What is depravity?

March 11, 2014 admin

school…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe (Philippians 4:15).

Not one to sugar-coat the ugly truth, the Apostle Paul labelled his generation with decidedly derogatory terms: “crooked and depraved”. (Synonyms: perverse, twisted, warped, distorted, morally corrupt.)

I wonder how he would characterize our day?

I was thinking about this verse as the headlines emanated from the University of Ottawa:

  • a widely publicized Facebook conversation among young men speaking in violent and sexually graphic language, specifically targeted the female president of the student federation. The very public disclosure lead to considerable fallout, including the high-profile resignation of 4 young male student politicians earlier this month.
  • then only a few days later, the entire men’s hockey team was suspended pending an investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving several university players.

In a recent editorial linking these developments with “frosh week” incidents last fall, the National Post took a unambiguously pessimistic view of what some see as a national trend: “They are all disturbing cases. Three different Canadian universities, in different regions of the country. Episodes of male sexual aggression, and beyond that, an alleged assault. And three similar responses from the schools’ leaders, identifying each campus with “rape culture.””*

On the other end of the behavioural spectrum is Trinity Western University in BC. TWU is a Christian institution seeking to become the first religious law school in Canada. In short, TWU wants to educate lawyers. There has never been a whiff of anything close to “rape culture”; no headlines about precipitously falling ethical standards.

But the school is experiencing intense – somewhat unprecedented – opposition resulting in part, from its unabashed declaration: “The University’s mission, core values, curriculum and community life are formed by a firm commitment to the person and work of Jesus Christ as declared in the Bible.”

As such, TWU requires students, faculty and administration to live by a ‘community covenant’ prohibiting among other things drunkenness, slander, and obscene language. (Might U of O benefit from such a standard of deportment?)

And, the TWU social contract asserts “sexual intimacy is reserved for marriage between one man and one woman”.

How un-Canadian is that?

Too much, says the Council of Canadian Law Deans, joined in chorus by the Canadian Association of University Teachers. (Cue the questions from the audience: How can that type of institution ever produce decent lawyers?)

Essentially, the deans and profs are questioning whether an institution staking out a robust, biblically Christian worldview can also permit the existence of authentic academic freedom – as if somehow, one is the antithesis of the other.


Maybe their concerns are misplaced?

Aren’t plummeting moral values to be expected within the university sub-culture, when/if such sub-cultures challenge biblical authority, deny God’s existence and decry a Christian worldview?

Near the end of the 19th century, Dostoyevsky said it best: “If God does not exist, everything is permissible”. If there is no God, objective moral values cannot be.

Without an ultimate Moral Authority, morality is reduced to preferences, or the will of the strongest. For objective, universal ethics to exist, God must exist.

Whether or not Canadians acknowledge Him – whether they are self-declared theists, atheists, or agnostic – God is, and He is sovereign. His law is universal, and it’s grounded in His character.

Takeaway: is my voice united with those informing our culture that at a future day we will all face the Ultimate Judge; that “every knee should bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil.2:10,11)?

* National Post: Is there an epidemic of ‘rape culture’ at Canadian universities? (March 7/14) http://bit.ly/1kKnXri