Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is Liberty University Redonkulous?

This question is from Amy:

Liberty University just banned the Student Democratic Club from their campus. They are no longer allowed to advertise, use university facilities, etc. (I read about it on my bro's blog: Do you think this is something that Jesus would do?

The university's stated reason for banning the club was the Democratic Party's stance on abortion. My question, and really I guess I'm just looking for a well-articulated opinion, is do you believe this is proper justification? Do you think the best way to handle opposition or views that one views as wrong is to, in effect, silence it? What would Jesus' example point to?

I’m gonna throw an answer at you that some people may disagree with. Unfortunately, with questions like this, the “correct” answer depends on the specific situation. But I think we can hit on a few generalities to inform an answer.

You ask, “Do you think the best way to handle opposition or views that one views as wrong is to, in effect, silence it?” First of all, views that one views as wrong are generally viewed from the viewpoint of the viewer, and by viewing those views from the viewer’s viewpoint, the viewer’s view comes more clearly into view. In other words, the phrase “see things differently” is pretty descriptive, because we often holds opinions based on the way we’re looking at things—our paradigm, or worldview, if you will.

Abortion is a good illustration. I really don’t think the abortion debate is as much about different morals as it is about different ideas of the truth, at least on the surface. The real question at hand is whether or not a fetus constitutes human life. I think it’s helpful to look at it from both sides.

Generally speaking, the Pro-Choice movement would say that no, a fetus does not constitute human life. Assume for a minute that side is correct, and a pregnant woman does not have a human life growing inside her—just a mass of cells. Is it such a bad thing to terminate the cell mass, just because it could become a human life? (Before you answer that question, consider your own stance on birth control. Condoms and other birth control methods prevent a lot of human life too.) If the Pro-Choice movement is correct in their scientific assumptions, abortion isn’t really so bad. It’s certainly not murder.

If you assume the other side is correct, and a fetus actually is a human life with (or without) a soul, then abortion is absolutely murder. If that’s not your perspective, just consider for a moment the fear such an idea might generate in someone that sees abortion as murder. What if we did the same things to five-year-olds if they proved inconvenient? Just because they're a little older and more closely resemble an adult, is it more wrong? Is it better then to kill them when they're two years old? You see where I'm going with this.

I hope you get what I’m saying here. It’s all about whether that fetus is actually a baby or just a cell mass. It’s about perspective. And I don’t think it’s fair to use the “your truth” and “my truth” language here. You wouldn’t apply that in the example of the inconvenient five-year-olds, would you?

(That's Peanut. He's my nephew. He's grown a little since then, of course.)

Would I go to extreme measures to save human life? You bet. I hope any of us would.

There are some values that we all hold so dearly that we’d be willing to do a lot to preserve and uphold them. I’m not just talking about the protection of life either.

A few years ago, a student organization I helped with was kicked off the San Diego State University campus because they refused to sign a non-discrimination contract with language that restricted them from showing preference in appointing officers based on sexual preference.

The student organization filed suit and lost. Here's the article. It's worth reading.

That situation had a lot in common with the one described at Liberty University. Both groups were kicked off campus because their belief violated a core value. With the group at SDSU, they violated the core value of discrimination. According to post-modern cultural rules, that’s a sin.

So this stuff goes both ways. Is it right? I sure didn’t think so when our student group got kicked off the SDSU campus. It’s not like they didn’t want to welcome homosexual people into their meetings. They just didn’t want to be told they couldn’t even consider sexual preference in appointment of their leadership.

Hey, you may think that student group was wrong. Ok. But before you get mad, just consider that the religious right isn’t alone in excluding people that disagree with them.

Now… Let’s get to the core question here. Is what Liberty University did to their Democratic Party club "redonkulous,” to borrow a word from Becky? I think so.

It would be one thing is it were the Planned Parenthood Student Group or something. But it’s not. The Democratic party is much bigger than a single issue. Not all democrats are Pro-Choice either. So yeah. I agree with Amy’s brother that this decision may have been at least partially fueled by bitterness over Republican losses. The timing is certainly curious, and Republicans are generally a pretty frustrated bunch right now. Besides, if you wanted to intentionally lose your tax-exempt status, this would be a great way to do it.

Later this week, I'll talk about the two major US political parties, but for right now, let's just say that our President still has some work ahead of him if he's going to bring this nation together like people said he would.

Would Jesus have that group kicked off campus? I don't think he would, but I can't really say for sure. Would he prevent them from holding Pro-Choice rallies? Maybe. It sort of depends on your paradigm, doesn't it? Personally, I'm very strongly Pro-Life. I figure that if there's any chance that abortion is leading to the mass-murder of children, I'm willing to take away choice from women. But that's me.

If there’s a lesson here, I think it’s an introspective one. I used to have a pastor that would say the same thing to almost every person that came to him with frustrations at other church members. It went something like this… “Before the day is over, I want you to take a pen and a piece of paper, and start writing down ways that you’re guilty of the sin you see in that other person. Then take it to God in prayer and ask for forgiveness.” That generally ended the complaining real quick.

I sure don’t want to sound harsh, but maybe that’s a good lesson here. Freedom of speech isn't a left or right issue. We all get upset when we feel like our side is being denied their fair say.

Maybe I'm wrong. What do you think? As for what Jesus would do, I'm curious to hear your opinion.



  1. Thanks for that! I agree with you that the Right isn't alone in trying to silence opposition from time to time.

    Personally, I don't feel that Jesus would've dealt with the situation at Liberty as the administration did. He was okay with people disagreeing with him, because He was focused on and convinced of the truth of His own mission. He wasn't into manipulation and mind-control--people were free to accept or reject what he offered. To me, that's one of the most profound things about Him--if anyone has the right to bring the smackdown and make people listen, it's Almighty God. ;)

    But as you talked about in your most recent post, He stayed focused on His mission. Time was short, after all.

    I have a lot I could say about this, but I'll keep it at that. :) Keep writing, dude!

  2. Well, Solid, I'm glad you don't have the power to take away choice from women. Do you really believe condoms contribute to the mass murder of children? Also, I find it extremely hypocritical that someone can be pro-life, yet in favor of the death penalty. In terms of abortion, there is no "pro-life." Rather, pro-choice and anti-choice. Pro-choice does not translate to "pro-abortion" or "anti-life." Nor does pro-life actually mean "pro-life." "Pro-life" means you want to take the choice away from women, as you stated above. Also, a lot of members of the Republican Party are anti-choice, anti-euthanasia, yet pro-death penalty. Does this mean they are only pro-life on their own terms? Also, how can a Christian be in favor of the death penalty when the sixth commandment is "thou shall not kill"? Many people have interpreted this to mean, "thou shall not murder;" however, when the individual is put to death, is this not murder?