Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Moral Judgement

The time has come to render some judgement and I need some perspective.

This past weekend was the 30 hour famine with the church youth at Del Rosa UMC.

In the wee hours of the morning several of the girls decided to "water bomb" the boys room thereby leaving the boys soaked and their "flats" demolished.

The boys retaliated by pounding on doors and windows, waking the world with whistles and beating.

This was not all of the youth who participated. Those who did participate, broke the covenant we had for the event which stated that they would "I will not do anything to jeopardize my reputation or the integrity of another person. I understand the traditions listed above and those of the church are in place for my benefit and the benefit of others."

The integrity of the youth who had their space broken (emotional and physical, and spiritual disturbed by the offended) had their safety at risk. The church was by no means destroyed, but it was "inconvenienced" and as such did "jeopardize the reputation" of those who participated in the acts of "water bombing" and "noisemaking".

The offending parties were sent home.

Here comes the real moral dilemma. The youth gave an account the day of telling what happened, but did not tell of the counselors who instigated the fracas. One was only in for a few minutes and gave the girls an idea of what to do to disrupt the boys, and return the favor for the prank pulled on the girls last year, where the shoes were all pulled from the room, and laid out on the stairs of the church. Later, after talking with their parents the youths and parents came back to the leadership of the event and told of the leader who was most involved.

When that leader was asked directly about what happened, and whether she was involved, there was no claim, and she stated an alibi. This alibi was not confirmed, but the other pieces did not place her at the scene, nor did the girls mention her involvement. So, here I sit trying to figure out what to do with a youth leader who not only lied to my face, and the face of several other leaders and parents, but encouraged the youth to lie to protect her.

I have asked that she not participate as a leader until we get a chance to talk, and I think at this time I will probably be asking her to step out of youth leadership for a longer period of time.

The question that I have for the wisdom of my readers is the question regarding what an appropriate "healing" period might be, and what signs of repentance will be required before allowing her a space in leadership again.

Any help, thoughts, ideas or wisdom would be appreciated. Boundaries are hard to maintain.



At April 05, 2006, Blogger Shane Raynor said...

I'm not one to condone lying, but I wonder why you guys made such a big deal over innocent pranks. If there's an atmosphere in your church where a youth leader even feels the need to lie about something like that out of fear, then it seems like someone is being a little too uptight.

At April 05, 2006, Blogger David said...

I suspect that it has more to do with the individual's personal sense of "judgement" than what the actual outcome would have been. The repeated mistakes make it hard to see where the repentance is.
As for uptight, I have been accused of that on occasion, though I have mellowed quite a bit. The decision was made by several of the adults present at the time who had a variety of views of judgement.
The question of course came through to ask "what would Jesus do?" with the expected response that Jesus would simply forgive and move on. This is not what I would expect from Jesus as he repeatedly makes sure that people see the need to change, and sometimes does expell one from the midst, verbally or physically (cf. Peter and "get behind me Satan" and the money changers driven from the temple)

At April 05, 2006, Blogger David said...

I forgot the most precious piece to the issue. Youth did not feel safe. A youth group and especially an event need to be safe places for youth to come, and parents to feel safe sending their youth to participate.

At April 11, 2006, Blogger Peter said...

I'd be a whole lot more concerned about the dishonesty than the original actions themselves. I don't know whether it was out of fear or simply out of trying to shield oneself from blame that the counselor in question lied, but that sort of deception should not be a part of a church group (even though it will always come up).

It's clear by the actions of the youth themselves, however, that they think somewhat highly of the counselor in that they were willing to protect her. Whether that in itself marks an inappropriate boundary (that they think of the counselor more as a cohort than as a leader) is one issue, but more importantly how her situation is handled will shape a lot of what the youth think about the church and its faithfulness. I'd be as upfront as possible about what the punishment is, why it happened, and what repentance will look like to try to cut down on rumors. In the end, though, a lot of how this situation turns out will be determined by the youth and the counselor, so who knows. Good luck with whatever you do, we'll be praying for you.

At April 11, 2006, Blogger Peter said...

ps - the last post was made by Peter, rather than Amanda. Just in case you were curious.

At April 28, 2006, Blogger Kim said...


As a parent of a youth, I would fully expect him to be sent home for the rest of the retreat. A prank like this is certainly not the worst thing that could happen, but he (my son) needs to know the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not.

As to the youth counselor -- I can't give advice about that. Only someone in the "thick" of it would have the answer. You have to be able to trust those who are working with the youth. Lies break that trust. Unlike Shane, I don't think that the atmosphere of your church (whatever that might be) is the only possible causative agent of a youth leader who feels that it is necessary (or expedient)to lie.

God be with you.

At May 06, 2006, Blogger James Fletcher Baxter said...

The missing element in every human 'solution' is
an accurate definition of the creature.

The way we define 'human' determines our view
of self, others, relationships, institutions, life, and
future. Important? Only the Creator who made us
in His own image is qualified to define us accurately.
Choose wisely...there are results.

Many problems in human experience are the result of
false and inaccurate definitions of humankind premised
in man-made religions and humanistic philosophies.

Each individual human being possesses a unique, highly
developed, and sensitive perception of diversity. Thus
aware, man is endowed with a natural capability for enact-
ing internal mental and external physical selectivity.
Quantitative and qualitative choice-making thus lends
itself as the superior basis of an active intelligence.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. His title describes
his definitive and typifying characteristic. Recall
that his other features are but vehicles of experi-
ence intent on the development of perceptive
awareness and the following acts of decision and
choice. Note that the products of man cannot define
him for they are the fruit of the discerning choice-
making process and include the cognition of self,
the utility of experience, the development of value-
measuring systems and language, and the accultur-
ation of civilization.

The arts and the sciences of man, as with his habits,
customs, and traditions, are the creative harvest of
his perceptive and selective powers. Creativity, the
creative process, is a choice-making process. His
articles, constructs, and commodities, however
marvelous to behold, deserve neither awe nor idol-
atry, for man, not his contrivance, is earth's own
highest expression of the creative process.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. The sublime and
significant act of choosing is, itself, the Archimedean
fulcrum upon which man levers and redirects the
forces of cause and effect to an elected level of qual-
ity and diversity. Further, it orients him toward a
natural environmental opportunity, freedom, and
bestows earth's title, The Choicemaker, on his
singular and plural brow.

Human is earth's Choicemaker. Psalm 25:12 He is by
nature and nature's God a creature of Choice - and of
Criteria. Psalm 119:30,173 His unique and definitive
characteristic is, and of Right ought to be, the natural
foundation of his environments, institutions, and re-
spectful relations to his fellow-man. Thus, he is orien-
ted to a Freedom whose roots are in the Order of the

Let us proclaim it. Behold!
The Season of Generation-Choicemaker Joel 3:14 KJV



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