On Wednesday, I gave a speech at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. It had been requested that I speak on the subject of religious liberty, a topic near and dear to my heart, as it should be to the hearts of all Christians, especially in light of the government’s recent efforts to force citizens and business owners to participate in, or tacitly endorse, gay “weddings.”
I was warned ahead of time that some members of the administration tried to cancel my talk in the days leading up to it. Many students had complained that because of my writings affirming Christian teachings on life, marriage, gender, etc., I should not be allowed to speak at a college specifically designed to affirm Christian teachings. I suppose all the “controversy” helped drive attendance, as they had to wheel in more chairs to accommodate the crowds. Not that the crowd was filled exclusively with friends and fans of mine. Far from it.
The evening went just exactly as it would have if I’d been giving a talk at Berkeley or San Francisco State. Many of the students who tried to shut down the event showed up in protest. A group of them held a gay pride banner in the back of the room. I took time out of my remarks to explain to them why our allegedly shared faith condemns gay marriage, but they told me they weren’t there to “have a dialogue with me.” OK. Nobody shouted or heckled during my speech, which was nice, but the Q&A afterwards was mostly dominated by one student after another fishing for applause by calmly explaining why I’m a mean, hateful bigot, and so forth. I argued with as many of them as I could before they kicked us out of the room, then I stood in the hallway and argued for another hour.
Most of the kids offended by my arguments and my very presence were upset that I don’t believe in “marriage equality.” Some said they agreed with me but believe my approach is hateful. The word hate was tossed around quite a bit. My words are hateful, my ideas are hateful, my beliefs are hateful. Everything is hateful. Except for a crowd of people pointing at me and calling me hateful. They’re not hateful, remember. Just me.
My favorite comment came from a particularly smug and self-satisfied young man who began by telling me I’m unintelligent and then proceeded to inform me that “Jesus never said anything about marriage.” When I borrowed a Bible from someone in the audience and read Matthew 19 to him aloud, he rapidly switched course and told me Jesus was a man of his time who spoke through — his words — an “ethnocentric lens.” I’m not sure what that has to do with marriage, or how a “Christian” could accuse the Lord God of bigotry, or whether this was something he learned at the school, but the comment made me feel a very odd mixture of amusement and despair. It also made me push Catholic University further down my list of schools I want my kids to attend.
Not everyone in the audience was so firmly opposed to basic Biblical ideas. There were many who were just as disappointed to find such virulent anti-Christian sentiment on a Christian campus. Unfortunately, as is often the case, their voices were drowned by the opposition.
That night, I received several messages and comments on social media from students who wanted to remind me that I’m “literally the worst person” and I’m a “bigot” and a “misogynist” and my opinions on marriage and abortion are “dangerous” and should never have been given a platform at the university. One young feminist student, who said she boycotted the event entirely, wrote to explain that abortion is not mentioned in the Bible, therefore I am the one who is guilty of “heresy” by condemning it. Another student who chose to stay as far away from my talk as possible wrote to tell me that my beliefs on marriage, life, and gender are “going extinct” and a new era of “love and tolerance” is being ushered in. Funny, I didn’t leave campus that night feeling particularly “loved,” but that’s all right. Unlike some of the snowflakes who occupy our nation’s colleges these days, I don’t need to be loved by everyone.
I don’t know if my experience with the school gives a fair impression of its culture. Did I encounter the fringe minority or representatives of a somewhat larger portion of the school population? I’ve been assured they are much closer to fringe than majority. I hope that’s the case, and I have no reason to believe otherwise. I’m of course well aware that a minority is still a minority, even if they’re loud. But the fact remains that I went to a Christian school to discuss Christian doctrine and religious liberty, and I found myself in an extraordinarily unwelcoming environment.
I certainly hope and pray CUA does not head in the same direction as the likes of Notre Dame and Georgetown. To give you an idea of where those schools stand at the moment, Georgetown will soon be hosting mass murderer and Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards, which is a bit like American Jewish University hosting Josef Mengele. Notre Dame invited pro-abortion extremist Wendy Davis and provided her the opportunity to preach excitedly about the virtues of baby butchery. One wonders if these two ignoble figures met the same kind of resistance a conservative blogger encountered at a Catholic school this week.
In light of all of this, for the benefit of the offended students at Catholic University, and any “Christians” who fling words like “hatred” and “bigotry” at people who espouse Christian teaching on important cultural matters, I think we should review and reestablish one harsh but essential truth: If you do not accept God’s authority on these hot topic issues, you are not actually a Christian.
Yes, all Christians are sinners. Exhibit A: yours truly. I fail to live by my beliefs all the time. I am weak. I am selfish. Lord, I am truly a pathetic sight. I am not saying that Christians who fail to perfectly follow Christian teaching are not Christians. If I were saying that, I’d be excommunicating myself, and the entire rest of the world.
But it’s one thing to fail in your pursuit of holiness, and it’s another to call holiness “hateful.” It’s one thing to sin, it’s another to say that sinning is not sinful. It’s one thing to disobey the Commandments, it’s another to categorically reject the authority of the Commandments. It’s one thing to crawl back to God and beg for forgiveness, it’s another to stand there and say you don’t need forgiveness because God was wrong when he called your sin a sin. It’s one thing to follow Christian teachings imperfectly, it’s another to loudly denounce them. It’s one thing to fall short of the faith, it’s another to change the faith to suit you.
