Words from Warner: rules of perception

| April 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

Jonathan Warner
Columnist

I have been at Bryan for almost four years now. There are many things I have grown to love about my school, but at the end of my time here I am frustrated.

I am tired of the rules that treat me like a child rather than an adult. I am sick of the perspective that says that our “standards” make Bryan a better or holier place.

Many of the rules at Bryan attempt to guard us from the excesses of the world, but they mostly end up creating a forbidden fruit mentality and fostering a synthetic environment. These rules have created a wall of inconsistency in our Christian witness and a barrier of understanding in our personal maturity.

If Jesus came to Bryan and turned the water into wine (John 2), what would we say? “Oh, no Jesus! We can’t have that happen here, that’s not allowed. Don’t you know that drinking leads to sin?” After all, it would be wrong for us to enjoy what creative minds throughout history have concocted into a plethora of fantastic drinks.

What if King David wanted to “dance before the Lord with all his might,” (2 Samuel 6:14) at a Bryan event? “No, David, don’t you know that’s not allowed? We can’t dance because that’s provocative or something like that. We can’t express ourselves in all the ways God intended us to because the Board won’t approve.”

Dietrich Bonheoffer, C.S. Lewis, and many of the greatest Christian theological minds of the past centuries were prolific smokers. For many people, past and present, smoking is intimately linked to reflection, fellowship, and their thought process. But oh, I forgot, that’s not allowed either. Heaven forbid that we enjoy something God created. I understand the health concerns, but simple moderation has a powerful way of tempering excess.

It’s not just the actual rules that can be upsetting. It’s the rules of perception, a mentality that echoes across campus. It’s when people at Bryan don’t take time to put themselves in other’s shoes and understand where they are at or why they express themselves the way they do. Instead, a verdict is rendered, the gavel falls, and the witness of the gospel is marred.

This is the part where I would typically try to balance my argument by listing all the things I like about Bryan, but that’s not what this article is about. I do love my school and I will forever have a special place in my heart for the dear faculty and staff that make it so wonderful. However, I hope this article spurs the process of necessary change along.

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I am trying to make a point.

Yes, rules are a necessary part of a community. I’m not saying that I want people smoking and drinking on campus, but give them the freedom to not have to look over their shoulder when they do it off campus. Because let’s face it, whether you like it or not, they do…all the time.

Dancing needs to happen and lots of it; if only for the bare fact that when students graduate from here and find themselves dancing in a secular environment they don’t look like they just discovered how to walk. I plead guilty. The least the college can do is stand out of the way.

Bryan policy should look to foster an environment of freedom that gives students the chance to make mistakes and thoughtful decisions about how they live. In order for students to truly be prepared for the real world they need to learn how to make responsible choices while they’re at Bryan. Learning to make mature choices is a process, one that doesn’t take a 4-year sabbatical and starts back up after graduation.

Bryan College, please stop acting like these rules make us a holier place. They stifle our God given freedom and individuality and create an artificiality that mares our witness and doesn’t prepare us for the real world. This column is dedicated to whoever is holding these walls (rules) up. The wall is slowly crumbling. Get out of the way if you can’t lend a hand.

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Category: Columns, Opinion

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