Over the summer, during a meeting with Monica Corsaro from Spiritual Life, Common Ground Exec became aware that the national constitution for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship barred gay people from serving on the executive boards of chapters. We then spent a lot of time looking into IVCF as a national organization. We found that homophobic and discriminatory actions and beliefs are prevalent through much of the organization. In 2016 IVCF put out a statement affirming their beliefs on human sexuality, which states, “Homosexual desire itself is contrary to the design of God for human sexuality. In that sense, it is rightly thought of as a fallen condition” (pg. 3). Any lust or action based on “same-sex attraction” is seen as wrong and they maintain that marriage is only monogamous and heterosexual. They categorize homosexuality in “sexual sins” alongside beastiality and incest (pg. 9). After putting forth this statement, all staff members had to affirm their belief in this statement, and those that disagreed with the statement were then terminated. Every staff member that stayed, including the one that advises the IVCF chapter on this campus, signed a statement saying they agree with the beliefs put out by the national organization. There is no denying these facts.
We brought these issues to the IVCF chapter on our campus and asked that they disassociate with the national organization. The views held by the national organization do not align with the values and beliefs of Knox College and go against the Non-discrimination policy. From the discussions we have had with the IVCF exec, it has become clear that the chapter of IVCF wasn’t willing to disassociate, and further dialogue would not yield any result. It was evident that nothing productive can come from this when straight people refuse to believe gay people when they call something homophobic. It is not our belief, it’s not an opinion as it was said during the dialogues; our right to live as we choose and not face discrimination is a simple fact. We know discrimination and homophobia when we see it, and even on this liberal campus we see it often. Members of IVCF told us they believe that some gay people just don’t want to be gay, and it is important to give them the choice to remain celibate. However, this perspective is completely ignorant to how systems of oppression work. Gay people do not “choose” to not want to be gay. As members of the LGBTQ+ community, we grow up surrounded by people who tell us that we shouldn’t be who we are. That results in internalized homophobia, which is nearly impossible to overcome when people who are supposed to love and support you tell you that you have a “fallen condition.” Common Ground does not want to debate if IVCF as a national organization is homophobic. It is. Our basic human rights are not a topic to be discussed over dinner. We are people, we are here, and we should not have to feel ashamed.
Ashley Kerley ‘20 and Teslin Penoyer ‘20,
On behalf of Common Ground Executive Board