Last week the California State University system (23 schools) said InterVarsity Christian Fellowship could no longer be a recognized campus group because it requires its leaders to commit to certain beliefs, beliefs that naturally exclude others who do not hold them. It seems that California is punishing faith-based groups for having faith. It believes that Christian organizations are a threat to the diversity it seeks to foster in students, and it will no longer permit IVCF to freely meet on campus, recruit at new student fairs, or participate with the student activities department. What should we think about this?
1. They’re wrong. It’s hypocritical to discriminate on the principle of non-discrimination, and we should politely call them on it. As Tertullian pointed out the inconsistencies of Rome (e.g., you accuse Christians of murder yet you attend gladiatorial contests and support abortion; you accuse Christians of rebellion against your emperors yet you kill one and replace him with another who seems promising), so we should logically deconstruct this power move.
No one supports diversity more than Christians who know they are made in the image of the triune God and who belong to the body of Christ, which includes men and women from every tribe, nation, and language. No one learns and appreciates other cultures better than us. Have you attended a missions conference? Have you noticed the rising number of international adoptions in our church family? We get multi-culturalism. We’ve lived it for a long while.
2. On the other hand, they’re right. California may be on to something. Of all the organizations that meet on campus, I’d hope that IVCF is the most dangerous to their fallen system. Jesus’ kingdom is political, and it is a threat to every system that does not worship him. Jesus warned us this day would come. “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets” (Luke 6:22-23).
I interpret California’s decision as a sign that IVCF is doing something right. They are being excluded, insulted, and rejected precisely because of their allegiance to Jesus. He must be proud.
I also see this as an opportunity. When would you rather be a Christian college student on a secular campus? Back in the golden era—whenever that was—when your commitment to Jesus was understood and respected? Or now, when the authorities perceive that your allegiance is dangerous? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be dangerous. If you follow Jesus in today’s world, that’s exactly what you are.