Unless you’ve been living under a rock the size of Georgia, you know that InterVarsity recently announced that it would dismiss employees who support gay marriage. This is a huge deal, Skye Jethani argues. He gives three reasons: First, this signals the shift of marriage from an assumed belief to a core doctrine. It is not a big deal that a noteworthy evangelical organization has staked out a position on the issue of gay marriage–other evangelical organizations do this all the time on this and a variety of other issues. What is a huge deal is that disagreement with said position is now a fireable offense. There are some issues where evangelical organizations will take a position and it is a fireable offense to disagree, but usually these are only essential issues such as the divinity of Christ. InterVarsity’s action signals that gay marriage is now on the same level as the divinity of Christ and other such essential Christian doctrines.
Second, parachurch ministries such as InterVarsity hold an outsize influence in evangelicalism. Evangelicalism has no denominational structure or centralized teaching authority, nor is it united around a creed or doctrinal statement. As a loose movement which cuts across denominations and includes many non-denominational churches, it looks to its shared institutions which cut across church and denominational affiliations–colleges, publishers, missions agencies, and parachurch campus ministries such as InterVarsity. When one such organization makes a move which has the effect of elevating the issue of marriage to an essential Christian doctrine on par with the deity of Christ, the impact will be felt throughout all of evangelicalism.
Third, fence-sitting on the issue of gay marriage is no longer allowed. InterVarsity’s action means that everyone will now have to pick a side and stick with it. Any young person considering joining the staff of InterVarsity will now have to be crystal clear on where he/she stands on the issue of gay marriage before seeking employment there.