We must be prepared to risk popularity, reputation, professional success, economic well-being, and—it may yet come to this—perhaps even our lives, in order to defend the dignity of human life in all its stages, the value of sexual integrity, the truth about marriage and family, and the right to live in accordance with one’s beliefs in all spheres of life.
Perhaps there are times and places in the history of the world in which it is possible to go through life as just an ordinary, good person—a faithful spouse, a loving parent, a concerned citizen, a regular church-goer, an honest and industrious professional—leading a normal, quiet life, not making waves or standing out in any way. Perhaps. But the United States of America in the year 2014 is not one of those times and places. Rather, in our contemporary society, the only way to be good is to be heroic. Failing to act with heroism inevitably makes us complicit in grave evils.
Human life has been seriously devalued in our society. Millions of innocents are cruelly killed before they ever see the light of day. Other children areconceived in ways that reduce them to commodities, in which only the strongest and fittest are given a chance while those passed over are stored infreezers or used for research and killed in the process. There has been a denigration of the great gift of human sexuality into an instrument for hedonistic self-satisfaction.
These trends have brought devastation and tragedy in their wake: deep psychological wounds and physical illness wrought by the hook-up culture; a drastic rise in poverty among single mothers and their children caused by permissive divorce laws and the attitude that sex and babies are completely unrelated; and finally, profound and pervasive harms to children who are the voiceless victims of family breakdown.
In the face of such carnage, too often it is tempting to think that the solution is to retreat from the broader culture, which is sick and dying from a highly contagious moral confusion. For some, the instinct is to try to isolate and save oneself and one’s family from the contagion in a kind of self-imposed quarantine. But, aside from the fact that we have an obligation to help those suffering from this epidemic, retreat simply will not work. The new orthodoxy regarding same-sex marriage will brook no opposition and has already infiltrated public schools and child protection services agencies.
Unless we stay engaged in the broader culture and keep up the fight for the truth about marriage, our future generations may not be allowed to teach their children the truth about marriage—they may find their children taken away from them if they refuse to teach them that there is nothing wrong with a homosexual or otherwise sexually permissive lifestyle. It may sound far-fetched, but it has already happened in states like Massachusetts. Even ten years ago, the prospect of legal recognition of same-sex marriage throughout the country sounded far-fetched as well.
In these circumstances, just being “good” is impossible. We inevitably will be faced with situations in which we must either give in or stand up for our convictions even at great personal cost. There is no “middle way.” Our times call for heroism, and we must be prepared to respond to that call. Many people have done so already.
Think, for instance, of Julea Ward. Julea, a devout Christian, was studying at Eastern Michigan University to be a high school counselor. All students in the program are required to do a practicum in which they counsel real clients. Preparing for an upcoming appointment with a new client, Julea reviewed his file and saw that the client had previously been counseled regarding his homosexual relationship. Because she knew that she could not, in good conscience, affirm this client’s homosexual behavior, Julea—perhaps with some trepidation—asked her supervisor what to do. The client was referred to another counselor.
Then came the university’s response: Julea was accused of “unprofessional conduct,” “an inability to tolerate different points of view,” “imposing values that are inconsistent with counseling goals,” and “discrimination based on sexual orientation.” Julea was told that she had three options: go through a remediation program to change her “intolerant” views, leave the program, or request a formal hearing. Unwilling to cave in under pressure and compromise her beliefs, she chose to request a formal hearing. At the hearing, she was questioned relentlessly as the faculty members tried to convince her of the “error of her ways.” While steadfast about her inability to affirm homosexual conduct, she also made clear she harbored no prejudice against those with same-sex attraction. She stated, “I’m not opposed to any person . . . I believe that . . . God loves us all.”
Apparently loving the sinner—and recognizing that we are all sinners—was not enough for Eastern Michigan University. To call homosexual behavior sinful was itself considered beyond the pale. The result of the hearing was that Julea, who had been a straight-A student, found herself expelled from the program.