The list of universities resembling the asylum rather than the academy is growing daily. Institutions from Berkeley to Brown are falling over themselves to prove their “wokeness.” But this week’s winner of the “burning of the ivory tower award” hails, not from the secular sanctimony of the East or West Coast, but from America’s heartland and one of our nation’s largest Christian universities.
Consider Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), whose President David Wright recently posted this on his school’s website:
“In recent days, an event took place on our campus regarding the employment of one of our gay students that the student found painful, confusing, and unfair. This has led to an intense and far-reaching conversation [with] our LGBTQ+ students … .” Mr. Wright then proceeds to affirm the “pain and confusion LGBTQ+ students” feel by being part of a Christian campus. He finally concludes by calling for a special commission to lead a process he describes as “table, talk and teach,” whereby he will engage in a learning “conversation” with IWU’s “LGBTQ+ community” to better understand their hurt and provide them with a more loving educational experience.
What is wrong with this, and why should you care?
Stated simply, this is the quintessential example of the self-refuting and degrading “alphabet” mumbo-jumbo currently embraced by so many of America’s current thought leaders.
First, Mr. Wright goes to great lengths to make clear that IWU still holds fast to the “traditional sexual” ethic, which, by definition, prohibits all students under his charge from engaging in homosexual, bi, trans or queer behavior. But then Mr. Wright seems to stumble over himself describing the “LGBTQ+ identity” of these same students as an immutable fact and presumed good. This is an example of sawing off the rhetorical branch upon which you sit. You cannot concede the ontological ground of identity without also conceding the legal ground of the right to behave in accordance with the identity you just conceded.
Another way to say this is that once you grant a group of people minority status on the basis of their desires, you cannot then turn around and deny those same people the legal right to fulfill the very desires that you just said are the predicate for the minority status you just granted them. This is illogical and wrong-headed, to say the least.
Second, Mr. Wright’s premise of defining his students by their desires is an insult. It is degrading to those he repeatedly describes as “LGBTQ+,” and it is degrading to all others. By reducing a person to little more than his or her libidinous passions, Mr. Wright is dumbing down human identity to the sum total of human inclination, sexual and otherwise. What you want to do, regardless of its moral weight, now becomes who you are. This is extraordinarily demeaning and, frankly, unworkable and silly.
To make my point, just go back and read Mr. Wright’s comments again and do nothing other than replace his repeated use of the “LGBTQ+” descriptor with, let’s say, “LAGS+,” an acronym for all those inclined toward “lying,” “adulterous,” “greedy” and ‘selfish” behavior. Do this throughout Mr. Wright’s entire commentary, and you will quickly notice how absurd his argument is.
Are any of us really so foolish as to contend that under the guise of Christian charity, we should start a “table, talk and teaching” process to celebrate and affirm the LAGS+ (lying, adulterous, greedy and selfish) people who presently attend our churches and colleges?
Is American evangelicalism actually at the point of telling all who identify as LAGS+ that Christ’s desire for them is their comfort rather than their confession?
Are we seriously going to tell everyone who defines themselves by their greed and avarice that the church’s priority is their safety rather than their salvation?
Are we now to conclude that the good news of the Gospel for LAGS+ students is that they are born that way rather than they must be born again?
Is the 2,000-year-old Pauline teaching that all of us can become new creations in Christ little more than a “LAGSphobic” lie?
If we are to follow the path of Mr. Wright’s thinking, the answer to all the above must be yes.
By merely substituting one acronym for another, we quickly see that these “alphabet identity” claims make no sense and do not comport with Mr. Wright’s stated desire to hold fast to his school’s “traditional sexual ethic.” His tortured logic will not stand up in the court of public opinion or in a court of law, and one has to wonder if it should. Again, you can’t grant someone minority status and then turn around and deny them employment for merely behaving in a manner consistent with the status you just granted them. That’s frankly illegal.
Trust me, the Equality Act proponents know all this, and that’s why they care so much about its passage. If you value your religious freedom, that’s why you should care, too.
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery).