Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bible college, part 1

After high school, I went to a bible college for 4 years. I chose it because I wanted to find friends who were as passionate about their faith as I was at the time, I wanted to study the bible and theology more, and the one I picked had a beautiful campus, nice dorms, and a location in a city that was just far enough away from home to feel like I had moved on to bigger and better things. The school was Northwestern College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Certainly not the most conservative ones out there, but enough to be a culture shock for me. Orientation week was like a summer bible camp, girls were informed what consisted of modest clothing (no spaghetti straps, no bare stomachs, no short shorts), we weren't allowed televisions in our dorm rooms, we had co-ed visiting hours. Drinking and smoking were not allowed on or off campus (honor system), and even dancing and tattoos were disapproved of. I thought the rules were harmless when I first heard they existed. But when you get a bunch of new passionate students who see the world in black and white, these rules became a major pain. People took it upon themselves to watch and report what others were doing, and anyone who dismissed the rules were guilted by fellow students who held it over their head that "you signed a lifestyle statement and therefore you are a dishonorable liar if you break any of the rules." The whole "Jesus knows" thing was used a lot. By senior year, most people had mellowed out, but those first couple of years were strange. The rare person who confessed to drinking to the dean of student life would get punished, which seemed completely unfair since they were one of the few who were honestly trying to follow the rules.

I learned very quickly not to share much of my religious background. Since I didn't grow up in a Baptist or Evangelical or Calvinistic church, I would be labeled by the students around me as someone who needed to change their doctrine and most likely be re-baptized. I was hurt and offended by this elitist attitude. One thing I did fit in with was their views on purity. I'd bet that 99.9% of the student body and staff believed that saving sex for marriage was the only right way. I had two roommates, one of whom shared my excitement over the idea of saving a first kiss for the wedding day. My other roommate had a boyfriend and was more skeptical of the courtship/purity model. It shocked me at the time and I think I looked down on her a little for it. Now I know that is an extremely common thing for people in the purity movement to feel towards people who live another way.

One thing I find funny now, but that I thought was disgusting at the time, was the way that students would blur the lines of appropriate physical touch. In the student center and lounges, it was extremely common to see members of the opposite sex giving each other back rubs. Like, suspiciously common. It was so clear that it was a way for people to flirt and show affection, but it was the one thing that could be justified as platonic and pure.

2 comments:

  1. haha. This reminds me of my old school. We were suppose to cover tattoos. And hugs had to be under 5 seconds. LOL

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  2. Haha. I attended ORU and at the time, and still I think, they did not have coed visiting hours. We had two three hour "open dorms" A SEMESTER, one in the guys dorms and on in the girls. Doors had to remain 100% open. My roomate and I thought it was outlandish. When we got really annoyed we would read the Pensacola Christian handbook, it made us feel like ORU had no rules at all.

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