Monday, August 21, 2006

Boundaries - Part 1

In an effort to curb sexual temptation among the staff at Saddleback and other churches, Rick Warren established 15 rules for Saddleback staff standards in order to maintain moral integrity:

- Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.*

- Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you.*

- Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.*

- Thou shalt not visit the opposite sex alone at home.

- Thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex alone at the office, and thou shalt not counsel the opposite sex more than once without that person’s mate. Refer them.

- Thou shalt not discuss detailed sexual problems with the opposite sex in counseling. Refer them.

- Thou shalt not discuss your marriage problems with an attender of the opposite sex.

- Thou shalt be careful in answering emails, instant messages, chatrooms, cards, or letters from the opposite sex.

- Thou shalt make your secretary your protective ally.

- Thou shalt pray for the integrity of other staff members.


* The first three do not apply to unmarried staff


You can read the rest of the article here.

My first reaction was just to shake my head and ask myself, "Isn't this a little extreme? Creating man-made rules that could possibly interfere with a fruitful ministry to one another?"

I recently went to visit a church that has a Saturday night service - an old friend from high school leads worship there and I'd heard good things about the pastor. So I went with a friend of mine and during the service, a couple pledged membership to the church. They took vows, much like an oath of office, actually, and one oath very pointedly said that they vowed to remain free of lust.

My friend turned at that moment and had a look of disbelief and almost shock on her face. I will admit that among all the other oaths, it did seem slightly out of place. After all, there wasn't an oath about not murdering people and the like. But while my friend thought it was completely inappropriate, I didn't really have a problem with it. I asked myself, What's wrong with holding yourself up to a high moral standard?

Perhaps the 15 rules set by Saddleback really is about removing temptation from the staff, and if so, you got to do what you got to do. If it's needed for their church, I'm glad something's being done. My main concern is that this list is somehow about what people's perception may be about the interactions mentioned in this list. (More on this will be addressed in an upcoming post.)

I've sat in my pastor's office after rehearsal many times. Sometimes we talk about ministry, sometimes we talk about worship, sometimes we talk about the state of the church, sometimes we tell each other stories, many times we pray together and for each other. I love and appreciate those times. They are a building blocks for the good working relationship a worship leader and a senior pastor need to have. But I have no doubt these times might stop if anyone mentioned they saw us there late at night when no one else was around. To be frank: that sucks.

But many great women and men stumble without intending to fall. Boundaries are good for our fallen state of being. I'd rather have a boundary - like the electric fence my dad put up around the cornfield in our backyard that kept me from going to the other side just so I could pet the cows. I needed that to stop me. Maybe we all do.

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