This piece is meant for many people. It’s meant for the 18-year-old that just entered her freshman year of college. It’s meant for the grandparent worried about his or her grandchild in school, and it’s also meant for people that are seemingly removed from the university atmosphere but care about the future of our nation and our world. This blog post is meant for anyone curious about the issue of life on a college campus—specifically my campus, the University of Missouri (Mizzou).
This post is not general; it is specific, and it deals with my personal experiences at a secular state university. However, these stories and facts are important and relevant. As I’ve spoken to friends that attend other colleges and universities throughout the United States, I’ve found that my experiences are not unique. Therefore, I hope this information will offer broader insight to how college students view human life so that we may work toward a positive change in our country and throughout the world.
As I share, I’ll start by giving some disheartening information, but I’ll end with good news, so please bear with me.
I’ll begin by sharing a personal anecdote about something that happened on our campus last spring. In March 2015, some students from a life-affirming organization on campus drew a variety of beautiful messages in chalk along the sidewalks of Greektown—a well-traveled area next to campus where the majority of sorority women and fraternity men live. These messages were meant to encourage pregnant young women to choose life for their babies and to give them resources that would empower them to do so. Some of the messages included, “Life is precious,” “Equality begins in the womb,” and “Pregnant and scared? You have options.” That last message was followed by the phone number of a local pregnancy resource center.
Unfortunately, I never got to see these messages; few women did. Instead, while walking to class the next morning, I saw that something had been drawn in sidewalk chalk, but it was destroyed. After deciphering a few of the damaged drawings, I was able to determine that they were kind, loving, life-affirming messages, and I was pretty upset to see that someone had destroyed them. Upon discovering a post on the organization’s blog, I learned that two women behind the guise of “feminism” had poured water on and scrubbed away the encouraging messages. It was terribly upsetting, and this attack against pre-born children and young women in need made me awfully sad.
To my great distress, this is just one example of how human life is devalued at my school—by both students and professors—and unfortunately, this situation is not isolated to Mizzou. Several of my friends and supporters of Churches for Life have experienced these kinds of opinions, beliefs and behavior on their campuses as well.
There are many subjects that could qualify as “life issues” at Mizzou: alcohol abuse, sexual assault and rape, racism, abortion advocacy, ignoring or actively mocking the homeless. The list could go on and on. It’s honestly quite frustrating being at a secular university where people do not recognize human beings as made in our Creator’s image, and this disrespect for human life is taking its toll on our students. We struggle with anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. Division is everywhere, and many are filled with hatred for their neighbors.
Sounds pretty bad right? It is. Sin is terrible.
However, I can’t write this piece without mentioning that there is hope!
First and foremost, we can hope in the love and grace of our Creator, God. Jesus Christ, who himself was and is God, showed us this love and grace when he left paradise in order to live life on earth as a human being. He gave up his glorious throne, for a time, to live as a humble man, a man that was despised by many in his community.
Eventually, those people killed Jesus. This horrific murder really happened in history: real people really crucified Jesus even though he did nothing wrong, and he died a real physical death. This murder also occurred in a spiritual manner: each of us had a hand in Jesus’ death when we disrespectfully and unloving fled from God and sinned.
However, Jesus came to earth to meet us on both a physical and a spiritual level. Although we hated him, he met us with love and grace through his work on the cross. Those who trust in him receive his death as payment for their own hatred of God, themselves and others. Christ’s death was, in fact, a life-affirming action; I’d called it the most life-affirming act ever committed in history!
After his death, Jesus miraculously rose from the grave. Yes, we believe this really happened. As Christians, we believe Jesus to be the living, all-powerful God who can escape the grave and conquer death. If you trust in him as this all-powerful, amazing Lord and receive him as your Savior, he’ll give you the forgiveness of your sins and life everlasting. To receive Christ this way is to say, in a sense: “I embrace the fact that you value my life, God, to the point that you’d come to earth, live, die, and rise to rescue me from the wrath I deserve for my sins.” This action is awesome, and it’s life-giving.
To believe this gospel (“gospel” literally means “good news”) is the most foundational and life-affirming thing you could ever do, and if you trust in God, he will transform you from the inside out to honor him with your life. This includes giving you a heart that loves creatures he’s made in his very own image: human beings. Through this ongoing faith in the gospel, you become a rescued rescuer—someone rescued by the grace of God who, in turn, speaks against injustice and actively seeks to rescue others from both physical and spiritual peril.
Okay; let that sink in for a minute. Now, let’s get back to Mizzou.
In addition to Jesus’ ultimate, international, universal hope, I want to highlight some specific ways I’ve found hope on Mizzou’s campus. First, there are amazing Christians chasing after God and loving others well, and there are thriving campus ministries that equip students to learn about the Lord and trust in him. In addition to this great spiritual help, the university offers some positive secular resources as well. Some include the Wellness Resource Center, the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP) Center and the Multicultural Center. There are also great secular organizations on campus that advocate healthy living and affirm the dignity of human life. You can seek them out here.
I also see great hope in the students at Mizzou. Although we have lots of problems, Mizzou has been my home for over three years. It’s where I’ve found dear friends, cool organizations and acceptance. It’s where people—from atheists to people of faith—have inspired me to love others well and be better.
Finally, I’ve found a great respect for life and love for humans among Columbia locals. Yes, they are all fallen men and women, and many of them are not Christians. However, Columbia is generally a friendly town, and most of its residents respect and look out for one another. That sort of life-affirming behavior inspires me, and I am so thankful for the friends I’ve made in Columbia, Mo.
But wait; there’s more.
I wrote this blog about two weeks ago, and we at Churches for Life planned to publish it today, Sept. 29, 2015. That was the plan, and I’ve really looked forward to publishing this piece. However, God works in some amazing, mysterious ways, and through his divine plan, this blog post just got much more relevant.
Today, Sept. 29, 2015, Planned Parenthood intends to hold a “Pink Out” across the nation and on our campus in order to protest Congress’ consideration to defund their organization. I’m not sure what this event will entail. However, I will say the following.
I want to first offer love, compassion and grace to anyone that has ever been involved in an abortion, and I’d like to offer understanding to those that have procured other (totally acceptable) services from Planned Parenthood. These issues are complex, and I have absolutely no right to judge you. In fact, the only being that can judge any of us is the Lord, our Creator God, and if you choose to receive him as your Savior, he offers you grace, peace and love. No matter how you’ve messed up—no matter how I’ve messed up—if you accept Jesus, you’re safe. He forgives you.
Second, I must express my belief that Planned Parenthood is not a safe place for women, children, men or families. This is for a number of reasons. The most pressing, in my opinion, would be that Planned Parenthood profits from performing abortions. As a life-affirming Christian, I believe abortion to be wrong. It kills innocent pre-born humans and injures their mothers, fathers and siblings in a number of ways. To be honest, abortion justmakes me sad, and I am quite concerned for my campus today. If you are a life-affirming person of faith, I invite you to pray with me today. Let’s pray specifically for Mizzou, that our students may wake up and recognize the disrespect for human life on our campus, in our community and across the globe.
If you’re not a person that affirms human life from conception until natural death, I encourage you to seek some quiet, be still and think about human beings. It is my hope that through doing this you will recognize our beauty and our dignity so that you may soon change your mind.
Peace & much love,