A Student Leader’s Perspective on the InterVarsity Purge

I entered Pomona College with a goal to grow my understanding of myself and others.

Looking back, I’m happy to say I’ve made progress. During my time at Pomona, I have discovered the ways society privileges and marginalizes different aspects of my identity. While wrestling with the implications of my positionality—especially as a heterosexual, Christian, Korean American woman and survivor of abuse—I found through the InterVarsity chapter at Pomona that the God of the Christian Bible fiercely loves, centers, and advocates for the marginalized in society. Integral to my own healing was the realization that justice is incredibly close to the heart of the Christian God.

Two weeks ago, Time.com published an article exposing a letter sent in July by InterVarsity USA alerting all staff that those who do not “believe and behave in a manner consonant with” the view that homosexual attraction is sinful will be fired. One month before this July letter was sent, the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter left 49 dead and 53 injured in the gay nightclub in Orlando. The day after this hate crime against the LGBTQIA community, a Sacramento Baptist preacher praised the shooting in a repulsive, hate-filled sermon.

In the name of Christianity, straight people all around the world have hated, abused, and excluded the queer community for centuries. I’m ashamed of our history and apologetic to the queer community. The violence is abhorrent and contrary to how the Jesus I follow loved.

Considering this, it is outrageous for a Christian organization to tell the very community Christians have wronged that it will go the extra mile to fire leaders who hold a gay-affirming view. By doing so it purges the organization of queer and affirming allied staff and their student mentees who have found safety to explore for themselves an issue so personal to their identity. How dare they deprive staff who have loved and served InterVarsity for decades of their right to wrestle critically with the Bible. 

Regardless of theological position, this policy should disturb everyone because it is the only issue outside InterVarsity’s core doctrinal statement being policed in this way. Why only sexuality? is a question all Christians should be asking, when biblical interpretations of sexuality are controversial for many. It’s one thing to be unified in behavior, and another to inconsistently enforce belief.

The policy is a personal betrayal to me as a student leader of the Pomona-Pitzer Christian Fellowship. I’ve devoted my past two years to InterVarsity. I’ve labored—emotionally, physically, and mentally—unpaid for this organization. One week last fall, I counted the number of hours I dedicated to InterVarsity. It totaled to 20. But I did it willingly and eagerly because I believed in what it attempts to do. InterVarsity has encouraged me to engage critically and personally with the difficult questions entailed in following Jesus. It has insisted that centering the marginalized in society is a core component of God’s character. With this new policy, I no longer recognize the organization.

Those who are interested in learning more can read a student petition about Intervarsity at tinyurl.com/notmyiv, an alumni petition at tinyurl.com/alumnipetitionivpurge, and an open letter from Pomona-Pitzer InterVarsity student leaders at tinyurl.com/openletterivpurge.

Helen (Hae In) Jun PO '17 is as a psychology major who loves bicultural research, creative writing, and YouTube videos of hedgehog boats (look it up!).

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