Friday, March 04, 2011


The commentary on the Brandon Davies dismissal has included frequent polite nods to the idea that Brigham Young University is a private institution and can make whatever rules it wants. But the undercurrent in the secular press has been unmistakeably What a ridiculously strict rule for 20-year old kids. Isn't college supposed to be the time that you have fun, drink too much, and have sex? Isn't it (snigger) unrealistic for BYU to be having such rules in this day and age? There seems to be an idea that BYU is depriving young adults of some natural right.

We had kids go to schools that were near that strict, so I have some secondhand sense of the thinking of such schools.

Let me ask the question another way: Let us imagine a person in his fifties going into a therapist's office for some general unhappiness or claim of trauma from a hard life. Or similarly, a grandchild asking an 80-year-old...

So, what was the hardest thing you faced in your life?

How does the answer "I went to a very strict college, where you could get kicked out for drinking or having sexual relations" sound in that context? It would be comic if it weren't pathetic. There are, however, many answers to the therapist's or grandchild's question that began "Well, I got (/got a girl) pregnant in college and..." that would be entirely plausible Hard Times. This is the sort of obvious life information we shouldn't need a village idiot to point out for us.

So I conclude that there is a different meaning to the undercurrent: "I did some of those things and I don't think it was wrong, and I resent even hearing about people who do think it's wrong." The guilty flee where none pursue.

Remember that when you hear all that yap about Christians being so judgmental. Sometimes it's true, of course. We've got lots of folks willing to do that. But a lot of times, no accusation has been made but people defensively act as if one has. Or they try to bait Christians into making statements that they can then turn and called judgmental.

Which when you look at it that way, is a very judgmental thing for them to do.


Dubbahdee said...

Also figure in that the young man was not forced to attend BYU, and enrolled fully aware of the rules involved. He volunteered to abide by those rules, freely and willingly.

There are consequences for not keeping your word.

Just as a free citizen who volunteers for military service is held accountable to a military standard of conduct. Having freely elected to join, he must abide by his choice.

You may not like the army. Don't join up. You may not like BYU. Go to a different school that doesn't have such draconian rules.

As they say, it is a free country...except when you bind yourself by your own choices.

Texan99 said...

It seems hard for most people to find any middle ground between "it's wrong to have extramarital sex" and "it's wrong even to suggest that extramarital sex is wrong." We're not talking about a university that stones students to death if they'd caught breaking the rules on sexual behavior, only a voluntary institution that no one need attend if he doesn't like the standards there. Not even if he thinks the scholarship being offered him is particularly great!

Gringo said...

When I was working in Argentina I met a student of the English language. He introduced me to some American missionaries whose faith and hometown I will not divulge. After I left Argentina, he decided he wanted to go to college in the US. He wrote the American missionaries, who by this time had returned to the US, for assistance in the process. (I was working elsewhere in Latin America.) Some months later he ended up at the missionaries’ house in the US and found out in the “assistance rendered” by the missionaries didn’t even cover finding out when he should have taken the TOEFL. (Sounds naive on his part, doesn’t it? Bear in mind this was before the day of online information.)

It turned out the missionaries had a reason for not bothering to find out when he should have taken the TOEFL, or any such details about getting into a college in the US. All along they had a solution up their sleeve, which they proceeded to implement: they enrolled him in the Bible College of their faith. This was somewhat underhanded on the part of the American missionaries, as he was not a convert to their faith, and ministers of that particular faith were the only graduates of that Bible College. On the other hand, the missionaries’ church provided him with a complete scholarship.

For a while the missionaries’ bet that they could turn him into a pastor for their Latin American missions was winning. He converted to their faith.

After a year at the Bible College, he was caught practicing without a license- a marriage license- and was booted out of the school. The Bible College wasted no time. They put an airline ticket in his hand, drove him to the airport, and within 24 hours he was back home, before he knew what had happened to him.

He also knew the rules of the Bible College. That is probably also a good rule for prospective ministers: if you cannot restrain yourself from premarital sex, will you be able to restrain yourself from adultery when you are married? A minister who strays from the marital bed is a walking time bomb for his church.

He was resourceful, and was able to finagle his way back to the US, where he has been for several decades now.

Kurt said...

This situation reminds me a little bit of the experience of a former debate partner of mine from high school who got a debate scholarship to a religious college in the midwest which had a strict restriction against drinking by students. This fellow had a history of drinking in high school--in fact, he did a lot more than that. So it is a mystery to me why he chose to accept the scholarship. Anyway, at some point during his freshman or sophomore year, he and some of his debate teammates did particularly well at a meet, and afterward they celebrated by having some beers. But the word got back to the college, and they were all kicked out of school. In some ways, it seemed almost like a foregone conclusion that that would happen from the moment he decided to accept the scholarship.

Needless to say, it should be obvious that anyone who thinks he might have a problem avoiding a particular kind of behavior ought not to go to a school where such behavior is restricted.

In the case of Brandon Davies, though, I'm even more puzzled by the folks making excuses for him. After all, it takes a good bit of effort to go through with having sex, particularly when you have to try to hide it--it's not just like he suddenly found himself in a situation where he was with his girlfriend and it just happened. The fact that so many of his apologists in the media try to excuse his behavior by saying he was young and so on is even more ridiculous: if he's too young to recognize the implications of what he was doing, then that's even more reason that perhaps he shouldn't have been doing it.

Sam L. said...

So, where is the article and where is the commentary thereon? Links, man, LINKS! Since I have not heard of this, I might like to know more.

Howsomever, you all are right in your analysis. As we kept saying in my days in Strategic Air Command, "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it." Contrasted with the old poster of a cowboy saying "There's a lot I didn't know when I signed on with this outfit."

Sponge-headed ScienceMan said...

I think the secular reaction to a story like the BYU issue is often a reflection of people who just don't believe in consequences in life. Consequences aren't fair - they're downright unAmerican in fact! So we just don't want any lines in the sand, period. But then a second factor is when Christians, or any group, call attention to an activity that they label as immoral, even if they are not purposely wagging any fingers at secular society. I think secularist in the back recesses of their minds, suspect that the Christian position may in fact be correct - that's it represents the moral high ground - even if that seems to fly in the face of 21st century informed thinking - the very world that surrounds those secularists daily.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Sam, sorry. I was listening to sports radio. They mentioned some other sportswriters, but those names are seldom important to me.

Sam L. said...

I don't follow sports news, HS, collegiate, or pro. And didn't care enough to look this up. Thanks.

Sue O said...

Hello AVI. I just noticed your comments on my blog post last year on St Paddy's Day and I came over to check you out again.
I haven't been following this story too closely (too many other IMPORTANT things going on in the world) but as a member of the LDS church, it doesn't seem at all strange to me. We teach our youth to be sexually pure, as we were taught in our youth. Not that it's an easy thing, if fact I recall it being very difficult for my own self at a young age. In my maturer (!) years, I see the wisdom in it.
The official stance is this, taken from the church website: Do not have any sexual relations before marriage, and be completely faithful to your spouse after marriage. Satan may tempt you to rationalize that sexual intimacy before marriage is acceptable when two people are in love. That is not true. In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious because they defile the power God has given us to create life.
As has been said, this young man had a choice and knew what he was signing up for. BYU is supported by tithing funds of the church and has extremely low tuition costs. Attending is a privilege and certain standards are required. I find it a sad commentary on the state of the world that most people think these standards are strange.