Volleyball Coach Inoke Tonga was forced to resign from Valor Christian High School after indicating on social media that he identified as gay, The Denver Post reported.
In response, 50 or so students walked out of school the next day. Joined by some alumni, they protested the coach’s removal and supported him. Tonga had served as head coach for the boys JV volleyball team and an assistant coach on the boys varsity team in the 2020-2021 school year.
Students waved LGBT pride flags and carried signs like “Love thy neighbor” and “Schools of quality don’t fear equality.” Leaf blowers used by school groundskeepers drowned out some of the shouting from students who were shouting and speaking through a bullhorn.
A statement from the school explained the incident, showing that Inoke no longer held to the school’s statement of beliefs:
Valor Christian High School embraces, loves and respects all students, families and other participants in our community, regardless of whether or not they agree with Valor’s beliefs. As a Christian faith community, Valor requires its staff, faculty and volunteer leaders – those who represent the Valor community and guide the spiritual development of our students – to agree with Valor’s Christian beliefs set forth in our Statement of Beliefs and in other policies and to live in accordance with such beliefs.
In connection with his employment, Coach Inoke signed a statement affirming his alignment with Valor’s beliefs and community standards. Last week, Valor became aware of a Facebook posting by Coach Inoke that suggested he may not support Valor’s beliefs pertaining to sexuality and marriage. Valor’s campus pastor and athletic director initiated a conversation with Coach Inoke to explore this matter further. Following this discussion, Coach Inoke provided a statement to Valor in which he concluded that he does not support Valor’s beliefs, and he requested a separation from Valor. Based on this conclusion, Valor agrees that a separation is appropriate.
Although Coach Inoke has misrepresented many aspects of this matter, Valor appreciates the contributions he has made to the student-athletes in our volleyball program, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavors.
Valor isn’t the only Christian school with students who don’t believe in God’s male-female design for humanity, marriage and sexual expression. For years now, students and alumni – along with some teachers, administrators and board members – have pushed for the recognition of same-sex relationships and the establishment of LGBT clubs on Christian college and university campuses. Consider these stories:
- In August 2021, at Emory University, affiliated with the United Methodist Church, a freshmen dormitory was painted with murals promoting gay pride saying, “We’re Here! We’re Queer! Get Used to It!” The phrase is a throwback to the 90’s when the organization Queer Nation adopted it as its motto.
- In April 2021, thirty-three LGBT-identified plaintiffs brought a class action lawsuitto end Title IX exemptions for religious colleges. The suit lists 28 Christian colleges and universities, along with two Mormon universities.
- In May 2021, the Board of Regents at Baylor University, affiliated with the General Baptist Convention of Texas, charged the university’s president with determining “appropriate pathways to provide additional care, connections, and community for Baylor’s LGBTQ students, including the possibility of establishing a new, chartered student group.”
- Almost every Christian university now has a “shadow” LGBT group, with current students and alumni, with its own website. Many also have groups on Facebook or other social media platforms.
- As reported by NBC Out News, the organization Campus Pride recently listed “10 Religious Schools Living Up to LGBTQ-Inclusive Values.” The schools included include those with United Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran and Quaker affiliations.
It’s no longer surprising that Christian students support homosexuality, given the cultural push to do so over the past 50 years. A 2017 poll from the Pew Research Center showed 47% of evangelicals born after 1964 (Generation X and Millennials) favor same-sex marriage.
Parents, pastors and Christian school teachers should be aware of this, and they should teach children and teens God’s design for humans, marriage and sexual expression.
This includes fleshing out the following truths, some of which can be taught to children when they are very young:
- Humans are created male and female in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1-2). Biology affirms this, as it confirms that humans are sexually dimorphic – men and women are different, and both are needed for reproduction.
- Genesis 1-2 set the standard for human sexuality and marriage, even as other Scriptures point toward different ways people sin and violate God’s design.
- Jesus affirmed what Moses wrote in Genesis, that God separated the woman out of the man and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Matthew 19 ESV).
- Paul also points to and quotes from Genesis 1 in Ephesians 5.
- Marriage unites the two sexes in a unique way, as marriage between a husband and wife is to be a monogamous, faithful, sexually intimate, covenantal relationship that has the potential to bring forth new life.
- Marriage is a spiritual picture of God’s relationship with His people, the Jews, and of Christ’s relationship with the church.
- God loves all people, including those who wrestle with their identity and sexuality.
- At the same time, all people sin and need a Savior.
- We must be kind and respectful toward LGBT-individuals, while holding fast to and pointing toward biblical truth.
Focus on the Family has a number of resources helping teach children, teens and adults about God’s good design for marriage, sexual identity and homosexuality:
Can You Be Gay and Christian? Responding with Love and Truth to Questions about Homosexuality, by Michael L. Grown, Ph.D.
The Gay Gospel? How Pro-Gay Advocates Misread the Bible, by Joe Dallas
Photo from The Denver Post.