Young Life Leaders Wanted: Gays Need Not Apply

Posted: December 1, 2016 in Young Life
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For a long time I’ve wanted to highlight the fact that Young Life is strictly anti-gay.  It is YL’s position that being gay is a sin and in direct opposition to God’s will and word.  It’s not an uncommon belief for Christians who believe the Bible is the literal word of God.

A couple times in the history of this site, I’ve had YL folks comment that YL is for everyone and that gays are welcome just like anyone else.  What I think they really mean, is that you’re welcome to attend club or camp in the hopes that you will see the light, confess Christ and renounce your sinful sexual orientation.

A recent comment at Young Life Watch had this to say:


I was in YL in highschool and decided to quit my senior year because they would not allow a gay man on the trip to camp. I witnessed a lot of favoritism, homophobia and emotional abuse (and was a victim).

Another blogger, posted this concerning his being ousted as a Young Life leader:

I have shared my experience regarding being terminated for being gay, and then the great lengths they went to to deny and lie about their policies and actions when I started telling students and parents and also said I would go to the media with the story. You can read about my experience here:

Another Young Life leader felt compelled to quit after she was asked to take down a facebook post supporting gay rights.  It was only afterwards that she learned Young Life banned gays from being leaders.  You can read her story below.

Lastly, a piece that Salon posted about a college football player.  He came out as bisexual and was forced to step down as a Young Life leader:

Agree or not, the facts are that Young Life does not welcome gays as leaders. Their have been reports of them being unwelcoming to gay students as well.



  1. Jen says:

    It’s a non-denominational Christian organization…why does the fact they are Christian in their understanding of sexuality and leadership surprise you? Call 10 churches in your city and they’d tell you the same thing.

    • It doesn’t surprise me in the least. I grew up Evangelical so I understand this fact very clearly. News articles point out the fact that even young life leaders did not know that being gay what disallow them from being in leadership. Obviously young life is not very upfront about that fact.

      • Jen says:

        Actually, every single staff person and volunteer leader is required to read through the beliefs/faith of the organization and sign that they agree with it and will live accordingly. So they could say they signed the agreement and didn’t actually read it, but that’s the only way they could say “I didn’t know what they believed.”

    • Saying that Young Life is “Christian in their understanding of sexuality” is extremely ignorant and poorly educated. There are many Christian denominations, traditions, churches, organizations and individuals who are affirming of homosexuals and their full inclusivity in the Body of Christ. In fact, statistics, which are actual facts and not opinion, prove that the majority (over 50%) of all Christians are affirming. Evangelicals seem to be one of the last groups holding out against reality and history, and Young Life prides itself as being Evangelical despite welcoming staff and leaders from multiple denominations. You’re right, all staff and volunteers sign the Faith and Conduct Agreement, but it is not clear, and many don’t actually read it. I can guarantee you that if you call ten Young Life areas in your state, you will get ten different answers about the organization’s policies, beliefs and actions regarding gay leaders. Go ahead, give it a try.

      • Jen says:

        There are “many” people who are “affirming” as in they’ve adjusted to fit the cultural shift of the last 15 or so years. The arguments are usually along the lines of “I’ve felt ___ since I was a child, therefore I was born gay.” Or “I have a loved one who is gay and I don’t want to be mean.” Then, overtime is put into feeling better about scripture by twisting it to fit the culture. Of course there will always be a group of people that aren’t going to chuck 2000 years of orthodoxy because of the latest whim in sexuality (which has amazingly accelerated to include transgender and pedophilia as orientation in like 5 years.)

        One side has biology (the reality that humans are male and female and that both are required for the functioning of humanity),
        psychology (men and women think and interact with each other, the world, and parent differently),
        the tradition of every single cultural and major religion for all of human history…

        the “affirming side” has “I have felt this way since I was a child.” and “Well, in just this one thing, the Bible was just translated wrong” or pretending that Jesus didn’t mean what he said: “as it was in the beginning, a man shall leave his father and mother (heterosexual monogamy) and be united to his wife (heterosexual monogamy) and the two will become one flesh.”

