Evangelical chaplains and campus parachurch staffers...

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A recent account of an Evangelical Army chaplain receiving a Letter of Concern while not calling men to faith in Jesus Christ has me thinking about Evangelical campus parachurch staffers...

First arriving in Bloomington back in 1992, Indiana University had a campus religious workers association and I was a member. At the time, IU's administration was pushing for members of the group to sign a code of ethics that included promises not to "proselytize." After objecting in our association's meetings, I was permitted to alter my code of ethics contract, crossing out those parts to which I objected.

Yet there was no doubt I was on a short leash with this leeway, and their work of destruction would continue until they had gagged Christian witness. Since then, across our country the state which is funded by Christian taxpayers has been busy establishing paganism's relativism in all its institutions, using resources Christian taxpayers pay for to eviscerate Christian witness from the public square. Thus today Secularism's idolaters have succeeded in rendering our Constitution's non-establishment clause a cold corpse.

Twenty years ago, I don't remember any other Evangelical campus religious workers protesting the code of ethics. It was my observation that parachurch staffers seemed to have no problem signing a document promising they would not proselytize. Evangelical parachurch staffers then and now share an iron-clad commitment to do and say nothing that might jeopardize their access to campus. (I've toned this paragraph down a little to allow for exceptions to the rule.)

In other words, Brer Rabbit, he lay low.

So they are silent about manhood and womanhood, silent about abortion, silent about homosexuality, silent about transvestitism; they are entirely silent about anything other than a pathetically weak witness that could be mistaken for an Apple ad campaign: "Think differently with Jesus."

Sure, there is the occasional student leader or staff worker who lets it slip that homosexuality, as Tim Keller would put it, is "not God's best for human flourishing." And despite such an insipid summary of the Christian doctrine of sexuality, there are people who might find it offensive and report the statement to the administration. So every now and then we read a report of this or that parachurch organization losing access to this or that college or university campus.

Which is a splendid chest-thumping and money-raising opportunity.

"World" writes it up and the national organization milks the one-off for all it's worth, trotting out the details, names, and pics of the persecuted in order to reassure all the simpletons who include their organization in their church missions budget and monthly giving that no one in their organization has stopped being faithful to Scripture at these flashpoints of cultural hatred for God's truth.

Of course, it's all a joke and has been for decades, now. You will cringe at my saying it, but for twenty to thirty years Evangelical campus ministries like Cru, I-V, and Navigators have been running as far and as fast as they can from Biblical sexuality. And the morality play they use to cover their nakedness is their asking their male students whether they struggle with pornography? Private inquiries only, of course. And that's it. No teaching of any of the passages of the New Testament that reveal God's plan and will for male and female students' sexuality. For marriage. For authority. For love. For children. For the home. For choosing marriage over burning. For fleeing effeminacy.

None at all. And if you tell me you know someone paid by Cru, I-V, or Navigators who is faithful to teach Scripture's doctrine of sexuality, I'll respond that she is the exception that proves the rule (while having private reservations about your report, myself).

Evangelicals avoid sexuality because Evangelicals fear man rather than God. We depend on man rather than God. We put our hopes in man rather than God. We run on money rather than the power of the Holy Spirit. We care about numbers rather than faithfulness. We believe anyone who claims to have been persecuted for his faith in Jesus Christ must have been sinning. Tactless. Overeager. Possessed by that evil spirit called "youthful zeal."

Twenty years later, the gagging of God is almost complete. Take for instance this news item. Leading an instructional session on depression, Army Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn spoke of the help he received from his Christian faith when he himself had suffered from depression. Afterwards his commanding officer punished him for it, issuing him a Letter of Concern, and here is how his fellow Evangelicals are defending Chaplain Lawhorn:

The chaplain did nothing wrong. At no time did he say his was the only or even the preferred way of dealing with depression. And at no time did he deny the validity of any other method.

* * *

The bottom line is — [proselytizing] is exactly what they are trying to accuse him of — when nothing could be further from the truth. The military leadership needs to commend Chaplain Lawhorn, not condemn him.

Why not take joy in this account?

Because it's a tragic indication of how far we've sunk from the days of the Apostles when proselytizing, testifying, witnessing was what we did. Not what we promised we hadn't done or wouldn't ever do.

Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

Want to get in touch? Send Tim an email!