Courage to Respond to the Craziness of (Some) College Students

Greg Strand – January 5, 2016 Leave a comment

Dr. Everett Piper, the president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, gave an excellent response to the craziness of what is going on at colleges/universities about the notion of hurt feelings, being a victim, etc., of some (it is important not to universalize, since not all are marked by this sentiment) of this generation of college students. This  has become especially prominent more recently. (I give a caveat: I am not saying that some of the issues raised are not true, legitimate and real issues that must be addressed. But is this the way it is done. However, not all of the issues are legitimate, and if all of them are given equal validity, life together for the common good will no longer be possible.)

This is an exceptional statement that is made, not from a more global perspective in which he responds to something “out there.” Instead, this derives personally from a comment made by a student to him who was offended after hearing a message during chapel on love from 1 Corinthians 13. The sermon actually made him feel bad for not showing love. Rather than a confess it as sin and pray for the strength and grace to love, he turned it against the speaker and claimed he was wrong for making him and his peers, ensuring he also spoke on others’ behalf, feel uncomfortable.

Bearing in mind this is a Christian University, where one would expect to hear the Bible preached and the application taught, where sin is acknowledged and confessed, where holiness of life is fostered, where the vices of sin are fought against and the virtues of the fruit of the Spirit are nourished, this message ought to be expected. In response to this claim made by the student, Piper wrote the following, and, I may add, may others reflect and model his faithfulness, humility and courage. Because, as he claims for this school, This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University! I include his statement in full.

This past week, I actually had a student come forward after a university chapel service and complain because he felt “victimized” by a sermon on the topic of 1 Corinthians 13. It appears that this young scholar felt offended because a homily on love made him feel bad for not showing love. In his mind, the speaker was wrong for making him, and his peers, feel uncomfortable.

I’m not making this up. Our culture has actually taught our kids to be this self-absorbed and narcissistic. Any time their feelings are hurt, they are the victims. Anyone who dares challenge them and, thus, makes them “feel bad” about themselves, is a “hater,” a “bigot,” an “oppressor,” and a “victimizer.”

I have a message for this young man and all others who care to listen. That feeling of discomfort you have after listening to a sermon is called a conscience. An altar call is supposed to make you feel bad. It is supposed to make you feel guilty. The goal of many a good sermon is to get you to confess your sins—not coddle you in your selfishness. The primary objective of the Church and the Christian faith is your confession, not your self-actualization.

So here’s my advice:

If you want the chaplain to tell you you’re a victim rather than tell you that you need virtue, this may not be the university you’re looking for. If you want to complain about a sermon that makes you feel less than loving for not showing love, this might be the wrong place.

If you’re more interested in playing the “hater” card than you are in confessing your own hate; if you want to arrogantly lecture, rather than humbly learn; if you don’t want to feel guilt in your soul when you are guilty of sin; if you want to be enabled rather than confronted, there are many universities across the land (in Missouri and elsewhere) that will give you exactly what you want, but Oklahoma Wesleyan isn’t one of them.

At OKWU, we teach you to be selfless rather than self-centered. We are more interested in you practicing personal forgiveness than political revenge. We want you to model interpersonal reconciliation rather than foment personal conflict. We believe the content of your character is more important than the color of your skin. We don’t believe that you have been victimized every time you feel guilty and we don’t issue “trigger warnings” before altar calls.

Oklahoma Wesleyan is not a “safe place”, but rather, a place to learn: to learn that life isn’t about you, but about others; that the bad feeling you have while listening to a sermon is called guilt; that the way to address it is to repent of everything that’s wrong with you rather than blame others for everything that’s wrong with them. This is a place where you will quickly learn that you need to grow up.This

This is not a day care. This is a university!

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

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