4 Awful Realities of Growing Up in a Fundamentalist Christian School

I could easily go back 6 or 7 years and re-hash old blogs I had written about how awful my high school experience was. But I’m a few years wiser and can better articulate just how weird things were. I also came across this article on Cracked a while back about a student’s experience at Pensacola Christian College, which was 1 of 3 acceptable colleges for us in the eyes of our school administrators, and I was inspired. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

There are several advantages of having a private Christian school education. I just can’t think of any. And before I start, I’d like to make things clear – I still believe in Jesus and all that goes with it. So don’t send me hate mail accusing me of blasphemy or being a Satanist. However, there’s a line between living a morally upright life and being in a cult. I’m pretty sure I grew up in an environment closer to the latter. Let me explain…

4. The Dress Code Was More Than Just Collared Shirts and Khakis

I’ll wholly admit that being a guy in a Christian school is way easier than it is for girls. And I’ll also admit that the dress code could have been so much worse in the sense that everybody could have been forced to wear the same thing so that we all would’ve looked like a little army for Jesus. That being said, there were some things that were required that no 12 year old should be forced to endure. For starters, our socks were required to go above our ankles. This seemed somewhat difficult to enforce considering we weren’t allowed to wear shorts. Only up until a couple of years after I graduated, the boys basketball team even wore pants during games because nothing is more sinful than a spindly, hairy, teenage shin.

There were also several occasions where we had to wear suits and ties, though this was generally for church services. When we asked our teacher, who took pride on having an answer for everything about this sort of business professional attire and why we were subject to it, we weren’t given a reason based on morality or modesty, but simply because that’s just the kind of thing Christians wear. What made the logic golden was that when someone saw an individual in a suit and tie, their first thought was obviously, “Oh that guy must be a Christian.” Not a lawyer or financial broker or anything like that because only Christians wear suits.

marilyn_manson

Nope this absolutely did not happen. Ever.

Girls were not allowed to wear anything but skirts that fell below their knees, because we all know nothing makes a guy hornier than some knee. Girls also had to wear pantyhose, because…I don’t know. I’m honestly not sure what the purpose of pantyhose is. The interesting thing about this is that the girls weren’t only subject to this sort of thing on school grounds. If any teacher or administrator saw you in public wearing jeans (God forbid), you’d get hardcore judged. Obviously they weren’t so backward that they tried to police us outside of school – except they totally did, and we’ll get to that in a moment.

3. Touching the Opposite Sex Resulted in Pregnancy

Apparently it was okay for the teachers to touch the students, including one instance where a teacher got pregnant from a student, but we weren’t allowed to even so much as tap a girl on the shoulder to get her attention, lest it was believed that we’d just start fornicating like rabbits in the middle of Spanish class. It also meant that any form of contact in the context of a relationship clearly meant that the girl would end up pregnant. Here’s a real example:

I was sitting in the mall on a bench with my girlfriend. And by girlfriend I mean we were Christian school kids in 10th grade, which means we honestly had no clue what dating really was. It was also Goldsboro in the mid 2000s so there was nothing better to do. I had my arm resting behind her shoulders on the bench because I was super suave like that. Then our old 8th grade teacher walked up. We smiled and waved because we were just two kids sitting on a bench minding our own business and not doing anything wrong.

couple-on-park-bench

Like this. Also known as full blown sexing.

When I got home from the mall I was informed that the teacher had called my mother and told her what she caught me doing with the sort of tone that intimated I was doing lines of coke off a stripper who I had lay on top of a body I had just murdered. My girlfriend ended up in a one-on-one meeting with the teacher, who tried to either paint me as a sort of rapist or expressed legitimate concern that my girlfriend would end up pregnant…from my forearm?

Everything turned out okay because that same teacher, a year later, was busted for getting pregnant by a student. No candy, no matter how rich and artfully crafted, could taste as sweet as those tears of embarrassment.

2. You Needed to Stay in Their Bubble, Or Go to Hell

As long as you wanted to be a preacher, music leader, or Christian school teacher, you were golden. In fact, your life and a fair portion of your expenses would be taken care of if you stuck to the path they laid out for you, regardless of how stupid you were (in terms of grades, not life choices). The plan was to spend your life in their Christian school, go to 1 of 3 Christian colleges they approved of, and then find a job either back at your alma mater or one of their sister churches where you would immediately get married and start pumping out kids to continue the cycle. God forbid you have a change of heart after doing this because your degree would be worthless (practically unrecognized by any reputable business), so you’d be stuck working jobs that required only a high school diploma.

SnobbyGuy1

Hmmm, I think we’re going to go with the guy who graduated from a real college because his degree is, you know, real.

If you wanted to do something productive with your life (i.e. spit in the face of Jesus with your Satanic life choices) by going to a secular college, you could begrudgingly get the recommendation letters you needed, but as far as any solid life advice went, you were on your own. In fact, we were basically taught to fear anything we didn’t understand. It explains why I’m so weird about life and so socially awkward. I don’t know how to handle situations that most people probably see as just part of everyday life. In a Christian school, fearing what you don’t understand is a prime opportunity to stay within the loving arms of Jesus. A prime example would be…

1. New Technology Was Scary Until It Became a Convenient Spy Tool

Remember how I said a Christian school would never be so outrageous as to try to police their students outside of school? Well here ya go. Apparently if you access someone’s public information on school property, that’s basically the same thing as physically doing something on school property. It’s sound logic, I guess. But only the person who brought the paraphernalia on the property should get busted, not everyone else who owns something similar. And so when I was in 10th grade everything hit the fan.

I’m going to show my age for a second and tell you that I was nearly suspended for posting angsty teen poetry I had written on the blog site Xanga. I’m not even sure it exists anymore and if it does, I don’t think anyone really uses it. And before you judge, it wasn’t super angsty stuff like “I want to kill my teachers and blow up the school.” Instead it was just normal angsty stuff like, “Oh I hate getting up in the morning because school is boring.”

My parents and I were called to a meeting with the principal who proceeded to tell my parents that I was dangerous and borderline suicidal and should repurpose my writing into something more glorified and wholesome before I Columbined the place. Okay maybe he didn’t say it exactly like that, but that was the tone of the conversation. Some students were even expelled for the content they had on their MySpace pages. Shortly thereafter all students were then prohibited from having any social media or face expulsion because…reasons?

Also known as Satan's playground.

Also known as Satan’s playground.

By the time I was a senior, although we were permitted to finally have a Facebook, we had to hand over all password information and/or have multiple teachers and administrators as friends. This was for the sole purpose of being able to monitor the students outside of school to make sure they weren’t doing anything nefarious like wearing pants to go see R-rated movies or posting status updates about how they wished they had gone to public school like everyone else. And you can certainly believe that once I graduated I did just that.

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