Andrews University posted a statement titled Confidential Care Group for LGBT Students to its website on December 5.
The statement was framed as a way to respond to “questions about sexual orientation and gender identity that have arisen on our Adventist campuses.”
It expresses strong support for the “biblical teaching of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as expressed in our fundamental beliefs and the official statements on human sexuality issued by the General Conference and its North American Division.”
The university referenced a document titled A Seventh-day Adventist Framework for Relating to Sexual Orientation Differences on the Campus of Andrews University which had been developed by a university task force working with a subcommittee of the university’s Board of Trustees.
The framework document specifies that sexual intimacy belongs only to marriage which is defined as “a lifelong union between a man and a woman.”
It states that students are to refrain “from romantic behaviors between individuals of the same sex.”
The task force sought to affirm what it called “biblical faithfulness, as detailed in the General Conference’s statement on homosexuality” while also calling for compassion.
To inform this compassionate approach, the task force fused the GC statement’s call for both biblical faithfulness and compassion with a statement by the Andrews-based Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary titled An Understanding of the Biblical View on Homosexual Practice and Pastoral Care.
In addition it reviewed research on more than 300 Adventist young adults who identify as LGBT to identify needs and concerns.
The outcome has been a confidential, members-only group designed to minister to the needs of LGBT students. Unlike “unofficial” LGBT groups that have formed on many Adventist university campuses, this group is officially provided by the university and overseen by Judith Bernard-Fisher, director of the Andrews University Counseling & Testing Service.
The university specified that while campus messaging will take place to alert students to the existence of the group “our Framework policy explicitly forbids students from advocating or instigating views or behaviors that are inconsistent with the biblical teachings of the Adventist church.”
In 2015, Andrews controversially forbade a student LGBT group on campus from holding a bake sale fundraiser to support a Chicago-based nonprofit that supported homeless LGBT youth. The administration said that while it supported the humanitarian goal of helping the homeless youth, the nonprofit’s advocacy supporting the LGBT lifestyle meant that it could not be supported by an Andrews-based group.