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.”
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.