A Christian Perspective on Greek Organizations Part I
In the United States, many college
students are intrigued with joining fraternities and sororities. Often, the
secretive nature of these organizations may arouse curiosity or lend it the
façade of exclusivity.
But what is the reality of life as a
“fraternity brother” or “sorority sister,” and what are the spiritual
consequences one encounters?
Although the exact types of
temptations may not exist in each country, every student faces the same
pressure to join activities that may lead us away from God. Two of our church’s
working youths, who were once fraternity and sorority members in college, share
their insights in hopes that their experiences will help brothers and sisters
make more informed decisions when considering which extracurricular activities
to participate in.
Here, a brother shares his
experience; a sister will share her perspective in the next issue.
What is a fraternity?
A fraternity is an organization
where members focus on common interests, typically long lasting friendships,
academic support, social networking, and community service. Along with
sororities, they are also referred to as Greek organizations.
Why do people join fraternities?
The impression many people have is
that college should be a time to party and enjoy their freedom. Greek
organizations promise their members the most fun-filled college experience
possible through meeting hundreds of people at parties each week, and many
people are drawn to such claims. They want to explore beyond the boundaries
that existed when living with their parents.
People may also believe that
joining a fraternity or sorority allows them to become part of a family away
from their family. While students relish their newfound independence from their
families, they also seek acceptance by developing meaningful long lasting
friendships with fellow students. Fraternities and sororities often describe
the bond between its members as family, calling their members brothers and
Why did you want to join a Greek organization?
I wanted to join a Greek
organization to meet people with the same goals. Also, joining a fraternity
seemed to give me the perfect opportunity to network with those who had
succeeded in the challenges that I was about to encounter in college. The
fraternity members seemed extremely successful and in all honesty, it felt as
if I would be joining an elite group of students.
How did you first hear about your fraternity?
My first exposure to the
fraternity was through people I met in my classes. Through mutual friends, I
became acquainted with members of the fraternity who seemed very intelligent
and nice, which was contrary to the image of a stereotypical fraternity member
that I had in my mind.
The fraternity was also very
reputable across the country and well-respected by other organizations. What
struck me was that the members attributed a large part of their individual success
to the fraternity. In addition to their friendliness and enthusiasm, I felt I
couldn’t go wrong enjoying my college life with people who would help me to
build up my academic career at my university as well as pave the way for my
professional career in the future.
What are rush and pledge like?
Through rush, I quickly became
acquainted with each fraternity member. In terms of the stereotypical perception
of fraternity functions, during rush there weren’t as many instances of
excessive alcohol consumption or inappropriate activities as I had imagined.
Many of the events illuminated
each member’s passion about the things that he did for the organization and his
ultimate goals after graduation. Each seemed so well rounded, goal-oriented,
and driven. The graduating members all seemed to pursue graduate studies at
top-notch universities around the world. I felt like I could really benefit
from being around them.
I received a phone call from the
fraternity on the last day of my local church’s spiritual convocation. I was
accepted as a pledge and asked if I was willing to accept. I was absolutely
ecstatic that they had accepted me. Thinking that pledging the fraternity would
not negatively affect my spirituality or my life in general, I immediately
accepted the pledge invitation.
What happened during your pledgeship?
Besides the frequent social
events, pledges had to attend two meetings every week, each lasting from one
and a half to three hours. We were given time-consuming tasks to complete, such
as planning social events for the fraternity, performing community service, and
organizing professional development events. There were also events that
occurred on the weekends, such as mandatory scavenger hunts and community
service functions that lasted the whole day.
On top of this, during the first
meeting, I was elected pledge class president, which placed additional pressure
on me to lead my pledge class and dedicate twice as much time to my fraternity
as my fellow pledgemates.
Although it crossed my mind that I
was not managing my time well, I firmly believed that I would be able to
balance the collective responsibilities of school, fraternity, family, friends,
and spirituality without compromising any of them. However, I quickly realized
that all of my free time was being dedicated to the fraternity. I even
rationalized that this was such an important chapter of my life that my other
responsibilities would have to accommodate my fraternity responsibilities. This
was a reflection of my priorities being reshuffled at that time, with the
fraternity being the most important aspect of my life.
Not surprisingly, my spirituality
quickly took a backseat to my fraternity duties. Although I still attended Sabbath
services on Saturday, I had a difficult time attending Friday evening services,
weekly Bible studies, and campus fellowship. There was no chance that I could
juggle God, family and friends, a part-time job, schoolwork, and fraternity
without any of those responsibilities being ignored or mishandled.
What expectations did the organization have of you?
How did they affect your other commitments?
you’re in a Greek organization, no events are optional. You must dedicate your
time to attending events to represent your sorority or fraternity and your
pledge class. It’s an endless commitment that encompasses the rest of your college
career once you decide to join.
fraternity took up an average of ten hours per week for me, which included only
the mandatory events and not the “voluntary” events that I was expected to
attend. Prior to rushing my fraternity, I made the determination that after
crossing over, I would not compromise my Sabbath attendance for fraternity
worship was an integral part of my faith and because of all the stereotypical
negative activities associated with fraternities, I was very sensitive to any
activities that clearly compromised my faith. All the community service events were
held during the day on Saturdays. A few times, I volunteered for the earliest
possible time slot on Saturday mornings, 9 a.m.-11 a.m. In order to make it to
Sabbath services, I would rush from volunteering to church, arriving late and
with an unsettled heart.
the events could not accommodate my Sabbath worship, I was stuck between a rock
and a hard place. While I was able to decline events that directly conflicted
with Sabbath worship, doing so was an arduous process. I would need to explain
and justify to my pledge parents why I was not giving the fraternity my full
dedication. The fraternity was not receptive to its pledge class president
being absent from Saturday fraternity events.
to my repeated absence from fraternity events during Sabbath services, I was
forced to attend all other fraternity events outside that timeframe. I was able
to get away with making brief appearances at parties and other social events on
Friday and Saturday nights. However, the burden of having to adjust my entire
schedule around fraternity events was difficult to bear.
sessions with teaching assistants and classmates, meetings for group work, and
other academic events would frequently come in conflict with fraternity events.
