By Garrett Vande Kamp |
Last week, I had the distinct displeasure of reading Samford students lambast our school because of its culture, administration and religious views. Some grievances are genuine, others are ridiculous, and a few are downright offensive. And while I was ready to raze some of my fellow columnists with a proper defense of Samford this week, my gracious friends and mentors reminded me that single-mindedly attacking the opinions of others is not showing God’s love. Thanks to them, I am instead writing about why I love Samford.
I love Samford because of its religious culture. One of the primary reasons students are drawn to Samford is the strong Christian influence. This wonderful environment encourages students to live out their Christian faith. In fact, I would reason that the extreme concentration of students passionately seeking after God at Samford can only be explained by the university administration’s strong endorsement of the Southern Baptist theological tradition.
In approving atheistic, sexualizing and gay-praising organizations, thereby allowing moral relativism on campus, Samford loses what it means to be Samford. Soon, religious culture becomes a terminally defensive sect on campus like it is at secular universities.
I also love Samford because I am alleviated of some temptation. In his book Sex and God at Yale, Nathan Harden describes the normalizing of extreme promiscuity at Yale University. While at Yale, Harden heard marketers from the adult entertainment industry in the classroom, received lectures on oral sex at a university-sanctioned event and witnessed faculty distribute sex toys to students. Not mentioned in the book is that Yale partners with Planned Parenthood officials to teach courses on abortion and contraceptive policy. While I cannot say that these things should be prohibited in the U.S., I would not come to Samford University if they were.
I chose Samford because I am not yet ready to face the full weight of sin. Samford serves as a training ground for students to grow their faith while simultaneously learning how to handle the temptations of the real world. Had I gone to a place like Yale, I would have been crushed by the enormity of the burden of living as a Christian in such an environment. I cherish and appreciate the culture created by Samford’s administration.
I understand that Samford is not the right place for everyone, and there are plenty of great alternatives. State schools do not embrace a Southern Baptist culture and are academically respected institutions. Furthermore, there are schools that have rejected their religious roots in favor of an unguided learning environment and are among the best institutions in the world.
But the purpose of Samford University is not to embrace moral relativism and leave its theological traditions up for debate by some students masquerading as enlightened theologians. Its purpose is to nurture the development of intellect, creativity, faith and personhood.
So don’t ask Samford to redefine its theology in a way you see fit or embrace those who lambast its ways. Samford’s clearly defined purpose is what draws students and creates its wonderful Christian environment. Samford’s purpose is what gives it an identity. And ultimately, Samford’s purpose is why I love Samford.