JACKSON, Tenn. – Aug. 22, 2014 – Christians should lead an undivided life of integrity, even in the face of opposition to their beliefs from a majority in society and from the government, President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said Aug. 22.
“This process of living in an undivided way is something that works best within a community,” Oliver said. “Union University is a community. In strong and committed Christian communities, iron sharpens iron. People hold one another accountable. The stakes are high for us.”
Oliver addressed students, faculty and staff during the annual fall convocation in G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel. The address was Oliver’s first fall convocation message as Union president, an office he assumed June 1.
During the service, Provost C. Ben Mitchell recognized new students, staff and faculty. He introduced 11 faculty members who are either new to the university or have new roles this academic year.
Oliver titled his address “Liberty and Integrity,” and he said Christians who engage in Kingdom work often find themselves on a collision course with contemporary political passions. But he called on the Union community not to separate faith from work or from learning.
“To have integrity is to be undivided,” Oliver said. “It is to be a whole rather than a collection of parts. If you want to know why various Christian organizations and businesses have drawn unwelcome attention to themselves by resisting government regulations, the answer goes back to integrity.”
In April, Union University joined other faith-based institutions in a federal lawsuit that challenges an order to provide abortion-causing drugs as part of employee health care plans. Oliver participated in a similar action as president of East Texas Baptist University.
Oliver said no organization wants to fight against the government or make public enemies.
“We resist when we think we have to do so,” Oliver said. “We resist out of the courage of our convictions, not on the convenience of our complaints.”
He also cited the increasing public and government support for same-sex marriage. The issue now threatens to restrict the religious liberty of Christians who cannot accept same-sex marriage on biblical grounds.
“Specifically, we see Christian citizens compelled to participate in activities they do not wish to endorse and organizations required to pay for products they view as contrary to their faith and conscience,” Oliver said. “Religious liberty has suddenly become the kind of thing to which serious Christians must address themselves.”
Oliver urged the Union community to be found faithful and undivided as they follow Christ in humility and love.
“We don’t choose the times in which we live,” Oliver said. “It happens that this is an especially important time for Christians when it comes to matters such as liberty and integrity.”
As the Union community pursues liberty and integrity, Oliver urged carefully chosen words and actions.
“Perhaps we can learn together to be the kind of witness who helps people to think about what we have to say instead of just rejecting and dismissing it.,” Oliver said. “It is a good freedom that we seek for ourselves and for others. Let us defend it and make use of it while there is still day and we have the benefit of the light.”