Personal freedom is the ideal which has driven the sexual revolution. There were slogans such as “people should be left alone in the bedroom,” and “keep your laws off my body.” But now personal freedom seems to mean freedom from personal offense. Implemented consistently, it would seem to mean that everyone must agree with everyone else, an impossible requirement. An earlier article reviewed how the ascendant doctrine of sexual self-determination is destroying the freedom of licensed counselors to pursue treatment of people seeking help with personal problems apart from the ideology of the sexual revolution. But the same freedoms of speech and association are also threatened for organizations that hold the doctrines of traditional sexual morality.
The problem arises because these institutions are committed to Biblical revelation, and thus to the condemnation of the sin cherished by the sexual revolution, seemingly as a supreme value. In the long Trinity Western University controversy in Canada, in which TWU finally surrendered its morality code to law associations moved by the militant social liberalism of that nation’s dominant culture, a 2014 opinion piece in the Vancouver Sun spelled out the exact problem. Biblical and traditional Christian standards have a “bite” (moral disapproval) which post-1960s liberals find offensive, and want excluded from society. The fact that these are voluntary institutions is irrelevant to them. These are institutions that help sustain a belief system they dislike and want to destroy.
A recent article from the Gospel Coalition details the dilemma of Christian colleges, which now face the prospect of being required to abandon applying a Biblical standard of chastity to their student bodies, employees, and perhaps any faculty that cannot be classed as “ministerial” (sufficiently involved in teaching religious doctrine). As the article describes, there are a variety of avenues to attack the sexual and religious standards of Christian colleges. (Although sexual standards are the focus of today’s attack on Christian institutions, the new morality of “inclusion” reasonably demands more. California’s cataclysmic SB 1146 bill in 2016 would also have prohibited non-sexual religious standards, leaving its many Christian institutions as Christian largely in name only). Included in the areas of vulnerability are denials of accreditation, student aid, tax exempt status, and simply the general police power of the state to regulate organizations.
But legal threats are not the only threats facing Christian institutions. There is also cultural pressure, as the Gospel Coalition article likewise indicates. Employers and professional or business associations may refuse to hire graduates of an institution with sexual or religious standards they find offensive. Also at risk are partnerships between Christian organizations and local governments or organizations. One such example in 2014 concerned an agreement between Gordon College and Lynn, Massachusetts allowing Gordon students to mentor inner city pupils. This was ended because of the college’s morality code for students. And increasingly there will be cultural pressure from within institutions by professing Christians who have been converted to the new inclusivist morality, as was pointed out by Rod Dreher in a 2017 article on the plight of Christian colleges. As he correctly notes, both in his own commentary and references, students and professors are strongly influenced by the surrounding culture’s emphasis on personal gratification as the supreme value in life. Emotion becomes the proper arbiter in morality, as it has also been in the Supreme Court’s revolutionary sexual decisions of recent decades.
It must be emphasized again and again that these are voluntary institutions, no one has to go there. There continue to be people in today’s society who want a conservative Christian environment – who want Christian standards of sexuality and doctrine enforced. They are being denied the right to their institutions if they cannot have institutions that require historic Christian faith and morals. In this regard, it was observed by lawyers for Trinity Western that the Canadian Supreme Court might have decided in favor of religious freedom had the school been a “confessional school,” i.e., required adherence to particular religious beliefs, rather than just a morality code, to be a student at the school. There reasonably will be cases where someone violates Christian doctrine or moral standards. The institution should be able to discipline people in these cases. But that will not be possible if Christian standards are prohibited by accreditation, the strings of state support, the condition of tax exempt status, or outright prohibition, as would have happened with SB 1146 or will happen with the proposed Equality Act.
Of course Christian colleges are not the only Christian institutions. Christian medical institutions, charities, and campus ministries at secular educational institutions also must function on a Christian basis if they are authentically Christian. But they cannot do that if sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) standards apply to them, and also cannot if they may not require their leadership to be Christian. Some may well have compromised their standards. But to require it by law precludes having a Christian organization in more than name.
Particularly sharp in this regard is the struggle of Catholic hospitals to maintain Catholic standards in the provision of health care. The threat here, which is also a public relations threat, lies in defining abortion, including elective abortion, as “health,” and charging the religious organization with “harm” for not providing it. It is of course generally unnecessary, and should never be the provided where the purpose is the death of the child, rather an unavoidable consequence of ensuring the survival of the mother. But the real objective – as is obvious from the last fifty years of controversy – is to define abortion itself as necessary for “health” if it is wanted by a pregnant woman. This means she is entitled to kill her offspring if it offends her quality of life. Here the secular and sexual revolutions are mandating the destruction of human life as essential to “health,” and the protection of human life as “harm,” simply by appealing to what adults find offensive.
Similarly, Christian charities and adoption agencies have faced well known obstacles to providing Christian charity, which is deemed malevolent by the new morality of self-determination and quality of life. The advent of transgenderism has highlighted this sharply. The cases of women claiming to be men (“transgender men”) seeking a hysterectomy or a man seeking access to a homeless shelter for abused women have been currently in the news. Notice in the linked article concerning when a hysterectomy should be required (from a source defending traditional morality) the use of “transgender” as if this were a real category of hysterectomies. This shows the power of the sexual revolution, when adversaries can be induced to use its terminology to engage the controversy. In fact, hysterectomies can only be performed on a woman, yet to claim this would offend her “dignity” as a man. In essence, a destructive personal delusion is being imposed on society in the name of justice and respect. Such people may claim to be offended that they are not treated as a members of the opposite sex, perhaps they really are offended, but the injustice and true harm is in giving them what they want, not in a realistic decision that offends them.
The driving force of today’s moral revolution is clearly the right not to be offended in personal life, which has replaced love and obedience to God and love of neighbor. The right not to be offended is the right to tyranny. “Do as I say, or you’re hurting me,” or “refrain from acting, or you’re hurting me.” Barbarism is masquerading as justice, love, and compassion.
A very serious problem is that professional associations and left wing governmental authority will define their estimate of the good life (i.e., sexual license and personal gratification generally) as “health,” and then define what they want (e.g., facilitation of abortion) as “health,” and what they don’t want (e.g., conscience protections) as scientifically and medically “harmful.” The mass media will, of course, echo this viewpoint in their reporting.
No one should be complicit in sin. It is people who have rights. Personal behavior and inclination cannot possibly have universal and equal rights, only privileges for some behavior and inclination based on sensibility. Faithful Christians must not facilitate the immorality and death that the new morality mandates. If increasing numbers of historically Christian organizations do compromise, individual Christians should not, at whatever cost to our lives, families, churches, or institutions. If the law requires disobedience to God and surrender of reason, then faithful Christians should, for as long as necessary, decline participation in work and organizations that require sin, or complicity in sin. In all of life, we must obey God rather than men.