After considerable prayer, research and discussion, the Abilene Christian University Board of Trustees has provided guidance to the campus for ongoing discussions about what it means to be good stewards of God's gifts, including sexuality.
“As Christians, we seek to follow Christ in everything we do and are committed to showing His love above all else,” said president Dr. Phil Schubert. “These conversations regarding sexual stewardship have taken place for well beyond a decade on our campus, and I would like to thank so many of you who have provided insight. We’ve hosted speakers, forums, small-group gatherings and organizations to cultivate a healthy living and learning environment.”
The board provided the following guidance for ACU administrators:
We affirm the dignity and worth of every person as created in God’s image. ACU affirms the full humanity and dignity of all human beings, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. We recognize there are individuals who identify as LGBT or who experience same-sex attraction within our community. We strive to love and welcome all individuals.
We believe Scripture teaches that God intends for sexual relations to be reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. We recognize this belief may conflict with the practice or vision of the larger culture. Yet we hold to the historic Christian perspective on this issue while being respectful of those who disagree with us.
We call for civility and respect. As a university, we encourage the vigorous pursuit of truth. As a Christian university, we believe the Bible is true and reliable. We recognize that Christians inside and outside the ACU community have different interpretations of Scripture on same-sex relationships. Regardless of one’s perspective, we encourage all of our community members to engage this issue with Christian care and compassion. We condemn language and behaviors that communicate disrespect toward any member of the ACU community.
The university’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT) responded by asking ACU’s Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and Students’ Association for assistance in gathering feedback on what it means to love and welcome all students, and how to show respect for those who hold different interpretations of Scripture regarding same-sex relationships.
SLT also appointed a committee of campus leaders to make recommendations based on board guidance and input received from focus groups representing student, faculty, staff and alumni.
The board’s guidance directed discussions between SLT and the Office of Student Life about officially recognizing a student peer-support and education group to serve as a safe, welcoming environment for students to discuss questions of sexuality, identity and spirituality. Another key objective is to foster productive, educational dialogue across the ACU campus.
Committee recommendations led SLT to formally recognize a campus peer-support and education group named Voice that has served students in an unofficial role since 2012.
“Voice will provide a space for students to articulate and discuss their beliefs while showing respect for others. They understand and will honor the university’s policies and values, including its affirmation of the traditional Christian view of marriage between a man and a woman,” Schubert said of the group, which is guided by a faculty member and the dean of students. “It is not an advocacy organization and will not promote specific theological or political opinions. I have kept the board informed of our plans to recognize Voice and have received their support.”
Schubert said he is thankful for the grace and understanding extended to administrators, and looks forward to perspectives provided by the ongoing campus conversations about sexual stewardship
“It’s important to find the right balance on such important matters involving the lives our students,” he said. “I’m certain God will be glorified by the way we walk in unity throughout this journey.”