Are you loyal?

posted by Rebecca

Alma malma materater.

“Nourishing mother.”

Feels like an irrevocable bond, doesn’t it? Maybe some guilt feelings about saying anything negative?

So . . . if people are publicly pointing out serious problems in their alma mater, you might feel like they could be accused of disloyalty.

You may not make your accusation directly, you may not say anything at all, but you may have a troubled sense in your spirit. Because after all, we did get our degrees there. And after all, there are certainly some very good and kind teachers there who love God and others. And after all, when we were students there it was certainly against the rules to publicly point out wrongs.

This is one of those times that we need to step back and analyze what we’re thinking and feeling in comparison with the Word of God, “recalibrating our conscience,” as a wise man has said.

The vassal bared his head as a symbol of his complete submission to the king.

The fact is that the concept of loyalty fits more with the feudal system than with Christianity. It was first used of knights swearing allegiance to kings, to fight for that king and no other king. It carries with it an implication of an underling and an overlord, as well as a strong sense of “My king, right or wrong,” because that’s pretty much what the knight had to swear to.

This concept of loyalty isn’t in the Bible. It just isn’t. But the right concept that is in the Bible is that of faithfulness: always in love seeking the other’s good. (People often use the word loyal to describe what husband and wife should be to each other, but faithful is a far better word.)

So it seems appropriate to use that word instead. Let’s ask that question.

Are you faithful to Bob Jones University?

But that seems strange to even ask. Why are we as Christians supposed to try to be faithful to a manmade institution? Aren’t we supposed to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to each other as individuals?

So let’s ask that one.

Are you faithful to Jesus Christ when it comes to Bob Jones University? Are you faithful to the individuals in the institution called Bob Jones University?

What will that faithfulness look like in your life? When you see the possibility of wrongdoing in some leaders, or even perhaps clear evidence of it, will you look the other way because you’ve committed yourself never to speak evil of them? Will you refuse to speak about any of the wrongs you see lest you be gossiping? Will you ignore the cognitive dissonance in your heart and try to distract yourself with busy-ness for Christ? Do you fear expressing disloyalty by asking questions or expressing concerns or even showing a healthy skepticism?

Or will you remember that the kisses of an enemy are deceitful, but “faithful are the wounds of a friend,” as Proverbs 26:7 reminds us? Will you know that true faithfulness to another seeks their good, even when it’s hard?

For example, true faithfulness to a perpetrator of sexual abuse would help him go to the police and turn himself in rather than helping him get out of the state or even the country in order to escape the legal system.

Even though you, a lover of Jesus Christ, would never say, “My alma mater, right or wrong,” if you stand by the concept of institutional loyalty, this may be how your loyalty ultimately plays out in your life.

True faithfulness implies mutuality. We’re faithful to each other to seek each other’s good. As Hebrews 3:13 says, we “Exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” If one person is doing wrong as clearly delineated in the Bible (rather than as determined by extra-Biblical standards), another who loves God and loves others will come alongside and say, “You’re on the wrong path. Here’s the right path. Turn and go that way. Turn now.” Many have been faithfully seeking to do this with leaders of Bob Jones University for years and years.

This may not be what some might call “loyalty.” But this is faithfulness. A faithfulness that embodies principles of mutuality, maturity, responsibility, and integrity, interwoven into a fabric that dare not have a single thread pulled, lest the whole garment be marred.

This is the kind of faithfulness that the prophet Nathan showed to King David when he confronted him instead of “loyally” keeping his mouth shut about David’s sin.

Break free from the bonds of a kind of unbiblical loyalty that says you can’t even read negative things about your alma mater lest you be disloyal or gossiping or entertaining lies or showing lack of grace or tarnishing the reputation of Christ before a watching world. Be willing to read, to hear, and even perhaps to speak. Move forward in integrity, in the truth of Biblical faithfulness that calls others who love Christ—and expects others who love Christ to call us—to repentance and humility to say, “I’ve been wrong. There are many people with whom I need to make restitution from the past. I need to change.”

We pray that many individuals from inside the walls of Bob Jones University and from schools and churches associated with Bob Jones University around the country and the world will choose faithfulness to Christ over loyalty to an institution.

We pray that many will be awakened to the dire nature of the very serious problems, will be willing to come to humility and repentance, will choose to stand with truth and righteousness no matter what the cost.

And we truly do hope and pray for better things ahead.

8 Comments on “Are you loyal?

  1. This is just excellent. Clearly explains the fallacy of believing that hiding sin is righteous. Nowhere in the Bible does God advocate covering up sin. Demanding exposure and justice is not gossip and bitterness. Clarity of thought and Scripture is so needed in this muddled and hostile situation. Glad this voice has been added to the conversation.

  2. True faithfulness is a many splendored thing like a gorgeously cut gem stone! It catches the light at multiple angles and reflects tiny prisms of startlingly pure colors. Thank you, Rebecca, for pulling back the curtain on the word ‘loyalty’ and helping us to see that the real beauty is faithfulness. ~Kristi

  3. The “Doctors” Bob (honorary doctorates, for all practical purposes, even if they “earned” them through BJU) have substituted loyalty to BJU (thus themselves) for the faithfulness due to Christ and the Word. That is wicked. No other word for it.

    • James, I think you are right in what you say except you appear to wish to demean Bob Jones, Jr. and Bob Jones III regarding their education (their doctorates were indeed honorary) which implies what?