God is Not Absent From ‘God-Free Zones’ — Just Ignored

We are called to love, not get consent.

Communists destroy Moscow’s Church of Christ the Saviour in 1931
Communists destroy Moscow’s Church of Christ the Saviour in 1931 (photo: via Wikimedia Commons)

There's a great deal of discussion about "casual sex" on college campuses today but should anyone really be aiming for "casual" in our relations with anyone?

When we meet others, we are faced with the option of using them for our own purposes or encountering that person as someone whom God loves and is created for a special purpose. The modern "hookup culture" which dominates many college campuses seems to me to be a corollary of the "it's just business" mantra that so many adults have used, as if personal behavior should be excused in some particular area that exists outside of morality like a God-free zone. But "it's just business" has essentially morphed into "it's just pleasure" as an excuse for many to act on behalf of one's own interests.

Should we really be separating our emotions or feelings from any of our interactions? Do we want that from our business leaders? Our political leaders? Is that really a goal? It seems to me that the moment you're simply giving consent to someone to use your body but not your emotions, you're making your body a commodity. We are called to love each other, not simply use one another with their consent. Love is a godly obligation. Consent is merely a legal duty. Christians are asked to see God in others, not rub up against them for our own pleasure.

Besides falling far short of who we are called to be, I wonder if young people are happier today? Seriously, we were told for decades that if we'd all just stop being so prudish about sex or having so many hang ups about it, then everyone would feel less guilty and we'd all just be off the charts happy. Well, how's that going? Seems to me that if the hookup culture was going so well we wouldn't really need the #metoo hashtag. We wouldn't be seeing skyrocketing suicide rates among young people. "Rape culture" wouldn't be a commonly used phrase on college campuses.

So, given that so many young people are miserable, instead of helping students on campus lead a more moral and joyful existence, college administrators default to "who are we to judge?" and punt on their responsibilities as adults. But it's even worse than that, because for many, non-judgmentalism has become the supreme virtue. Nothing so clearly defines one as an intellectual than having no judgement. Apathy is now known as tolerance. That's where we've gotten to. Witnessing young people crash and burn without offering words of wisdom is now a virtue; one that parents pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition to have their children experience.

As we all know, that non-judgmentalism only goes one way though. Look at the student group Love Saxa on the campus of Georgetown University. They came under fire for defending traditional marriage on a Jesuit campus. They were maligned as homophobes and haters. A resident advisor at Providence College was threatened by students for positing the teaching of the Catholic Church on marriage and sexuality. Some administrators even lambasted the young man in a meeting. But the Church's teaching on sexuality and marriage is simply a call for men and women to fully love one another and be willing to sacrifice and put the other's needs in front of their own. It is sadly, countercultural and on the verge of being prohibited as hate speech. Yet it is the path to fulfillment and joy. When we discard it, we embrace moral anarchy; the fallout of which is heartbreak, abortion, std's, loneliness, single parent families and other calamities.

Some Christians have been criticized for discussing morality only in terms of sexual behavior or abortion, and not focusing on treating each other in a loving manner. But most people today make the opposite mistake by believing moral goodness is more about how we vote or who we protest, than about how we, as individuals, actually treat one another. When some say they love mankind, they never seem to have a particularly benevolent notion about the person standing right in front of them. When some say things like "keep your rosaries off my ovaries" what they're actually demanding is God-free zones such as the bedroom, abortion clinics, schools, and the House of Representatives. But the truth is that there are no God-free zones. We do, however, have the ability to ignore Him. And we do. We're quite good at that. And when we ignore God I find its a lot easier to forget that God created and loves this immortal person in front of me. And once I stop seeing them as God's, I find it easier to see them as obstacles, hindrances, and burdensome. Once I forget that God has a plan for them, I can get down to the business of making my own plans for them.