Should you pledge a Christian fraternity or a traditional fraternity with Christian values? By: Isaac Jenkins
Let me first start by clarifying the differences between the two types of fraternities I’m talking about:
A Christian fraternity is a fraternity that 100% Christian in everything they stand for. They intentionally recruit Christians. Their chapter meetings often contain devotions out of the Bible and their pledgeship is centered around learning the Bible and being discipled by older brothers. These types of fraternities do not usually allow alcohol at their parties. Christian fraternities are not on every major college campus and tend to be smaller than the traditional frats. BYX (Brothers Under Christ) is largest of these types of frats in the US. It was founded at the University of Texas in 1985 and is on 30 or so campuses around the nation.
When I say “traditional” fraternities I am referring to fraternities like SC, SAE and FDQ. They recruit all types of guys. Some of the men may be Christians but some may not. For example, I am a SC and you only have to believe in God to join our fraternity. Also, one of our mottos is that we pledge men “with deferent temperaments, talents and conviction’. Just like many Ivy League schools were started as Christian universities, most traditional fraternities were started by Christians as well.
As I said, Christian fraternities usually do not serve alcohol at their parties, whereas the traditional fraternities completely run their whole party around alcohol. To be honest, Traditional fraternities can some times look more like the movie “Animal House” in the way they function. But there is usually a small contingent of followers of Christ in the traditional fraternities.
So which fraternity is the best for you?
If you are a young believer and you struggled with certain things that are going to be celebrated in fraternities, you might want to consider a Christian fraternity. Erik was highly involved in KFE while he attended the University of Florida and says, “There’s a lot of good that can come from being in a Christian fraternity. There’s a ton of opportunity for discipleship: both for you to lead and to be led. From your first days as a pledge you’ll see tremendous growth in your faith. The biggest problem that I tend to see in Christian fraternities is that there isn’t always a lot of good opportunity for outreach. I know that’s something we’ve been working on this past year and are continuing to figure out.” If you choose to pledge a Christian frat, I highly suggest that you have some sort of ministry outlet on campus or at a youth group in a local Church.
If you are a follower of Christ and feel that you can handle the temptations associated with a traditional frat, I highly recommend pledging the traditional fraternities because that’s where you could have your biggest influence. You could influence hundreds of guys who do not know Christ.
1½ years ago I, with the help of Cru, put an article online entitled “Would
Jesus have joined a fraternity?” 10,000 read the article the first day and around 45,000 read it the following few weeks. I think most people who read that article think fraternities are “going to hell” and were probably fascinated that I would even write about the idea of Jesus hanging out with frat guys. Remember that there may never be another time for the rest of your life that you could influence so many guys who don’t know the Lord and who will be watching you. I highly recommend it for every believer that feels like he is maturing in Christ to pledge a traditional fraternity. Although my fraternity is not outwardly Christian, we, along with most traditional fraternities, have lots of scripture quoted in our rituals. Two of our seven founders were pastors. But that’s pretty common with most of the traditional fraternities. They started like many universities in America as Christ-centered but now or more alcohol and party centered.
I would say at least half to two thirds of your given fraternity is more concerned about parties and alcohol than anything having to do with the church. If someone pledges a Christian fraternity and just spends their time with their brothers all the time it seems to me like that would be hanging out as a monastery, and I don’t think monasteries are meant to be long term, so I would highly suggest you stepping out and finding another place to do ministry on campus.
What about hazing? In most fraternities, hazing is becoming a thing of the past. For instance, Sigma Chi nationals have instituted a zero tolerance for hazing and have suspended the charters of five rather large chapters in just the past year and a half. Even though I pledged 31 years ago and hazing at that time was rampant, no one ever tried to get me to do something that went against my convictions. And with the legal ramifications that come along with hazing, it really is becoming a thing of the past. Also pledgeship used to be around six months but has been cut down to only around 8 weeks on most campuses.
Regardless of which fraternity you choose to join, I would encourage you to be the most active person in your chapter. I would attend every chapter meeting and eat every meal at the house, with the goal of getting to share the Gospel to those who do not know Christ or being an influence on the younger Christians. Also, remember wherever you choose to pledge, you need accountability with other Christians who can help you stay strong and grow in your faith. Lone Ranger Christians don’t stand much of a chance to do well if they don’t seek out Christian fellowship from within or outside of the fraternity.