        Matthew Vines and the like have been soundly rebutted for their poor theology. Your stat re: how many “Christians” are “affirming” is probably faulty, but more because I am curious how many people who claim to be Christians are (as in, believe the Bible is true, believe Jesus lived, died, rose again, etc.)

        Denominational differences in the organization vs. holding to a sexual orthodoxy 99% of churches in the West hold? Apples to oranges.

        The policy seems clear to me. God ordained sexual expression between a man and woman within marriage. Outside of that, should you choose to engage or endorse any other practice, you are not qualified for leadership in the church or in this particular para-church org. So find one that doesn’t care. Is that hard, since you are saying it’s so popular now?

      • Jen says:

        Additionally, I’m a person who has personally struggled with same-sex attraction and gender identity. I have a large community of people with similar struggles (both that live into an identity of being gay or do not). To act like everyone who has struggled with this agrees with you seems a little close minded. I’ve poured over the scriptures looking for a loop hold or clause to help me feel better about it. Haven’t been able to find it. Compassion and love for people hasn’t allowed me to chuck the truth.

      • Jen, I’m glad you’re searching up information regarding your sexual orientation and engaging in exploring it. God bless you on your journey, I will pray for you.

      • Jen says:

        I pray for you too. That you’ll see the truth about your own identity and be freed from your vendetta against an org following what the Bible says is right.

      • Thank you for your prayers.

  2. Jen-

    You’re free to follow the Bible however you choose to….the point of my article is this: many people become involved with Young Life and are unaware that Young Life is unabashedly anti-gay when it comes to Gays in leadership.

    YL uses their interpretation of the Bible to justify their rules to disallow gays from being in leadership and from some reports, disallows some students who are unwilling to be quiet about their sexual orientation.

    Many have come on this site claiming that YL does not discriminate against gays. They say gays are always welcome, as are atheists, and those of another religion. While it’s true that any are welcome to attend YL, YL is not always upfront about their theology and practices.

    Gays are welcome to come, but YL believes they are choosing a hell bound life by being gay How many know that when they are invited?.

    If YL is so upfront, then why do I get so many people coming to this site using search terms such as “YL stance on being gay” etc….

    Best Regards and Happy New Year-CA

    • Jen says:


      Seems to be two themes here. One: Either this org is “unabashedly anti-gay” (by that you simply mean they don’t believe it’s God’s best for sexual expression, along with divorce, fornication, adultery, etc.) Or, do you believe they are secretive about said stance? From the documents GayChristianBlogger has posted, it seems like the org is clear, but rather from his experience or as some of the people you are mentioning are upset with, the staff and volunteers are either miscommunicating this stance, misrepresenting it, or lying about it? Which is it? Are they unabashedly advocating for this Biblical stance on sexuality, or are they lying and misrepresenting it? Its seems the most likely that the org is clear and some of the people working for or volunteering for the org are being cowardly or acting without integrity in this regard. Why in the WORLD would you sign a belief statement if you didn’t think it was true and support and org that in your mind is “anti-gay”? It makes no sense. If the problem here is hypocrisy of some who work for the org, then I wholeheartedly agree. Either support what the org stands for and be clear about it or leave.

      But the other theme (point A) is that people are angry there isn’t a big banner on the homepage saying “here’s what we think about sexuality”. Surely, even the secular and most pro-gay people out there acknowledge that this is cultural suicide. And that has zero to do with the morality of the stance. It’s the flavor of the day to culturally crucify anyone who would DARE hold a belief that certain forms of sexual expression aren’t healthy. (Chick-Fila-A, Mozilla, World Vision) But there’s anger that this org doesn’t have a big flashing neon sign about it’s views? I don’t know much about it, but is YL an org that deals with sexuality? Is that in it’s motto or purpose? If not, why the anger that it’s not making this a focal point of it’s interactions? If they were anti-gay and obsessed with sexuality, I would expect a big show and statement, but you claim they are and are angry they aren’t up front about being anti-gay? Seems kind of strange assumption to hold.

