At the beginning of this school year, John MacArthur made reference to this story in his opening remarks. You can listen to them here.
It’s heartbreaking to watch those that one has respected do wrong, I know. But what are we to do? Will we only believe the powerful one, the ones in positions of authority? Or will we listen to the stories of the ones who say they were abused and oppressed?
Back when some friends and I started the BJUGrace blog in December of 2014, with some of the very same concerns, I wrote a post about “loyalty” to challenge those who were loyal to the institution.
I’m posting it here, for The Master’s University alumni and for those of any church or other institution that insists on loyalty to authority over listening to the cries of the oppressed.
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 what God Himself has said.
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 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 your alma mater?
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 your alma mater? Are you faithful to the individuals in that institution?
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 their alma mater 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.
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.
You can 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 their alma mater and from schools and churches associated with it 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, and will choose to stand with truth and righteousness no matter what the cost.
And we truly do hope and pray for better things ahead.