Like most of you, I was stunned when the presidents of three of America’s leading universities—UPenn, Harvard and MIT—testified before a congressional committee investigating antisemitism on college campuses. On their campuses, raucous pro-Palestinian protestors chanted, “From the river to the sea,” effectively calling for the elimination of the Jewish state and the genocide of the Jewish people.
When New York Rep. Elise Stefanik asked if “calling for the genocide of Jews” violated student codes of conduct, the presidents dodged the yes-or-no question and refused to take a position. Can you imagine? The leaders of some of the most prestigious educational institutions in America did not have the moral courage or clarity to take a stand against genocide. Their response: “It depends on the context.”
When we see what’s going on at these so-called elite universities, it all points back to the moral decay and character void at the very top. The answer to Rep. Stefanik’s questions should have been easy to answer—Yes, genocide and terrorism against anyone should be condemned. They would have been quick to condemn students supporting attacks against an LGBTQ group—but not Jews. Where’s their moral clarity? It’s pretty clear to most everyone that our university students need leaders who are role models with strong moral character.
Harvard, America’s oldest college, is a good example of what can happen to an elite institution that has cast off its moral anchor. Founded just 16 years after the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, Harvard once focused on training pastors and instilling Puritan values. Its motto, Veritas, is Latin for truth; and the original motto was Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae, or Truth for Christ and the Church. Yet its halls today echo loudly with untruths. The University of Pennsylvania was born from a friendship between Benjamin Franklin and evangelist George Whitefield, and was originally established in a meeting house used for Whitefield’s revivals.
My father spoke several times at Harvard and also at MIT, in addition to other colleges. Even in those bastions of arrogant liberalism, he was always true to the Gospel. When he confronted a worldly lie or a moral issue, he would declare “The Bible says …” and share God’s truth.
When I think of someone who demonstrated moral courage in the midst of a decadent culture, the Prophet Daniel comes to mind. Exiled to Babylon in 605 B.C. after the Babylonians had conquered and ransacked Judah, young Daniel demonstrated remarkable moral bravery though surrounded by pagans. Chosen along with three other Hebrew young men to train for King Nebuchadnezzar’s court, “Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank” (Daniel 1:8).
Instead, he asked for a diet of vegetables and water. When he and his friends were brought before the Babylonian king, they were found to be in far better shape and 10 times better in wisdom than any of their contemporaries, and they entered into the king’s court.
Later, when King Belshazzar, Nebuchadnezzar’s son, and his entourage had finished partying by drinking wine out of golden vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem, he had a disturbing vision of a hand writing on the wall. After the court’s magicians failed to interpret the message for him, the king’s wife recalled the wisdom that God had given Daniel, who was then asked to interpret.
The news Daniel delivered told of God’s impending judgment upon the king. “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end … you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting … your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians” (Daniel 5:26-28). Daniel did not shrink from delivering God’s message, and that very night the king perished.
Under the reign of another king, Darius, jealous court officials conspired to eliminate Daniel due to his godly influence. Darius ordered that anyone caught worshipping anyone other than the king himself should be cast in the lion’s den. Of course you know the story. Daniel prayed in front of his open windows three times a day, in full view of everyone. He was seized by the king’s officials, thrown into a lion’s den and miraculously delivered by Almighty God. Daniel would not compromise his faith, regardless of the consequences. He would not back down from allegiance to God for any reason. He boldly stood for the truth of God’s Word.
As God later revealed to Daniel the succession of worldly dynasties that would appear in the coming centuries, he was told, “the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32). Bold faith requires bold action.
God calls on His people in any age and any circumstance to stand boldly for Him. In our day, when God’s truth is clearly disregarded and disobeyed, I hope we will all be bold in the Lord and refuse to buy into the lies of our culture. Like Daniel, we need to fully follow the Lord, and leave the consequences to Him.
God honors those who honor Him. ©2024 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version.
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino / ©2023 BGEA