Why I Went to Western Seminary for Only One Year

I was fully intending to get a Masters degree at Western, and therefore to remain there for as long as it took. However, something happened that caused me to change my mind. I was sitting in the library at a large table reading, or studying, or just preparing for my next class, when this woman, who happened to be sitting across from me, asked me in very quiet voice (as it was in the library) if I could possibly help her carry some things into her apartment that were too heavy for her.

Well, being a gentleman, and seeing an opportunity to help someone in need, I gladly said I would. She gave me the address and I was there at the time she wanted me to come. Her things really weren’t that heavy, and when I stepped into her apartment, for some reason she started crying and unloading her problems. So, I sat down and listened and tried to show her some sympathy. And then, still crying, she came closer to me and began unbuttoning my shirt. Well, I wasn’t sure what was happening or what her intentions were, but I knew it was wrong. I can’t remember in detail what I did next, but I know that I excused myself and left.

The next day, trying not to think too much about what happened the day before, and not wanting to run into her, I just put my head down in my books and continued with my studies as always. But I did run into her. And once again she needed help, and I agreed to help here again. And, you guessed it, the same thing happened. What was I thinking? Well, clearly, I wasn’t thinking very rationally.  Maybe I was just wanting to give her a second chance at doing the right thing. And maybe I thought I could help her and counsel her and pray with her. Yes, I remember doing that. But I also remember that she wanted to undress me as before—and she tried without success.

Now you probably are thinking that I had learned my lesson, that I would never agree to help her again. But you would be wrong. She came to me a third time and asked me, desperately, to help her again. And I did. And the same thing happened with the buttons. But this time I was willing to let her continue. Apparently, I can’t remember, but apparently, I had given in to her wishes, and into my lusts before I even arrived at her apartment. I was not vigilant against sin. I was not prayerful or in any way prepared. So, she undressed me, and herself, and sin happened. But only for a few minutes. Thankfully, it was interrupted by her having to use the rest room. And then, suddenly, I was compelled to escape. I quickly dressed and ran out the door. She followed me, being still naked, but I was long gone.

The next day she saw me in the library and smiled. Then for the first time I knew what she was, and I also knew more about myself. I never came near her again—though I could tell that she was still after me. Soon I decided that I would finish that year in Western—which was almost over—and not return. My decision was final, and it was based on the feeling that I was no longer qualified to be in ministry. Looking back at it, I think I should have at least talked to Dr. Rodmocker the President of the Seminary. I’m not sure I would have changed my mind, but I know I should have done that. Also, there is something else that I haven’t done until now: I haven’t taken the time to really evaluate what happened. Thanks to this blog post, I have recently spent a good deal of time doing just that.

First of all, as for the woman, I don’t know of her background or the details of how she may have been abused, but I think it must have happened. She no doubt had mental and emotional problems, and I think she also had a sexual addiction. In my brief study of this I read that sex is used to escape depression, to cope with stress and to medicate pain. I saw in her a terrible depression and she was definitely trying to use sex with me to medicate her pain.

Why didn’t I see who she was? Why was I taken in by her three different times? I see now five reason why: 1) I felt sorry for her and saw an opportunity to help someone in need; 2) I was seeking friendship and she was friendly; 3) I wanted to give her a second chance; 4) I had no discernment or wisdom and I wasn’t prayerful; and 5) in the end, I had a secret sexual desire that I was denying and it finally came out.

Do I have any regrets about my decision to quit Seminary?  Sometimes I wonder what would have been different for me if I had stuck it out and graduated at Western. I think that if I had talked to someone at the Seminary and confessed my part of it, they may have forgiven me and let me stay. At the same time, I sort of feel that I did the right thing in quitting, that God used that incident to point me in a different direction. If I had a chance to change my decision, I don’t think I would do it differently, mainly because I wasn’t that good of a student anyway, and I was growing weary of all the studying with getting hardly any sleep—since I had to work so much. I had no free time at all. So anyway, I felt at peace about it and I just continued on in life, day by day. What else could I do? God is good.

Western Seminary: Trusting God, Painting and Classes

This is this Mount Saint Helen erupting, on May 18, 1980.

After I graduated from Northwestern, I very quickly started thinking about Seminary. It was my plan all along to go into some kind of Christian ministry, maybe even a pastor of a church. One Sunday, after the church service, I approached the pastor and asked him what Seminary he would recommend. He said that Bethel (in Saint Paul) was good, but that Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon was the best. So, without question, I went with his suggestion. And before long, I was all signed up to go to Western—Western Conservative Baptist Seminary.

Seminary didn’t start until the fall, so I had the summer off—except for work. For the last three summers I had been working for a company called Super Painters, painting houses. It was kind of fun, but also a lot of work. They had quite a large operation, maybe about 20 employees. Usually there was 3 or 4 crews working on different projects. But sometimes, when a job had to be done quickly, they would put everyone together. Those were the most fun. Can you imagine 20 painters at work, with ladders and plank all around the house, and paint brushes flying? Oh, it was great. A little chaotic but great. I am so thankful for my start with them. Not only did I learn how to paint, I also was given confidence to later start up my own painting company. I’ll talk more about that later.

A car driving in white ash from Saint Helen’s eruption.

When the time came to start Seminary, I took a leap of faith with my car, and also with my financial situation. My car was quite old and had some issues, but I thought it could make it—driving from Minnesota to Portland, Oregon. And it did, without any problems. Thank God. One thing I will always remember on the trip was that from South Dakota, all the way there, it looked like it had snowed. But it was white ashes from the eruption of Mount St. Helen that had blew its top the day before. So bizarre.

My financial situation was simple. I had no money, but I was trusting God to provide. So, when I approached the clerk at Western, I explained that I was planning on paying my way a little at a time by the painting jobs that I would get. That was my plan. And it worked. Thank God. Each day at Seminary, between classes and in the evening, I walked around the neighborhood and asked people to let me paint a room or two. And I got work, enough work to pay my tuition and all my bills while at Seminary!

Surprisingly, my Seminary classes weren’t any harder than my college classes at Northwestern. They were really just more of the same, classes like Hermeneutics, Bible Survey and Greek. The only thing that was different was a couple classes that were more geared toward being a Baptist—like the class called Baptist History and Principles. I got a D in that class! All the other class I did pretty good—A’s and B’s. Oh, except Greek. I also got D’s in those classes.