College: The Bob Jones Experience
My first year of university I attended right wing, fundamental, King James only, Bible thumping, anti-liberal, anti-California, patriarchal, conservative, Bob Jones University. Here I was exposed perhaps for the first time to the most extreme forms of legalism known to Christianity. Certainly many people here thought they were sincere and perhaps were, but their extrapolations from the Bible were hard for any thinking person to take seriously.
Of course, how I ended up at Bob Jones, is a story in itself. The short of it was that my parents wanted me to go and more or less forced my hand. I would hope most people, Christian or not, would be fairly confident from reading my posts so far that I was a sincere Christian to the best of my ability. I didn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs. I didn’t listen to much secular music or watch movies. I wasn’t into porn or having sex. I sincerely sought to follow God as best I could.
However, this was not enough. There was an underlying idea that if one didn’t eat, breathe, and sleep thinking about God, they probably weren’t sincere enough about their faith. And not only should they do all these things but they should want to. Looking back, I always wondered why an all-powerful God, as great as he is supposed to be, would be so worried about His subjects being distracted by the lesser things of the outside world. It sounded more like an anxious girl friend who is so insecure in her man’s love that she must be constantly reminded that it exists.
Since I wasn’t sincere enough about my faith, the most logical thing to do was to send me somewhere that could indoctrinate me more right? So off to Bob Jones where I could learn discipline and become a real Christian.
I recall hearing an entire sermon based on the rebellious spirit illustrated by those who spit their gum on the sidewalk. I heard another sermon about how wicked California was and how God was specifically going to judge California for their liberal ways. Of course rock music and any popular music were banned, but so was contemporary Christian music and even Christian worship music. Women wore dresses with panty hose and men worse dress slacks with a tie and jacket (until 11:00 AM, apparently after his morning coffee God relaxed a little on his dress requirements).
Luckily, I didn’t equate this version of Christianity with reality. I knew it was a scam. Despite a few sincere members of the group, in my opinion, most were frauds. Perhaps the most important thing that happened during this time of my life was the recognizing that some forms of Christianity could, in my opinion at the time, truly be a fraud whether they recognized this or not.
Ironically, my parents who so wanted me to go to Bob Jones in the first place, soon came to agree that this place was too extreme. When I announced that after one year I would not return, they fully supported my decision. I don’t think they ever meant harm by sending me there. They sincerely wanted what they thought was best. But, as I soon discovered, sometimes we find the sincerely held beliefs can be wrong.