Boundaries

I subscribe to The Week magazine, which recaps current events and provides diverse opinions. The weekly periodical covers everything from world politics to personal interest stories. A recent news item caught my eye.

A Church of England tribunal issued a 30-page ruling against an erratic priest. The Reverend Clive Evans violated “acceptable church practice” when he performed a full-immersion baptism in his underwear. The pastor also purportedly pinched two female parishioners’ derrieres.

The minister obviously struggles with boundary issues, but I suspect his misdeeds stem from a deeper pathology. I hope the church provides the help he needs. I also worry about the negative impact upon his congregants’ lives.

One detail bumfuzzled me. Did the tribunal really need 30 pages to defend its decision? A monosyllabic “NOPE” would have sufficed. If the members wanted to expound upon their rationale, then they could have added, “That ain’t right!”

I am grateful for mentors who taught me the importance of boundaries in ministry. Appropriate limits prevent dangerous behaviors. Posting “No Trespassing” signs prevents people from straying into forbidden territory.

A cartoon depicted a person praying, “Lead me not into temptation because I can find it on my own!” We live in a fallen world that constantly beckons and entices. 1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Boundaries serve as guardrails on mountainous roads with steep ravines. The barriers provide protection rather than restriction. They might prevent a priest from performing a baptism in his boxers, too. 

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