Brother J / 2022-4-18
Christ commands his followers to be the salt and light of the world. (Matthew 5:13-14) Being salt to preserve conscience and morality, and being light to dispel the darkness of the world and illuminate the way. A good recent testimony is that of Dr. Merriweather (hereinafter referred to as “Professor”), a professor of philosophy for 25 years at Shawnee State University in Ohio, where one of his courses is the history of Christian thought.
On the first day of the new semester in January 2018, he said, “Yes, Sir” (Yes, Sir) in response to a student’s question in class. After class, the student, who was born biologically male but identifies himself as female, asked the professor to refer to him and transgender people like him with female titles and pronouns . The professor argued that his Christian faith told him that a person’s gender is determined at conception, and that the student in front of him was clearly biologically male, so he could not go against his faith by using female titles and pronouns to address him, but could avoid using all titles and pronouns and use only the person’s preferred first or last name.
The professor had thought he had adequately expressed his respect for the student with this compromise, but the student insisted that the professor address himself by female titles and pronouns against professor’s faith and conscience, and when the professor did not comply, he cursed and threatened to file a complaint to have him lose his job.
The university initially agreed with the professor’s position, but later changed its position and demanded that the professor either refrain from using gender-specific terms for all students or use newly created words (ZIR, ZIE, ZIM) for all people.
The student later complained twice more about the professor, once for a slip of the tongue in class, calling the student “Mr.” (Mr.) Although he immediately corrected himself, the student still wouldn’t let go and threatened the school with legal action if the school didn’t punish the professor.
Under pressure from the university, the professor offered that he would address all students by their preferred titles and pronouns, but only if he included a note in the syllabus stating that he was “compelled to do so in addition to articulating his personal religious beliefs about gender identity.” The proposal was rejected by the university, which said he violated its policy on gender and determined that he had “created a hostile environment in the classroom,” resulting in a disciplinary action being recorded in his file.
With the help of an organization called Alliance Defending Freedom, the professor began a lawsuit against the university. The district court dismissed his lawsuit in the first instance, and the professor appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Court, which in March 2021 found that the university had violated the professor’s First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of faith. On April 14, 2022, the Alliance Defending Freedom announced that the university had settled with the professor for $400,000 and attorney’s fees.
In recent years, the LGBTQ community has developed a climate in the West where disapproval of such behaviors is considered prejudice, and even many pastors of Christian churches have tried to avoid talking about such topics. Because of the case law practice in the United States, it is foreseeable that a victory in this case will greatly encourage churches and believers in the United States to adhere to their biblical position.
Culture is a product of people, and it contains mixed elements, often with elements of the Antichrist. The professor himself laments that the “Cancel Culture” in the West demands total submission, not just concessions, unilateral respect rather than mutual respect, and does not allow free speech.
The professor’s adherence to his biblical position brought him into great trouble, but God enabled him to triumph. His insistence has maintained moral standards, balanced the influence of negative elements in the culture, and become an exemplary example of being salt and light.