There seems to be an anonymous editorial questioning the merits and values of the pledging process every year. And every year, members of social clubs argue outsiders cannot judge the pledging process based on what they do not know.
I pledged a social club last year.
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 should be stressed that the message, although strange, was from one member, not the entire club. Still, the implication of the message – and in fact, the entire week of pledging I endured – was that pledging and spiritual growth are 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 non-members on the other and say one side is more spiritual than the other. Those that pledge a social club have reasons for doing so. I know many strong Christians from both sides and many of the men I pledged with, as well as the members themselves, are great Christian leaders. It’s what attracted me to the club in the first place. But it is distressing when pledging is made out 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 when he sees intramural games where one group is holding a banner that reads, “We’re better than you,” and the other has “volunteers” jump through a flaming hoop in order to gain respect. That’s not Christianity.
Many will argue club helps them form deep, meaningful, Christian relationships. That is valid, but it is not something exclusive to social clubs. After I “de-pledged” 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 I believed I had been deprived of during the pledging process.
Some amazing people in social clubs, and clubs certainly do not lack potential. Members of social clubs take an enormous amount of pride in the club itself, but also in the university. Clubs are a 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 the atmosphere that surrounds the pledging process is not by definition conducive to spiritual growth.
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 endowed by God, not by traditions, and that is something I don’t think I could have learned sweating in an old suit from Goodwill with a watermelon in my hands.