How to Stay Christian in College
- Thursday, August 20, 2009
What are the small temptations in your life? To become reliable in the big things, you have to practice reliability in the small ones. To become pure in the big things, you have to practice purity in the small ones. If you haven't started practicing yet, now is the time. Pray for strength and begin.
On Another Planet
Going to college can be like moving to Mars. The first change you'll notice will be in your physical surroundings. If you're used to seeing cornfields stretching all the way to the horizon and your college is in the city where you can't see the horizon at all, the landscape may come as a shock. If you're used to getting everywhere by subway and bus and your college is in a spread-out place where there's no public transportation and you have to drive, the change may be hard to get used to—especially if you don't have a car!
Compared to the cultural difference, though, the difference in your physical surroundings will seem tiny. People at college may talk differently, socialize differently, and even eat differently. One reason for cultural differences, of course, is change in region, and the farther from home you go to school, the greater such differences are likely to be. They may be hard to take. Southerners, unused to the hurry and crowding of northeastern cities, tend to consider northeasterners rude and unfriendly. Northeasterners, unused to the relaxed speech and elaborate courtesy of the South, sometimes think southerners are slow and stupid. It isn't always easy for such different groups to understand each other.
An even bigger reason college may seem like Mars is the culture of the campus itself. Each school tends to develop a personality of its own. Some have good personalities; others don't. The personality of the school one friend attended for his first two years was neurotically intense and competitive. He'll never forget one of the talks given during Freshman Orientation. The speaker, a dean, dwelled upon the large number of freshmen at the school who committed suicide or received psychological counseling. He wasn't warning them—he was bragging, because he thought suicidal tendencies were a proof of intellectual brilliance! By contrast, the college another friend attended turned out to be a "party school." In her dorm, the floors used to organize Progressive Drinking Nights. Students who participated went from room to room getting drunker and drunker. A number of women in the dorm announced that on certain evenings, they would have sex with any men who showed up at their doors. So many men showed up that they had to form lines. By the way, don't assume that your college will have a Christian personality just because it's linked with a Christian denomination, says Christian things in its mission statement, or has the word "Christian" in its name. There's more Christianity at some nonChristian schools than at some so-called Christian schools.
A final reason for feeling that you've landed on another planet is that colleges and universities are magnets for extreme beliefs, ideologies, and cults. At one school recently, campus feminists protested sex discrimination by marching into town topless. (Take that, you sexists!) At another, homosexuals sponsored an outdoor gay "kiss-in" to win acceptance for their cause. I know of an art professor who lists on her résumé that she tied herself to another artist with a rope for a year. (She says they never touched.) Another professor, this one in the social sciences, offers a course every year on creating your own reality. (He says it's very practical.) I'm not making this stuff up.
The sheer weirdness of the new environment puts some students into what sociologists call "culture shock"—taking the weirdness too hard and becoming deeply homesick and depressed. At the other extreme, some students adapt by "going native"—losing their sense of who they are and plunging into the ways of the people around them.
Recently on Books
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content