There is a recent hit contemporary Gospel song, “It’s Not About You” by the Gospel Singing Artist, Noel Jones. It is a song I really have learned to enjoy. I don’t know much, if anything, about Jones’ theology, other than he refers to himself as a “Bishop.” That itself is a cause for concern, at least for me, but that is beyond the intent of this blog post.
Instead, I want to enter the dialogue concerning some graduates of Notre Dame University decision to walk out of their commencement address this past Sunday. These estimated 100 or so graduates “walked out” to register their disapproval of Vice President Mike Pence’s record while serving as Governor of the great state of Indiana.
What were VP Pence’s transgressions according to the dissenters: his defense of religious liberty and the his actions while serving as Governor upholding the sanctity of human life. Just for clarification sake VP Pence affirmed the right for Christians to live according to their faith and not affirm the moral legitimacy of the LGBT revolution and his support for life in the womb.
When questioned why he walked out of the graduation ceremony, one of the dissenters said, “Commencement is about us, its not about National Politics. This is a distraction.” This is an excellent place to note the total estimated graduates for this ceremony were 3,000. There were an estimated 100 dissenters who chose to walk out when VP Pence began his address. Keeping that math in mind let us now move to unpack the dissenter’s worldview.
According to this dissenter’s worldview “us” (representing about 100 graduates) assumes greater priority over the estimated 2900 graduates who will never have another chance to graduate from Notre Dame. Graduation day is one of those once in a lifetime events which those fortunate to complete the journey are recognized for their successful completion. It is a special day, surrounded by those important in the graduate’s life. I personally have cherished each and every graduation for myself and for each of my three children.
Math was never my strongest suit but even I understand the dissenters only registered 3% of the graduates. This small minority believed their view should have held sway, regardless of the sentiment of 97% of their cohorts. Contrary to the dissenter’s view it seems his action, along with approximately 99 others, was All About Them.
Here is another excellent time to mention a crucial fact I believe is important to note. I am not against legitimate forms of protest nor do I want to suppress the freedom of speech. These are cherished principles that are a bedrock of the American experiment. Yet, there are also values such as wisdom, proper decorum and context that also need to be brought to bear.
For instance, lets say I oppose same-sex marriage (and I do). I believe it would be most inappropriate for me to show up at someone’s marriage ceremony and register my protest. Additionally, if my church (or substitute another entity) brought in a speaker I disagreed with there would be legitimate times for me to express my concern but doing so while the speaker was making his address WOULD NOT be the appropriate time.
As you might come to expect I believe there is compelling biblical reason the student’s actions were ill-advised. The Christian worldview explicitly instructs us to honor those in authority over us. In fact, the Apostle Paul issues this command in the context of being exposed to one of the world’s greatest tyranny, the great Roman Empire. How does one honor the VP (who clearly qualifies as “authority over us”) by walking out when he begins to address the audience. Just as the Bible commands us to honor our mother and father the Bible commands us to honor king and emperors (please do not be like the preacher who attempted to set me straight by saying, “we don’t have Emperors today. If that is your issue go ahead and substitute “President” for “Emperor”).
Who can make the argument it would EVER be okay to show honor for your parents by getting up and walking out in protest if they came to the dinner table or entered the room for a family meeting? The question is almost too absurd to even write it but you have to take a person’s conclusion to its logical absurdity to show how fallacious their logic is if lived out consistently.
In yet another irony VP Pence is being criticized for taking a stand that is wholly consistent with the tenets and principles the University of Notre Dame says they believe and maintain. Remember Notre Dame is the seminal Roman Catholic University in the entire Northern Hemisphere. Roman Catholic theology affirms without reservation the sanctity of human life and the continuation of the long-held view of gender identification according to one’s natural birth. So the students from Notre Dame are opposing VP Pence for aligning himself in person conviction with the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.
This is pure lunacy. I understand not every student who graduates from Notre Dame does not affirm every point of Roman Catholic Theology but that is a decision they consciously made when they willingly attended the University. What hubris to object to a speaker who lives consistently to the teaching of your University and then display your objection at a commencement address where 97% of your peers choose to willingly accept.
This is yet another clear example our society has jumped the shark. No longer do we feel the need to show respect for authority. Even more alarming even when have we have a 3% following we believe that 3% trumps the wishes and sensibility of the other 97%.
I would venture that several of the estimated 100 graduates would claim to be Evangelical or an adherent of some Faith Group. My continual thesis is Theology does Matter. Proper Orthodoxy leads to Proper Orthopraxy or in other words: proper belief leads to proper actions.
I know it is just a song but It is really never about us. Especially when that “us” only equals 3% of the entire group.
I welcome your comments and even your dissenting views. I only ask that you interact with my ideas and thoughts. Ideas and thoughts are fair games but attacking the person only demonstrates the weakness of your argument.
With much fear and trembling,