked to involuntarily leave InterVarsity. This statement and policy came to the attention of the Veritas members and leadership and received public media attention in Fall 2016. As the leaders of an InterVarsity-affiliated fellowship whose members hold a wide spectrum of views on InterVarsity’s theological stance and policy decision, we found it important to address this issue, clarify our position as a fellowship, and discuss how and why this might affect our continued affiliation with InterVarsity.
To this end, over the 2016-17 academic year, Veritas engaged in intra-fellowship discussions around this statement on human sexuality and InterVarsity’s policy. Three large group meetings were organized: (1) (Nov. 2016) A general meeting to discuss and process IV’s decision, the (related) impending departure of our staff member, and concerns of the fellowship; (2) (Mar. 2017) a discussion about varying theological positions and interpretations of Scripture relating to homosexuality; and (3) (Apr. 2017) a conversation about the opinions and potential impacts of the de-/affiliation decision within Veritas. Individual and small group meetings and online feedback forms supplemented these large group meetings. We have seen God working in these discussions, and, over the course of the year, Veritas leadership has been encouraged to see a growth in unity among the fellowship, even amid significant disagreements on Scriptural interpretation and the practical effects of de-/affiliation. After much prayer and conversation with each other and with other members of the fellowship, the 2016-17 Veritas leadership team has come to the following statement and decision regarding our fellowship’s stance and the status of our relationship with InterVarsity:
Veritas is committed to welcoming, engaging, and building up people of all backgrounds, identities, and theological views, including our LGBTQ+ neighbors and siblings in Christ, in addition to encouraging and continuing conversations between people with diverse opinions on this and other issues. We recognize there is a spectrum of Christian beliefs that our members hold in seeking to know and love Christ, and we are committed to engaging with one another in love and humility in and through our differences and disagreements. Veritas leadership will ensure that any future staff are similarly committed to these principles (whether they are from a church or parachurch organization) and support the vision of Veritas as a place where any person seeking Christ may find respect, love, and opportunities to grow and be supported in their Christian faith.
The members of Veritas Graduate Student Fellowship hold a diversity of views on theologies relating to LGBTQ+ issues, gender, and sexual identity and practice, as well as other questions of human sexuality. We welcome engagement with this issue––and other issues––in thoughtful discussion and study. The Veritas Fellowship explicitly does not take a theological stance on the issues of human sexuality outlined in the InterVarsity statement. Additionally, because of the diversity of views on same-sex relationships among faithful Christians, we as the Veritas leadership team are deeply saddened by and regret InterVarsity’s decision to enact and impose the “believe and behave” policy on their staff workers. We feel this “believe and behave” policy undermines InterVarsity’s commitment to welcoming diverse belief and dialogue among those who seek to understand and corporately live out our Christian faith, as summarized by the Apostle’s Creed or InterVarsity’s own statement of faith.
However, Veritas does share many key missional goals with InterVarsity. We would like to specifically affirm InterVarsity’s broader mission statement to reach students and faculty in higher education and their commitment to social justice and unity among the global body of Christ. Both the Veritas Fellowship and InterVarsity consider the university campus, and particularly the graduate student community, to be a space where we desire for the Gospel to be shared and lived out.
It is in this shared broader mission and the connection to the global Church that we remain affiliated with InterVarsity, even amid significant disagreement with their “believe and behave” policy and mixed views on the veracity of their statement. We choose to hold these perspectives in tension because we believe that regardless of affiliation or de-affiliation, the Veritas community is defined by the truths we hold and by values we put in practice as a community, and not by our relationship with InterVarsity. We are united in our belief of a sovereign God, humbled by the compassion of His Son who won redemption for the world, and committed to welcoming and loving one another as He loved us while we wait and prepare for His return together.
We express our gratitude for each member of the Veritas community who has thoughtfully and prayerfully engaged with this issue over the past year. We are also very grateful for those outside of the community who supported us through their prayer and counsel. Maintaining a welcoming and nurturing community is an ever ongoing process in which all members of the community are called to participate. The leadership team invites you to continue with us in our mission to have the love of Jesus be made known in our community, on the UC Berkeley campus, and beyond.
Veritas Leadership Team 2016-2017
May 8, 2017