Standards of Conduct

Posted on May 5, 2012 by

I’ve discovered “tough love” has its place in our current society.

Last year, BYU basketball student Brandon Davies violated the honor code his school requires of its students by having premarital sex. Many believe the school went too far by barring him from continuing to play. But, there are others who believe when one chooses to be part of an organization which adheres to certain principles and beliefs, its members who choose to join should honor those standards.

At Heritage Christian Academy in Texas, a teacher was fired for having an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. This is not all too different from a different case I read about a few years ago occurring at a Catholic school, where a teacher there was fired for having an OOW pregnancy as well. These cases are not exhaustive, but they beg a question: are standards of conduct sometimes taken too far?

Critics say these schools/employers violated the civil liberties of these women, and the actions taken against them were discriminatory. Apparently, the school has no say in a woman’s sex life and how a woman conceives a pregnancy is nobody’s business. With Davies, BYU took the principle too far by costing the school a talented basketball player who could have helped BYU become better champions. Is it me, or is there a lot of self-centered thinking here?

When we work for a company or attend a school, in a way we are engaging in an informal social contract with them. We’re saying by working for them or attending their institution, we will abide by their rules and expectations. In turn, the workplace or school will provide certain services and benefits. When people knowingly break this contract, is it reasonable for them to turn around and say, “NOT FAIR!”?

Here’s my take: When you chose to join an institution which adheres to a set of beliefs, principles, and expects its members to act accordingly, any action they take against you for violating their tenets is not unjust. In other words, you were the one in the wrong, not them. If you work for a private business where in their policies it states all members need to volunteer at Feed My Starving Children once a year, volunteer. If you work for a business which gives money to Planned Parenthood and helps them out at events and they expect you to give your money and time to them, you should do so. What if your beliefs differ? Then find a new place to work. Your employer is Mormon and bans all things caffeine? Respect the rule. I have worked for a synagogue which asked all of its employees– Jewish and Gentile– to only bring in kosher food. I’m Christian, but I took vegetarian each time. Yes, I know life isn’t so simple but there comes a time where we have to personally honor principles and abide by the standards of conduct they dictate. More important, we need to ask ourselves if we are trying to pick a fight or engage in a worthy battle. Too many times standards of conduct are violated in the name of “proving a point.”

Unfortunately this becomes an issue when it’s a Christian institution asking its employees to abstain from inappropriate activities, such as premarital sex, refrain from OOW pregnancies, and the like. Christian schools, as I’m sure Jewish schools and other religiously-based educational institutions, have a set of beliefs which form the basis for how its employees and students should act. It’s not rocket science.

If we expect the schools to bend the rules to suit special circumstances because a few people do not agree with them, how can we expect the larger society to take the standards seriously? By then, what will be there to fight for?

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