A radical Leftist group called “Campus Pride” recently published its latest version of what it calls the “Shame List”, wherein it identifies and attempts to publicly “shame” the “absolute worst campuses for LGBTQ youth” in the United States. The group reached its conclusions about the listed schools by looking almost exclusively at one factor: whether the college or university has requested an exemption to Title IX. (Title IX refers to the federal law most associated with federal funding of educational institutions; Schools may request a religious exemption in order to continue to make decisions consistent with their long-standing faith doctrines concerning acceptable sexual practices, and other matters.)
Two Virginia institutions made the list – Liberty University and Virginia Baptist College. And of the 102 total institutions listed, every one of them is distinctively centered on the Christian faith.
For merely requesting a lawfully permitted religious exemption to certain federal requirements that may directly conflict with the schools’ faith-based mission (an express exemption which they never needed until now), Campus Pride contends that the 102 “colleges & universities listed have chosen to openly discriminate against LGBTQ youth and have requested Title IX exemptions to perpetuate the harms of religion-based bigotry.” Well isn’t someone being just a tad presumptuous?
But in case that characterization wasn’t preposterous enough, Campus Pride took their rhetoric to a whole new level, declaring that the schools’ request for religious exemptions is “careless”, and even going so far as to call it “life-threatening” to “LGBTQ” youth.
“Life-threatening”, they say? Okay, surely this can’t be for real. Either that, or they must be getting desperate. At first glance, it seemed to me absurd that such a thing could even be suggested. But then it hit me: in at least one very real sense, they have a point.
It was no coincidence that Campus Pride singled out only Christian schools, while issuing its public warning call that these schools are potentially “life-threatening” to “LGBTQ” youth. Its list represents many schools whose gospel-centered mission penetrates, permeates, and illuminates everything they do. The Gospel forms the backdrop for their whole existence as a place of learning and is itself the basis for understanding life’s purpose and value in the context of God’s design.
More than likely, whether intentionally or unwittingly, Campus Pride has rightly recognized and is now attempting to expose a radical and unassailable truth: that the Gospel is indeed the most life-threatening message these youth could possibly encounter. That is because the Gospel will necessarily confront, disrupt and threaten everything about a person’s life and will call upon that person to relinquish every sinful passion with which they identify or indulge in order to follow Jesus Christ with their whole heart, soul, and mind, wherever He leads them. It may very well cost them everything they have. If that’s not “life-threatening”, then I don’t know what is.
The fact that so many of those colleges and universities make the Christian message of the Gospel integral to their mission makes them a valid threat to all who would reject the Gospel’s call. Campus Pride clearly knows this.
Yet Campus Pride misses the other – and arguably more incredible – half of the Gospel paradox. Namely, that in addition to being “life-threatening”, the Gospel is ultimately “life-giving” to those who embrace it.
Jesus himself says it best in Matthew 16:24-26, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. For what good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
If this profound message underlies the mission of the schools on Campus Pride’s “Shame List”, then every one of them who made the cut should consider such a designation a badge of honor rather than an insult. As for my alma mater, Liberty University, I know that’s how I feel about it.