the pledge

It’s tough to run a college these days. It’s tougher still when you set high standards. And it’s toughest of all when those standards reflect an Ozzie and Harriet morality in a Sarah Jessica Parker world.

Just ask the folks at Wheaton College.

My alma mater, Wheaton College, in the news about its community covenant. Or as we called it, ‘the Pledge’.

When I was there, and probably still, the hip, attempting to be chic students (probably now users of Macs–which were pieces of junk then) reveled in breaking the pledge. Go out dancing, drinking, whatever. Go to the most conservative place you can, and break the rules. That’s rebellion!

I never really got that attitude. Freely choosing Wheaton meant freely choosing to live according to certain guidelines. No, they didn’t all match what I saw in Scripture. But they were there, and I signed that I would live by them. It was a matter of my own honor and commitment. A covenant indeed.

I’ve never been a rebellious sort, though I’m certainly not one to walk as everyone else does just because those are the rules. At Wheaton though it did create a certain atmosphere, and one that resulted in profound intellectual and spiritual growth for me.

I didn’t have the typical college experience, but then again, I didn’t have the typical college experience. Meaning I don’t remember all the social adventures or the craziness, but I did get this utterly classic liberal arts education which opened my eyes to the whole world, in depth and breadth. I learned how to think historically and think globally and go beyond the provincial thinking that I saw so limited a good many people I knew… and know. I think big, because of Wheaton, because of the modeling that came from professors who not only knew their subjects but truly and deeply loved God and conveyed that in a powerful way.

Yes, there will be those incidents that seem gray and grate against what seems otherwise entirely fair. But that’s a minor sacrifice in helping to maintain the kind of place where iron is really sharpening iron.

And those who broke the pledge, and celebrate(d) it? They talked a lot about hypocrisy and God’s freedom and such things. Still do. But the fact is that to a person they pushed people away from God and wallowed in their own frenzies. They undercut what could have been not only a profound intellectual experience but also a profound expression of amazing Biblical community.

The Spirit is, after all, the Holy Spirit and leads us towards holiness.

That’s why I really do support, in every way, the kinds of policies that help Wheaton continue to nurture a specific environment. As Bill McGurn says, “Today Wheaton is the counterculture. And the men and women who teach and study there know it.”

For Christ and his Kingdom.

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