By Nathan Handley
JACKSON, Tenn. — Union University President Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver said in pursuing a virtuous life, the biblical concept of self-control is counter-cultural.
“Instead of my being the captain of my ship, ‘the master of my fate,’ and the ruler of my life, I am a steward,” Oliver said. “I am a servant who has been entrusted with this life. Self-control, then, is an aspect of my stewardship responsibility to God.”
Oliver addressed temperance, or self-control, at Fall Convocation Friday morning as the fourth in a series of convocation addresses on the virtuous life. His first address was on the virtue of courage, his second was on justice and his third was on prudence.
Oliver addressed two specific difficult issues related to self-control that affect college students in particular: alcohol and pornography. Both of these addictive things can have severe consequences on the brain.
He said the prevalence of alcohol dependency is greater among people who have used alcohol in their emerging adult years – the time that most students are in college. He also said pornography is more readily available than ever, and it is encountered at younger ages, rewiring God-given sexual desires into desires for images on a screen.
“Lack of self-control has neurobiological consequences,” Oliver said.
He said self-control cannot be legislated by men or achieved by human strength; it is only achieved through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Self-control does not emerge from our strengths,” Oliver said. “On the contrary, it grows out of our weaknesses. In confession we face and acknowledge our weaknesses while calling on God for help. When we realize we cannot do anything about the passion and cry out for help, the focus of our attention suddenly turns from the problem to God.”
Oliver said Christians are called to confess controlling passions, turn from them and walk in the Spirit. He said temperance is motivated by love and directed to love. He encouraged students, faculty and staff at Union to spur one another on in that love and in the pursuit of virtue.
Oliver’s complete address is available at livestream.uu.edu.