We typically don’t view our nations colleges and universities as havens of virtue, but I have found that there is one virtue that nearly always reigns supreme at a given time in the academic square. The supreme virtue on college campuses across the nation during the boomer generation was that of “choice.” Well, we certainly see where our culture has been led under the banner of that linguistic flag.
However, times are changing. Today choice has met its match in a new virtue that is quickly defining today’s youth culture and its place in the marketplace of ideas.
Tolerance. It is the supreme virtue preached on today’s college campuses. Of course, the doctrine of tolerance is often selectively applied in an unhelpful licentious fashion, but it is preached nonetheless. We are asked today to tolerate nearly everything it seems. Choice is great, after all, but not if one’s choices aren’t accepted and embraced, or so the thinking goes. So acceptance of alternative views (or lifestyles) must be demanded, or at least tolerated.
The secular progressive agenda has unfortunately made many advances in their attempt to create a culture of tolerance
regarding issues such as so-called marriage “equality.” However, young people continue to grow increasingly resolute in their views surrounding something even more fundamental: LIFE. Yes, life!
Nearly all the polls over the last decade or so demonstrate that this generation of young people is increasingly pro-life. Simply put, today’s college students and young millennials are not their parents. This truly is the pro-life generation! So how did this happen? It’s really rather simple. They are putting into practice what has been preached to them. After all, what could possibly be more “intolerant” than not allowing a human life to come into the world. The conclusion of today’s youth in response to the doctrine of tolerance is that “all lives matter.”
If you are not sure if you want to trust the polls, you can see this for yourself. In the past two years, I have been privileged to attend both a March for Life in Washington, D.C. and the West Coast Walk for Life in San Francisco, CA. I attended the LCMS Life Conference last year, and the West Coast Students for Life Conference this year.
As a long time campus pastor I knew that young people had embraced this issue and I had researched the data that backed it up. However, it was incredibly encouraging to see so very many young people from all walks of life, and across denominational lines, go so far out of their way to stand for life, and champion its cause.
Of course, you don’t see many pictures on cable TV of young people standing up for life in record numbers1 While there are many reasons the mainstream media doesn’t want to cover the annual march for life, I’m convinced the biggest one is to keep the country from seeing that the largest segment of society standing for life are actually the youngest ones among us.
The church has a lot of treasure with which to support a culture of life. No greater treasure is her youth. Here are a few practical ideas to support and encourage them:
- Don’t assume that young people are pro-choice just because it may yet be the prevailing ideology in the public school they attend, or maybe even among their parents.
- Begin early in getting young people familiar with all the wonderful resources from LCMS Life Ministries, Lutherans for Life and other such organizations. Don’t assume that they are aware of the possibilities just because you are.
- Also consider supporting the efforts of organizations such as Students for Life (http://studentsforlife.org). While there are many places on college campuses where we have to be careful in terms of collaboration, SFL groups are a great way to support life and network with others on campus who agree on this issue. SFL groups are also becoming increasingly popular in high school.
- Work with local faithful crisis pregnancy centers that seek to support life in real and tangible ways and encourage your high school and college youth to help. Some of our best volunteers might just be our youngest. What better way to cultivate a culture of life than by caring for people’s lives directly!
Today’s youth are eager to confess and serve. Please encourage the young people of the church to not only serve, but also give them a chance to lead. They will not only do it, but they will pick up the flag and do it well!