What's Happened to the Campus Greek System?

John ArmstrongEvangelism

I was never a big fan of the campus Greek system while I was at the University of Alabama (1967-69). There was just too much silliness and nonsense for my tastes. And when I saw how the Greeks partied and how they "cheated" on exams I became less than impressed.

I was thus surprised to read in a recent AP report that a new fraternity and sorority exists at my old campus in Tuscaloosa. The Lambda Sigma Phi house, right in the middle of fraternity row, is a Christian Greek house. Here Bible study and mission projects trump booze and late night orgies. Lambda Sigma Phi is part of a wave of Christian fraternities and sororities that have gained a foothold on college campuses in America. There are 210 fraternities in this group nationwide. Some of these exist where schools have made it very difficult for them to be accepted. Members of these houses focus on prayer, Bible study and service projects as a part of membership requirement.

Founded in 2001 Lambda Sigma Phi hopes to show other groups on the college campus what following Jesus is really all about. Alabama chapter president Daniel Weaver says, "We want to be a light on this campus." Alpha Delta Chi, a Christian sorority with 14 active chapters, is just as straightforward about its requirements at Alabama. No smoking, no illegal drugs, no premarital sex and limited use of alcohol for those old enough to imbibe. The group features "sisterhood retreats" as well.

At the University of Florida such houses have been rejected and lawsuits have followed. The 11th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Florida to recognize the groups on campus while the lawsuit winds its way through the legal system. At Auburn members of Alpha Kappa Lambda decided in 2000 to switch their fraternity from athletics to Christianity. Junior Drew Bonner visited the group and said, "I really like it. I'm active in a church here, too, but it's not the same as this."

I think this is a good trend but I would love to see how these students engage their non-Christian Greek peers. Have they withdrawn from the campus culture altogether or are they impacting those around them with the gospel? In my days we had Christians inside all the fraternities and sororities and they lived as light to those who were their Greek brothers and sisters. There is likely a place for both approaches though the darkness of secular fraternity life does present real problems for serious Christians.