One of the more serious attacks to face the church and its mission is the attempt to impose the LGBTQ agenda throughout all of society’s institutions, including the media, education, the corporate world and the church. This agenda promotes activity that silences any voice that differs with the worldview it espouses, especially voices from faith-based communities that support religious liberty.
Columbia International University (CIU) is committed to five core values, one of which is the authority of Scripture. Because of this value, the Bible functions as our authority for faith and life. The university is committed to a Biblical understanding of human sexuality. While the world views love through the prism of culture, many Christian colleges view love and sexuality through a Biblical lens. Ephesians 5:1-3 reminds us to be imitators of Christ, walk in love, and avoid sexual immorality and impurity.
We understand that due to the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, sin impacted the human race. We also understand that God has the remedy for sin through forgiveness and transformation in Jesus Christ. At CIU, we believe that the Holy Spirit can empower a Christian life so that, even in our hyper-sexualized culture, young people can remain abstinent until marriage and be faithful during marriage.
There is clear Biblical teaching on human sexuality. First, Genesis 1:27 says God created male and female and that He created them in His own image. Genesis 2:24 then says that God’s design is that a man and woman should be united and become one flesh. Sexual acts outside of this design are condemned in many places in Scripture, such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, where Paul writes, “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” Other passages such as Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; and Romans 1:26-27 also address sexual lifestyles.
The Equality Act, which has passed the House of Representatives and is under consideration in the Senate, would make it virtually impossible for Christian colleges to survive if it led to federal financial aid being denied students who choose to attend an institution with Biblical expectations regarding sexuality. Christian colleges would certainly agree that no one should be harassed or subjected to humiliation or violence. The Bible teaches that we are to express this truth in love. We must not, however, abandon this truth.
Columbia International University is built around an ethos of pursuing Biblical truth and righteousness. CIU is strengthening that ethos by hiring people who embrace and agree to live according to Biblical teaching. Under the Equality Act as it is currently written, Christian colleges would be forced to hire people who are opposed to Biblical truth since sexual orientation and gender identity have been added to the list of protected classes under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In some scenarios, Christian colleges would be forced to adopt the transgender agenda as it relates to residence halls, bathrooms, sports and language usage since a refusal to do so would be discrimination against a protected class. This would mean a biological man declaring himself to be a woman would have a right to all services and activities designated for women, and that any original concept of male and female difference would be altered. We cannot accept this principle.
So with this reality facing Christian colleges, what do we do?
Columbia International University is taking the following steps to address these concerns:
- We are reaffirming our commitment to teach Biblical truth (John 12:48).
- We are reaffirming that we are called to hire godly faculty, set apart for God’s service
- We are reaffirming our commitment to teach God’s design of humanity as male and female (Genesis 1:27).
- We are developing alternative revenue streams for funding and student loans in case the government restricts religious liberty.
- We are growing the scholarship endowment to provide additional scholarships if funding is withheld by the federal government.
- We are developing a donor list of supporters who support education from a Christian worldview.
- We are preparing alternative campus uses to fund campus educational services.
- We are praying and resting in the confidence that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10).
- We are encouraging and raising up new followers of Christ to lead educational services at CIU.
- We are engaging with boards and in education circles and in all forms of government to present a Biblical worldview in love.
In conclusion, Christian colleges are private, voluntary religious communities where students and employees agree to live by Biblical standards. No one is coerced to be here against their will. As soon as someone decides to leave the school, they have no obligation to live according to the standards. We believe that a life built on Biblical principles is a fulfilling life; a society composed of people living by Biblical standards is a loving and good society; and that America has shown this love and goodwill to the world. We live in a pluralistic society and understand that there are people who disagree with Biblical standards. We simply believe we have the right to live in harmony with God’s Word without government coercion. ©2021 Mark A. Smith
The Scripture quotation is taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, ©1996, 2004, 2007 Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois.
Mark A. Smith, D.Ed., is president of Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina.
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia International University