JACKSON — In a culture that is increasingly post-Christian and that rejects the truth about the nature of humanity, Christians must uphold Scripture’s teaching, Union University president Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said Aug. 25.
“By and large, the spirit of our age no longer discerns or delights in the beauty of God’s design for human life,” Oliver said. “Many deny that God created human beings for His glory, and that His good purposes for us include our personal and physical design as male and female.”
Oliver spoke in G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel to the Union community during Fall convocation and based his message on Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
“Human beings are valuable — each of you are valuable — not because of what you can do, or what you can create, or what you can contribute, but because of whose image you are made to reflect,” Oliver said during the convocation.
“The ‘imago Dei’ reminds us that every person is valuable because God created them. The ‘imago Dei’ is what sets human beings apart from the rest of creation.”
Oliver said that Genesis 1:27 — the university’s theme verse for the 2023-24 academic year – is one of the most controversial statements to make in today’s age.
“But it is still true,” Oliver said. “And, because it is true, we must still speak it.”
Churches, and institutions connected to them, need clear and unambiguous articulation about what Scripture teaches concerning the most important and contested questions of the day, Oliver said.
Today, those are questions about biblical anthropology and sexuality. Even leading scientific journals and publications have abandoned science in favor of a radical gender ideology.
As a leading institution of Christian higher education, Oliver said Union wants to be clear and helpful while encouraging Christians who seek to live faithfully.
Union wants to see its neighbors flourish and wants students to be well-grounded in the truth of Scripture, with a biblical vision of life and how to live it for God’s glory and mankind’s good, Oliver said.
Avoiding Gnosticism, an ancient heresy that divided reality between the physical and the spiritual, is one strategy for modern-day believers, Oliver said.
“At Union, we know and we proclaim that Christianity offers a much more coherent and joy-filled vision for humanity and for femininity and masculinity rooted in our created nature,” Oliver said. “In addition to avoiding Gnosticism, we must contend — privately and publicly — for the timeless truth of God’s design for humanity, including the created and immutable reality of male and female.”
Bearing witness to the truth means that Christians don’t live by lies and are not complicit in lies, Oliver continued, emphasizing that Christians are called to proclaim truth thoughtfully and lovingly.
“I want to be clear that gender dysphoria is a psychological condition that deserves compassion and care, the goal of which should be to accept the body and to no longer want to alter the body to fit a distorted view,” Oliver said.
“The bottom line is that we must be willing to say hard but true things. The true and beautiful vision for humanity in Genesis is good for human flourishing, regardless of whether it is popular.”
Oliver’s full address is available for viewing at livestream.com/uu/chapel. B&R