In September of 1973, I began my freshman year at Dominican College of San Rafael (which has since been renamed Dominican University of California). Just before the first week of classes, Mom informed me that she didn’t want me to embarrass her by engaging in evangelism on campus. After all, it might offend the nuns who taught there.
I didn’t obey her fully, I’m happy to say. To my regret, however, I toned down my evangelistic efforts to such a degree that I found myself compromising my walk with the Lord and losing my zeal for Him.
Actually, I got through the first year without sacrificing too much integrity. I did write a paper on Erasmus in which I’d planned to show that humanism opposes Christianity; I ended up being persuaded that the two could co-exist. Perhaps writing that paper and succumbing to my philosophy professor’s point of view began a theological erosion that softened my Biblical convictions.
But my sophomore year brought the most serious difficulties. Two factors, my inclusion in a popular group of students and a psychology class that taught Transactional Analysis, converged to pull me away from my dedication to the Lord. Even though I continued to read my Bible and attend church and Bible Study, my commitment to the Lord receded as I invested in my social and academic life at Dominican.
I will go into greater detail about the ways my psychology class, my religious studies classes and the overall Catholic atmosphere of Dominican weakened my Biblical convictions in my next autobiographical post. Today, however, let me concentrate on the effect popularity had on me.
I had continued attending the Pentecostal church most Sundays, and Kent’s group on Tuesday and Sunday evenings. (Thankfully, the Pentecostal church had pretty much given up on their attempts to heal me.) But when Kent’s ministry announced plans to merge with Church of the Open Door in May of 1974, I left the Pentecostal church. Despite a more stable church affiliation, however, I allowed my friends at Dominican to dominate my affections.
In contrast to my social marginalization in high school, college placed me among the kids that pretty much constituted Dominican’s social hub. Although I wouldn’t participate in their obviously sinful behaviors (notably going to the bar they frequented), I readily embraced their more subtle sins of gossip and complaining. Their acceptance meant more to me than pleasing the Lord did.
Outwardly, I presented myself as a solid Christian. But often in my Bible reading, I’d come across a passage that all too accurately described my rancid duplicity:
7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying,
8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. ~~Matthew 15:7-9 (KJV)
By my junior year, I regained a desire to be more obedient to the Lord. I even shared the Gospel occasionally, though not as boldly as I’d shared it in my high school years. I told myself that I had set a precedent that I couldn’t reverse. In reality, however, I simply wasn’t willing to give up my social position.
Ironically, only one girl in the cliche genuinely liked me. After graduation, she was the only one (until the advent of Facebook) to maintain contact with me. So I could have been bolder in proclaiming the Gospel! More importantly, I should have been the same girl at school that I was at church.