Call to Courage
“I found myself on my knees in my dorm room in prayer to God”
By Charlie, Ohio college student
Bluffton University – a handsome little college in northwest Ohio–is one of the few Mennonite universities in America. It’s hard to believe that a student like myself would have to take a stand for common decency and traditional Christian values on a campus like this one. But that’s exactly what I feel God called me to do.
The call to take a stand for what I believed began innocently enough, when I decided to run for Student Senate President. Serving on the Senate is important to me because the decisions we make impact all of our students. I want to represent them in a godly way and to help be a good steward of the resources the students paid for on campus.
In the middle of my campaign, however, I began to see promotions for a play called “The Vagina Monologues” appearing all over campus.
Though it was touted as “empowering” to women, further research revealed that it featured extremely graphic content on stage in a way I felt actually degraded women. The play was being promoted in large part by a small faction of self-proclaimed feminists that attend my school. It also appeared to have institutional support from the get-go. Bright pink posters were hung on bulletin boards and windows in dorms and classrooms to advertise. Some professors even offered extra credit to attend.
A friend of mine did some research on this play and found the truth behind the misinformation, the vague descriptions, and the superficial rhetoric. So we decided to take a stand and hang up some posters of our own, exposing the play for what it really was.
Thankfully, I had some preparation for expressing a Christian point of view in a challenging environment through my participation in Day of Dialogue when I was in high school. Day of Dialogue is a nationwide, free-speech event for students sponsored every year in April by Focus on the Family. It’s designed to empower students to express a biblical perspective on sexuality in a loving and respectful way—especially when promotion of sexuality is happening on campus in a one-sided manner.
Much like the mission of the Day of Dialogue, all we wanted to do was to give students a different perspective, to start a conversation.
About a week before the first showing of the play, we hung up our posters. We expected some controversy, but nothing like what we received. That same night I found myself in a disagreement with two dorm officials, one of whom was a cast member in the play. They told me I had no permission to put up my posters, and that they would be torn down, even though other various posters hung around campus had not technically received approval either. I understood that they were offended, but that didn’t justify their destructive actions in silencing another’s viewpoint.
The next day, I found myself on my knees in my dorm room in prayer to God. I asked Him to shelter me from the firestorm of opposition I was receiving from seemingly the whole school. I was accused of hatred and being insensitive, and I pleaded for divine guidance.
The most agonizing part of all of this was that it happened the week before the annual Student Senate Presidential debate and election. At first, I questioned whether I had done the right thing in speaking out on a controversial issue right before a key debate. But after prayer and advice from other Christians, I had peace that I had been right to express my convictions. And so I went to the debate determined to speak truth regardless of the outcome.
During that debate, it didn’t take long for me to be asked an emotionally charged question by another play cast member about my viewpoint. I passionately, but respectfully, explained to her and the audience that I was tired of the double standard (in allowing some viewpoints, but silencing others) and was ashamed to be at a Christian school that doesn’t have a problem with one-sided promotion of productions that are contrary to civility and moral dialogue.
When I finished there was an eruption of applause and support from listeners. A few days later came word that I won the election. Encouragement continued to flow in from students thanking me for representing godly principles and for having the courage to speak the truth. It all ended better than I ever could have imagined—and I know it was because of God’s hand.
At times it will feel like there are more people against you than for you. If you find yourself in this position, know that God is using you in extraordinary ways. May your faith grow as you defend and articulate it in a culture that may not always understand it. My friends and I will be praying for you as you boldly carry your cross in the public sphere.
“Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”