      Point B: If you’re upset simply on the basis they hold this view, I again ask 1. Why the surprise, why the need to attack them for it then they are holding a view 99% of churches and Christian orgs hold (not to mention every single Islamic org, mosque, and majority of Jewish org and synagogue.) This isn’t some random idea. We’re talking about a cultural phenomenon that’s been in the USA for less than 17 years. Try to find an article of news/politics of anyone talking about gay marriage 2000 or earlier. ZERO. Nothing about transgender and bathroom politics in more than 5 right? And 2. If they were specifically targeting those who struggle/identify with homosexuaity, that would be discrimination, but their policies also restricts fornication, pornography addiction, adultery, and divorce. A friend who worked for this org had to tender her resignation when she filed for divorce. But, because of the circumstances, her husband unrepentant about a pornography addiction, her resignation was officially declined. So we’re not talking about special focus on homosexuality, in the least. But I haven’t noticed any particular frustration that those who fornicate are also officially barred from leadership/volunteering. So why the special pleading for this particular expression of sexuality?

      • Jen-

        In general, I think YL is oblique in it’s presentation about all of it’s core beliefs. To the schools and uninitiated, they are caring adults who spend time and mentor teens. To the church, they are missionaries to reach teens for Christ. Why not just call it an Evangelical mission to all who inquire instead of hiding behind obscurity?

        For the record, I never had to sign a belief statement to be a leader. Do current student (campaigners)leaders have to sign a belief statement? I doubt it…

        I get many hits on this site, with folks wondering what YL’s stance on being Gay happens to be. Again, I’m not surprised, but it seems that some very recent events make it clear, that some YL clubs are not very clear about their Evangelical stance on same sex attraction. They are 100% against being Gay and disbar anyone who is Gay from leadership.

        Am I surprised…no. Am I angry…not really. But for those wondering, this is their stance and probably has been since the days of Jim Rayburn.

        As for fornication, adultery, etc… I have some personal experience with how YL has handled such incidents. You can read about it here:

        Personally, I do not equate same sex attraction with adultery. Ialso have no problem with consenting adults having sex. I do not think it’s a sin and I would not equate it with adultery.
        I also do not think there is sufficient evidence to call the Bible the word of God. I really could care less about a “Biblical view” of sexuality, because I do not think the Bible has any authority to tell any human being how to live or what to believe. You’re free to derive your worldview from the Bible if you want to, but I don’t.

        As for YL, they are free to hold their leaders to a sexual ethic (no sex, unless in a marriage between a man and woman) different than society-but they can not cry “no fair” when society is uninterested in their Evangelical beliefs.

        Best Regards-CA

      • Jen says:


        “In general, I think YL is oblique in it’s presentation about all of it’s core beliefs. To the schools and uninitiated, they are caring adults who spend time and mentor teens. To the church, they are missionaries to reach teens for Christ. Why not just call it an Evangelical mission to all who inquire instead of hiding behind obscurity?”

        I would imagine teens that are involved hear about Jesus, so their evangelical mission is not hiding behind obscurity…?

        “Personally, I do not equate same sex attraction with adultery. Ialso have no problem with consenting adults having sex. I do not think it’s a sin and I would not equate it with adultery.
        I also do not think there is sufficient evidence to call the Bible the word of God. I really could care less about a “Biblical view” of sexuality, because I do not think the Bible has any authority to tell any human being how to live or what to believe. You’re free to derive your worldview from the Bible if you want to, but I don’t.

        As for YL, they are free to hold their leaders to a sexual ethic (no sex, unless in a marriage between a man and woman) different than society-but they can not cry “no fair” when society is uninterested in their Evangelical beliefs.”