Not surprisingly, my grades went down.
the burdens continually increasing and the “fun” diminishing, I began to
question the true value of the fraternity in my life. Due to the seemingly
endless cycle between my classes, fraternity events, part-time job, familial
responsibilities, church, schoolwork, and even more fraternity events, I didn’t
have even a moment to think deeper about whether this fast-paced lifestyle fit
in with the real priorities in my life.
Did you feel any regret after you joined?
I enjoyed pledging and crossing-over
into the fraternity because everything was new and fresh to me. After two semesters of involvement with the
fraternity, that excitement disappeared. After I officially crossed and became
a “brother,” I had expected that the time commitment and participation
requirements would diminish, but no relief was in sight.
What was once fun became a
terrible burden. I regretted placing too high a value on being a part of the
fraternity. It didn’t seem worth all the trouble and effort after becoming a
member of the fraternity. Much of the benefits advertised to me were hollow.
I regret not being able to explore
my university and all it had to offer. I missed out on a number of activities
and organizations that I would have joined had I not committed myself to the fraternity.
There are plenty of organizations that would have enabled me to pursue the same
“benefits”—such as networking, job placement, and academic support—offered by a
Greek organization without requiring the same commitment level.
There just isn’t enough time in a
given week for a pledge to fulfill his duties of spiritual cultivation, school,
and the Greek organization, let alone the optional or leisure activities that
he may wish to pursue as part of the “college experience.”
Is it possible to remain pure and holy? What
challenges did you face?
By participating in fraternity
social events, I unnecessarily subjected myself to temptation simply by
allowing myself to be put in an environment conducive to sin. Although I remained
firm in abstaining from the alcohol and sexual immorality that my fraternity
brothers often indulged in, there was still a strong temptation to become
curious about those activities.
I was certainly putting myself at
tremendous spiritual risk with the dangerous combination of poor time
management, bad spiritual cultivation habits, and subjection to temptation.
Despite remaining firm in abstinence, exposing my eyes to activities
unwholesome to Christians defiled the purity of my heart.
The plain truth is, being in a
sorority or fraternity consumes all aspects of your life, especially your
spirituality. It created a vicious cycle where I would have less free time and
less time to think about and draw nearer to God. I lost focus in all that I
I found myself drifting away from
God and from one of the purposes of my college life: Instead of utilizing the
golden opportunity that God gave me during college to participate in my campus
fellowship and the evangelical opportunities on campus, I was devoting far too
much time to what I perceived to be of value.
Rather than developing a solid bond
of spiritual friendship with my fellow brothers and sisters, I found myself
often making excuses for why I was unable to attend any of the campus
fellowship events. The campus fellowship would have provided me with a renewed
mind and spirit through the study of God’s word, the sharing, and praise
sessions. Such peace and joy cannot be found in any other campus organization
except the campus fellowship. The spiritual bond with brothers and sisters
would have been very helpful when facing struggles in my college life.
What are your concluding thoughts about your
Based on what I went through, I
believe that college does provide students with the opportunity to truly
experience the world. But it is also a journey of faith that can bring
spiritual growth. We get to choose what kind of a college experience we have.
It is important to reflect: Is my college experience full of eating and
drinking or things of righteousness, peace, and joy? (Rom 14:17-19).
If the possibility of pledging a
fraternity or sorority has reached your mind, take a moment to ponder and
understand who you are, what God’s will is for you, and what your ultimate goals
on earth are.
Consider these questions:
Why do I want to join a Greek organization? Is
the Greek organization truly the appropriate channel for me to devote myself
Will subjecting myself to impure environments
and worldly influences be beneficial to my spirituality?
Do I have commitments which already take up a
majority of my time? Are there other campus organizations, part-time jobs,
internships, volunteer opportunities, or church roles that I wish to pursue? Is
adding a substantial time commitment detrimental to my existing
For many brothers and sisters entering
college, much effort has been placed upon building up their spirituality. We
have studied the Bible for years, we have prayed so hard for the fullness of
the Holy Spirit. Elder John encourages us to not lose these things we have
worked so hard for (2 Jn 8).
God wants us to be able to receive
the full reward. At the end of our college experience, we want to be able to receive
our diplomas knowing that we’ve “fought the good fight, finished the race, and
kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7).
May all the praise and glory be
onto our Father in Heaven.
Greek Life Terminology
Crossover, or “crossing-over,”
refers to the special ceremony a Greek
organization holds for new members (or pledges) to become initiated members of
Pledge: Upon receiving an offer to
join a particular Greek organization and you commit to it, you become a “pledge.” As a pledge, you
are not a full member, but more of a probationary member. Pledges learn about the history and purpose
of the organization, and perform community service. Some pledges do not complete the pledgeship
and do not join the organization, while those who complete it crossover.
Pledge Parents: older “brothers” or “sisters” who take you under their
wings to guide you as a new member.
Rush: the name given to the
somewhat involved recruitment process that anyone interested in joining the
Greek system goes through in order to find the right affiliation for them. Rush
occurs during the beginning of the semester or school year where fraternities
and sororities recruit other students to participate in parties or events to
draw people to want to join. Rush can be considered an open invitation to all
who wish to know more about each organization.