Thursday, March 3, 2011

What's the big deal?

College is a wonderful place, isn't it? It's a place where young people get prepared for the rest of their lives, and for most a place where they develop their independence. It's the first time they've been away from their families, and so it's where they can develop their own identity.

So what can we expect from them? Is it inevitable that they will all sow their wild oats? Is that a good thing? Do we just chalk it all up to hormones and the idea that kids will be kids? Or is it possible for college to be a place where a young person grows in every way - including spiritually?

This question has been thrust into the national spotlight by the recent suspension of Brigham Young University (BYU) basketball player Brandon Davies. Have you been following it? If not, you can get up to speed with this link to an article from the Salt Lake Tribune.

Short version: BYU came into the week ranked #3 in the country and has a chance to be a top regional seed in the NCAA basketball tournament. They are a legitimate contender for the the national title. And then within the last couple of days, one of their key starters (one averaging 11 points a game who is also a great rebounder) was dismissed from the team for breaking the school's honor code. The offense? He had premarital sex with his girlfriend.

Has it hurt his team? Well, their one game since his dismissal was an 82-64 loss to New Mexico. Ouch!

The reaction is predictable. Some are writing that it's refreshing for a university to have a disciplinary code and stick to it. Others are saying that he's a college student for goodness' sake! What is college about? Well, according to many, beer and coed dorms are the sacred cows of college life. If you don't exercise your freedom with alot of drinking and partying, you're missing out on the experience. So how in the world can this kid be criticized? Doesn't everybody do it? Especially if they're in a committed relationship. Right?

Well, it is certainly a challenge. The pressure is tremendous and few are able to stand up. Just spend a weekend on a college campus (as I often do) and you know that. Swimming against the tide is very, very difficult.

But you know what? It is possible to live your faith on a college campus - even one with the party atmosphere of most major college campuses. My late sister Kim went to Alabama years ago and experienced incredible growth. Her independence was a chance to make her faith her own, and she did. A scholarship in her name has sent many students to Tuscaloosa over the last few years, following in her footsteps. And I know many current college students at Alabama and Auburn who are standing strong.

But, like I said, it is very difficult. This is why my friend Tommy has started a ministry called the TransMission. He has a burden for helping high school seniors make a healthy spiritual transition from high school to college. If you are (or know) a high school senior or college freshman, you should check it out. Learn more about it here.

So this kid is off the basketball team, and his team's chances of winning a championship will suffer. Fair? Well, sure, he knew what he was signing up for. In fact, he is extremely remorseful and understands it was wrong. But I'm personally rooting for grace to prevail here...grace greater than all our sin. But more than anything, I do not want to sell this kid short. It's insulting to him to say that he couldn't help it, as if he did not have choices. I give him alot more credit than that.

He made a mistake and he knows it. I believe he will learn from it. I pray that's how it goes...for him, and thousands of other college students. Thank you, Tommy and other college ministers, for committing your life to helping them on the path.

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