The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths ~ 2nd Timothy 4:3-4
Dr. Everett Piper, President of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, posted a blog to his University’s website that rapidly went viral. It was written in response to a student who approached the university president following a chapel service. The student claimed he felt “victimized” after hearing a homily based on 1st Corinthians 13. Apparently the message led him to the conclusion that he “was not loving enough” and he didn’t like it.
I have to confess that I was literally dumbstruck by the notion that anyone anywhere could possibly feel offended or feel victimized by a sermon based on 1st Corinthians 13.
1st Corinthians 13 is a section of Scripture that could easily make a list of the top ten least offensive passages in the entire Bible. Sometimes called the “love chapter”, 1st Corinthians 13 is so innocuous and exquisitely written that Methodists, Buddhists, Baptists, Agnostics, Catholics and perhaps even a few Atheists have had it read at their weddings. It is often quoted in speeches and at civic events where a “safe” and “inoffensive” Bible verse is deemed suitable for the situation. Every Christian speaker in the universe knows that 1st Corinthians 13 is one of the “go to” passages of the Bible guaranteed to appeal to the masses and not offend the feelings of even the most spiritually immature hearer.
Seriously folks, we have come to dark and gloomy place indeed when someone old enough to attend college demands a “trigger warning” and feels “unsafe” after hearing a homily on the love chapter.
One of the saddest aspects of this whole crazy story is that we have become so desensitized to this sort of nonsense that all the wrong things in this situation shock us. It was not the absurdity of someone old enough to vote FEELING victimized by WORDS in a sermon that made national news. It was the college president proclaiming in a public forum that this sort of thinking is infantile and unacceptable that made the evening news and got everyone talking.
The next step in the progression of this type of thinking is an even more fanatical form of fascism than we are currently dealing with. The list of things that are verboten to say or even believe grows longer every day. It is now racist to say all lives matter. It is sexist to even suggest there are fundamental differences between boys and girls. It is narrow-minded and biased to say that there is only one way to God. It is homophobic to say a man dressed as a woman ought to stay out of women’s bathrooms. It is judgmental to state that certain life choices are better than others. It is bigoted to say some religious beliefs are more likely to lead to violence than others.
We have morphed into a culture of offense and turned hard but truthful words into hate speech. It is all too easy for believers to sit back and blame the insanity on a culture that has moved away from God, but that is oversimplifying a very complex issue.
The student at Oklahoma Wesleyan University very likely grew up in a Christian home and probably attended a Christian church (non-Christians rarely attend Christian colleges). That tells me that the pastor who preached the sermon in question either has some mad oration skills—on the level of the Apostle Paul preaching to the heathen masses at Athens—or that student has never experienced spiritual conviction or heard a sermon that did what sermons are supposed to do (that is, reveal sin and cause people to feel bad about it). If my suspicions are correct, it’s a sad indictment of contemporary preaching trends, how Christian parents are training their kids and the quality and content of the youth and children’s programs in many churches.
The Bible clearly states that judgment should always begin with the household of God (1st Peter 4:17). Too many of us are too quick to leave churches or tune out speakers who aren’t “encouraging enough” or who preach on topics that make us feel guilty about stuff we really ought to feel guilty about. We will be successful at preserving our culture when—and only when—we are also willing to hear truth when it’s spoken and obey the truth when we hear it.