At a recent conference in Indianapolis, 475 college students gathered at a hotel to discuss Jesus and his presence at mainstream colleges and universities around the United States. The event was organized by Greek InterVarasity, an group that defines itself as “part of a [sic] interdenominational Christian organization that seeks to reach and be a spiritual resource specifically to the Fraternities and Sororities across the country with the message of Christ” (from their official website).
College is typically a godless environment, filled with booze, drugs, and people having sex indiscriminately (my school, much to the administration’s chagrin, prides itself on these things). But apparently there is a contingency of serious Christians attending mainstream colleges and universities – and not only that, they’re involved in Greek life, which is normally seen as a haven for Animal House style debauchery.
Greek InterVarasity is founded on the believe that the Greek system is an often integral part of American higher education. The website points out, among other statistics, that 30% of Fortune 500 executives are Greek alumni and 48% of all US presidents. However, the Greek system is a “culture that has been historically closed off and condemned as pagan.”
But what if this culture produced students equipped to be “Christian leaders, parents, and members of tomorrow’s society?” InterVarsity asks. The organization attempts to train Christians to be “ambassadors” to their Greek culture and in the world at large. According to the New York Times, “the leaders urged members to stay in the thick of Greek social life, rubbing shoulders with the sinners.”
After all, Jesus made wine out of water “to get the party going,” according to a young woman at the conference (quoted in NYT). Parties apparently can be an opportunity to show that Jesus likes(d) to rage and that Christianity can be fun.
InterVarsity’s website includes a section with personal stories and testimonials. Students and young people that work for the organization tell their stories of God and college.
In “Going Greek changed my life,” Bethanee Esqueda, a student at Willamette University, speaks of Cooper, a frat boy who turned her onto Greek life even though she was a Believer. “Just as Jesus sent his disciples into surrounding communities, Cooper believed that Christians should go Greek! To make a long story short, I took Cooper’s advice and I joined Delta Gamma,” she reported in her story.
InterVarsity would not be a proper evangelical Christian organization if it didn’t have an opinion on premarital sex. Jamie Hawthorn, a campus staff person for InterVarsity at the University of Pennslyvnania, reported on an event organized at that school, “Sexxy Saturday,” where the evils of premarital sex were discussed.
“Another student remarked ‘I never understood why God doesn’t want me to have sex, but now I do. I’ve told my boyfriend that we won’t be sleeping together anymore.’ These young women are not interested in following the rules, but in growing closer to Jesus and growing in their love for Him. Praise God for the work He is doing!” Hawthorn reported.
I wonder about the status of that girl’s relationship.
Not surprisingly, the Jewish student population is an enemy of InterVarsity, even though they’ve been unblamed for killing Jesus. Todd Siegel of Northwestern University reports that “my house has a very high Jewish population and I can count the number of practicing Christians on one hand. Every so often, though, I would pray for the courage to start a ministry.”
In addition, Joe Grotheer, a member of Phi Gamma Delta at Depauw University, stated that some Jewish brothers in his fraternity forced him to stop the bible study he was holding in the common area of their house.
I don’t know what to make of Greek InterVarsity. Not only do I not understand Greek culture, I am also godless and probably going to hell. Damn it.