        Why do you have an issue with adultery? That’s not consenting adults having sex? Granted, your beliefs about sexuality don’t mean anything to me. You’re free to hold them. What would be nice is if adults in this country could manage not to demonize and attempt to destroy anyone/organization that holds a diff belief from them about the morality of sexuality. Christians aren’t reacting to “disinterest” (that’s humorous though). Christians are reacting to witch hunting and attempt to destroy anyone who disagrees. Youth org, bakers, photographers. And ironically, only focused on Christianity, no one has any interest on pressing back if an Islamic company holds the same beliefs. It’s disingenuous. I acknowledge that you have no desire to defend Christianity or its tenets, but what I’d hope is that as Americans we’d unite around the concepts of freedom of association and worship. An org has the right to determine what its leadership should endorse and practice. I cannot join Greenpeace and claim Climate change is a hoax. I cannot join the Human Rights Campaign as an outspoken vocal supporter of Westboro Baptist, but an evangelical org should be forced to hire/keep staff and volunteers who disagree with its tenets around sexual practice? (Not that you necessarily are saying this, but for those who are.)

        Good discussion, I appreciate it. – Jen

  3. Jen-

    I have a problem with adultery because I have a problem with people promising one thing and then breaking that promise. Sure, consenting adults can commit adultery….but I find it to be dishonest. If you want to have sex with someone other than you married, you should be honest and either get permission (rarely does that seem plausible, but I know some couples do this), work it out to keep your word, or get a divorce. That’s why I have a problem with adultery. It’s how I would want to be treated if my wife decided she could no longer abide by our marriage promise.

    I’d rather know the truth, than be misled and make assumptions based on a lie.

    I find it ironic that you are calling people pushing back on Christian assumptions on sex as a “witchhunt”. The example you use of the baker is a poor one. I happen to live in the area of the bakery at the center of that media hype and the folks bringing the lawsuit did so reluctantly. If that’s a “witch hunt” than I’m the Pope.

    Read this:

    And then tell me whether this couple is on a witchhunt.

    I do not and have never said that Young Life should be forced to allow gays as leaders or to hire gays. I think it’s a shame, and that YL will lose people over this discriminatory policy, but it is theirs to choose.

    I support free association, and being anti-gay will drive many people to disassociate with Young Life. Knowing those facts up front just help people make an informed decision as they consider getting involved with Young Life.

    Thanks for the discussion….

    I’m off to bed, so have a good night-CA

  4. mechanicdude says:

    CA- I would like to add to this discussion that it is my observation that no matter how candy coated YL makes their public policies , they are in fact hostile to gays and violent in their intent towards them and this creates an unsafe environment for children on our public school campuses as well as it is kept hidden from parents so that YL can get their busy little hands on our kids!!!

  5. SC Notagain says:

    Thanks for continuing this work, christianagnostic. i am heartened to know your still here and check in every blue moon. how about a presence on twitter? searched for you on twitter today because was going to link to you from a comment on this and my somewhat related experience in my youth at the hands of our YL Area Director Doug Boudinot who became a pastor after the YL committee of evangelical parents, who failed to report him to authorities (as a young evangelical and good Campaigner’s kid from a non-christian family, and a victim of assault/rape, i hid it too because i didn’t want to “destroy my witness” in the world; i’m guessing that was partly on the minds of these parents who let him completely off the hook although they were told a few of us were assaulted, including at least one of their daughters). So Boudinot the predator went on to became a youth pastor in another state for a few years–with the YL Committee’s knowledge, racking up more victims via same M.O. That was back in the era of pathetically short sentences and barbarically short statutes of limitations (victims: see, I really wish I hadn’t missed my states brief “amnesty” window when they were trying to allow victims a chance to file civil suits in the wake of disclosure of the avalanche of Catholic Church crimes against children/adult clergy members.

