Faith In Focus

The Biblical Basis for Inclusion

By Shon Muldrow, April 22, 2022

The trending topic of diversity in higher education today is largely being defined through a secular lens, lacking an integral theological basis. But establishing inclusion is inherently biblical and crucial to the Gospel. “We are the body of Christ, and each one of us is a part of it,” Paul writes the Corinthians. And as a part of the body, we have responsibilities — responsibilities to respect and encourage the other parts as we carry out the individual work God has called each of us to do.

At Liberty University, we are committed to preparing and caring for a diverse student body. But while we can do all the research on student demographics and launch all the creative enrichment programs that promote diversity and inclusion, we cannot operate as one body without standing on the foundation of His Word. We cannot love one another as Christ loved us if we lose sight of our mission to create a campus community that reflects the heavenly kingdom, a kingdom in which all of God’s people are already citizens.

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body — whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” 1 Corinthians 12: 12-14 (NIV)

Liberty’s Board of Trustees adopted an important Resolution on Equity and Inclusion in Fall 2018, acknowledging the centrality of “fostering a diverse, co-educational student body and an inclusive educational environment reflective of the Body of Christ” as well as the need to utilize proactive measures to recruit, retain, and support highly qualified and diverse students and professionals.

I now lead the talented and passionate team in the Office of Equity & Inclusion tasked with developing and implementing initiatives that support the university’s desire to have culturally and ethnically diverse students, faculty, and staff free from unbiblical and unlawful discrimination.

It’s important that we Train Champions for Christ from every nation, tribe, people, and language. The division recognizes diversity in its pursuit and support of people from varied ethnicities, nationalities, socioeconomic and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, disabilities, military statuses, and ages.

Reconciliation has been at the heart of our efforts. We have some of the best faculty, staff, and students in the world who embody the biblical mandate, from James 1, to be quick to listen and slow to speak. We understand this continued effort must be theologically motivated, culturally competent, and most importantly, led by the Holy Spirit.

The Board of Trustees has continued to follow through with its resolution to invest in an inclusive institutional environment and support the advancements we’ve made at every level so that Liberty can rightly model diversity in higher education from a biblical perspective. We are dedicated to providing an excellent academic experience where students can grow in their faith together, celebrating God the Creator, who made us all unique and all with the awesome purpose to reflect His image.

Since coming to Lynchburg, I’ve spent a lot of time in the community, watching our students and our leaders share the love of Christ. I love the climate of service here, how Liberty fosters a culture of belonging and establishes a reputation of opportunity. I’ve seen students give up their free time to serve others. In January, we partnered with LU Serve to host Liberty’s first MLK Day of Service and sent teams to 10 different sites, where they partnered with local service organizations, becoming the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Martin Luther King Jr. set an example of bold Christian service, so the day was an opportunity for us to do the same. Jesus came to serve, and nothing is more unifying than when we answer the biblical call to give of ourselves and love our neighbors.

I’ve worked at some of the more influential businesses in the country, but doing inclusion work at Liberty is a dream job for me. There is no other place where I would have more opportunity to affect the nation, and the world, for Christ. We have to believe that if the world’s largest Christian institutions could also become the world’s most effective culture of belonging, we would be the example of biblical inclusion, diversity, and equity for everyone everywhere. After all, the ground is level at the cross, and level ground is the perfect place to build something that will stand steadfast for the cause of Christ.

Shon Muldrow is the Executive Vice President of Inclusion, Diversity & Equity, serving as Liberty’s Chief Diversity Officer. He is responsible for establishing inclusive institutional objectives and programming in the areas of community engagement, training, development, recruitment, retention, and accommodation. Muldrow has extensive experience in building inclusive environments at some of the world’s largest companies, including Walmart and Goldman Sachs.

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