“One of the hallmarks of higher education, and of democracy, is the ability to converse with and learn from those with whom we disagree.”
So stated Education Secretary Betsy DeVos during her commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida. Ironically, some in the audience had their backs turned to her as she made this statement. Others heckled her during her speech.
This is the season of graduations and commencement speeches. I’m honored to be delivering such an address at Truett Seminary tonight. Thousands of other schools and universities will be holding similar exercises across the month.
But we live in an era when many tolerance advocates refuse to tolerate those with whom they disagree. What happened to Secretary DeVos is a symptom of a much larger narrative.
The latest New York Times Magazine headlines, “Is an Open Marriage a Happier Marriage?” After reading the long article, it’s clear to me that the author wants us to answer, yes. The social media campaign, “#ShoutYourAbortion,” wants us to believe that “abortion is normal.”
According to The Smithsonian, alcohol placement ads in movies have nearly doubled over the last two decades. More than 80 percent of movies now contain depictions of alcohol use. This despite the fact that, according to JAMA Psychiatry, nearly one in three Americans have suffered from “problem drinking that becomes severe.”
Isaiah said of his nation, “Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the LORD, defying his glorious presence” (Isaiah 3:8). What “speech” and “deeds” did he mean? “They proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves” (v. 9).
Would he say the same of us?
The latest Harvard Business Review carries a fascinating article, “Preparing for the Cyberattack That Will Knock Out U.S. Power Grids.” If we lose electrical power, we lose everything connected to it. And that’s nearly everything today. Is our spiritual enemy following a similar strategy?
If the root problem we face is spiritual, the root answer must be spiritual as well.
C. S. Lewis: “Mere improvement is not redemption, though redemption always improves people even here and now and will, in the end, improve them to a degree we cannot yet imagine. God became man to turn creatures into sons: not simply to produce better men of the old kind but to produce a new kind of man. It is not like teaching a horse to jump better and better but like turning a horse into a winged creature.”
Scripture promises that “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). How high will you fly today?