Just the good ole boys.Admit it. You watched the Dukes of Hazzard when you were a kid. At least when your parents weren't around. The song was pretty catchy. Never lived it out much myself in high school. As far as college goes, let's just say that I knew plenty of people who did. Were they rebels, or just mischievous juveniles who got a little squirrely about Bible Conference time?
Never meanin' no harm.
Beats all you never saw,
Been in trouble with the law,
Since the day they was born.
Straight'nin' the curve,
Flat'nin' the hills.
Someday the moutain might get 'em, but the law never will.
Makin' their way,
The only way they know how,
That's just a little bit more than the law will allow.
Just the good ol' boys,
Wouldn't change if they could,
Fightin' the system like a true modern day Robin Hood.
Well, long about two years after I left the university I wound up on "the other side of the law" as a dorm supervisor in a Bible college. I hope that anyone who has ever served in a position responsible for meting out discipline for walking on the grass shares my distaste for that aspect of the job. But what's the alternative? Surely college kids aren't prepared for an environment of complete freedom without restriction, right? Drop the demerits and surely a recapitulation of the Book of Judges would not be far behind.
Now cross those thoughts with your theology of church discipline. All the listening and reading I've been doing the past week or so related to my polity blogging has caused me to do just that. The cornerstone is that I believe most everyone would agree that the objective of church discipline is restoration. For that reason, we impose discipline for the failure to repent, not for the sin itself.
What would our Christian schools and colleges look like if they used that approach, as well?
I can hear the thousands of you who read this blog crying as one, "Impossible! No way that would ever work." You might be right. It might not work. We might have to rename our guys' dorm "Sons of Belial" and the ladies' "Daughters of Lot."
But did we ever think to try it? What would it take to give it a chance to work?
Step One: We'd have to be prepared not to kick out immediately every kid who goes out drinking, cheats on a final, sneaks off campus with his girlfriend, or even worse. That's a major paradigm shift, and it would have its drawbacks. But think about it in conjunction with step two.
Step Two: We'd have to make a major commitment to accountability and counseling. We'd have to make the dorm sups and RA's responsible for much more than making sure kids shut their lights out at 11:00. They would need to be capable and equipped to counsel heart issues, not just pin a demerit slip on someone's door. We would have to be prepared to make an investment in young people's lives to the point that we are willing to confront rule-breaking with a loving understanding of progressive sanctification and a perceptive nose for a rebellious spirit. That investment would have to go far beyond a one-time confrontation with the ultimate objective of fostering a pastoral relationship.
Step Three: We'd have to be willing to ask not to return those students who don't demonstrate genuine repentance over time. This may be the really tough part. It's easy to want the rebel to be gone. It's fairly simple (if you catch them) to kick someone out for violating one of the big rules. It's much harder to decide which of those little straws of rebellion is the one that ought to be the last one. It's downright frightening to think of trying to differentiate between the immature believer and the scorner of Proverbs.
I've not said all that needs to be said, probably because I didn't think of it. But right now I simply can't escape the possibility that if it's the way we need to be building up disciples in our churches, then maybe it's also the way we should be discipling in our schools.
I'm willing to be wrong on this one. Fire away.