Culture Friday: The courage of Isabella Chow


MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday the 23rd of November, 2018. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. 

AUDIO: Stand up, fight back! When queer people are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back! When trans people are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!

EICHER: This was about two weeks ago. University of California-Berkeley. A meeting of the student Senate. All the shouting was about a student senator who decided the week earlier to abstain from a resolution that passed overwhelmingly. It was, among other things, to express disagreement with a Trump administration plan to define sex in federal law as a person’s biological sex.

It was a resolution backed by LGBT student groups and it passed without a single vote against it. Two student senators did not vote.

One was absent from the October 31st meeting. The other was Senator Isabella Chow. She chose to abstain and she explained why. She said, in part, I’m quoting now:

“As a Christian, I personally do believe that certain acts and lifestyles conflict with what is good, right, and true. I believe that God created male and female at the beginning of time, and designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman. For me, to love another person does not mean that I silently concur when, at the bottom of my heart, I do not believe that your choices are right or the best for you as an individual.”

That statement brought down condemnation and calls for her resignation.

Senator Chow talked with our reporter Sophia Lee and she said that despite the controversy, some good is coming of it. She’s thankful to God, she acknowledges his sovereignty over the crisis. And she told Sophia Lee, quoting here,

“If no one represents the truth, then who will? If I was elected to be a voice for such a time as this, the light doesn’t stop shining when the darkness gets darker, the voice doesn’t stop speaking when it’s being shut down. This is not a time to back down. It’s a time to continue shining the light of Christ in all love, all grace, all humility.”

Well, it’s Culture Friday and John Stonestreet joins me now. John, good morning.

JOHN STONESTREET, GUEST: Good morning, Nick!

EICHER: What a profile in courage in young Isabella Chow!

STONESTREET: You know, it made me think that all of us who enjoy making fun of millennials and talking about how fragile they are and that they’re snowflakes—every once in awhile you meet somebody like Isabella and you think, how much more courageous is she than so many of us who succumb to what my friend at the Acton Institute, Mike Miller, has called “cocktail party pressure,” where there’s really nothing to lose except maybe a little social standing, maybe an invite to the next gathering. When it comes to these controversial issues, we abstain ourselves but abstaining without consequence. Abstaining just by not speaking up, just not bringing up questions, just not saying when we disagree. And that’s a very real thing that people will face for the rest of their lives as believers in this particular cultural climate. And Isabella Chow is, unfortunately, among the rare minority of believers who are going to be willing to stick their necks out.

I also want to say this: I think this is also a great lesson for parents. I speak to a lot of parents and have for years about preparing students for college. It’s one thing for students to go into a climate where to say something that is in alignment with the Bible is to be considered foolish or weird or outdated. But it’s beyond that now.

Isabella Chow was about as winsome as you can be. She articulated it well. She had no history of bigotry or mistreating anybody who identified as LGBT. And the point is you can’t be winsome enough. And she’s not just considered wrong, she’s considered evil. That’s a different level of social pressure than I think we prepare ourselves for.

And, Nick, you know, just this week you and I got a letter from one of our listeners about the theology of getting fired. When is it the right thing to do to lose your position? When is it the right thing to do to get pushed out? And I’m not sure that that’s a message that by and large often comes across in an evangelical subculture that tends to talk about moralistic therapeutic applications of the Bible as opposed to courageous, anti-cultural, going against the flow, putting your neck out because something, there’s a cause that’s bigger than you and your comfort. It just seems that the books that are lining the front shelves of our Christian bookshelves are going to have to change if we’re going to be able to have the sort of faith and have the sort of courage that Isabella demonstrated.

EICHER: Well, John, I hope you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving yesterday. Before we go, tell me what you’re thankful for this year.

STONESTREET: Well, since you brought her up, I’ve been thankful for Isabella Chow. I’ve been thankful for Joni Eareckson Tada, who announced this week—and needs all of our prayers—that the cancer has returned and is committed, as she wrote to me, to demonstrating what it means to suffer well for a culture that is quickly forgetting what that means. So those are two things that come directly to mind.

I also want to say, Nick, that I’m thankful for all the folks that I meet that listen to The World and Everything in It, that listen to the Breakpoint podcast, that listen to Breakpoint on the radio and are just—they’re grateful, and I’m grateful that they’re grateful. It’s always nice to know that the work that you’re doing matters to folks, but what I’m more thankful for is that these are folks that are committed to standing up with a level of cultural courage and clarity and confidence in the middle of the culture. And we need more of that, and I’m grateful for the people who listen that have made that decision upfront and are taking this sort of content to their families, training their high school and college students and even younger on these issues and grounding in a Christian worldview. I mean, that’s the church being the church, and so I’m really grateful for that.

But, of course, most of all I’m grateful for my family. We’re closing out on Year 2 with young Hunter in the house, the boy that invaded our house and keeps showing up everywhere. It’s been a really, really fun year, and so I’m grateful for the health and the well-being of our family, for the gathering that we were able to have this week with each other and a lot of friends.

And, Nick, thankful for this opportunity to be with you each and every week.

EICHER: Thankful for you, too, John.

John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. It’s Culture Friday after Thanksgiving Thursday. John, thanks so much.

STONESTREET: Thanks, Nick.


(Screen capture, NBC Bay Area video) Isabella Chow 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “Culture Friday: The courage of Isabella Chow

  1. Bob Stewart says:

    My prayers are with you.
    We must fight the good fight and never ever forget our Christian values.
    This does not make us Homophobic. There are just some things in Christianity we cannot condone or encourage.
    This is not hatred for anyone. It simply goes against our beliefs.
    It is just like you cannot force someone to like or root for a team you like.
    We are allowed to agree to disagree.

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