    RE this article on YL and gay leaders, sigh. Anything is a sticky wicket when discussed with most evangelicals and literalists. Been there, so glad to be released from such a restrictive view of the world, people, everything. that’s not a god i would want (yes i know, God, not god). Those feeling the perceived biblical call to “be fishers of men” will continue argue and employ various apologetic tactics, etc. Been there, too. ……….may we all know peace from self-made suffering and strive to create a better world regardless of our differences.

    As for your above comments, I agree w/ you on infidelity: i don’t trust someone only to have them betray me, and bc it can create such profound pain for many at once. Important to say here too that infidelity in my view cuts across sexual preference and gender identity, AND behavior of the perpetrator (this whole fornication thing associated with gayness is ridiculous, what people do with their partners consensually should not ever by a topic that others get to scrutinize, unless they’ve hurt another human in the process).

    Thanks for being an advocate for (in the sense of supporting fellow humans and their diversity) LQBTQ people (in the sense of supporting fellow humans and their diversity) . The thinking and attitudes YL propagates about sexual/gender orientation are rooted in fear and rigidity and disguised as piety. I recall the intense culture of homophobia especially among male leaders and kids. Since the intimacy of YL supposedly allowed a certain intimacy among the men and everyone, males had to constantly make jokes about gayness to let off some of their anxiety about potentially being perceived as gay. Too bad.

  6. observer says:

    I was in YL for about 11 years until I got the boot for calling Colorado about some communication issues with the leadership. Got a message on the answering machine telling me to never come back. I knew of many leaders who were not married but involved in relationships big donors who were bucks up involved with out of wedlock relationships. No one said diddly because they served a purpose or had money. I mean they had Eddie Long on their National Board with all the antics that man was up to, but he were bucks up so it was all just fine. Their then president showed the “Passion of the Christ” (gag) as an evangelical movie. The showing of Expelled as a movie concerning science, and on an on. YL leadership does what is convenient at the time and they suck the life out of many leaders, area board members, etc. So the leadership has no moral authority just fear and intimidation. That is the definition of a cult.

  7. AFormerYLLeader says:

    I’m sorry that some on here have had negative experiences Young Life. This is an old feed, but I just wanted to share my experience as a Young Life Leader, I am not on staff and cannot speak for the organization as a whole.

    Regarding gay leaders: I don’t think that Young Life is opposed to anybody based on sexuality, whether homosexual, or bisexual. As a male high school leader, we are suppose to greatly reduce the amount of interactions we have female high school students. (Never drive them. Never be alone with them. etc.) This is to help prevent any misconduct from happening and bad publicity. Even if there was no misconduct, you could imagine how a straight male leader being alone with a female minor could create suspicion and a negative image of Young Life at a school. The same goes for female Young Life leaders and male high school students. So…when there is a gay leader, the complication becomes who do they spend their time with? It’s the will to prevent any misconduct that informs these decisions, not a homophobia or anything of the sort.

    As far as students go, we once took a bisexual transgender student to camp with us and it was amazing. He stayed with the guys upon his request, and I believe he had a great time. Maybe at the end of the day we don’t share the same believes about how to live out life as a homosexual or bisexual person, but that doesn’t mean that Young Life isn’t a place for everyone or a place where everyone is loved and treated with respect. This has always been my experience.

    As leaders, everyone in my area had to fill out a contract, that plainly states how we are to conduct ourselves. Again, just my experience.

    Finally, I confess it is nuanced. My best friend is homosexual and leads for College life (young life for college students) He does not “practice” homosexuality, and by that I just mean he is abstinent and doesn’t pursue having a partner. He continues to lead and staff know about it. I’m not sure why this is allowed, perhaps because he doing ministry with legal adults, and the male to male, female to female ministry piece is less of an issue in college? Your guess is as good as mine. But I think you can hardly say that Young Life is opposed to homosexuals.

    Sorry for the longer post. No organization is perfect, but as an insider my experience with young life has only ever been people trying to make others know they are loved and cared for. I don’t know what else to say.

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