Meat" in University Education Today By John Vander Brink
In preceding articles, we have seen something of the godly character of institutions of higher learning that existed in previous generations. We have also seen something of the developing trends that have turned these institutions in general from a Christian character to an almost totally secular character. The question that may fairly be asked is "How is the moral atmosphere in todays colleges and universities different from what it was in yesterdays?"
In seeking to answer this question, reference will be made to recent contacts with college students who have shared their actual experiences while in school. It may seem alarming to see how far we have come from the character and purpose of the original charter of schools like Harvard and Princeton. It may also serve as a preparation for young people today to know what the college moral atmosphere is like before they get there.
It may be fair to say at the outset that todays campuses are spiritually "foreign" territory. When our young people attend a college or university they can expect to be surrounded by a culture and life-style that is very different from their home environment. Socially, they will be in an atmosphere comparable to that of Daniel and his three friends when they were captives in Babylon. Very little in this foreign land would remind them of the God of their fathers. What is more, they will not just be left alone. When Nebuchadnezzar selected Daniel and his friends to serve him at court, he wanted to change their Hebrew names - their former identity. Their names reminded them of their God and their upbringing, but Nebuchadnezzar would change all that. Our young people also will come under an influence which will seek to change their character and their former identity.
And yet we know that the God of Daniel was with them in their circumstances. Though he was tempted to defile himself with the kings meat, he and his friends were preserved by the hand of God. May we then in our hearts follow our young people with our prayers - that God may also keep them in todays godless college environments. And perhaps it may be helpful to know what is the "kings meat" of today that will be set before them in these places.
The following represent a list of ten items most often identified by a group of surveyed young people as the "kings meat" that they meet with in todays institutions.
1. Evolution - Despite the fact that evolution is becoming more and more disproved even in the scientific world, many professors and other students cling to this belief tenaciously. At bottom, this belief cancels any need to give an account to or serve a Creator, and so many persist in this belief for lifestyle reasons. Some even dare to ridicule others who believe in Creation. It is good and even necessary for our young people to have studied and to know the scientific facts that disprove evolution. It is not enough to believe in Creation ourselves, but it is also important to defend it before others. It is also good for our young people to understand the reasons for the almost nervous tenacity with which some hold to evolution despite its increasing disproof.
2. Abortion - As in society as a whole, abortion is spoken of on todays campus as a "medical procedure." This is an attempt to avoid the issues of life and death that are involved. Abortion also fits with the sexual norms of today, because it takes away the results of illicit sexual activity. It is important that our young people are made aware of the utter inconsistencies with which our government and pro-abortionists advocate for other embryonic or seedling (bald eagles, endangered species, plant life) forms of life and yet discard human life as so much fetal tissue. The hypocrisy is flagrant, and it is easy to see that pro-abortionists have an ulterior motive.
3. Homosexuality - The gay movement has gained so much ground politically in our country in the last decade, largely because it is so vocal. The advocates also have left no stone unturned to achieve their desired ends. In college, professors sometimes even try to give Biblical sanction to this lifestyle by claiming that David and Jonathan, Paul, and even Jesus were homosexual. The blasphemy can hardly go any deeper. It should serve to illustrate to everyone the utter absurdity and repulsiveness of any defense for this ungodly lifestyle. But it is also important for all of us to understand to what depths an issue can go when so-called Christians stand by and say nothing in defense.
4. Euthanasia - Because this is an issue receiving an increasing amount of societal attention, many discussions about these issues will also be heard in the college classroom. Part of "life education" may even include requiring students to study death by visiting funeral parlors, lying in coffins, filling out living wills, etc. Life and death is studied as a biological process, and an attempt to remove the sting of death in an unbiblical way is advocated. This whole scenario would never have been possible in our country in former generations, but because we have embraced a godless, secular lifestyle, all these type of things begin to fit in. It is good for our young people to see the trend and spirit behind such movements.
5. Infanticide - In studies of population control, birth rates, and prenatal periods, issues such as the "quality of life" often arise. Infanticide is more or less promoted as a means to control a population or at least to "root out" the so-called worthless lives of those born with mental or physical handicaps. These type of issues arise because the "sanctity of life" or life as a divine gift has been dismissed. In its place the selfish human intellect is the new "determiner" of life.
6. Materialism - This issue is illusive because it is not necessarily taught, but pervades the campus atmosphere throughout. It just seems that the assumed value of life is to get and acquire. The lives of almost everyone are dedicated to achievement, and it is hard to go against the flow. And yet in the end we can see the emptiness and the vanity of riches. Man by nature lives for the "here and now." We and our children need grace to live above the things of time and sense, in the service of God, and for eternity.
7. Humanism - Todays campuses breathe a spirit of individuality, of freedom of thought, of challenging of norms, and of a removal of constraints. Man it seems needs to be free to be as human as he can be. In this context, any kind of life or life-style is approved because it is an expression of ones identity. Differences in personalities are studied as the "link" that binds one human to another. If any standards remain, it may be the attainment of a "socially acceptable personality." Quite obviously, this movement is in direct contradiction to the Bible which requires the whole person of man to love and serve his Creator.
8. Sexual Undertones - Many college professors assume that teenagers are all sexually active and speak to young people as if that is normal and acceptable. Humorous references are made to sex, class discussions include casual references to illicit sexual activity. The sexually inactive young person is somehow a misfit. There are two things here for our young people to remember. One is that sexual permissiveness comes out of sexual revolution in our country which has rejected Biblical norms. The second is the ultimate emptiness of a sexual promiscuous lifestyle and the beauty of purity for lifes partner.
9. Relativism - Relativism refers to the situational ethics that are so common today. The question of right and wrong is not answered by referring to a Biblical standard, but is decided by the "situation" at hand. Lying, for example, may be considered okay under certain circumstances. The danger is that once an objective standard is removed, everyone does that which is right according to his own standard. And if the "situation" is the standard, eventually every form of evil can be justified. It is not difficult for our young people to see that situational ethics eventually leads to chaos.
10. Swearing - Using Gods name in vain has become so much a part of daily speech that many do not even realize that it is happening. Further, because some have openly rejected a lifestyle involving God or His Word, purity of speech is not easily promoted. It is important first of all for our young people to be an example of purity of speech. But there also may be opportunities where their uniqueness of character is noted by others which can lead to discussions about lifestyle in general, and speech in particular. They and we all need wisdom and courage in these circumstances.
When we review all these "dainties" or "kings meat" with which our young people will be confronted, it may seem quite discouraging, even overwhelming. Yet as many and as varied as they are, these issues share four commonalities.
As parents and teachers, we do much to prepare our students for college. We try to provide a quality elementary and secondary education. We provide food and clothing and all of lifes physical necessities on a daily basis. We may even encourage them to acquire scholarships and to pursue areas of academic excellence. But how many of us may be remiss in spiritually preparing our students for college. Do we beg for Gods keeping hand while they are in this environment? Do we inform them of what they will encounter when they are there? Do we help them understand how to deal with these ungodly pressures? And also, do we "live with them" and talk to and guide them in these pressures as they face them each day?
The Lord Himself kept Daniel and his three friends in a remarkable way. Therefore we need not despair. The God of Daniel still lives. He is able and willing to help us and our young people also in time of need. May we often be bound with our young people at Gods throne of grace asking that as He kept Daniel and his three friends, He may also help us today.