Hard Times at Bob Jones

February 27, 2000

Until recently most Americans had never heard of Bob Jones University. It is a large (5,000 students) fundamentalist Christian school in South Carolina well-known for its academic standards, cultural emphasis, and very strict rules. Bob Jones is so strict that students may not attend movies, watch TV, date without a chaperone, listen to rock music, hold hands, or sit closer than six inches apart. It is so strict that only a Marine boot camp would be much tougher.

My wife and I met at a Christian college that was thought to be almost (but not quite) as strict as Bob Jones. Over the years I have met a number of BJU grads. They have almost all impressed me as very fine people with a deep devotion to Christ.

Seventeen years ago Bob Jones University went before the Supreme Court in a battle to retain its tax-exemption. It seems that the folks at BJU have a rule against interracial dating. The government disagreed with that rule and succeeded in taking away the university’s tax-exempt status. Even though the ban on interracial dating seems foolish and discriminatory and without any biblical foundation, I question whether the government has any business taking away a tax exemption on the basis of an internal policy that applied only to the students who chose to attend that particular school.

The recent interjection of Bob Jones University into the presidential race has brought the matter to the surface in a new way. It is ironic that in a day of unprecedented opportunity for the gospel, a Christian university should be discussed (and attacked and vilified) for a rule against interracial dating. In my lifetime I can recall no other Christian college being mentioned in the news as BJU has been in the last few weeks.

This week I surfed the Internet looking for material about Bob Jones University. I found it interesting to discover that the school admits there is no clear biblical reason to ban interracial dating (or marriage, for that matter). Their reasoning has something to with the creation of a one-world government, which I am also against, but that doesn’t touch the question of whom you should date or marry. And they even admit that “fine Christian people” can reasonably disagree with them.

In this case almost the entire Christian world disagrees with them. Here is my bottom line. I have no ax to grind against BJU, but it is time to change the rule against interracial dating. It has no biblical support, and it has become yet one more weapon cynical unbelievers use against Christians. I don’t know the president of the university, but if I did, I would say, “Drop that rule once and for all.” We have more important things to do than argue about something like this.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?