A Letter to a Son Going to College
As you prepare to go away to college, I thought I should warn you about some things the devil will use to attack you. Please do not think this is all he will do (remember 1 Pet. 5:8), but I believe there are three areas in which he will attack with the most effort, and I wanted to offer advice on how to deal with each one.
The temptation to sin sexually: At college, there will be more young women your age than you have ever known. A great many of them will dress provocatively, and indeed, many of them will have already been sexually active. Some of them, confused by such cultural phenomena as “Sex and the City,” will promote the myth of “casual sex,” the idea that sex is not a big deal, and can be engaged in without thought to consequences, particularly to the soul.
As I said, the idea is a myth. Besides the dangerous and troubling physical consequences of such action, there are eternal consequences that make this a matter of grave importance. From the beginning, sex was given by God to married couples, both for procreation (Gen. 1:28) and for pleasure (Song of Solomon 4). It is a significant part of the “one flesh” relationship designed for marriage. Outside of marriage, Paul says it is the only sin that one commits “against his own body” (1 Cor. 6:18).
In addition, there is great joy to be found in remaining pure until marriage. Being able to present yourself to your bride in a pure way is one of the greatest wedding gifts you can give her, and I hope you will make it your goal.
The temptation to sin with alcohol: Among the biggest temptations facing college students away from home is the temptation to abuse alcohol. Many will tell you that alcohol is harmless, or that “one little drink is not going to hurt you.” There are several things I would have you consider.
First, for most of your days in college, the state says it is illegal for you even to possess an alcoholic beverage. As Christians, are we not to obey the laws of the land? Second, the rehab centers and hospitals are filled with those who thought alcohol was harmless, only to find themselves hopelessly addicted to it. In addition to that, the morgues are filled with those whose deaths were caused by the poor decisions that so often accompany the consumption of alcohol, and there are thousands of families torn apart by the sin of alcoholism. The impact on your decision-making processes also often leads to sexual sin. Finally, there is the cost of your soul to consider. Hell will also be filled by those who thought “one little drink won’t hurt me.” Consider Proverbs 23:29-35, as Solomon relates the degradation of the drinker.
The temptation to “skip church”: Satan makes this one very easy. You don’t have to make a decision to do wrong. You don’t have to do something vile. In fact, you don’t have “do” anything. All you have to do is sleep late on Sunday morning. It will be easy, because most of your dorm mates will be doing the same thing. No one’s going to wake you up and “make” you go. It will be easy.
Do not be so easily convinced. While the temptations of sex and alcohol are very dangerous, I believe in many ways, this is even more so. When you decide to “sleep in,” you give in to Satan just a little bit. But no one goes from Christian one day to reprobate the next. It is a gradual process. When you give in just a little, the next time it will be easier, and before long, you will find that you are “giving in” on bigger and bigger matters, sacrificing your Christianity and values for what is “easy.”
Heb. 10:25 teaches us that we are not to forsake “our own assembling together,” but the erosion on your values and indeed, on your soul, is what really matters here. There will be many times you may think you are too tired to get up and go. Get up, get dressed and go anyway. You will think that you can simply go to the evening service. Get up, get dressed, and go anyway. You may be the only one in your dorm who gets up and goes. Get up, get dressed and go anyway.
As I said, these will not be the only ways Satan tries to entice you, but these are prominent ways. Do not give in. Remember that you may be all that many of your friends ever see of Christianity. Be a shining example to them (Matt. 5:16).