Pledging Confused with Spirituality

September 22, 2009

watermelons

Every year it seems there is an anonymous editorial questioning the merits and values of the pledging process. And each year a dialogue begins where those that are members of social clubs argue that outsiders cannot judge the pledging process based on what they do not know.

Last year I pledged a social club.

I returned from bid night with scratches, scrapes and bruises all over my body. I woke up later that morning to a text message from a member that read, “Congratulations men, you’re one step closer to becoming the man God wants you to be.”

It was a strange message, and let me stress that it was from one member, not the entire club. Still, I felt the implication of the message as well as the week of pledging I endured was that pledging and spiritual growth is connected.

It would be incredibly foolish to draw a line down the middle of the student body with members of social clubs on one side and those that are not on the other and say that one side is more spiritual than the other. Those that pledge a social club have their reasons. I know many strong Christians from both sides and I would not hesitate to say that many of the men I pledged with and the members themselves are great Christian leaders, its what attracted me to the club in the first place. But it is distressing when pledging is made to be a “Christian” activity, not by adhering to high standards of moral conduct but by using bible verses as catchy slogans.

I doubt God swells with pride whenever he sees the intramural games where one group is holding a banner that reads “We’re better than you” and the other has “volunteers” jump through a hoop set on fire in order to gain respect. That’s not Christianity.

Many will argue that club allows them to form deep, meaningful, Christian relationships. That is valid, but it is not something exclusive to social clubs. After I depledged last year, I began to spend more time with close friends. I was able to focus more time on my education, the reason I came to college. These were all things that I had felt I had been deprived of during the pledging process.

There are some amazing people in social clubs and what they certainly do not lack is potential. Social clubs bring an enormous amount of school pride and tradition that keeps alumni and ACU families returning year after year. I know many people that have benefited greatly from their time in club, but I do not feel that the atmosphere that surrounds the pledging process is conducive to the enhancing of spirituality.

Integrity is not a byproduct of the number of pushups one does. Honor should not be judged by how willing one is to engage in activities that are potentially dangerous such as jumping through fiery hoops. Moral character is something that is endowed by God, not by traditions and that is something I don’t think I could have learned sweating in an old suit from good will while holding a watermelon.

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