About this time last year, the women of our church invited Nancy Wilson to speak at their annual Spring Retreat. Like many godly couples in ministry, Doug and Nancy never travel separately, so that meant her husband was part of the deal. That worked out great for us, because we're friends with Doug and we had been hoping to invite him to Bloomington at some point, anyway. The ladies of our church just helped us pull the trigger.
Needless to say, having Doug in town was an opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of. And having him speak on campus was an obvious decision. Initially, we wanted to have a debate of some kind—something similar to what Doug had already done with Christopher Hitchens and others. It would have been familiar territory for him, and we would’ve known what to expect. But we couldn’t find anyone willing or able to partner with us to pull it off. That put us in a bit of a spot and required a bit more creativity.
After corresponding with Doug, we decided to have him do a series of lectures entitled Sexual by Design. The idea was simple. Doug would come and address God’s design for our sexuality—why did God make us male and female? And what then?
The reason for this is simple. If we were going to have Doug Wilson speak on IU’s campus, we wanted it to matter. And if sexuality is a hot-button issue in our culture, it’s a panic-button issue in Bloomington... We’re not simply talking about your average, run-of-the-mill public university rife with debauchery and pretty proud of it.
No, we’re talking about the home of Alfred Kinsey and the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction—headquarters for the pseudo-science behind the modern legitimization of all manner of sexual perversion. Consequentially, we’re also talking about one of the top five “gay-friendly” cities in the country.
When students arrive on campus at IU, one of the first things they are treated to is a sex talk and a lecture on the “diversity” of our campus. They get tricked into attending a gay drag show—the height of IU’s CultureFest. And many get complimentary condoms during their first floor meetings in their dorms. This is just the first week on campus for your 18 year old son and daughter.
The pressure brought to bear on the Christian conscience on campuses around this country is evident enough—just see the recent scandalous behavior of Vanderbilt’s officials. So you shouldn’t be surprised if I tell you that at IU we face similar pressures.
It’s no secret why Intervarsity brought a practicing homosexual “Christian” to speak on campus against “homophobia” just over a year ago. And, in case you didn’t get the memo, I’ll clue you in: they didn’t bring him in because homophobia is a problem. No, their speaker spent his time bashing Christians who believe that homosexuality and Christianity are somehow at odds with one another.
For these reasons and more, our church is constantly dealing with the aftermath of sexual sin. And we are constantly at odds with a culture and a community cramming its sexual ethic down everyone’s throat. People wonder why we talk about sexuality so much, but, as a friend put it recently, we’re not the ones obsessed with sex. Our culture is. We’re just meeting our culture at one of the highpoints of its rebellion against God.
So we have to address sexual issues all the time—publicly and privately. And this means we not only spend much of our time calling men and women to repentance for sexual sin, but that a great deal of our time is spent down in the dirt, helping to free them from sin’s effects. Many are bound in sin—fornication, pornography, sodomy, and worse sins. Others have been sinned against in devastating ways. And this is just what it means to be a minister of the Word and Sacrament today. Ho-hum.
So to have Doug speak on IU’s campus on biblical sexuality was for us to take another shot at the idols of our community—this time from a different angle. It was a fresh attempt at taking on a demon that tyrannizes the lives and consciences of the students we minister to. It was to proclaim liberty to captives—as loudly and articulately as we could.
And it was to declare to the university community that we’re here. We love people enough to tell them the truth. We’re willing to get in their mess. No lying or pandering from us. Just Jesus Christ ready to call men and women out of their sin and into the freedom and power of the Gospel. The Gospel is, after all, at the center of everything we do. And Doug’s lectures, we think, were perfectly contextualized.