Darren L. Slider
“And Hang Around in Bars?!”
“And Hang Around in Bars?!”
TIM STANDISH’S ARTICLE
Recently, thousands of students took it upon themselves to parade through the streets of several large cities in China. They didn’t seem to be totally sure of what they were demonstrating about; some seemed to think it had something to do with the wretched food they were being served in their cafeterias, while others claimed that it was a protest for what the news media chose to call democracy. If Chinese students are anything like you and I, the truth is probably that most of them were out having a good time with their friends, singing songs and shouting any slogans that came to mind.
Whatever the real reasons for the disturbance, it is surprising that a government which, until recently, ranked up there with the “Evil Empire,” should allow such a public show of dissent, and react to it with such apparent moderation. It is also quite possible that things in China now aren’t all that different than they were a few years ago, and that our perception of the communist government there has changed due to the differences in the media’s coverage of events in that region. In the past the media may have reported things as being worse than they were and currently what we see on T.V. and read in the papers may be better than things really are. If this is true, then the media’s negative coverage of protest during the cultural revolution, when China was viewed by the West as being evil by reason of their communist philosophy, and positive reports that we receive presently, now that we view them as not being all that bad because of their anti-Russian attitude, can be interpreted as being somewhat biased by prevailing attitudes in our government and society. Thus, a society that we used to consider to be oppressive and still practices many things that we in the West would consider to be against individuals’ basic human rights is no longer considered to be oppressive.
It is ironic that we here in, what we are continually assured is, the “Land of the Free” are subject to many of the restraints that we criticize less friendly governments of subjecting their citizens to. Of course, I am not referring to the average citizen of the United States of America, but to the average student attending Andrews University. A perfunctory reading of the Calendar Handbook for 1986-87 should plainly reveal that many of the rights so eloquently stated in the Constitution of the United States and its amendments are denied to patrons of this institution. Column 2, paragraph 4, on page 17 of the Calendar Handbook clearly states that the freedom of assembly granted to students in Communist China is denied to students of Andrews University. A careful reading of page 20 of the same publication also reveals a number of items under the heading “Suspension and Expulsion” that are so universal and ambiguous in their potential application that they could well constitute a violation of a student’s rights. Items 1, 2, 17, 20, 21, and 24 are particularly worthy of contemplation. Item 19 deserves special mention because even though it sounds quite noble when first read, a careful reading of the gospels will reveal that the actions of our Lord Himself would have rendered Him unworthy of attendance at this establishment.
While most students would probably choose subjugation to the regulations of Andrews University over living their lives in China, or any other communist country, all of us would probably profit from a careful examination of our own situation before we criticize countries that are run by, what the media assures us are more oppressive regimes.
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO STANDISH
On page 20 of the Student Handbook, item 19 under the heading “Suspension and Expulsion” forbids “patronizing night clubs, dances, bars, taverns and gambling places and attendance at other places of questionable entertainment or activity.” In last week's SM, Tim Standish mentions, in connection with this item, that “a careful reading of the gospels will reveal that the actions of our Lord Himself would have rendered Him unworthy of attendance at this establishment.”
Actually, there is not one shred of evidence that Jesus ever attended such a place. The gospel record tells us, rather, that Jesus associated with the people who were often found in these places tax collectors, prostitutes, and “sinners”, the people who were shunned and avoided by the self-righteous society of His day, treated only with contempt and regarded as unloved by God. Our Lord, according to the record, associated with them most often in their homes. He earnestly desired to show these “sinners” that He and His Father loved them immensely and longed to deliver them from the sins that separated them from God and destroyed their self-respect.
Never, though, did He condone their sins, either by passing over them lightly or by giving sanction to institutions that flaunted these sins or were otherwise associated with them. As Jesus told the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” A glorious promise of freedom from oppression and from the sins in our lives that we have allowed to oppress us.
Darren L. Slider
Author’s Note: Soon after enrolling at Andrews University in the autumn of 1985, I discovered to my sorrow that the pervasive liberal bias of the mass media extended to the school newspaper. I attended Andrews by choice and was quite happy there, but I never had difficulty finding fellow students who whined continually about the relatively strict behavioral standards imposed by the university. Some of these, alas, wrote regularly for the Student Movement, and one of them finally provoked me into writing a letter to the editor in the autumn of 1986, when I was a sophomore. Tim Standish, whom I never knew personally and who did not respond to my letter either publicly or privately, wrote an article comparing (rather ludicrously) the oppression in communist China to the restrictions imposed upon Andrews students. Such juvenile simpering (with or without the usual dose of liberal politics) by this time no longer surprised me, though it continued to sadden me. I could not bear the brazen, groundless assertion that Jesus Christ would have been forbidden to attend the university on account of the latter’s prohibition of the attendance of bars and nightclubs. The paper, liberal though it was, did publish negative reviews of its articles including mine.