As I was walking home from class today, the subject of this post was all I could think about; in fact I think about it all the time every day. But I never talk to anyone about except for Mark.
I am really disappointed with the way it has become acceptable for liberal arts universities to preach a liberal politics like it is the gospel, and to silence, belittle, and mock any dissenting voice. Last year I had a professor actually say to the class, "anyone who is a conservative has no right pursuing the humanities." Are you serious? How is that okay to say? Has no right? In my classrooms I have heard Christian universities mocked for the narrow-minded academics they teach, and for some reason it is acceptable to mock them. Fellow grad students can speak laughingly of a conservative student, dismissing her as if she doesn't really know anything when she tries to defend her Jesus. Others feel it is their duty to bring as many students over to the side of their politics as possible---it has literally become a kind of conversion.
I have been unfriended on Facebook by at least four people who "found out"---I'm not even sure how because I have never had one conversation with anyone about it---that I hold largely conservative beliefs.
Mark and I have been the only people intentionally not invited to numerous social gatherings because of our politics and (maybe?) religious beliefs. Rumors have been spread about us.
A fellow writer emailed us and forbid either of us ever to speak to him/her again, because of our beliefs about marriage.
There are people in my program who will cross the street before they will pass me on the sidewalk. People who will physically leave a group of people when I join the conversation.
In short, Mark and I have experienced an incredibly disheartening amount of alienation and hostility over the past year, both personally and impersonally, inside and outside of the classroom (do keep in mind that we've also experienced incredible kindness and made really deep friendships that we both cherish. The subject of this post obviously overshadows that fact, but I want to make sure it's stated). Part of the problem is that some students truly do not realize when they speak that anyone in the room might feel differently; it is unfathomable that a young person pursuing a high academic degree could believe in the words of Jesus Christ, could believe in a sovereign Creator who knows us intimately and longs for us to know Him, to experience the life and freedom He died to give us.
But as much time as I spent feeling like a martyr last year and lamenting what I saw as incredibly undeserved and unfair persecution, I realize a lot of things now. I realize that scripture gives me no reason to be blindsided by persecution, but rather I should expect it. I realize that I am the fragrance of Christ, and to some people that smells like death. I realize that there are many, many groups of people who have been incredibly wounded by something a Christian has said or done, and I never want to be cause for that. I am burdened by the fact that my credibility as a follower of Christ has been shattered by those who profess to know Him, but practice patterns of disrespect, hatred, and judgment. I want to demonstrate the incredible riches of God's love and grace. That means that I do not shy away from speaking the truth, but neither do I ever insult or condemn. I pray that my heart is earnest, and humble, and continually broken over this.
I wish that academia were a place that truly practiced open-mindedness, that allowed space for the voices of all beliefs, whether religious, political, economic, whatever, no matter how extreme or incredible they may seem, because what are we accomplishing if we are unwilling to listen to each other? The end goal isn't perfect agreement. My hope is that we could treat each other like humans, and in the face of disagreement, continue to interact according to standards of dignity and respect.
I would welcome anyone who has thoughts to share about this, or has dealt with something similar? I hope the true, concerned state of my heart comes across in this post.