I was a student years ago at the University of Illinois. (To reveal how long ago, Illinois has won three Big Ten football titles since I was student.) There was a young man in our dorm who publicly identified as homosexual. In my judgment, this was an act of courage, for he suffered mightily for that revelation. The men on his floor shunned him and even did acts of hazing. The man was isolated and ostracized, except for some Bible believing Christians who befriended him and welcomed him to eat with them at meals. This happened, even though there was a great divide of belief on some pretty fundamental questions. The Christians sincerely believed in God; the student was an atheist. The Christians believed homosexual behavior, like many other behaviors so described in the Bible, to be sinful; the student believed such behavior to be celebrated. What was interesting was that the only group actually to welcome this fellow into their community was the group that seemed the most different from him in the larger university community.
Today, the situation is changed, but not by as much or in the way one might imagine. People who publicly identify as homosexual are more likely to be celebrated in the university community, while those who would publicly identify as a Bible believing Christian are belittled.
What is my point? Courage is required of any person whose views are not popular. We live today in an environment of moral intimidation. Human resource departments in corporations set expectations on what is and what is not correct thinking in diversity training. Universities, which have traditionally been open to wide varieties of discourse over almost any topic, are becoming places where people are learning just to keep quiet and get along. Get your degree; get your job; keep your head down, and keep quiet, especially if you disagree with the predominant politically correct consensus.
According to Pew Research, 40% of today’s Millennials (ages 18-34) believe that the government should be allowed to outlaw freedom of speech, if that speech is “offensive.” Ignoring the obvious issue of who decides what is “offensive,” what is clear is that moral courage, the courage to speak up against the tide of popular sentiment, is going to get harder in years to come.
Where are the men and women of moral courage? Who will speak up, if not you?
(This article first appeared in the Pantagraph. See: http://www.pantagraph.com/blogs/pulpit/boerckel-are-you-morally-courageous/article_535fa95b-3563-561c-a0bf-bfeaa4574a00.html?utm_medium=social)