You’ve seen it. A couple sitting together. A girl snug in a boy’s arms or sitting beside him and gently massaging his neck. They kiss a few times or make out just long enough to be distracting. Whether you think it’s cute or tacky, it happens frequently.
But you’ve seen it in chapel, and often during worship.
Usually when people say that worship wasn’t “very good today” after chapel, I ignore it. I ignore it because usually, if worship “wasn’t very good today,” it’s your fault since you get out of worship what you put into it. Draw near to God and he’ll draw near to you.
But sometimes, if “worship wasn’t very good today,” the reason might be PDA in chapel.
It’s no secret that many students love to complain about chapel. Or if they don’t love to complain about it, they do anyway. Some complain about the integrity partners at the door, some lament the fine for missed requirements, and others object to the concept of mandatory chapel outright. These issues are often viewed as the Spiritual Formation department’s “fault.”
If students don’t like chapel, many will not admit that some of the reasons are their own fault. Very few people speak out about something truly, and more practically, worthy of reform: PDA in chapel.
There are public displays of affection in the caf, cove, and other parts of campus, some may say. So what makes PDA in chapel such a bad thing?
It’s incredibly distracting. Granted, if you want to meet God during chapel, you should not let anything stop you. Yet that doesn’t make chapel PDA acceptable and it can’t be used as a cop-out. It’s one issue if a couple is more concerned with PDA than connecting with God, but it’s another issue when the couple makes it difficult for others to worship. Romans 14:16 says not to let what you consider good be spoken of as evil, so even if you think it’s fine to PDA in chapel, that doesn’t mean you should.
The Bible makes it clear that time with God is to be revered. In our postmodern world, it’s easy to forget about words that should send chills down your spine:
Holiness. Reverence. Fear. Gut-wrenching awe.
But if you can’t tear yourself away from your significant other for 50 minutes, do you revere your God? If 50 minutes is too much to ask, you may lack discipline and self-control.
People can be affectionate with one another and couples can worship God together, sure, but PDA during the song set doesn’t count as two people trying to worship God “as one.”
Complaining makes people aware of the problem, or at least makes people aware that you don’t like the problem, but it doesn’t help you fix it. Don’t complain about what you can’t fix, like the mandatory chapel policy, while neglecting to fix what you can, like chapel PDA.
To stop chapel PDA, it’s important to remember that other people are there to worship God, even if you’re there to be with your other half. Consider that before you make your partner the focal point of chapel. Put yourself in other chapel-goers shoes. If you have to, sit far away from each other to keep temptation at bay. Chapel should be a place where people can worship with as few distractions as possible.