In all of these cases, you can do the former while still retaining your Christian identity. But to do the latter is to reject your Christian identity. And you are free to do that, by the way. There is no law saying you must be Christian (the laws are trending very much in the other direction). You are not compelled or required to profess a faith in Jesus Christ. Many people are not Christian. I have friends who are not Christian. I think you should be Christian, I believe your salvation depends on your acceptance of Jesus Christ, but that is your decision to make. I just want you to be honest about it.
What you cannot do — what no Christian school or church or household should allow you to do without being rebuked — is testify a Christianity that does not include whatever bits and pieces you find distasteful to your modern palate. What you cannot do — what I will not sit by and allow you to do without forcibly challenging you — is claim a Christianity that makes room for our culture’s favorite sins. What you cannot do is say you are a Christian whose faith condones, supports, permits, or otherwise accepts the homosexual lifestyle, abortion, pornography, or whatever else. That is a heresy. You are creating a religion for yourself and of yourself and by yourself. You are proclaiming that God is Lord on one hand, but calling him fallible and foolish on the other. You cannot keep hold of the name “Christian” while you speak such blasphemies.
You cannot be a Christian who fundamentally rejects Scripture’s moral dictates — that is, a Christian who openly calls those dictates illegitimate or outdated or unbinding — any more than you can be a Christian who rejects Christ’s divinity or His Resurrection. These are defining features of our faith. How can you accept something while rejecting its defining features? That’s like saying you love the forest but you hate trees. You’re allowed to hate trees, but if you do, I think I have not overstepped my bounds if I suggest that, in fact, you don’t love the forest at all.
Our faith is clearly one which condemns abortion and sex that is not between a man and his wife, and it clearly one which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Whether it should be is a different question. Of course I believe it should. No Christian can say “I don’t think God should have made that Commandment.” But people outside the faith think our religion is “bigoted” and “intolerant” because of it, and I’m not concerned with addressing them right now. I’ve written volumes addressing them. I’m sure I’ll write volumes more.
At this moment, all that matters is that our faith is clear on these topics. On abortion, God says “Thou shalt not kill.” That ought to end the discussion immediately. If you need more, Psalm 139 says, “You knit me in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 22 says, “From my mother’s womb you are my God.” Paul tells the Galatians that in the womb God “set me apart and called me through His grace.” Psalm 127 calls children a “gift from the Lord” and proclaims that “the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
Scripture speaks constantly of God conceiving children in the womb and making plans for them before they are born. This is all very clear. Plain as day. It’s right there. You can read it for yourself. But you shouldn’t even need passages from the Bible to know that, if there is a God — and as a self-professed Christian I assume you believe that much at least — He brings forth every life. He loves every human being from the moment He creates them.
There is simply no way to make your belief in the morality of abortion cooperate with your belief in a just and loving God who knits every child in the womb and gives them to us as a “gift and a reward.” There is no way to argue that “thou shalt not kill” somehow allows for an abortion loophole. Thou shalt not kill… except for little kids. Really? Are you really comfortable with tacking that addendum onto God’s commandment?
The matter of sexuality and marriage is similarly unambiguous. Corinthians explicitly mentions practicing (and unrepentant) homosexuals among the groups that will not inherit the Kingdom. Romans calls homosexual sex “contrary to nature” and worthy of punishment. Timothy also condemns all forms of sexual immorality, including homosexuality.
Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus Himself does chime in on the subject directly. In Matthew 19, he clearly defines marriage as an arrangement between a man and his wife:
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
What else must He say? God made them male and female, for this reason a men and women get married and become one flesh. It’s right there. He said it. You might prefer that He didn’t say it, but He did. So that’s it. Acceptance of this teaching is mandatory. You don’t have a choice if you want to be a Christian. It’s not up to you.
This is also why the Catholic Church unequivocally condemns abortion as a grave evil and categorically prescribes sex as an act that belongs to marriage, and marriage as something that only happens what a man and a woman choose to freely give themselves to one another.
Even if you are not Catholic, the answers on these issues could not be more obvious. It is all laid out in the Bible, which is the infallible Word of God, and which, on the matter of killing the innocent, records the actual words of God Himself speaking from Heaven, and on the matter of marriage, the actual words of Christ Himself addressing his disciples.
Although it is quite unpleasant to consider, Revelation speaks of those who commit sexually immoral acts or who kill the innocent, and who are unrepentant for it, and calls them “dogs” who will be left outside come Judgment (Revelation 22). Dogs left outside. That what the Bible says. If I said such a thing in my address on Wednesday, those Catholic students would have melted into a pool of tears. Yet there it is, right in Scripture. Newsflash: You have to accept that teaching if you want to be a Christian. You do not have a choice.
But there is still repentance, of course. You can commit evil acts and be saved. You can be a former abortionist/gay porn star/Democrat and still enter into Heaven, provided you repent and come to Christ. More to the point, you can have these sins in your past and still be Christian, but you cannot say they are not sins and still be a Christian. Because if you say they are not sins, then you are denying the authority of God and attempting to discredit the path to salvation that He laid out for you. How can you be a Christian who says God is fallible, sins aren’t sins, you don’t need forgiveness, and you don’t need to act with justice or righteousness?
That is not Christianity, no matter how much you’d like it to be.
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