By WCS Headmaster, Dr. Roger Erdvig
In last month’s issue of Influence, we looked at the first of Rod Dreher’s suggestions for equipping our children to flourish while living in an antagonistic culture. Since then, we’ve seen some developments in our culture that suggest things will get even more contentious, very quickly. One of those developments arose in an unexpected place – college basketball.
March Madness is an American pastime, where the 64 top college basketball teams are whittled down throughout the tournament until the two top teams meet in the championship game. This year, a true underdog has made it into the Sweet Sixteen—a relatively small Christian college in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oral Roberts University. Ranked 15, ORU took out 2nd seed Ohio State in the first round. Then, in round two, they beat 7th ranked Florida State. By the time you read this article, the ORU Golden Eagles will have played 3rd ranked Arkansas.
It’s the stuff of great sports movies. A small college takes on the big guys, and in true David v. Goliath fashion, they just keep winning. You’d think everyone would be watching the ORU Golden Eagles with a sense of awe and wonder.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Some people don’t think ORU should be allowed to play in the tournament at all. Why? Because ORU affirms traditional Christian values and requires its students and employees to commit to living a holy life. Imagine that... a distinctively Christian institution holds its students and employees to high standards of Biblical morality.
In a column published in the online version of USA Today, sports editor Hemal Jhaveri argues that ORU has no business in the tournament because of its “prejudiced teachings and moral regressiveness.” As evidence of ORU’s bigoted backwardness, she quotes from the student handbook, which prohibits many sinful behaviors, like theft, lying, sexual promiscuity, homosexual behavior, drunkenness, and occult practices.
She goes on to mock ORU’s affirmation “that marriage is only between a man and a woman” and the fact that the university bans “male students from wearing makeup.” Jhaveri calls these “dangerous and hateful ideologies.” Her conclusion: Oral Roberts University should NOT be allowed to play in the NCAA, and she calls on the media and other teams to protest the Golden Eagles' presence on the court.
While it is saddening to think ORU may face opposition in their quest to be the top college basketball team, there’s a deeper issue at play here.
As I read the condemnations of ORU’s policies concerning Godly living, I saw that the same could be said of WCS’s student or employee handbook or the Statements of Faith of our partner churches in the region.
My point is this: Today it’s ORU in the spotlight (or crosshairs). Tomorrow, it may be your church or WCS.*
On Wednesday, March 24, Mr. Jay Fetterman, WCS Athletic Director, gathered our spring sports teams to let them know what was happening with ORU and to pray for our mid-western fellow Christian athletes. He also led them to pray themselves—as they compete, our ultimate aim is to be above reproach and to faithfully represent Christ on the field, the track, and the court. I know this is what the ORU Golden Eagles intend to do as well.
*In his daily podcast The Briefing, Albert Mohler offered penetrating analysis of what ORU is facing, suggesting that this kind of treatment will be common for traditional, orthodox Christian institutions like your church and WCS. I would encourage you to check out his podcast from March 25 by clicking here and then clicking on PART III.
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