Friday, July 18, 2008

Are Christian College's the Last Bastion of Traditional Values?

We are now seeing, among my generation in particular, the many effects of a culture that increasingly normalizes sin. Lisa Miller recently published an article about the rise of homosexual clubs on Christian college campuses. The birth of these clubs is largely due to the influence of Soul Force, a self-proclaimed Christian group that travels to Christian colleges and universities in order to free homosexual and transgendered students from oppression—namely religious oppression.

What was most troubling about the article is not that students are starting homosexual clubs in a community that claims the name of Christ. The problem arose long before these groups ever formed, or even before Soul Force arrived on their property. For many of the schools these students are acting contrary to the doctrinal and lifestyle statements of the institution. And the arrival of Soul Force may only have encouraged these behaviors, not created them. Even though some of the schools mentioned in the article are not sanctioning the clubs, they are not stopping them. An unofficial club is merely a matter of semantics. These schools abdicated their roles as leaders and guides of the next generation long before the students “came out.” And the issue is more a matter of discipleship than of discrimination.

While it could be said that a Christian college or university is not the “church” there is still a sense of shepherding on the part of leadership simply because they profess the name of Christ. They have rules and responsibilities of those who are members of the community, one being (on some campuses) that a student must be a believer. Miller gives several examples of students who are living contrary to these standards set by the institution, including a young woman biding her time until graduation day, who will then depart for her tour with the Soul Force bus openly declaring her lesbianism. How does she slip through the cracks? And what does it say about the institution?

Miller calls Christian colleges “the last bastion of traditional values—places where parents can continue, in absentia, to protect their children from the corrupting influences of the world.” But she goes on to say that this is no longer a valid idea due to the cultural acceptance of homosexual behavior. In the wake of same-sex marriage acceptability, Christian colleges are losing their ability to condemn this behavior, especially when, as she says, “they are wedged between their genuine desire to support the students and their obligations to donors and alumni.” This is when it becomes problematic for them. If we allow students to gather around homosexuality, what is to stop a “Gluttony Club” or “Pornography Club” from forming? Our hope is not in Christian colleges, and parents and students (and even the Church) should not treat it as such. And while our hope does not rest there, they still must function as members of the universal Church, one that never condones homosexuality, or any sexual behavior that deviates from what God has designed.

We have an obligation, as the Church, in a world increasingly confused about gender to speak boldly about what God says. Just because our culture views a particular behavior as acceptable does not mean that we turn a blind eye to it. Where will we be in 10 years if our Christian colleges, and our churches for that matter, do not teach and disciple people through their desires? It should also make us weep for these students. They are living out the darkness of Romans 1—and this is where we would be without the sovereign hand of God on us. And while the “last bastion of traditional values” may be on its way to being given over to the world, we know that the Church never will. Our obligation is to seek and save what is lost and teach them about how God’s glory is displayed in his creation of gender, perhaps even those lost on the Soul Force bus.

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